Archive for the ‘Program News’ Category

Spring Newsletter 2013: Mission Possible, The Pavilion Project

Intel is on a need to know basis. Here’s what you need to know. The effort to replace the old pavilion with a new one is under way.

We’ve been hard at work raising money since October 2012.  Some of camp’s faithful supporters have given generously to achieve nearly $700,000 in commitments already.  The project total is $1,800,000. This will pay for the new pavilion and subsidize program for 4 years (we wanted to consolidate all our fundraising needs for the length of the campaign into one effort).

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to make a gift (or at least a commitment) by August 15, 2013.  If you complete your mission you will receive a couple free gifts.

You may gain intel about the free gifts and give here.

In order to proceed, you must watch the video about the project here.


 

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

 

 

 

Spiritual Saturday: Buoy is Excited for Camp

Dear campers,

I’m coming back to BBC and I am excited!!  I was unable to be at camp all summer last year and that has made me even more excited for group games, GAGA, the water trampoline, Wet n’Wild Wednesdays, the slip n’slide, cooking over a fire, and so much more. Fun is everywhere at camp!

Along with the fun I am looking forward to the serious relationships that camp builds. My hope is that I can grow the relationships that I have started already while creating new, meaningful, ones with all the campers I am going to meet for the first time this summer. I have learned so much in the last year and a half since I was last at camp and I can hardly wait to share what God has been doing in my life. I also look forward to all the things that you all as campers will teach me.

All of you campers should come back too because everyone at camp is important. That is another reason that I could not stay away from camp for another year. Everyone is welcome at camp. I have never been another place that was as welcoming/accepting as camp.

You should also come to camp this year because we have one of the coolest themes ever. Mission Possible! I think I have a little bit of a bias opinion because the theme relates to one of my favorite bible verses, Philippians 4:13 “for I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” You should come back to camp because we can do everything through Christ so who knows what might happen this summer. Whatever mission God give us is possible. The theme also makes me think of mission impossible one of my favorite games to play at camp.

Lastly I know I will not be alone there is a group of staff coming to camp that I am sure are great.  I have already started to ask that Christ give me the strength that it takes to play games and talk about God, so that we can make this summers’ mission possible. I’m excited to see all of your smiling faces at camp summer.

Buoy

The Excited for Camp Campaign on Facebook

We’re so excited for camp that we decided to find a way to express our excitement online.  Why online? We don’t see enough of the BBC Community in every-day life.  Also, we’re hoping you’ll share your excitement about camp with your friends and posting stuff online is one way we can help you share.

Here’s what we’re planning for Facebook:

  • Memory Mondays
  • Tuna Tuesdays
  • Are You Excited?
  • Thursday’s Trivia
  • Fan of the Week
  • Spiritual Saturdays 

Each day, we’ll post that day’s content on Facebook and some of it on the blog.  And, as we find more ways to share our excitement, we’ll do that (email, Twitter, text, video)!

For example, the first Memory Monday is on the BBC Facebook page right now!  It looks like this:

memory monday fb

There will be some prizes and discounts along the way, shout-outs and highlights.

Will you join us from now till summer camp, online AND offline, sharing with your friends your excitement for camp?

It won’t be long now… 2 months to go.

From Tuna, Cheeks and Sparkles… we’re excited!

Annual Association Meeting

It’s that time of year! When the Bethany Birches Association gathers here at camp.  In short, we work together, eat lunch and transact business.  This year, however, our business transacting will be cut short by two very important things:

  1. A “walk-through” of the pavilion we intend to build in 2014.  More on that later.
  2. Family Feud (or Jeopardy) as Annual Report. We did this for the first time last year and it was a hit.

So please, mark your calendar and plan to join us.  Even if you’re not an association member. The day is open for all!

Here’s the schedule:

9:00 am – work begins. Total agenda not finalized, but may include: water tramp, clean kitchen, carpentry in shelters, trail maintenance.

12:30 pm – lunch!

1:30 pm – meeting begins (see above for most of the agenda)

4:00 pm – if it’s nice, play a round of disk golf… or just go home!

Can you make it?  Drop me a line at brandon @ bethanybirches.org

See you on the hill this spring!

Tuna

Free Camp! Woodstock, Windsor and Rutland

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It’s almost time for Free Camps! What are Free Camps?  They are two-fold:

  1. A chance for you to experience a small piece of camp
  2. A chance for us to share with you what’s happening this upcoming summer at camp

With the obvious intended outcome that you and all your friends sign up for camp this summer!

I think one of the best things about Free Camp is that it is yet another time when the Bethany Birches family comes together.  And, often, it’s a lot of new family members.  There end up being new family members because those already apart of the family bring their friends.  And that’s how camp spreads.  Friend to friend.

In fact, we want to encourage the spreading of camp.  Here are two reasons to come and bring your friends:

  • Bring a camp-aged friend that hasn’t been to BBC before and you both get $30 off of summer 2013
  • Take $10 off for each additional camp-aged friend you bring to Free Camp that hasn’t been to BBC

It’s easy to let us know you’re coming.  Join the event on Facebook, call the office (802-672-5220) or email camp @ bethanybirches.org.

