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.
The Bethany Birches Camp experience teaches many things. Some campers learn how to shoot a bow and arrow, some learn how to cook food over a fire while others uncover gifts God has given them. Learning at camp isn’t limited to campers. Bev Goshow (AKA Grandma Cookie Dough Chaos – that’s her camp name) thought she was coming for one week of serving in the kitchen back in 2010. Seven summers later she is retiring as the camp shepherd for BBC’s youngest campers. Thank you Grandma Cookie Dough Chaos for being open to how God would use you. The following paragraphs are Grandma’s reflections on her path to becoming a camp shepherd at BBC.
~ Amber “Cheeks” Bergey, Volunteer Coordinator & Day Camp Director
As a child I loved attending Camp Sankanac in Spring City, Pa. At that time I was unaware of the seed being planted and nourished. Fast forward to 2010. My husband Dave (aka Woodchip) and I volunteered one week at BBC. I was helping in the old kitchen. When I wasn’t in the kitchen I enjoyed Fireside and soon found myself actively singing with the kids. I’m not sure what happened to me that week. I found myself going down the slip n slide laughing the entire way while campers chanted “Grandma! Grandma! Grandma!”
Before leaving camp, Amber (aka Cheeks) identified one of my gifts as loving children and invited me to be the shepherd the following year. She told me to pray about it. I told her I wouldn’t! I was afraid of what God was calling me to do! My husband Dave felt differently. Dave said right away, “She’ll do it.” He then turned to me and said “You’ll be great at this! It’s right up your alley.”
Preparing for the first year of shepherding brought a lot of anxiety. I had no formal education to do this job. I was just a willing helper. I was fearful the counselors would correct one of my Bible stories! Nothing like that happened. I prayed God would be present and this was for HIM, not Bev. I LOVED my new role!
The highlight of shepherding over the last few years was to share about a loving God and the way of Jesus with 6 to 9 year old campers. I had the total attention of campers when telling them the Bible stories in flannelgraph! You usually could hear a pin drop – even with 84 active kids!
One of the memories that stands out was when I shared the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. Quietly the children filed passed me as I gave them bread and fish (Swedish) and told them Jesus loves them. It was so reverent and peaceful. I cried like a baby as the last child went through.
As a camp shepherd I always had one goal: to plant seeds for children to know Jesus as their personal savior and to nourish those seeds in whatever way possible.
Summer and Winter Camps are the focus of Bethany Birches. A lot of people contribute to make camp happen. The BBC Board of Directors (BOD) is a group of 9 folks who think about the broader vision of BBC and where it’s heading into the future. Stacy Selbo is a member of the BOD. What follows are her reflections on how she got involved with BBC and what the Board is currently working on.
Our family moved to Vermont from Atlanta in 2004, and settled in Bridgewater in 2005. While we were active in our Atlanta church, our 3 boys also had meaningful, Christ-centered summer camp experiences from first grade until they could no longer be campers. We didn’t know what our Vermont experience would hold for our family spiritually, but shortly after being in the Woodstock, Bridgewater area, our youngest son had opportunities to visit Bethany Birches camp with the First Congregational Church of Woodstock Youth Group. We were thrilled to learn about this magical and special place just 15 minutes from our home!
Simultaneously, Amber (Cheeks) Bergey and I were involved in a women’s bible study with a small group from a variety of churches. It was a familiar connection and we stayed in touch. Then, I joined the Board in 2015.
The Board is active and meets throughout the year beginning with an annual retreat (January) to review and coordinate the direction of camp with Brandon. As a Board, our main focus is to consider the resourcefulness and sustainability of BBC, which continues to head in a very positive direction. Enrollment is up to nearly record attendance, thanks to proactive marketing and consistent fundraising. In 2017, BBC is debt free which is a remarkable accomplishment, with gratitude to Brandon for driving that goal.
While the Board continually reviews strategies, we are primarily focused and thoughtful about the spirituality that BBC represents and conveys to our campers – living the Mission.
I am especially thankful that an extraordinary camp like Bethany Birches exists here in the secular mountains of Vermont. What a special place for young people to learn about Christ!
I’ve been reflecting on summer highlights lately despite the recent cold temps and skiing at nearby recently opened VT resorts and the 3 weeks of Day Camp was definitely a highlight.
