Greetings! My name is Beth Ann Maier and I am Chairperson of the Board of Camp Agape Vermont. The single guiding mission of Camp Agape Vermont is for God’s totally accepting, unconditional love, to be experienced by children who have a parent in prison. These children have a 75% risk of being in prison someday themselves, and what better way is there to reduce that risk than for them to know that they are loved and valued by God? This summer, Camp Agape supported 55 campers in Bethany Birches Camp programs. I want to tell you a story that shares the wonder and hope that is fostered by the partnership of Bethany Birches and Camp Agape.
As the camp was gathering for the final Fireside of the Summit-Mid week, twelve year old Tom (all fictitious names) was all charged up, and shot a karate chop into the night that connected with thirteen year old Peter’s face. Now Peter had been dealing pretty well all week with the impulsive and irritating Tom. Usually he could laugh or turn away, but Peter was in pain, worn out, angry, and sad that camp would be ending the next day. He had reached his limit. He could screech out an obscenity, he could plant his fist in Tom’s face, or he could run. He chose to run – into the dark night. Christian, a sixteen year old BBC intern ran after him, and, because we are very serious about never having one camper alone with one staff person, I ran after them. I found them some distance away, sitting in the bushes, quietly talking. I stayed back, and heard Christian ask: “Do you mind if I pray for you?” Peter responded angrily: “I don’t need your sympathy. I don’t want your pity!” “That’s not what it’s about,” said Christian. “It’s about strength and courage, and I need it as much as you do.” And that is what they prayed for before they quietly got up and returned to Fireside.
May we continue to find strength and courage in our partnership as we accompany each other in God’s grace and love.
~ Beth Ann
Did you know that:
* 57.8% of VT inmates experienced the incarceration of a parent or loved one when they were a child.
* Over the course of a year, parental incarceration affects 6000 VT children.
Summer 2016 was the second summer in our partnership together and we hope the beginning of a long partnership together. Agape at BBC feels to us like an excellent fit. We believe deeply in the Camp Agape mission and want this shared program to succeed so many youngsters may consider alternatives to behavior that may continue the cycle of crime in their family system.
~ Brandon “Tuna” Bergey