Archive for the ‘For Parents’ Category

Summer 2020 Coronavirus Plans Part 2

Greetings Friends.  I shared a week ago via email (part 1) that we expected to run some sort of on-site program and that it was not clear what all would be included.  I will continue to report our progress and plans on a weekly basis.

We received guidance from the Governor’s team Friday at noon stating we would be allowed to run resident camp.

We had a board meeting last night and uncovered some issues and challenges.  Our desire remains to use our wonderful property for the community.

So here are a few things I can share with you, even though we are not yet prepared to announce our summer 2020 offerings.

What will summer camp look and feel like?  Quite a bit different!  Here is a document from the VT Dept. of Health outlining what parents should expect from summer programs.  It details who will not be allowed to attend and that staff will be required to wear face coverings a lot.  We will probably have mandatory face covering times even for campers.  Examples may include when being in the pavilion, or, when cooking together at the fire.  Of course, we will adjust our requirements to stay current with VT Health Dept. guidelines if those guidelines change.

In addition, group size will be smaller overall, and, sessions a bit shorter.  Distancing will be part of the experience.  If we run resident programs, campers will sleep with heads at least 6′ apart in the open air shelters, among other distancing measures.

Will out of state campers be allowed to attend?  Only Vermont campers and those who have been in the state for 14 days will be allowed.  There may be a pathway to get around that, but, it’s unclear if we will be able to walk down that path.

If spots are limited, who gets one?  We expect to give priority to those already signed up, for whatever slots are available.  As of today, we have turned registration off for the weekend so no one else can reserve space.  We did this to ease any anxiety you may feel about getting a spot for your child.  If you already have a spot, meaning, you have signed up online, or, sent in your paper form before this was written, you will likely get to keep it, even if in a different session than what you signed up for.

So much more to plan and work through.  Since it isn’t completed, please be patient with us, and, enjoy the hymn I referenced last week.  This version is sung by my brother and a few of his friends a while ago.  The lyrics are important to me right now and I hope offers you some encouragement.

 

Hope you’re all finding ways to be outside, care for yourselves, and those around you.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

Executive Director

BBC Easter Program Live Stream

Greetings Camp Friends

(Reading this after Easter Sunday?  The links below will still take you to the video.  Enjoy anytime!)

He is risen?!  He is risen indeed!  You may or may not be familiar with this Easter call and response phrase.  We say it together on Easter Sunday.  Someone says he is risen and someone replies that he is risen indeed.  Sometimes, I think about the call “he is risen?!” as though it is a question.  As though the asker needs reassurance.  Then the responder affirms very boldly, that it’s true!  Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead!

I digress.  That’s only part of what this email is about… this email is an invite to join us at 7pm Easter Sunday for a ~20 minute reflection and song service.  You’ll hear music from Elvis, Sprocket, Meatball, Tom, and Nugget.  Reflections from Chick, Gigi, and Gwen Groff, pastor at Bethany Mennonite Church.  Join us on Youtube here www.bethanybirches.org/easter-yt and on Facebook here www.bethanybirches.org/easter-fb That will take you to the respective platforms for live a real-time event starting at 7.  Hope to see you there.

He is risen indeed!

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey, Executive Director

Office closed to visitors. Please get in touch virtually.

Bethany Birches office closed to the public.  Email, call, social media.  We are still working toward summer and beyond!  
Please email camp@bethanybirches.org or call 802-672-5220 and we would love to connect.  The camp’s website and blog and social media will remain updated regarding summer plans.  We are currently considering which versions of summer camp may be possible.  Campers who are currently signed up and deposited will receive priority for any programming that does happen.
Delivery?  Feel free to leave package at the door.  We will check for packages daily.

Why you should sign up now for summer camp 2020

Dear Bethany Birches Parents:

The staff are busy preparing for the 2020 summer camp season at Bethany Birches! We realize that these are uncertain times and there may not even be a 2020 summer camp season.  However, we will continue preparing as though there will be summer campFeel confident in signing up for summer 2020 because of 1 and 2 below.  3 and 4 below are in hopes of giving your children something to look forward to while being home for what may be quite some time.

1. Summer cancellation without penalty. If you have signed up for summer camp, or plan to do so, you may cancel with no penalty.  Cancel for any reason and we will keep every dollar on your account for one year.  You could use this at the upcoming winter sessions or the following summer sessions, or for a friend, different child, etc.  Also, if the current crisis causes a limited summer session, there won’t be as many spots. Sign up now with confidence.  As the pace of life slows down day by day you could get your mind in a different space and reserve your child’s summer spot now: http://www.bethanybirches.org/summer-camps-dates/.  If a session is canceled by us or regulators, same thing applies.  All cancellations must be made 3 weeks before the start of your session.

2. Safety. Our leadership team and medical professionals are upgrading the current health and safety practices we have in place at camp and if summer camp is held this season, we will have robust check-in and quarantine procedures in case of outbreak of any kind, Covid-19 or otherwise.

3. Get the kids out of the house and off the screen. On the topic of slowing pace, Bethany Birches’ property remains open to you.  While indoor spaces will be locked and only used for certain pre-arranged purposes, you are welcome to come and be in the outdoors.  Connect with us to learn how you can be here safely (email, phone, social).

4. Virtual Engagement. While we are staying separate from each other to slow the pandemic in our country, we can still be together in spirit and via internet!  Stay tuned for a few virtual camp experiences. Possibly things like biking with Tuna, crafts with Cheeks and Susie, camp songs with Meatball, Magic with Rupert, chill time with Beehive… the possibilities are endless!  Have a request? Let us know.  In the meantime, if you’re going to give your kiddos screen time, have them check out the BBC youtube channel.

