Camp is packed full of so many fun activities. While part of my job is to think of new and exciting activities to bring to camp, we have often looked to campers for inspiration as well. From interviews, to camper’s evaluations, to conversations, we want campers to have a voice. If a camper has a creative vision, we’ll run with it. I imagine this is how the pillow log came to be, and it’s exactly why we installed an archery range. Kids after all have the best imaginations!
This year we are putting on our second consecutive special theme week that looks different from the usual Vermont summer camp program. We chose the title UbuildIt. We are harnessing the imaginations of 50 or so campers to create a very fun and interactive week. Campers will be able to pick their favorite activities when they register. We will plan the week based on these choices. Campers will even have the chance to modify existing activities for each other. Some of the favorites up for modification include Mission Impossible, Pig Trough, Slip N’ Slide, Camp Cinema, Group Games.
So often in this day and age we see young people relying on social media, screens and apps to entertain. This favorites UbuildIt week is going to turn this model upside down and challenge campers to get involved in making the fun! We couldn’t be more excited to see what they come up with.
At camp, we tend not to do commercials. We aren’t a commercial place and we try hard to remain rustic. We cook meals over the fire, use wood to heat buildings, use cast iron to cook food, light our way at night with gas lanterns and all sorts of other old-time stuff. This lack of technology at camp helps keep distractions at bay (although, let’s be honest, cast iron and gas lanterns are awesome technologies!).
As we learn how to communicate with the outside world, we try to demonstrate camp as best we can so those who haven’t yet been to camp, can gain a sense for how fun it really is. Each winter camp session, campers just can’t seem to get enough tubing!
We used video to demonstrate how much campers LOVE to tube in this 30 second commercial.
BBC has chosen a theme for summer 2014! There has been a pattern developing the past few years. A theme for the upcoming summer is chosen and at the same time the prior summer’s theme is STUCK in my mind. For the past 6 weeks we’ve contemplated the summer theme for 2014 and I’ve had Mission Possible (summer 2013) on the brain!
Over the next few weeks perhaps I’ll share some of the ways I’ve seen Mission Possible come alive outside the realm of summer camp. I could share how Mission Possible has morphed into a relevant way to experience God everyday. For now, here’s one example:
I love presents! Some people know this about me. Some people may not. I love to OPEN presents and I love to GIVE presents. The look on someone’s face when they first view the present they didn’t even know they wanted but are so glad to have is priceless! Giving someone joy makes me near giddy. The anticipation of uncovering what is underneath the wrapping paper is the best suspense I’m aware of! I love presents.
This year is different. I can’t decide what to wrap for the people I love most. What do they want? What do they need?
This year is different. Both sides of my family have decided to exchange names which means less giving/receiving of presents.
This year giving presents has felt nearly impossible. And then I received the following in an email:
“This time of year, I’m particularly aware of the importance of presence. Not presents, but presence… The gift of their (family) presence has been truly the most rewarding gift I have ever received. Just knowing that they are there for me gives me confidence to do whatever my heart desires. And that is a great gift. In this season of presents, it’s easy to get bogged down in the commercialism and gift buying. I would like to encourage you to give someone your presence this holiday season. It will mean a great deal to the giver and the receiver. ” (Michelle Cummings, Training Wheels CEO)
Suddenly both giving and receiving seems possible. And exciting. I will give my presence. I will enjoy the presence of others. Together we will experience God’s presence.
Celebrating Christmas at Camp with Presents – Summer 2013
People often ask how the fundraising for the pavilion project is going. I say really well! It’s been an encouraging so far with many people giving however they can. Many generous donors have given and pledged over $1,225,000. Below is an outline of the gifts we’ve received to date in graphic form. We are elated and grateful for the generosity shown to date and also aware we still have $600,000 to go till we reach the $1,800,000 goal. $1.8M will not only build the new pavilion, it will pay for camp program for four years (2012-2015). The logic takes a little explaining but the short story is that we built the campaign this way so that we could raise the program-subsidy money we raise each year while we’re raising money for the pavilion all with one message. That message is that VT young people need a place for faith-development and that place needs to include programming beyond summer. Our secondary message is very simple: the current pavilion is broken!
Will you help? There are two ways you can help:
We’re still searching for commitments of money. Would you consider a monthly gift of $10 or more?
We’re now seeking commitments of time. We’ll value time commitments at $20/hour. So if you said you could give us a week of time (40 hours), say to do a bunch of painting, we’d count that as a gift of $800 toward the remaining money to be raised. You can fill out the form on this page to let us know of your gift
In other news, I’d like to highlight the biggest gift given to date. It was in the amount of $200,000 and was given by the Clemens Family Corporation (CFC)! CFC (http://www.clemensfamilycorp.com) owns Hatfield Quality Meats, Country View Family Farms, Clemens Development, CFC Logistics, PV Transport and Nick’s Sausage Company. Their vision is quite simply to “steward diversified, profitable and growing enterprises controlled by the Clemens family.” Among their stated values are:
Honor God in all we do
Earn a reputation of high ethics and integrity
Take a long-term view
Share success with team members, community and shareholders
Seek to set commercial standards
Some of the camp’s supporters work for CFC businesses and that is, in part, the connection between CFC and Bethany Birches.
Thanks John, Merrill, Doug and other CFC members for giving The Pavilion Project a huge boost!
