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!
Not entirely sure what to get your child or grandchild for Christmas? Consider a week at Bethany Birches!
PARENTS and GRANDPARENTS: planning to send your camper to camp this winter or summer? Consider giving them camp for Christmas! You can use the form on this page to get them signed up easily and get a gift certificate to give your child too: bethanybirches.org/xmas.
For those of you who may be empty nesters or never had kiddos or want to do something different this year, consider giving to young people who need a camp experience but can’t afford it!
SUPPORTERS: Perhaps your loved ones don’t need any more things. Give them the gift of knowing a child is being nurtured spiritually, physically and emotionally. Make a contribution using the form on this page (bethanybirches.org/givecamp) and we’ll email you a Christmas card you can place in a loved one’s stocking Christmas morning!
Summer camp is a big part of what we do and here’s what it looks like from a first-time camper’s perspective. Meet Fiona! She is currently 8 years old, and attended her first week of overnight camp with us this past summer. I asked her why she wanted to come to camp at BBC, and what some highlights were from the summer. She said she came because of friends, and was curious about what we did here. She reported loving Messy Monday activities, the Polar Bear Swim, and discovering a family of mice in her cabin. She also liked the fun prayer songs we do (especially the Superman one) and that all the counselors had funny nicknames.
OK cool. Maybe this good stuff wears off after coming back a few times… Meet Riley! He also came to camp for the first time when he was eight years old – but he is now fifteen, and has been to camp seven summers in a row! I asked him what he likes about camp and what keeps him coming back. He shared that “there is nothing that compares to camp!” And while he really enjoys the all-camp game of capture the flag, and said that of course “you gotta love the whizz ball.” The people are actually the reason he returns year after year. He loves that you get to spend your whole day “hanging out with cool and nice people and just having fun together.” He said you just can’t beat that! One of his favorite parts about this past summer was getting to meet a lot of new people as well. He is also looking forward to applying for the CIT (Counselor in Training) program and becoming a counselor here one day. Our staff have enjoyed getting to build relationships with Riley over the years, and think he will be a great addition to our team!
As people grow older and shift from camper to counselor and then beyond, things look different yet again. Dan “Chick” Laubach, program director this past summer shares from his view: No matter how many times I’ve gone into a summer at camp there are always a few knots in my stomach. Will the new staff blend with the returning staff and become a family? Will the kids in each cabin get along with one another? Will the shepherds be able to make connections with the campers that will create real impact in their lives?
Well, staff training went really well, the first group of campers looked pretty awesome, the shepherds I had lined up had done a great job in the past… but as a leader I still worried. These worries were calmed by Tuesday night of the first week of camp. The whole camp sat on the new pond beach singing camp songs and listening to the shepherd, Creek, share about reflections. Creek instructed each cabin, one at a time, to approach the water of the pond and look at his/her own reflection. Campers and counselors together looked down at the full honesty of their outward appearance. Among obvious beauty, many saw zits, scars, smiles, frowns, bags under eyes, worn clothing, etc. Creek challenged campers to look past the negatives that might come to mind when staring at one’s reflection, and focus on a good quality they could see in themselves. Then, each cabin left the pond’s edge and huddled together in the field. They shared with one another the qualities they saw in the other campers in their cabin that represent our being made in God’s image. It was a beautiful and emotional experience, bringing tears to many young middle schoolers who don’t often think about how they were wonderfully made. That evening I saw cabins come together, counselors lead faithfully, and the shepherd make a life-long impact on many kids. Knots in my stomach were untied!
Though this was my last summer as the Program Director at Bethany Birches, I know it’s not my last experience there. Bethany Birches is doing powerful work in the lives of the campers and also the staff. I strongly encourage you to join in through volunteering in the kitchen, maintenance, or shepherding. If you’re in your 20’s, consider becoming a counselor this summer. If your time is stretched thin, consider donating money to the Kids To Camp Fund so that more campers can experience the love of God at BBC. I hope to see you up on the hill and experience together how God is moving in the lives of those at camp.
~ Courtney “Wonder Woman” Hollingsworth, Program Director
It’s almost time for the annual benefit auction. I am excited! Why? It’s so fun! Even better, there are so many great people and lots of great food! Sandy, the auctioneer is a great entertainer (and will convince you that you need to keep bidding… which is good for the kiddos who benefit from your bidding).
