Posts Tagged ‘excited for camp’

Living with Cheeks is a gift! Spiritual Saturday

Many of you know Cheeks.  She’s been the Program Director at Bethany Birches for many years (this will be her 9th summer).  She also happens to be my wife.  We got married after working here at camp together for a few years.

To me, Cheeks has been a gift from God.  Let me explain:

Many days I realize this through various circumstances.  Today, I realized it again.  This time it was related to the fact that she doesn’t get distracted by stuff (you could even say she doesn’t care much about stuff).  Seriously.  She doesn’t like to spend a lot of money on stuff.  She uses stuff until it breaks down entirely.  If she looses something, she shrugs it off and mentions that she didn’t really need it anyway.  Take her purse/bag for example.  Right now, there’s a hole in it and one handle has broken off.  She’s still using it.  If it broke entirely, she might never get a new one.  She might use another bag in the closet or fill her pockets.

I am quite different.  I like stuff.  I like high quality stuff and I like when it performs well.  If it gets scratched or damaged, I like to repair it.  Take my bike for example.  I rode it today and it was wet.  When I got home, I hosed it off and set it in front of a fan to dry.  I washed it so the chain was free of grit and used the fan so that nothing would rust.

Tuna Cheeks Thumbs UpHere’s the thing.  We only get so much time on Earth.  Old people tell me that it goes fast.  Researching, getting and taking care of stuff takes a lot of time.  And, those of us who care about our stuff can at times be on the verge of caring too much for it.  This is part of why Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell his stuff.

Back to me and Cheeks.  She is a constant example of what it looks like to care less about stuff.  With her attention not focused on stuff, she tends to focus on people… and she’s very good at considering others!  Not only is this a blessing to me, it’s a witness.

I hope you find a way to bless those you live with today like Cheeks blesses me.  When that way is unclear, look to Jesus.  He will show you.

Tuna

At Home in the World: Spiritual Saturday

Among the blogs I read is Generous Matters. It’s largely about generosity, giving and making ourselves rich toward God (rather than just plain old rich). This past Friday, the author of the blog included an excerpt from CS Lewis… I love CS Lewis! Here’s what he wrote in one of his books:

“Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that is ‘finding his place in it,’ while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of really being at home on Earth, which is just what we want. You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.”

Having read Screwtape Letters, I know that Lewis does not consider it a good thing when we feel “at home on Earth.”  Being at home on Earth makes it hard to be at home in God’s Kingdom.

This summer, we hope to have a ton of fun while discovering together this special place some Christians call God’s Kingdom.  If we trust Jesus’ words, we know that in that place is where we receive “life to the full.”

Tuna

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

 

 

 

Staff Saturday: Ray Charles

Greetings friends – this past Saturday was crazy busy here at camp.  It was Spring Work Day, Open House and the Annual Association Meeting.  There was so much going on I couldn’t post this note from Ray.  Here’s what she says:

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Hi campers!

So excited to spend another summer up on the hill with you all! Last year was just too much fun so I had to make my way back up from Ohio to camp again this summer. As the weather has started warming up I can’t stop thinking about the fun Wet’n’Wild Wednesdays we had last summer. From the baked oatmeal, to the slip’n’slide, then the cookout complete with s’mores—that day stands out as one of my favorite parts of the week. I’m excited to see again those I got to know last year and also meet some new and awesome friends! I’m sure we’ll all learn something new this summer too, whether it’s from shelter chats, fireside, or from all the fantastic people Jesus brings to camp. God’s got great adventures planned for this summer and I hope to see you all there!
Ray Charles

Tuna Tuesday: Life to the full

I was writing in my journal this morning after reading a booked called Enjoy the Silence. Great book. Geared toward teens but relevant to adults.

In my reflection, I was thinking about the fact that last summer was our second most attended summer ever. And that high attendance came after a spring of virtually no advertising and very little marketing. We were focused on the cabin renovations and simply being able to use the building in time for summer.

Any increase in attendance couldn’t be traced to communications work done that winter and spring. I believe it was God who brought the increase. For me, this is a reminder that it is God who sustains all things (and even lets us partner sometimes in this effort – like when we tend our gardens). It’s God who provides the air we breathe and the life we were born into.

Pray with me that we will remember this each day and that once again, this summer, God will bring many campers so he may inspire them and encourage their hope and faith. We are told that faith is what pleases God. And with God we have life to the full.

To another summer, experiencing life to the full!

Tuna

 

Staff Saturday: Frodo (and a Lamb)

frodo and a lambHello My Dear Campers!

This is Frodo here, reporting in that I will be seeing all of you at Bethany Birches Camp this summer! I hope you are planning to return with me and are ready to enjoy some of our favorite camp craziness. Every day I think about being up on the hill at camp and enjoying my very favorite day of the week.. wet n’ wild Wednesday. I think about soaping up my belly and running towards the slip n’ slide, and then going down to the pond for some jump competition and of course an amazing cookout. There is no better way to spend a summer day than up at Bethany Birches with all of you! I have been practicing up on my guitar skills every day too, getting ready to have a summer filled with music. I can’t wait to sing to Jesus, share His amazing love, and have an amazing time with each of you!