Campers say thanks to Pavi Donors!
Campers talk about the old and new pavilions:
And here is a visual image of the giving to date. Pretty amazing to have so many gifts of so many different sizes. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Next spring we’ll be hosting a pavi party. You know, to celebrate the last summer in the original BBC pavilion. Who’d you go to camp with? Do you have any pictures? Favorite memories? One thing we’ll plan to do at the party is make a time capsule to stuff in the wall of the new building. If you have any contributions to make to the time capsule, please send them in! You could email to camp at bethanybirches.org or call the office or send a carrier pigeon!
We’ve been getting busier at camp the last couple years. There have been more campers, more programs, more volunteers and more work! Many hands make light work, right? This year we budgeted for some extra staff time. Though part time, Sparkles (Katelyn Golding) and Big Wade (Andrew Moyer) have been getting their hands dirty here at camp this year and helping make light of the extra work.
Sparkles is the Assistant Program Director and off-season works part-time in the office and on special projects. She is from Weathersfield, VT and started in the winter of 2012-13. She recently graduated from Eastern Mennonite University. She now lives at camp.
Big Wade is the Facilities Manager and started in September. He is looking forward to helping with the Pavilion Project as much as he can. Wade was on staff in 2005 and 2006 and is finally back. His full time work is for Bontrager Fine Carpentry based in Bridgewater, VT. Wade recently moved into the apartment that was constructed at camp specifically for this position.
Sparkles leading a game in the pavilion this past summer
Big Wade and his puppy dog, Dutch
Construction in summer 2012 to build the apartment for the facilities manager
Mission Possible All Around: #WithGod all things are possible…
…#WithGod BBC used Mission Possible as the summer-long theme based on Matthew 19:26. Campers were challenged to be #WithGod both at camp and at home. The Mission Possible theme also explored how we can be #WithGod and why it matters. Shepherds invited campers to be #WithGod in all aspects of life.
…#WithGod BBC created a new week of camp this summer: Mission Possible week. Campers were invited on a week-long mission to prove BBC is achieving its mission. Campers participated in the traditional version of their favorite game multiple times and were surprised with MI versions adapted especially for this first time BBC program…
…#WithGod BBC created a new program this summer dedicated to teen campers who want to be at camp more than one week of the summer. Mission Possible Crew week allowed 14-18 yr old campers to come to camp to help with clean up and program while continuing to enjoying the perks of camper life. BBC Crew campers enjoyed setting up and guarding for Mission Impossible games. One crew member enjoyed it because “we got to help make the campers time at camp better while having fun at the same time!” (Erianna, ’13 Crew Member)
…#WithGod BBC is working towards a new pavilion. Each Friday night campers shared with their parents various reasons why camp needs a new pavilion. Mission Possible: The Pavilion Project is building momentum with 1.2 million of the 1.8 million dollar goal committed.
My camp name is “G” from Goliath. I am from Indonesia and I came to US with MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) in the International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP) in September 2012. BBC was my second placement during a year with MCC. Working at BBC was so meaningful to me because I worked in nature a lot! I really felt God working through nature and camp activities. The summer theme “Mission Possible” fit with me, since in the US I worked as a volunteer far from my real “world”, but I finished the assignment because it was possible #WithGod.
Working at BBC really opened my heart and mind to God. I enjoyed both work as a maintenance support and counselor assistant. In my sight, I believed that kids were not wasting their time at BBC, surrounded with good counselors, staff that are really energetic and full of passion in sharing about God’s love. I was excited to play guitar at fireside when I was there, hear the kids and all staff singing together to make a joyful noise and powerful praise to our God.
Apple cider, maple syrup and donuts, oh my! Have you ever experienced the BBC auction? Let me give you a glimpse into the things that touched me this past weekend:
Campers come and help sell the items on the live auction by presenting the items to the audience – little do they know what an impact that has on the sale of the item!
Counselors and staff return with donated items- or they are like “mystery shoppers”, proxy bidding for those online bids that have been submitted.
People travel from places far & wide to come spend a day in the beautiful countryside and support camp.
A fabulous auctioneer from PA (Sandy Alderfer of Alderfer Auction Company) comes with his entourage to most definitely get more money per item with his perfect blend of humor, compassion and philanthropic encouragement.
Items are baked, chopped, squeezed, pressed, fried, ground, and cooked with loving hands to provide nourishment for the crowds and yummy additions to the sale!
Oh yes, and then the money…. People pay crazy amounts for everyday items. 15 people chose to simply donate $200-$400 each to send a camper to camp. And a wonderful “matching donor” (Glenn and Diane Moyer) agreed to double what was raised per dollar for any amount raised between $20,000 and $40,000.
Maybe it is because I didn’t grow up going to auctions that I am just awed by it all. Maybe because I truly love BBC – the place that it is, the kids, staff and counselors, and all that it represents. Maybe it’s because I know that there is something bigger than me out there, and He always shows himself to me when I’m there. Whatever the reason, I left the 2013 BBC Auction with a thankful heart and a happy soul. And the icing on the cake is that through all of this we keep making progress towards this wonderful goal of keeping the camp alive and thriving for generations to come. With the additional money raised, we have now raised well over $1 million towards the goal of $1.8 million for a new pavilion at camp.
For more information on that project (Mission Possible: The Pavilion Project) see the website or sign up for emails or text updates.