 

You can help

  1. At this time, we believe the most effective thing we can do to stop the spread of this virus (thereby keeping medical facility traffic to a manageable rate) is to keep physical interaction limited (“social distancing”). Please learn and follow local and federal authorities’ recommendations.
  2. We are still looking for some of those great summer staff. For teens 15-17, consider Counselor in Training or Leader in Training.  For teens 17 and older, consider assistant counseling.  For college students and beyond, consider counseling, maintenance, kitchen, etc.

More to come as more becomes known.  We are praying strength for you and peace that passes understanding.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey, Executive Director

P.S. Apparently handwashing is a game-changer.  I continue to challenge myself to do it for at least 20 seconds!  https://www.acacamps.org/news-publications/blogs/camp-connection/handwashing-make-it-really-effective

Nevin J Bender, the first camp director at Bethany Birches passes

Marcia Bender, Nevin’s daughter, who still lives near the camp, sent a message to Bethany Mennonite Church saying that Nevin had passed away.  As part of her email she wrote “He visited with mom in the afternoon, ate dinner, then died at the table – very peaceful and quiet.  I got to spend three lovely days with him earlier this month. To have been able to talk with him and sing with him and do puzzles with him was such a privilege, and it makes me smile and remember his loving, peaceful and steady presence.”

As the first director here at BBC, Nevin left his mark in many ways.  The core of the camp program still looks similar to what he created including community and fun and rustic camp living.  We will highlight some of the stories about him from Stories From The First 50 Years: Volume 1 in a coming blog post.

Obituary for Nevin James Bender

Nevin James Bender, 81, died on July 22, 2019 at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community.  Nevin was born on July 13, 1938, the son of Nevin V. and Esther Lauver Bender.  

Nevin grew up on a small dairy farm in Greenwood DE.  At a very early age he was eager to learn the skills needed on the farm and spent many long days planting and harvesting baby lima beans.  Nevin attended Greenwood Mennonite School and graduated from Greenwood High School in 1956.  He was the director of the Greenwood Mennonite Youth Chorus and was an active youth leader and congregational music leader at Greenwood Mennonite Church.

On June 24, 1961 Nevin married Lourene Godshall.  They celebrated 58 years together this year.  

Nevin graduated from Eastern Mennonite College in 1961 and went on to earn a Master of Divinity at Hartford Seminary.  He became pastor at Bethany Mennonite Church in Vermont, and a few years later he established Bethany Birches Camp where he was also the camp director for 15 years.  The camp continues to this day.

Nevin’s pastoral career ended in 1979 when he suffered a brain aneurysm.  He and his family moved to Harrisonburg, VA in 1983 where he began working in the maintenance department of Eastern Mennonite College.  This second career lasted for the next 25 years; he was known as a positive, reliable, and energetic member of the grounds crew. Nevin and Lourene were active participants at Broad Street Mennonite Church, where Nevin was on the music team, playing guitar and leading music.

Following Nevin’s retirement from EMC, he spent 10 years at Friendship Industries, working in contract packaging, and did volunteer work at Gift and Thrift.

From lima beans to pastoring to groundskeeping to volunteer work, Nevin demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to his evolving capacities, reinventing himself repeatedly to take advantage of his skills and talents.

Nevin was preceded in death by siblings Lura Benner, Titus Bender, and Mildred Bender.  He is survived by his wife Lourene Godshall Bender; siblings Miriam Jantzi, Paul Bender, Hilda Swartz, Emma Myers, and Don Bender; children Nevin Bender, Conrad Bender, Marcia Bender and Angela Bender; grandchildren Miguel Garcia-Bender, Nikki Garcia-Bender, Marisol Garcia-Bender, Trinity Bender, Anna Hepler, Adaija Bender, Calef Hepler, and Shanta Bender.

The family will host a time of visitation on Monday, July 29 at 3:00 PM, followed by a memorial service at 4:00 PM at the Detweiler Auditorium at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, 1501 Virginia Ave., Harrisonburg, VA 22802. 

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Bethany Birches Camp, 2610 Lynds Hill Road, Plymouth, VT,  05056 or make a donation on their website: www.bethanybirches.org

Winter Family Fun Day 2018

Well that was fun!  Each winter and summer we host a family fun day to highlight all the good stuff the Bethany Birches program has to offer.  This winter we will host 5 weekends of winter camp for grades 3-11.  Find your session here: bethanybirches.org/winter

About 80 folks enjoyed winter family fun day this year.  The youngest in attendance appeared to be less than a year old and the oldest seemed to be nearing 80.  That’s what we like to see!

As the founder of our back country ski program I enjoyed leading that very much.  We had some skiers who never skied before and a couple who were seasoned.

Of course there was lots of tubing!  Due to the recent snow the run was a little slower the first half of the day.  Waxing the tubes helped.  Big thanks to neighbor Bob Lambert who faithfully drove the truck and trailer all day so people didn’t have to walk the steep 1/4 mile hill after each run.

Lunch was great!  Thanks to Wonder Woman, Batman, Wendy, and Joanne for making great food and lots of it.  I’m still wanting those brownies.

On top of the skiing, tubing and lunch we roasted marshmallows, painted snow, had an epic broom ball tournament in which there were 5 overtimes, knitted, played carpet ball, gaga and 9square among other things (including a very artistic drawing pictured here).  Thanks to all of you who came out for the fun and I hope to see you up here for a winter camp!

Love,

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey