Posts Tagged ‘Camp in a pandemic’

Winter Camp Update (02/09/2021)

Dear Camper Parents,

I write to you with breaking news that is hard for me to share: we just learned that the Health Department made new policy and will not allow our resident camp program this winter.  This news is hours old at time of writing this post.

How did we get here?

  • I consulted with the Health Department in late November about our winter programming.  A representative from the department noted that our plans seemed in line with the guidance they have set forth and as safe as one can be right now.
  • I was instructed to follow the Governor’s orders, be aware of the law, and then make choices.  In mid December, after reviewing all the available guidance and executive order again, and finding solutions for how to eat and sleep safely, we decided to open registration for resident winter camp for 21 campers at a time with a mostly outdoor schedule.
  • A school nurse recently inquired (last week?) with the Health Department as to whether a child who attends Bethany Birches winter camp would need to quarantine before coming back to school.  Officials felt that section 8.2 of the WorkSafe guidance did not have a good enough answer.  As a state lawyer described it to me, he felt our overnight winter programs did not fit neatly into any of the ACCD guidance for Governor Scott’s executive order.  He noted that our plans seemed very creative and worthy of consideration and that we should submit a request to the Health Department.
  • They reviewed our request.  There was discussion between high ranking representatives from ACCD, Health Dept., and Bethany Birches.
  • Feb 9 in the late afternoon, I received notice that our resident camps were not allowed at the moment.  This was a policy the Health Dept. just created: no resident camps for February.

Needless to say, we are somewhat stunned at this updated policy/guidance.  Especially when our operating procedures seem safer than what I observe in many public places.  I try to remember how much stress some of our government officials are experiencing, and that gives me grace toward them.  More so than being stunned, I am sad and disheartened.  We were so excited to welcome your child to camp, and to stimulate hope and love and joy… and share some of this deep fluffy snow!

Given the timeline it was important to me that we get you this information immediately.

What’s next?

  • Money: tomorrow we will reach out about your preference.  You will have three options.  Roll your payment to summer camp, get a full refund, transfer your payment to a donation.
  • Winter Camp: we will consider whether we can offer any day programming this winter, or, open our facility to you so your family can come to ice skate, ski, tube, etc.
  • Summer Camp: it sounds like we may be invited to help craft guidance for resident programs in Vermont for summer 2021.  This is good news for BBC families because it means that we will have early awareness of the new rules and be able to best prepare for what is quite likely to be another strange year.  Registration for summer camp 2021 is open.  Many have already registered.  If you have not, you can find your session here.

Let me know of any questions, comments, and ideas. In the meantime give your kiddo a hug from me and the other camp staff.  We miss them and hope they are finding ways to thrive.

Sincerely,

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey
Bethany Birches Camp
Executive Director

Summer was fun! And weird. And expensive. Help?

Dear Friends,

If you haven’t read about our experience this summer you can get a glimpse here.  Reopening is one thing.  Doing so with a goal to have no virus transmission, especially when living together in groups, is another thing.  We are delighted with the results and so glad that we were able to pursue our mission fully.  We all need to connect with what matters in our lives and see God for who he is more now than ever.  It was a joy to share with young people this summer that God really does love and care for them and all they need to do is reach out and begin to experience the grace, purpose, peace and rescue that God has planned for them.  This message seemed to be especially relevant amid these unprecedented times.  Accomplishing this came at a cost, of course.  We spent over $16,000 for our pandemic response initiative and took in about $70,000 less than usual in summer camp revenue.  While we were able to cut costs by $20,000, there is still a gap!

I invite you give to “Where Most Needed”, “Kids To Camp”, or, “Pandemic Response Initiative” categories.  I also invite you to join us for the annual benefit auction in November.  Learn more about the auction.  Together, we will keep providing programming (even hopefully this winter) so that young people continue to develop a sense of hope, joy, and love.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey
Executive Director

Camp In A Pandemic: Vol. 3

Dear Camp Friends,

We did it! 7 weeks of summer camp. 185 campers, 29 staff members, and checking with Rupert on exactly how many gallons of hand sanitizer, simple green, bleach, and other cleaning/sanitizing agents we’ve used.

When we started camp in July, I was surprised, and admittedly a little disheartened. Why did we have to be so strict? Will camp even be camp if we aren’t gathered close for fireside, or piled one too many around a picnic table for supper?  Will we be able to feel each other’s love and care even though we can’t see smiles through masks?

The answer is simple, and became clear as soon as campers started arriving. We didn’t bend rules so that we could offer the experience of camp to 185 young people this summer. So that they could reclaim some normalcy, and be with people who care about them, and learn about God in the middle of a global pandemic. While most camps closed or pivoted to virtual, we wanted to see if we could actually follow the guidance and actually avoid virus transmission.  Well it turns out you can take people from many different households, live together, and not infect each other!  All Covid-19 tests taken came back negative and all of the parents who responded to our post-camp surveys, stated their child was healthy or did not suspect their child of Covid-19.

But more importantly than no virus transmission, campers had powerful experiences and our mission was accelerated.  At the end of each week, campers have the opportunity to write “Dear Friend” letters to camp supporters. We got to read some of them and I wanted to share a few of them with you- in case you have wondered if camp was still “camp” this year. (spoiler – it was as good as ever)

See photo and video highlights from our summer here

For more details about our pandemic response, see our FAQ page here.

