The boiler has been running for a few months now and it can heat (we have burned 6 cords which is all we set aside for this winter)! These two video updates from Tuna demonstrate the latest. Summary: the boiler can heat the cabin in addition to the pavilion (if we burn lots of wood).
Two months later, test # 2. Not only can it heat multiple buildings, it doesn’t burn as much wood after some programming changes!
I have some great news about the pavilion project: we have no debt! Thanks to Bob’s walk and a very generous donor we were able to pay off the last $100,000 of debt this fall. That allows us to focus resources directly toward program again and also start working toward the miscellaneous parts of the pavilion project we decided to phase to save money and time during the initial construction. Those remaining parts include a climbing wall, air exchangers, kitchen equipment and a wood boiler. The wood boiler is our focus right now.
Why a wood boiler? It can provide zero-dollar and net-zero emissions heat! Here in Plymouth, VT winters are cold! We also have lots of trees on the property. One of our foresters estimates we could cut 70 cords per year at a sustainable rate (in other words, the forest grows that much new wood each year). We estimate we will use 15 to 20 cords total for fireside cooking, other camp fires and heat. If volunteers continue to cut wood as they have for many years we can provide all the fuel needed to heat the entire facility for almost zero dollars (we’ll have to buy diesel for the tractor and gas for the chainsaws of course).
Utilizing plumbers, engineers and the latest trends in the wood burning industry we have designed a central boiler system that will heat the pavilion, cabin and a third building of our choosing at about 85% efficiency. By comparison, many wood heating systems operate from 50-70% efficiency. Not only will this system be very efficient when it’s operating, the wood we’ll burn will take very little energy to process (from tree to fire will take only two handlings, very little transportation and fossil fuel). On top of that we will be able to gently harvest the trees in our forest that are dying or in poor health meaning we get to use the carbon stored in the tree just before it dies and that carbon gets released anyway. In short, our process for burning wood can be considered carbon-neutral or net zero.
If you can’t tell, I’m very excited about this (and totally geeking out… sorry if you’re bored). For those of you who are excited with me, please consider giving toward this project. Our estimated cost for the infrastructure including foundation, shed, underground pipes to pavilion, boiler etc., utilizing a lot of volunteers, is $50,000. It would cost additional to install in the cabin and a third building. Any donated materials make this number smaller of course. Heating the pavilion with wood will save us about $7000 per year assuming propane price of $1.60. As prices rise and/or we heat more spaces our savings will grow. That means a pay back on the system of less than 7 years.
Please consider making a gift toward this important project. At time of writing $10,717 has been given toward the project. You could make a one time gift, or, perhaps you would consider making a monthly contribution for a year or two years. If 55 people would give $30 per month for two years, the project would be paid for! Consider it one way you can help the environment and young people at the same time.
For the past few months of my Bethany Birches Camp (BBC) WALK, my footprints have trod 20-25 miles of sidewalks in the City of Lancaster, PA, population 59,000. I chose to walk in an environment different from the countryside, suburbia, and township parks I was familiar with. The walk concentrated on 110 acres of Downtown Lancaster 1/4th mile N-S-E-W outward from City Square, the Center of Downtown Lancaster. The Square provides resources of banking, food service, a 297 room hotel, and perhaps the most known and visited icon, the Lancaster Central Market, tucked into the N.W. corner of The Square. This Square is surrounded by Queen, King, Duke, and Prince Streets, whose names bear the influence of Old English Royalty. This historical market established in 1889 is visited annually by thousands of locals and tourists, even though it is located in a small corner of The Square. The Central Market is the magnetic force which attracts so many people nationally and internationally, to mingle with friends and visitors, and taste the vendors’ best of food fare, including shoofly pies.
One day I stopped off at The Central Market on my WALK and visited with patrons seated at a table. In less than an hour’s time, three of us learned that each was a walker; one, along with her friend, had walked 5 miles together to the market, known to them as a common place of meeting, to strengthen their friendship, and the two of them learned about Bethany Birches Camp for Children in Vermont. We wished each other well in our individual WALKING lives. What a nice memory!
