Archive for the ‘For Parents’ Category

Safety and Care at Camp: Tuna Tuesday

This Tuesday, I decided to write about safety at camp.  Why?  I believe many parents are on some level concerned about some aspect of camp.

For some, it’s the thought of their child being bullied or even worse, abused by an adult.  We could classify these concerns as violence.

For others, it’s less threatening and about every day challenges. Some of the questions may be: will my child have fun?  Will they stay warm?  Will they want to come home?  Will they make any friends?  We might call these sorts of concerns comfort related.

For other parents, it’s about physical harm not caused by a person but by the environment and setting.  Will my child break their leg at group games or while hiking?  Will they get stung by a bee?  I might label these concerns as environmental safety.

So what does Bethany Birches do to address these three categories of safety (don’t get me wrong, there are other areas of safety that we monitor!  But for the sake of a reasonable length blog post, I’ll have to include those in a future post)?

Violence: we work very hard when hiring staff.  We do multiple reference checks, a criminal background check including sex offender registries.  We have a detailed interview.  We ask lots of questions about faith, religion and world view.  Finally, if we notice any behavior from a staff person that is concerning on this front, we let them go.  As for bullying, we guard against this as best we can through maintaining adult supervision at nearly all times, requiring campers to travel around camp with a trusted buddy (like when going to the bathroom) and by disciplining those exhibiting bullying behavior and working closely with them to change their patterns of relating to others.

Comfort: this is a tough one!  Some campers don’t want to admit their cold in front of their friends. Others don’t tell their counselor they wet their bed.  And some times, campers just don’t know they’re uncomfortable!  As a parent, you know that you often have to think for your child in ways they cannot yet think for themselves.  This is what we teach our staff to do.  We teach them to notice how their campers are feeling.  Are they happy or sad?  Are their shoes wet or dry?  Do they have extra clothes to change into?  Does their sleeping bag smell weird?  One of our primary goals for counselors and all staff members is that they would be an excellent guide for each camper.  By guide I simply mean that they would provide a meaningful experience, initiate fun and conversation, and take really good care of each child, including washing their sleeping bag after peed in without anyone noticing!

While life and the outdoors throw all sorts of curve balls like a mean spirited attack from another to a cold rainy day, we desire to always care deeply for each person entrusted to us.  We take seriously complaints from parents and do our very best to get better at keeping kids safe, comfortable and happy so their mind, body and soul can grow while at camp.

Here’s to another exciting, meaningful safe season of summer camp at Bethany Birches!

Tuna

 

 

 

To Each According To Their Need: Price Tiers

Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, which has recently been made into a movie Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 presents ideas that are arguably opposed to the Kingdom of God. Any Rand’s philosophy on the matter of need suggests that people should get only what they earn, regardless of their needs. If you earn it, it’s yours. If you need it, well, you can’t have it until you earn it. She believed that this would create a society full of contributing individuals. Consider that.

Now, consider Acts 4:32-35 from The Message:

32-33 The whole congregation of believers was united as one— one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them. 34-35 And so it turned out that not a person among them 5 was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.

I realize that Ayn Rand may not have seriously considered the Reign of God as a legitimate economic model. That doesn’t mean Bethany Birches shouldn’t. Since the beginning of BBC in 1965 we have tried to offer a unique camping experience, creating a community of love with whomever joins and we’ve tried to do this at a low price. While a camping community is a different version of the church than what we see in Acts, there is much similarity.

Obviously, offering something to someone for less than what it cost to provide that something runs up a deficit somewhere. Let’s put this in the context of camp. If it costs us about $400/camper, and we charge $200, there is $200 of expense remaining. Who will pay the remaining $200? Enter: donors.

Bethany Birches was initiated with a donation of land. And since that very first day, our story has been one of people providing money, time and oth- er resources to make the camp pos- sible; an ongoing illustration of God’s provision for kids to have a special, faith-developing experience.

In a board meeting in 2010 we were discussing these issues around the topic of pricing. We talked about the fact that some of our camper families have much resource and some have very little. Enter: tiered pricing.

We are now well into the first summer season using a tiered pricing structure. The highest tier is about what we figure it costs to have a camper at camp (no profit built in). Both of the lower tiers are donor-subsidized rates. Could we consider this a Kingdom economic model? Or perhaps foolishness? Maybe it’s a system easily taken advantage of. Whatever you call it, we’re trusting that the Christ who inspired the craziness in the book of Acts will continue to inspire us and show us a way so that “not a person among them was needy.”

Tuna