Kellyn “Benji” Boyden
Media and Communications Manager

 

P.S. We have a few volunteer opportunities including lawn mower, book keeper, wood cutters.  Are you interested in any of these?

Annual Benefit Auction 2020: A Virtual Treat 😍

Dear Camp Friends,

Save the date, mark your calendars: Our 18th annual benefit auction has been set for the weekend of November 6-8!

Yes, it will be happening virtually, over the course of a few days. We are working out the details and here’s what we know will be included so far:

  1. Live bidding. Our auctioneer, Sandy Alderfer, who has been with us since day one, will be live for an hour (virtually), doing what he does best: giving you a hard time and convincing you a pint of maple syrup really is worth $200!  This will be interactive with Sandy.
  2. Multi day, online bidding.  If you are not familiar with this style, in short, it works like our silent auction does.  You bid, then someone outbids you.  You get a notification if you are outbid. There is an end time at which the highest bidder wins.
  3. Online shopping. You’ll be able to buy things like camp store swag, items from local businesses, and of course, you’ll be able to buy your mug club mug.  (This will be shipped to your house before the live component of the auction so you can enjoy during the auction!)
  4. The Mug Club!  It will be shipped to your house before the live component of the auction so you can enjoy during the auction.
  5. Matches. Not for building fires… we’re talking dollars!  Do you have interesting in putting up a match toward an item or special project?  Special projects include a new camp SUV, the rock wall in the pavilion, and of course, the ever popular Kids To Camp fund.  Let Brandon know if you would like to talk more about this.

While the world looks strange right now, and we have decided to go online for this event, we are excited to spend that weekend with you in a new way. We’ll share stories from this summer at camp, and have some classic auction items available to purchase that weekend too. The auction committee is working hard on some creative ideas to make this year memorable and fun, and especially to retain as much normalcy as we can.

On the topic of normalcy, check out this video from summer 2020.

To stay up to date on all future auction communications subscribe to our email list and encourage others who are interested to do so.

The auction is one of the highlights of our year, and a huge fundraising opportunity for camp, particularly for camper scholarships that make it possible for so many kids to come and experience BBC.
We look forward to sharing more info on the auction soon!

Kellyn “Benji” Boyden
Media and Communications Manager

 

p.s. In case you were wondering – we have two more weeks until we can pronounce that no virus was spread here this summer.  At the moment, no one has fallen ill with Covid-19!

p.p.s. Volunteers!  If interested in volunteering for any of these things, please reply.

  • Auction
  • Lawn mowing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Woodcutting

Camp In A Pandemic: Vol 2

Dear Camp Friends,

We are just starting our fourth week of overnight camp. Camp this summer has been exciting, a little bit chaotic, and definitely required some flexibility (spoiler alert, we have the best program team- they’re working hard, making changes as needed, and coming up with all the ways to keep camp fun, engaging, and safe).

We continue to be pleasantly surprised! First by the staff, who are diligent in upholding protocols and attentive in helping campers following the covid guidelines. This is no easy task!  Second by the campers, who are so excited to be here. Even with some activities missing this year, campers are creative- one cabin built their own mini golf course! (see video here)

Everyday we’re learning what works and what doesn’t. We’re thankful for your prayers and encouragement throughout this journey!

See photo and video highlights from our summer here.

For more details about our pandemic response, see our FAQ page here.

Kellyn “Benji” Boyden
Media and Communications Manager

————-

p.s. We have a few volunteer opportunities including lawn mower, book keeper, wood cutters.  Are you interested in any of these?  Please reply!

p.p.s. We are experiencing a similar level of expense as normal and about half the program revenue.  Would you consider a gift toward the “Kids to Camp” fund or toward the general operations?

Give Now

Camp In A Pandemic: Vol 1

Dear Camp Friends,

It happened! The first week of camp in 2020! We ran our day camp program with campers ages 6-10. The weather was great, and in true Wet and Wild Wednesday fashion, there was a little bit of rain on Wednesday afternoon. We learned about all that God is: loving, gracious, forgiving, trustworthy, and faithful.
One question we’re getting a lot is, how’s it going?
The short answer: Better than expected.

Meals are being cooked over the fire. Silly songs are being sung. Campers are learning about God. The Slip n’ Slide is being conquered. The hill is being trekked. And…we’re wearing masks. We’re washing our hands and burning through hand sanitizer. We’re not playing gaga, and we are definitely not having a pig trough. We’re spending as much time outside as possible, while maintaining safe distance. One of the reasons we’re able to do camp this way is because most of camp exists outdoors (even the Pavi is considered an outdoor space with the garage doors open).

There is a palpable sense of joy though, between campers and staff alike. Camp is still camp, even though it looks different this year. God is still good. I think we have so much to learn from little children. They’ve taken a lot of this in stride; they wear their masks and maintain their bubbles (with some extra reminders during pond time) with a smile, and so much laughter!

We would love your continued prayers for the health and safety of our staff this summer. We have now had staff living on site for two weeks and things are going well.

To see photos from this week at camp, click here.
For more details about our pandemic response, see our FAQ page here.

We still have some spots open for camp this summer!
Get signed up here!  Register Now

Kellyn “Benji” Boyden
Media and Communications Manager

Find previous communications about summer 2020 here.

p.s. We could use new volunteers to mow the lawn. Please reply if you’re interested!

 

This was originally an email.  See the email here.