My intentional WALK experience Downtown found me reviewing 50+ years of footprints at Bethany Birches Camp located on 100 acres tucked into a small mountain top beside Lynds Hill Road in Plymouth, Vermont. It was begun in 1965. BBC is by now experiencing an adolescence of growing and developing an exciting camp program which is meeting the needs of a growing number of children, youth, and families, many of whom lack a significant church family life. The establishment of BBC was not influenced by Old English Royalty but by newly immigrated residents, a married couple from Pennsylvania who invested in land. Their hope was to establish a camp which would help youth and children develop a relationship with God. The Camp “square” is the Pavilion (PAVI) which contains the main support services of the camp and from which many activities flow. The PAVI is not surrounded by streets influenced by banking and commercial influences, but by trees, mountains, and open skies. It provides a view of mountain ranges for a distance of 4 to 5 miles (quite unthinkable for market-goers gazing anywhere within 1/4th mile of Lancaster city square). Rainy weather, though not necessarily welcome, is managed well since the open side of the PAVI can be quickly enclosed with solidly constructed curtains and storm doors; so most activities can continue rain or shine. From the PAVI, a road extends into the woodland which leads to five cabins for girls on one side, and five cabins for boys on the other. Each cabin bears the name of a bird, not inspired by Old English Royalty, but by the fact that the “ten birds” are at home in the mountain top. The camp is blessed with resources such as; a caring Christian Director and Administration, trained counselors, pastor, swimming pool, nature trails, Bible and nature classes, and most importantly, the prayers and support of committed board members as well as many financial supporters.
Central Market in Downtown Lancaster, PA, has a 125 year history of providing experiences for people who can satisfy their food tastes, along with meeting new people, and renewing older and lasting friendships. They return year after year to experience more of the same.
BBC in Plymouth, VT., has a 52 year history of providing an experience for children and youth to have safe and secure camping activities with new and former friends, and to become acquainted with God who loves them. And yes, they return year after year for more of the same. Can you imagine my smile as I tell you my wife Anna Mae and I are planning to spend a week at Bethany Birches Camp this summer?
My wife Anna Mae and I recently completed a driving trip from Pennsylvania to South Dakota. We visited our empty-nest daughter Jenelle Miller (a former BBC camper and years later, counselor) and her husband Craig. This trip allowed me opportunity to exercise “out-of-the-box” activity recently encouraged by my health care specialists for management of my mild dementia. It is hoped that this type of activity will help my mind to “connect the dots” of my life’s everyday experiences so I can feel better connected. The challenge of this new dementia-dimension of my life has contributed considerably to my decision to begin my BBC WALK.
During this 13-day trip, my footprint was left on the roadsides of the 8 states we traveled through. In our 2,688-mile round trip travels, I noticed the ability, particularly in the Prairie States, to sight single objects at increasing distances away from the eye. In the final leg of our trip west we were approaching the SW corner boundary of Craig and Jenelle’s farm and we noticed an 80-90 year old scotch pine tree in the distance. Days later, this corner tree was sighted 2 miles away as I walked westward on the county road. The tree can also be sighted 3 miles away from east to west. It has marked the Miller farm for four generations, a “connecting dot” for all their family that they are nearing home. This is experienced by all as change and renewal.
There exists another stalwart tree located in the BBC community. It is known as the tree house which provides shade for flowers, a perch for the birds, and a resting, out-of-the-ordinary place for campers to which counselors take them for an evening fireside and night sleepover away from the hustle and bustle of daytime camp activities. The tree house is built at a height where campers can look down on the flowers, and across at the birds; a “connecting dot” for both campers and their environment.
When Anna Mae and I visited the tree house years ago, we wanted to linger for some time. Just imagine a camp cabin of Warblers and their counselor flocking to the tree house/Nest . . . (new name?) for a sleepover! This BBC “point of interest” provides one of many opportunities for children to be introduced to Jesus, a super “coming home”.
This past summer a camp supporter, Yogi, noted that the kitchen was not near complete. He asked me what one of the next steps was to finish it. A week later, a friend of his and camp supporter, Mark, asked him what else was needed at camp on the pavilion project. Yogi told him quite simply, a stainless steel table. This wasn’t just any table, as you’ll see in the photos below. It took design and special manufacturing and would be expensive! The table was envisioned especially to help with the famous BBC fire side cooking. This table is the backbone of the crate packing and storage process.
To make a long story short, Mark mentioned the mini project to one of his friends Wil. Together they paid for the table and got the project under way. Today, during Lynx Winter Camp, the good folks over at Steiger Supply North dropped the table off and helped to set it in place. Campers even pitched in to peel off the annoying protective tape.
For me, this web of people making this small project happen in cooperation and team work is a vision of the community of God.
Just when you thought pavilion progress was over…2017 started off with pavilion door painting! A group of 8 Seniors (+ 2 adults) from Dock Mennonite Academy spent Jan 3 – 8 doing a lot of painting. The interior doors of the pavilion are clean and colorful thanks to their service.
Painting doors wasn’t their only accomplishment. The group of seniors prepared the mudroom to hang/stack/organize winter gear including skates and skis. Others in the group spent time repainting the floor and walls of the cabin basement. Now the basement of the cabin matches the new bathrooms upstairs. Both are shiny, clean and fresh! The group rounded out their week with various odds and end jobs and finished the week having some fun on the tube run and ice rink!
