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!
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.”
The main work of the BBC Board of Directors continues to be the definition of the Master Plan and the impact developing program has on facility.
We have had a lot of super help from Robert Buchan. Robert is an AIA- and CSI-certified Architect who brings a great set of planning and design skills. Those skills have been invaluable in helping the board make good progress in understanding the requirements of the plan and facility as we move along. Robert’s close work with Brandon has been a key motivator of the process. We have been 7 looking at lists of space recommendations and sketches of how those might fit together. These combine with thoughtful work by Amber and Brandon on what the program staff needs to successfully serve our growing program in the coming decades. It’s really satisfying to begin to see how these could be a positive part of our growth.
The board has also begun to think about our policy coverage. While we’re against a huge boxful of unremembered and useless rules, we have realized that our coverage is a little thin in a few critical areas. A lot of these areas orbit around our interface to the evolving online world. As people are more “wired” into the culture all the time, we need to allow our staff to move freely and safely in both the physical and virtual domains, but also protect privacy and well-being of staff and campers alike. With the rise of social media as a force in marketing and the direction of campers’ lives, we strive to ensure the staff connects with campers and constituents in positive ways.
Finally, the board members are pleased and excited to look forward to the hard, satisfying, tiring, lovely, and excellent work the staff and many volunteers spend the Summer doing. We are so thankful for all the extraordinary people who give in so many ways to our mission: to help young people to develop their relationship with God by providing them with a Christ-centered camping experience in a natural and nurturing environment. Thank you for all you have done for BBC in the past and will do in the future!
You may have noticed the recent Bethany Birches blog or Facebook page. Maybe cruising around on Youtube you saw the BBC channel. Maybe you even noticed the BBC Twitter feed. Or, maybe you think all this social media stuff is a fad and you’re sad to see BBC getting “sucked in.” Whatever your opinions on the matter, this newsletter is being provided on our new blog. The benefit to reading it on the blog is that there is some media in addition to the text and a few other stories, including a conversation between Cheeks and Clack.
Prior to the winter of 2007, the mother of a teen camper asked if we could host a reunion of sorts during the winter for the teen campers. That year Polar Bear Snow Camp for 14-18 yr olds was replaced with a 24 hour teen reunion. It was a hit! Since then the teen reunion has evolved into three 24 hour gatherings for teens to come back, reconnect, relax at camp and discuss relevant life topics. We call these events Connect.
And even more recently, we started inviting/ asking/begging our teens to come join us for work days, the Annual Auction and anything else we can use their help with. Connects plus volunteerism plus the BBC Internship program in the summer has led to a handful of our recent teen campers joining the summer staff. Voila! We have stumbled into what we were hoping for: a way to connect on a deeper level with campers year-round. Was this mother’s request in 2007 serendipitous or guided? Yes. Was her desire and her child’s and ours God-given or simple luck? Yes. Is it more possible to carry out the Great Commission (one of our main goals at camp) through an intense experience or ongoing relationship? Yes.
And this ongoing interest in more camp throughout the year is one of several significant reasons it’s time to rebuild the pavilion.
“The best part is being with friends and learning about God and love” Angie
“The best part was hanging out with friends and going somewhere you feel apart from the rest of the world” Tori
“It’s fun to express your religion and talk about it with other people with- out feeling ridiculed or anything of the sort. It’s also great because every year I meet new people and get new friends and great memories.” Miquela
“I love relaxing, playing games, meeting new people and seeing old friends. It’s the best place to be!” Taylor
“What is NOT good about it? I love the milk challenge, games, seeing friends etc.” Max
Archbold, Ohio: Joan Landis Alderfer, (September 1, 1940 – March 18, 2011) age 70, of Archbold and formerly of Woodstock, Vermont, passed away Friday, March 18, 2011 in her home. Prior to her retirement she had worked as a pri- vate duty Registered Nurse. She also volunteered at 10,000 Villag- es in Archbold. She thoroughly enjoyed her grandchildren who called her “Oma”, and she also enjoyed trips to the Jersey shore, gardening, music, reading and birds.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be given to Bethany Birches Camp, 2610 Lynds Hill Road, Plymouth, Vermont 05056, where Joan and the children had been involved since the early stages of the camp as volunteers, workers, and also as campers.
This text was taken from her obituary at meaningful funerals (meaningfulfunerals.net).
Thanks to each of you who have honored Joan in your giving. She and her family have been involved here for many years and her grandchildren still come to camp here – all the way from Ohio! You may still give in honor of Joan on our website (www.bethanybirches.org/give-now) or by sending a check and including a note in the memo.