In my excitement for the food and people and fun, I forgot about all the cool stuff you could win! Each year in the week or two leading up to the auction we highlight some of the items just to give a sense of some of the cool stuff on offer. As usual, there are a handful of services you can purchase. You can give to benefit campers and in return, get your house clean, go on a date and leave the kids at home or host an upscale party complete with professional cellist, wine and cheese.
The house cleaning was donated by Goldcoast House Cleaning. Owner of Goldcoast and camper mom Sarah, will send her lovely staff to your residence or vacation home if it’s near Bridgewater, VT. She will include cleaning basket of natural sponges, clothe essential lemon oil, and a bottle of Thieves Cleaner for you to do your own cleaning next time. You can visit Goldcoast’s website and learn about the specific cleaning they will do for you or place a bid online here using code GOLDHC.
Bethany Birches’ very own program director, Courtney “Wonder Woman” Hollingsworth is providing a date night in Woodstock. Speaking from experience, I have seen her educate, have fun with, and take great care of young people of all ages. This item not only includes 6 hours of her time but it also includes a gift certificate to the Woodstock Inn’s restaurants and movie tickets to the Town Hall Theater. She’ll drive up to 45 minutes from Woodstock. Visit this listing or place a bid online here using code DATENI.
Last and certainly not least is the opportunity to enjoy an intimate evening with friends as you listen to a private recital of a seminal piece of the cello repertoire, Bach’s Solo Suite for Cello no 1 in G Major. Wine and cheese will beprovided to further your enjoyment of the evening. Location of your choosing within 30 miles of Hartford, VT. Visit this listing or place a bid online here using code BACHWI.
Greetings Friends, a little while back I announced that Dan “Chick” Laubach was moving on from Bethany Birches at the end of August.
We launched a search in March and received 27 applications by the time we closed the application period this summer. After extending an offer to an applicant and receiving a “no” from him, I opened a discussion with a friend familiar to Bethany Birches. We call her Wonder Woman. Outside of camp she is known as Courtney Hollingsworth. She has volunteered as Camp Shepherd, Day Camp Manager, and Kitchen Aid, among other things. She’s filled with energy and love and was looking to get back into ministry of some kind after supervising the front office at the Woodstock Inn. Prior to that she was in seminary and before that she was a director of high school youth ministry at her home church in CA.
The only agreement we have come to at this time is that she will be full time through next summer. Her and I will consider her fit after she’s been here a few months and see if we would like to arrange a longer tenure or not.
She has already begun! She has an email address (email@example.com). Feel free to reach out to her and introduce yourself. She is currently working from a distance lightly and will start here at camp on the 27th of Aug and overlap with Chick for a week and then take the reigns.
Courtney/Wonder Woman with a baby sea turtle
Thanks to each of you who have been involved with the camp and have helped to cause our ongoing success. Please welcome Wonder Woman warmly. I hope you’ll come out to camp soon if you haven’t been recently. Next option to be here is the Benefit Auction September 29.
What do “A Bugs Life”, “Wild Week” and “Splash Week” all have in common?! Each title is a theme for one of the weeks of day camp at BBC. Each week of day camp will include traditional BBC favorites such as, cooking over the fire, swimming in the pond and playing outside. The themes allow each week to be unique from each other.
Day Camp A (June 25 – 29) will explore A Bugs Life. Water bugs, spiders, lady bugs and other small insects. Each day will focus on a specific bug and what that bug can teach us about life. Along with songs and crafts to complement each critter.
Wild Week is happening the week of Jul 3-6 . Campers will spend time exploring the wild around them, understanding what nature can teach them and playing games simulating life in the wild.
Splash Week (Day Camp C, Jul 30 – Aug 3) will round out the 2018 day camp line up! All wet all the time. Day campers will join overnight campers as they explore what we can learn from the properties of water. Day campers will also enjoy daycamp specific crafts and activities related to the splash week theme.
Despite differing themes – each dayCamp Week will be chocked full of fun, friends faith and the outdoors! It’s a great taste of BBC for young campers. We hope to see you on the hill!
Last summer (2017) Day Camp C was the highest attended Day Camp Session to date at BBC. Wonder Woman was one of the counselors for that week and we are excited to announce she is returning for TWO DAY CAMP WEEKS THIS SUMMER! If you’re attending Day Camp A or C Wonder Woman will be one of your leaders. Below she describes why she’s excited to return for 2 sessions this summer:
Day Camp Rocks! And I am so excited to be returning to Bethany Birches Camp for a second summer as a volunteer Day-Camp counselor!