Are there parents who will drive their kid to BBC each day for a week? Are 5 year olds old enough to cook meals over the fire and run around outside most of the day? Are there any past counselors who want to volunteer a week at day camp? Will daylong program aid in reaching BBC’s mission of helping young people develop their relationship with God?
The answers to the first 3 questions above seem to be a resounding YES! And hopefully as the years go on we’ll find the answer to the last question to be yes too.
Day camp returned to BBC in 2016 after a 12 year hiatus! 18 campers attended over the course of 3 different weeks. In 2017 that number climbed to 35 campers over the course of 3 weeks. Parents are willing to drive their kids up Lynds Hill for a daylong experience. One camper dad commented that he loves the fact that his son gets to spend all day outside. Another mom mentioned hoping this experience would prepare her son for overnight camp. A different camper parent was psyched she could jump start her son’s BBC experience as she has fond memories of her own BBC experience. And still another camper parent values the faith-based emphasis she always finds at Bethany Birches.
Each day camp week included traditional favorites at BBC. First time campers were exuberant to be eating ice cream out of the pig trough. Others enjoyed being launched on the trampoline or taking their first stab at kayaking. Campers also enjoyed activities that encouraged them to make new friends (silly songs and teambuilding games) and soak in the creation around them (cooking over the fire and swimming in the pond). Each week had a different theme (A Bug’s Life, Making Music and Holiday Roundup) to help focus the activities and lessons for the week.
All of the above contributed to fun for day campers but it’s the staff that determines the experience for the campers. Part of the successful return of day camp must be attributed to veteran staff volunteering to return to counsel the youngest of BBC Campers. Max “Nye” Halik who has served in the role of camper, counselor, volunteer and assistant program director over the past 10 years describes why volunteering at day camp made sense to him.
“As a counselor Mini Week (Launch half) was always my favorite week of the summer partially because you find that five-year-olds tend to be happy to do just about anything outside. One of the harder parts with that Mini Week was the “overnight” part – comforting little kiddos that found it difficult to get through nights without parents. When I heard that I could volunteer at Day Camp, I thought it would be an awesome opportunity to hang out with kids that still have that same enthusiasm for literally *every* activity, but could engage in bite-sized portions that wouldn’t be overwhelming. I’ll come back for Day Camp week any time – particularly as a volunteer it’s easier to take off a week of work knowing that I’ll be able to have fun-filled days with the happiest children you can imagine, with calmer evenings to plan out how we can share the word of God with his littlest children.”
Three sessions of day camp are in the line up for Summer 2018 with the hopes that more parents will drive up the hill each day to give their kids an outdoor, faith based experience with veteran BBC Staff.
The first (small) snow fell yesterday at BBC! The snow fell on leaf cleared grass, newly built pallets and freshly felled trees. Saturday Nov 4th was a busy day at BBC. Thirtyish folks came from Rutland, Bethel, Woodstock, Plymouth, Bridgewater, Brandon, White River, Randolph, etc to help BBC get ready for winter. A big thanks to all you from Calvary Bible Church who came and joined the fun!
Volunteers brought different skills. All brought smiles. Volunteers were different ages with different familiarity with BBC. Some were at BBC for the first time. Others were campers who were attending their first work day. And still others have been coming to BBC in some capacity for the last 50 years! Over the course of 6 hours the group raked ALL the leaves, cleared the garden, built a number of pallets and fell trees to clear space for pallet storage and pond beach expansion.
Each October I try to focus on the beauty of the changing leaves but always find myself distracted by the knowledge that all the leaves will drop. And then need to be cleared. And how exactly will that get done? Along with all the other pre winter work 100 acres of forrest requires?
And each fall a group of people show up to help. This year was no different. This year people joined in the leaf raking, pallet building and falling trees. God continues to bring people to do the work of God and I am grateful to be part of that.
Just when you thought pavilion progress was over…2017 started off with pavilion door painting! A group of 8 Seniors (+ 2 adults) from Dock Mennonite Academy spent Jan 3 – 8 doing a lot of painting. The interior doors of the pavilion are clean and colorful thanks to their service.