Why would a group of 8 seniors from PA come to BBC to paint, clean, sand and scrub? Dock Mennonite Academy requires each senior to participate in senior experience week. Seniors have the option to job shadow a professional in a field they have interest in or spend the week serving. We are thankful this group chose to spend the week helping at BBC.
The next time you’re in the cabin basement as a renter or snow camper or the next time you walk through the pavilion door as a parent, renter, camper, staff or volunteer you might be thankful for their work also!
We’re hoping to see some of them in the future while camp program is in session. In fact we hope the same for you! 2017 has opportunity for folks of all ages to experience BBC (including freshly painted doors). Check out summer and winter options. Hope to see you on the hill soon!
We are fortunate to be operating completely out of the new pavilion! We gained occupancy to the entire building June 2016. We had partial occupancy June 2015. We are focused on finishing this project! That includes finishing moving in, some additional fundraising and completion of a few items.
Moving in is the easy part! Total cash needs to finish the project and pay down outstanding debt is $249,500. $116,000 of this is debt on which we are paying interest. We are working to get rid of this debt (you could make a contribution now… or buy a session of camp for your child for Christmas)! The remaining $133,500 is to finish aspects of the project. Those aspects include kitchen equipment, climbing wall/high ropes, wood boiler, finishes (paint, sealing floor etc). Find the detailed list and estimated costs at the bottom of this post.
To date we have spent a little over $1,800,000 on the building including the loans referenced above, some in-kind gifts of materials and almost 7,000 volunteer hours. We expect to complete the project and all its components as time and money allow. We expect to finish paying down debt by end of calendar year 2017. And we expect many great uses of the building from now on! The building has served campers for two summer camp seasons and this winter will be the second winter camp season hosted in the new building. There have been 5 weddings and many other group uses already in the short time the building has existed. If you would like to give to help finish this project, PLEASE let me know.
Summer programming starts in a month! We want to have occupancy to the pavilion by the end of the month. Can you help?!
Join us on Saturday May 28th from 9am – 3pm for Spring Work Day! Jobs will include (but not limited to) .Painting the upstairs of the pavilion .Turning the pavilion from a construction zone to summer camp zone .Putting away/Cleaning up winter camp equipment .Preparing Shelter Sites for Summer .Preparing grounds for summer camp
We’ll have jobs for all skill levels and lunch for everyone, too! Russell “OWO” Pejouey will be on site to cook a delicious lunch.
Lodging is available here at Bethany Birches for anyone who wants to come from a distance or make a weekend of it!
Email amber at bethanybirches.org to let us know you can help or respond on the BBC Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/568154376678577/
I’ve been struck the last few days how much fun it is to bring friends to camp! This past week 2 volunteers who have been coming to camp for the past 18+ years brought two friends to camp. Each of them contributed to help the 2nd floor of the pavilion progress.
Merle Horst and Dave Mussleman are part of the Musser Woodcutting crew. This crew of guys have been cutting the camp’s wood for the last 18+ years. A few weeks ago I sent an email to Merle to see if he could round up some able volunteers to help us finish the 2nd floor of the pavilion. Dave was available and so were 2 friends – Lester and Will.
Thanks to Merle and Dave inviting friends a lot MORE was accomplished in 2 and a half days on the top floor of the pavilion. Beautiful barn doors, trim, wainscot caps, shelves were among their projects. Not to mention everyone seemed to have a lot of fun! Community building happens among campers, volunteers, staff and whoever finds themselves on the hill. Camp is always more fun with friends!
If you’re a camper family – consider inviting at least 1 new friend to BBC this summer! If you’re a volunteer – consider inviting a friend who’s never been to camp to join you the next time you’re on the hill!
2016 is off to a good start at BBC! Framing for the big doors is happening, an inaugural fire was lit in the pavilion fireplace and drywall on the 2nd floor is almost complete. Can you help us keep going?!
Join us on Feb 6th to keep making progress on the 2nd floor of the pavilion AND to transform the pavilion from a construction zone to a snow camp zone! We’ll have work for skilled (hanging pine boards, trim, etc) and unskilled (painting, clean up, organizing, etc) volunteers alike. Coffee Break, Lunch (12:30) and a tubing break for all as well! Please let us know you’re coming so we can plan projects and lunch accordingly. (amber at bethanybirches dot org or call the office 802-672-5220)
The fun will start at 9am. Come for an hour or come for the day.
If you can’t join us on the 6th but would still like to help, please let us know. There are various projects that can be done outside of work days if you have other time you are able to give.
OR if you have a group you’d like to bring for a few days we’d be happy to coordinate that as well.
We are so thankful for your help! Hope to see you on the hill soon,