If you make a gift of $400 a camper who literally could not come to camp through any other means will get to come. Even if you can only give $10, give it! 40 people giving $10 each will send a camper. You’ll receive a letter from a camper who got to come to camp as a result of you sharing your resources. If you’d like to give on a monthly basis automatically, you can do that by logging into your donor account through our website. If you have given before but don’t know your login, simply fill out the form on the page to receive your login.
The sky is the limit. The possibilities are endless. With 100 acres of wilderness and a week’s time the options for activities, discussion, events and experiences at camp are endless. The limitless options can sometimes make planning a summer camp program overwhelming! How does one choose what to do, what to talk about and what to focus on? Over the last 8 years our answer to this question has been THEMES! Wet N Wild Wednesday; Messy Monday; Tidy UP Tuesday; Theater Thursday and Fun Filled, Fire Free, Favorites, Farewell Friday. Each day has a theme and this helps us stay focused in this ADHD day-in-age and gives campers something to look forward to.
Themes also help us in our mission to help young people develop their relationship with God. Each summer has an overarching theme that gives counselors and shepherds a platform for sharing about God’s love and the life of Jesus with campers. The hope is that campers will relate to and remember their experience with God more readily.
Inside Out is the theme for 2012. After using highly specific nature themes for the past few years (Out on a Limb (Trees); Rock Solid (Rocks); Aglow (Fire); H2O (Water); etc) the theme Inside Out will focus on how God’s Kingdom AND the natural world around us often seem inside out from what might be expected. With the beatitudes as our guide (Matthew 5) campers will examine the life and teachings of Jesus. How did Jesus live differently from the world around him? Why would people live differently than the status quo? How does a tall tree grow from a small seed? How can life come from death? What does a life following Jesus look like? These are some of the questions campers and counselors will ask together this summer. Can’t wait!
Keep up more regularly with camp and also get discounts (rentals and program)! You can do it by reading our blog from time to time. To make it easier for you, now you can get updates via email. Just click here to sign up.
Each month, I write an email to some of Bethany Birches’ supporters. The topics and content vary. I share from my heart in these emails, about things that have happened at camp that I just love! A lot of times, I highlight something that one of our campers or staff has written or done. And, what would a note to supporters be without updates and sharing of needs?! Expect that too. Here’s April’s update.
You can subscribe to this update if you’d like right here.
What do I remember about Bethany Birches? I remember the great fireside roundups, cooking over the fire, British Bulldog game, the mud pit, sleeping in the cabins, and so much more. My name is Leah Beidler and my week at BBC was often the best week of the summer. I am now 28 years old and living in Dorchester, MA, but was a faithful BBC camper for years when I was in middle school. I always enjoyed the drive up there and the excitement of what the week might hold. I met great friends, got to sing great songs about Jesus, and be immersed in God’s country.
I now live in the inner city of Boston and volunteer with a church in an underserved, high crime area. Vermont and Dorchester, MA are two different worlds. I have gone from the quiet, solitude of Vermont to hearing sirens, sometimes gunshots, and many other things. In the midst of the darkness I have found great light in the children and youth that live in our neighborhood. They are hungry for new experiences. I am the Youth Pastor at the church and this summer I wanted to get some of the children out of the neighborhood. My hope is that they could experience something new, exciting, enriching, and full of Jesus. BBC was that and everything more. I was a little skeptical about bringing three boys from the inner city up to BBC because of the extreme differences, but I remember what BBC did for my heart and growth so I wanted to give it a chance.
I think the best moment was picking the boys up after a week at BBC. The whole ride to Vermont I was worried that I would get there and they would say their time was miserable and boring. When I arrived they greeted me with hugs and begged to stay. They told me all about what they had learned, games they had played, and friends they had made. The highlight was hearing one of our boys read a poem that was about his vision, hopes, and thoughts about God. I remember thinking; “This alone makes it worth it.” To share that energy with the boys and hear the excitement that BBC and the staff brought to their hearts was an amazing gift. I am so grateful for the staff at BBC and their hearts to pour into our children, youth, and this kingdom on earth. Thank you! We are already waiting for next summer.
Like most campers, I did not go to Bethany Birches for the first time looking for an opportunity to grow spiritually. Like most campers, my family was from the area and did not have a lot of money. Like most campers, my older sibling went to camp and came home with stories. Like most campers my parents were happy to have me out of the house for a week during the summer. My Bethany Birches story is very like the story of so many campers, and that gives me hope.
