I care deeply about Bethany Birches Camp. It all began 39 years ago, when I was 13 years old. My family had traveled to Vermont for a wedding and we were invited to the camp for a picnic the day after. My parents made connections with some former college friends who were associated with the camp and that summer we came up to help out for a week. I recall driving the old Ford tractor and “helping” Tim Farrar as he was building the new bathhouse. This was a dream come true for any kid. That week led to several more family trips to volunteer at camp and several other times when I came as a camper. After high school I returned as a counselor and then a year out of college, I again headed north to VT (from PA), this time for good. I spent the summer as assistant Program Director with the intention of staying in the area afterwards. That was 27 years ago…
Janet and I were married at BBC and our son Micah attended as a camper. I’ve been on the auction committee since its inception and am starting my second stint on the Board. I helped tear down the old pavilion and helped with certain aspects of the new Pavi. Camp is a part of me and always will be.
What draws me back again and again? What is it about this place that makes it impossible to stay away? The easiest answer to these questions is that I always sense God’s presence at camp. God is present in the people, the stillness, the chaos, the laughter, the firelight, the star-studded sky and in the fog coming off the pond on a cold Fall morning. Every time I’m at BBC I feel as if I have grown spiritually and personally.
The other thing that I am drawn to is our vision. It was once written like this by Brandon, our Executive Director: We want to continue building a community of love where no one is cast out. In this community, God’s reality is realized. Peace, love, justice, grace and compassion are central in our relationships. Life makes sense because the Creator of life is met and known. And what a wonderful Creator!
We envision a facility that enables relationships and communities to form. Our facility is natural, simple, and comfortable. Our vision includes program that is absolutely fun, educational and unique. In all we do, create and build, we point to God as Jesus did.
As the Board looks to the future, I am comforted that we are surrounded and supported by and made up of people who care deeply about the basic principles upon which we were founded. Our mission remains simply to help young people develop their relationship with God by providing them with a Christ-centered camping experience in a natural and nurturing environment.
~ Fred Schlabach, Board Vice President