More details here.

Hope to see you at the Free Camps!

Tuna

Volunteers and Video Conference

Last night I had a very fun experience. I had a 3 hour meeting with a bunch of cool people. Here’s the thing – it was all via Google Hangout (a free video conferencing tool). There were 7 of us on the conference in 4 locations.  What makes this more interesting to me is that the meeting was about and for Bethany Birches – a wilderness camp in a rural location. On top of that, the age range of people in the conference was 25-50.  I was surprised that it felt relatively easy to engage with each other and in the content of the meeting.

While this is a non-traditional way for a Christian, wilderness camp to operate, let’s think about some benefits:

  • 7 people representing 3 different states would have to travel a LOT to get together physically
  • That travel costs:
    • A lot of money (auto or plane expenses plus lost time at work)
    • A lot time (1 day instead of only 3 hours)
    • A lot of carbon (we still haven’t main-streamed travel without fossil fuel)
  • Everyone got to finish out the evening in a way they chose rather than driving home.

In short, I’d say it was a worth while way to have this meeting, even for a camp!

I love when an organization invites me to volunteer in a way that maximizes my time and includes me in the right part of a process.  I have a hard time when an organization invites me to  give my time before there is an effective way to use it or before there is clarity around the objective.

Our hope here at BBC is that everyone will consider volunteering here in some capacity and that we will find meaningful ways to plug you in.  It’s not too late to make plans to volunteer this summer!

Tuna

Occupancy Obtained! THANK YOU

It’s true. Occupancy for the Bethany Birches Cabin has been granted.  Here’s the proof, in fact.

This post is about the people who made it happen and what happened. THANK YOU!

What happened:

  • About a year ago we were informed we’d need to stop using the cabin April 1, 2012
  • The board and I struggled to find a way forward – including how to pay for the upgrades
  • Many people gave of their financial resource generously. Without these folks, we couldn’t have done it:  First Congregational Church of Woodstock, Doug and Becky Clemens, Dave and Beth Anders, Blooming Glen Mennonite Church, Bernard Sippin and many others.
  • $75,000 poured in over just a few months.
  • $65,000 has been spent and we’re done meeting the requirements! We expect to use the “extra” toward a few details in the cabin and any additional toward the upcoming Pavilion replacement.  Please do write to me (Brandon) if you’d prefer your gift to be allocated differently.
  • The fire marshals were kind and flexible and helped us create a building that is much safer in case of fire.

Some of the people: (THANK YOU)

  • Robert Buchan – helping with permitting and lending knowledge
  • Paul Derksen & Dave Beidler – carpenters working at a discount seeing the project through
  • Bergey’s Electric – giving materials and sending retired veterans
  • Harold & Esther Bergey, Herb & Janet Frederick – the retired vertans
  • Mike Bryan – overseeing the electrical at a discount
  • Many volunteers came to help
    • The Horsts (Earl, Merle, Mike & Clifford Horst)
    • Joanne & Ken Hershey
    • Leon Kratz
    • Andrew Moyer
    • Matt Haritoonian
    • Greg Jenne
    • Gerry Hawkes
    • Kristopher Blanchard
    • Scott Hepler
    • Dave Doria
    • Tom & Gail Smith
    • Mary Jane Crockett
    • Margaret Campbell
    • Diane Root

 THANK YOU!

Some pictures from the first first stage

Some pictures from the second stage:

 

How the lofts look upon completion:

Finished Cabin Lofts - Hannah Shelly (4)

Kumbaya

I understand Kumbaya means come by here.  Directing this at Jesus, we ask the Lord to come by here, where we are… to show up in our midst. We sang this at Polar Bear Snow Camp with the help of Scott Kratz. Here’s a recording from my phone:

Kumbaya

And a link to download it

5 Reasons to Join us for SNOW CAMP (from the campers)

Last weekend the cabin was bustling with Bobcat Campers. This weekend the cabin will be bustling with Polar Bear Campers. And next weekend the cabin will be bustling with Lynx Campers! Each weekend includes a great line up of snowy adventures on the tubing run and ice rink, unique BBC all camp winter activities, stellar staff and a theme to help us each understand how much God loves us. We asked a few Bobcat Campers what they liked most about snow camp and compiled their response into:

TOP 5 REASONS to come to SNOW CAMP (from a camper’s perspective):

1. The Tubing Run is AWESOME

2. Broomball Tournaments are fun!

3. Lots of Laughter

4. The Indoor Game Room (Air hockey, foosball, ping pong, etc)

5. Making Creations

There are many other reasons to come but you should join us on the hill to find out why! Lynx camp still has openings for any 4th – 8th grader. Register online here or email the camp office with questions: camp@bethanybirches.org

Click here to see a slideshow of Bobcat Camp Pics

Bobcat Campers enjoying the snow

Bobcat Campers enjoying the snow