Since my first week of camp about twenty years ago, I have returned to Bethany Birches many times. At first I returned simply because at camp we built fires and ran around in the woods and played games, it was all a young boy could ask for. As the summers passed my reason for returning to camp changed; I still looked forward to all of the activities but I also looked forward to seeing the friends who I only saw at camp. I looked forward to seeing the counselors who I greatly admired. I looked forward to singing songs and seeing skits and hearing the stories the staff shared. I looked forward to being in a place where I felt Christian community most strongly, where I felt God.
When I was invited to become a counselor I thought I knew what I was doing. After nine years as a camper and junior counselor, I had honed my dodge ball skills and knew how to build fires. My very first week disabused me of the notion that I could succeed on my own. There were seven eight-year-old boys who were expecting me to make them pancakes and who were unaware of the benefits of socks and sunscreen. Others vacillated from fast friends to bitter enemies and back again in minutes. The energy I thought I had was not enough, the patience I thought I had was not enough, the skills I thought I had were not enough.
Jeremiah 17:7 says “blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.” Thanks to the campers I have had I have been blessed. Reliance on God changes from an abstract to an absolute when you are a camp counselor, as does the concept of Christian community. The campers are the fire which forges a disparate group of young adults into a hardened team of prayer-warrior servants like nothing else I have experienced. You have to trust God, you have to trust each other.
The “real world” intervened in my plans of being a camp counselor for the rest of my life. Although I no longer have the great blessing of being on the staff each summer, I still try to get back to camp as often as I can. Instead of looking forward to fire building and dodge ball, I now look forward to seeing God at work in the lives of the campers and staff. I look forward to reconnecting with campers who I have known for years. I look forward to meeting new campers who are just starting out on their journeys, journeys like the one I am on. My hope for these campers is that they will experience God and learn what a loving community can be.
It was a beautiful day. We decided to have our board meeting in the pavilion. The purpose of this meeting was to review the three proposals I received from three different consultants. See, we have never ventured into such a large fundraising event as we need to now. We felt we needed help. After much debate and regardless of concerns about whether we should spend our money this way, we decided to hire Design Group to help us plan for our upcoming fundraising campaign.
We haven’t been sad yet. Mark Vincent, the consultant who is working with us, has been doing a good job thus far. In October, we held three focus groups. These groups were held for two reasons: 1) to start sharing the need to replace the pavilion and 2) so that Mark could get a deeper understanding of how much the BBC Community is interested in supporting this project. How can he advise us without talking to you, the supporters and volunteers of the camp?
These focus groups, a survey and phone interviews along with a review of our internal procedures and abilities are all part of what Design Group calls a Readiness process. By the end of December we will have their report. After that, we will come together as a board and decide how to pursue this need for a replaced pavilion. And then we’re into the fundraising.
I see these as exciting times. Our board is extremely unified. We have extra opportunities to talk with supporters of the camp and we get to look seriously at how to fulfill our mission of helping young people develop their relationship with God through a Christ-centered camping experience in a natural and nurturing environment. Ye ha!
Opportunities to learn abound at summer camp. Campers are taught about Jesus through relationship with counselors, staff and friends. Campers learn of God’s creativity as they uncover the great outdoors. Staff and campers learn about relationship as we seek to develop a community of love all summer long. This past summer we even sought to help campers gain and maintain traditional academic skills through a program called “Explore 30.” Explore 30 is a nationwide program sponsored by the American Camp Association (ACA). Explore 30 is a program that helps camps encourage campers to read for at least 30 minutes a day. The ACA developed this program to address a problem common in school students called Summer Learning Loss. This summer at BBC 30 minutes of each day was dedicated to reading. Campers could choose if they wanted to read during this time. Some campers opted to draw, sleep, journal or day dream, but many chose to read. Some counselors took this opportunity to share their favorite stories with campers while others opted to keep up with their own reading. Either way, this summer at Bethany Birches Camp, campers were encouraged to keep learning through both traditional methods and methods unique to the camp setting!
To learn more about Summer Learning Loss and Explore 30:
A highlight of summer 2011 for many campers and staff was the addition of the GaGa Pit.
An octagonal wall allows many participants to enjoy an exciting, fast paced game of GaGa, a form of dodgeball. The game starts by throwing the ball up and shouting Ga the first two times the ball hits the ground and continues until only one person is left in the pit. After that everyone jumps back in and a new game begins. It doesn’t matter if someone has quick feet or slow, is young or old, jumps high or not, anyone can play and have a lot of fun! Many campers would have loved to play this game all day every day. Some campers cleaned up meals faster to play GaGa. The pit was always full during free time. If you haven’t played the game yet, get yourself up to the hill to play. Tuna and Cheeks are always ready for a game of GaGa!
Special thanks to YoYo, Chad Yoder, Brian Goshow and Gerry Hawkes for playing significant roles in the construction of the GaGa Pit! Thanks also for the Eco Track Gerry, and the brackets Brian!