Until we meet again!

Frodo Birches

Les Miserables & Camp: Tuna Tuesday

So Cheeks and I watched Les Miserables on video the other night.  It’s a classic story and the most recent version done on video is very good.  As I was watching the scene when Javert decides to drown himself, I realized one of many reasons to learn to love our enemies – so we don’t drown ourselves!

Here’s what he says in the song that made me think of this:

Da.ned if I’ll live in the debt of thief
Da.ned if I’ll yield at the end of the chase
I am the law and the law is not mocked
I’ll spit his pity right back in his face
There is nothing on Earth that we share
It is either Valjean or Javert!

Full Lyrics


In short, he can’t handle the fact that his enemy, Jean Valjean, loved him enough to help him in his time of need (Valjean gains permission to release him from behind enemy lines – he would have been most likely killed had Valjean not done this).  He can’t stand this kindness so much that he decides to drown himself.

An article from Wikipedia explains the narrative this way:

“Javert wanders the streets in emotional turmoil: his mind simply cannot reconcile the image he had carried through the years of Valjean as a brutal ex-convict with his acts of kindness on the barricades. Now, Javert can be justified neither in letting Valjean go nor in arresting him. For the first time in his life, Javert is faced with the situation where he cannot act lawfully without acting immorally, and vice versa. Unable to find a solution to this dilemma, and horrified at the sudden realization that Valjean was simultaneously a criminal and a good person—a conundrum which made mockery of Javert’s entire system of moral values—Javert decides to resolve the dissonance by drowning in the river Seine; his body is later found.”

Here’s my point – Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies is for our own good.  Whether we drown ourselves in an actual river or a metaphorical river, hate causes deep inner turmoil.

One of our goals at camp is to build a community of love each week, each summer and over the lifetime of the camp, with all who participate.  This helps each of us learn to love those we otherwise might not get along with.  In learning to love those hard to love, we become free from hate.  Just one of the many things Jesus saves us from.

Tuna

Mt. Washington & The Life of Faith: Tuna Tuesday

So yesterday I hiked up the back side of Mt. Washington with some friends.  We wanted to get some late season skiing in!

I have a cool GPS map but there’s an error with the file.  If you could see the map you’d notice that we were all over the place! After hiking up, we walked to different areas of the mountain to see how the skiing was over there (and then over there… and over there). We did this because we didn’t know the mountain very well and wanted to find out where the sweet spots were.

Tuna and Friends Mt WashingtonThis is not so different than the life of faith.  For example, Jesus tells us in the Bible that he is “the way, the truth and the life…”  For many years, it was hard for me to understand what that meant.  I hadn’t experienced him enough to know that what he said is true or understand how it worked.   I hadn’t found out where the good skiing was, yet, so to speak.  In fact, yesterday I had to trust that there was good skiing up there somewhere.  And I trusted that there was because many people have said so, and, I had been there a few times before.

Tuna and friends on mt washingtonWhen we got down, one friend mentioned that he feels like he knows the mountain much better now.  (He’d better – we spent 10 hours walking around on top of it!)  When following Jesus, in faith, it feels very much like this.  A little like wondering around for a while on top of a mountain.  And, we get to know him better after spending time with him or trying out something he said.  Then we come to a knowledge of him.  Knowledge of him (or of the mountain) is beyond faith in him (or trust that the mountain will have some sweet spots).

Just one of the many reasons I’m excited for Summer Camp 2013.  Another chance to explore the life of faith and come to know Jesus.  Please share if you too are excited for camp (or have been up Mt. Washington in the spring!).

What about you – what’s the life of faith like for you?

Tuna

 

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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

Making Friends

It’s Tuna Tuesday in our Excited for Camp Campaign.

I’m excited for camp because it’s when camp comes alive.  It’s when people are singing all the time. People are [video_lightbox_youtube video_id=”N3bzb-fjVG4&rel=0″ width=”640″ height=”480″ anchor=”getting messy”] all the time (then cleaning up).  It’s when I get to run out of the office to play group games or four square or pretend to be really angry about something which sets the stage for a Mission Impossible skit for the coming night.  It’s a time when my faith in Jesus is stretched, challenged and encouraged.  It’s a time when I make new friends.

That brings me to my next point – making friends.  In her blog post from 2011, Pepper talked about the relationship building that happens here at camp.  And it’s one of my favorite things!  Ever since college, I learned the value and joy of community.   And at Bethany Birches, we talk a lot about building community.  Particularly a community of love.  The kind that lets us see God smiling at us.  God is often near, it’s just that we often have a hard time seeing him.  And somehow, at camp, as we build a community of love together, we can see God more often.

I hope you’ll join us this summer to make some new friends and hopefully, see God.  He’s often not far…