Painting doors wasn’t their only accomplishment. The group of seniors prepared the mudroom to hang/stack/organize winter gear including skates and skis. Others in the group spent time repainting the floor and walls of the cabin basement. Now the basement of the cabin matches the new bathrooms upstairs. Both are shiny, clean and fresh! The group rounded out their week with various odds and end jobs and finished the week having some fun on the tube run and ice rink!
Why would a group of 8 seniors from PA come to BBC to paint, clean, sand and scrub? Dock Mennonite Academy requires each senior to participate in senior experience week. Seniors have the option to job shadow a professional in a field they have interest in or spend the week serving. We are thankful this group chose to spend the week helping at BBC.
The next time you’re in the cabin basement as a renter or snow camper or the next time you walk through the pavilion door as a parent, renter, camper, staff or volunteer you might be thankful for their work also!
We’re hoping to see some of them in the future while camp program is in session. In fact we hope the same for you! 2017 has opportunity for folks of all ages to experience BBC (including freshly painted doors). Check out summer and winter options. Hope to see you on the hill soon!
It’s the time of year when we need to get BBC ready for winter. Can you help us?!
On Oct 29th we’ll do work around camp from 9-3. We’ll break for lunch around12:30. Come for the whole day or come for part.
There are jobs for skilled and non skilled folks. Come alone or bring the family.
Skilled labor for remodeling the BBC Cabin bathrooms. (If you’ve used them in the last few years you know this is long overdue.)
Non skilled labor for all the other miscellaneous tasks: blowing up snow tubes, putting the garden away, leaf raking, wood stacking, taking down shelter tarps, pulling in the floating dock, etc)
The bathroom renovation will take more than 1 day. If you’re available any day from Oct 29 – Nov 3, we could use your help. If you’re traveling from a distance and want to make a long weekend out of it, we’ll have a place for you to stay!
Day camp is back! Cheeks has been hard at work planning. I wanted to share with you her recent plans for themes at Day Camp.
Each week of day camp will include a lot of traditional BBC Favorites including eating ice cream out of a pig trough, the slip n slide, swimming in the pond, exploring nature, team building activities and more. Each day will have blocks of time dedicated to the theme for the week. Read below for more details on each week.
Classic Week: (6/20-24)
This week is all about BBC Classics! Day Camp Director Amber “Cheeks” Bergey will pull from her 10 years as BBC Program Director to have the best, age appropriate BBC activities for Day Campers. Over the years BBC has gone “around the world”, hosted “muddy Olympics” and “carnivals”, directed “cinemas” and examined a plethora of themes to help young people make connections between faith, nature, relationships and God. Each day campers will get a great taste of what it’s like to be a BBC Camper while making new friends and having a wonderful time!
Wild Week: (6/27-7/1)
This week will focus on the “wild” activity happening around us in nature. Blocks of time each day will be dedicated to examining the wildlife around us. Catching critters in the brook, scavenger hunts leading to different trees and rocks, along with other hands on events will help campers have fun while learning about the wild life around us. It’s never too early to experience how being immersed in nature can put us in touch with The Creator.
Splash Week: (8/1-8/4 or 5?)
This week of Day Camp is in honor of many residential camper’s favorite day: Wet N Wild Wednesday! At Day Camp we’ll be wet and wild all week. Chunks of each day will be dedicated to water activities. If you don’t like to get wet, not to worry! Each day will have options for hands off water activities. Campers will have fun with traditional back yard splash games and also have fun working together to accomplish slippery challenges. Moments each day will also be spent examining how some of the properties of water can help us understand faith and a relationship with God.
Summer programming starts in a month! We want to have occupancy to the pavilion by the end of the month. Can you help?!
Join us on Saturday May 28th from 9am – 3pm for Spring Work Day! Jobs will include (but not limited to)
.Painting the upstairs of the pavilion
.Turning the pavilion from a construction zone to summer camp zone
.Putting away/Cleaning up winter camp equipment
.Preparing Shelter Sites for Summer
.Preparing grounds for summer camp
We’ll have jobs for all skill levels and lunch for everyone, too!
Russell “OWO” Pejouey will be on site to cook a delicious lunch.
Lodging is available here at Bethany Birches for anyone who wants to come from a distance or make a weekend of it!
Email amber at bethanybirches.org to let us know you can help or respond on the BBC Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/568154376678577/