When I think back to last year, I can’t help but smile as I remember all of the fun that was had by campers and counselors alike in our week together. There are so many great memories to choose from – but swimming in the pond, going down the giant slip and slide, and eating ice cream out of a trough immediately come to mind. Each memory involves our whole group smiling, laughing, and just having a downright blast together!
Working with the youngest campers, while of course had a few challenging moments, was overall a true joy! They come to camp so full of energy and ready for fun. They have great imaginations and a wonderful spirit of play and adventure. And most of them had never been to camp before, so everything is new and exciting for them. We had the best time hiking out to the tree houses for a special lunch, singing at Jumpstart each morning with the overnight campers, doing craft projects, playing games, and experiencing all that camp has to offer!
While I admit that I personally enjoyed getting to participate in all of the awesome camp activities just as much as the kids did (who doesn’t love a jumping on the water trampoline?!? ), the reason I am coming back again is because, in addition to being awesomely fun, I found camp to be amazingly rewarding.
I loved getting to know each of the campers, and enjoyed their unique personalities and what they brought to camp each day- just by being them. Sometimes that was a Moana sing-a-long, a game of pretending to be robots on the playground, or a dream of catching their first frog at the pond…it was always a surprise waiting to happen.
And I was incredibly impressed by how great these little ones were at making new friends. While they essentially arrived as strangers, by the end of the first day each camper had a new buddy, and by the end of the week the whole group seemed like they had grown up together. Wow! What an example for us all.
But perhaps the best part for me was getting to help my campers succeed at trying new things. I loved getting to encourage them to go for it, cheering them on while they did, and then celebrating their successes and accomplishments. We had campers learn to swim, kayak for the first time, hike farther than they ever had before, and be willing to overcome fears -like going down the giant slip and slide for the first time, and then loving it!
The smiles on their faces that, exuded not only joy, but pride and confidence in themselves, were simply priceless.
And yes – I was gloriously exhausted at the end of each day, and thankful to go home to sleep in my own bed each night (a day-camp perk!).
But you really can’t beat camp, and I feel pretty lucky to get to be a part of it again.
That’s right folks. This is your chance to apply for your dream job. Being the Program Director at BBC is perhaps one of the most fun (and most challenging) jobs out there. Just think – it could be your job to run (or delegate) Wet and Wild Wednesday. It could be your job to run (or delegate) the annual cardboard sled and boat races. I mean, how awesome is that? Not to mention recruiting and training staff, budgeting, performance reviews… oh wait, those perhaps are not the most fun parts.
Seriously though, if you have any interest, apply now! I hope to select the next BBC Program Director by June 1 of this year. That gives you a month and a half to finish your application and tidy up your resume. Start here: https://www.bethanybirches.org/pd
And if you’re not going to apply, would you pray for the process? Pray that God nudges an ideal fit this direction and that we have the wisdom to see that person when they show up.
Why do all good things come to an end? So that new good things can begin!
Dan “Chick” Laubach has served as program director since May 2015. He has decided to finish his service at Bethany Birches effective the end of August 2018. He has made important contributions (and will continue to this year… and he evens plans to volunteer beyond this year). While he was program director, summer and winter registrations were opened earlier than ever. I believe that has contributed to the ongoing increase in attendance (in fact, half of programs offered in a calendar year have waiting lists… we’re expecting even more waiting lists this year). Chick has also contributed to a professionalism in the office. He has helped to upgrade policies and procedures and has sharpened some of our marketing and communications plans.
I very much appreciate the amount of time he has allowed us for making the transition. He is going to continue managing the program throughout this winter and summer. He will depart at the end of summer 2018. If a replacement is found in time, I would consider him/her starting as soon as May 2018 for maximum transfer of knowledge, ideas, practices etc. However, if an ideal fit is found, we would start them whenever works best for them. The search for a new program director will begin shortly. We have some backend work to do to clarify the type of person we’re looking for and finalize some details. In the mean time, if you or someone you know has interest, please do reach out to me. Call the office, email or even text if you have my number.
We give Chick a big round of applause and wish him the very best in his future endeavors. Most importantly, may you be guided by God’s spirit and at peace into the unknown. Thanks for your service and can’t wait to see you back here as a volunteer.