Posts Tagged ‘Covid-19’

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.

Registration Open!

Dear Camp Friends,

The moment has come!  We have done all we need to do to re-situate people and reopen registration.  Thanks for bearing with us!  So go ahead and grab your spot while you can.

I encourage you to register and pay as soon as possible for your best chance at reserving a session for your child.  Please select only one session for the summer per child.  If you select more than one session per camper, we will remove your child from all but one session of our choosing.

As a reminder, we are only taking those living in-state (VT) at this time.  If you live out of state, and would like an exception, please let us know and we can review your situation.

If the session you want for your child is full, I encourage you to sign up and get on the waitlist.  As we know, the pandemic is causing ongoing changes and that is one of the main reasons I encourage you to claim your spot on the waiting list.  Surely some spots will open up.  You will need to make a $50 deposit to get on the wait list and we can refund that $50 if your child does not end up being able to attend camp.

Get signed up here!  Register Now

Check out the pandemic response FAQ page here.  Feel free to ask any questions not answered there.

I pray that you and your family are finding peace and joy, even in these strange times.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey
Executive Director

Find previous communications about summer 2020 here.

p.s. while some details on what summer camp will look and feel like are in the FAQ page, more are coming shortly!

Updated Summer 2020 Schedule Announced

I write this with reserved excitement.  It is exciting to offer resident camp in the context of the pandemic.  It is also going to be a special challenge for all involved.  Our primary goals are to create a distanced, safe, outdoor oriented program with special considerations for the Covid-19 crisis and to give children and teens an outlet for some of the things that have been missing in their lives lately.

Here are the sessions we know we are able to offer considering the many changes that needed to be made:

We are working daily to make the modifications necessary and get needed supplies.  We will do our best to keep a FAQ page up to date and add more detail as we create it.  Please feel free to call the office with questions – 802-672-5220.  Here is the page for your reference: https://www.bethanybirches.org/summer-2020-faq

If you are currently enrolled and want your child to come to Launch Day Camp A, July 6-10, please reply by this coming Sunday, June 14.  For all other sessions, please reply by Wednesday, June 17.  If you are not currently enrolled, we expect to reopen registration after June 17.

Thanks for joining us in this adventure so far.  I invite you to pray one of the prayers I have been praying lately – God, I thank you for (fill in anything you are thankful for).  God, also, I need help with (fill in anything you need help with).  Thankfulness and acknowledgment of our challenges and needs go hand in hand.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey
Executive Director

Camp to start July 6 – Coronavirus update 3

Dear Camp Friends,

We know a lot more than we did last week!  Governor’s restart team gave the go ahead one week ago and our board of directors gave the go ahead on Wednesday night of this past week.  Working with our camp doctor and leadership team, we continue to create a modified way of doing camp that minimizes opportunities for virus transmission and utilizes guidance from the VT Health Department, CDC, and American Camp Association.

We are almost finished with our updated schedule.  We will not run all of our scheduled programs and plan to announce that by Wednesday of this coming week.  The first week of camp will be July 6 and will be Launch day camp for ages 6-10.

We know we will have at least four weeks of residential camp and probably two weeks of day camp.  After we share our updated schedule we will be emailing each family currently signed up and work to get you into whichever of the new programs you would like.  The way that process will work is fairly simple:

Respond to a future email indicating preference of session (we will give a deadline).

Pay your balance (by a deadline).

Review the materials we will send and prepare your camper for the modified experience (we will get this to you before the decision and payment deadlines). Noteworthy modifications relate to some new activities and some missing favorites, occasional required face covering for all (like during drop off, bathhouse, and meal prep. times), lots of hand-washing, assigned sleeping spaces etc.  We believe while it will feel quite different, campers will enjoy what we are preparing.

We plan to limit a camper to one session for the summer. Our goal is to serve as many different campers as possible given the reduced capacity (planning for 36 campers at a time so we can best follow guidance and requirements).  Until we help each enrolled family get into new sessions, we will keep registration closed.  After the decision deadline for current enrollees we will open registration back up until all spots are filled.

I am praying a part of Isaiah 40 for each of you.  It’s a prayer that I needed very much this week.  Starting at v. 28: “Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint, and to those who have no might God increases strength… they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  Bless you.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey
Executive Director

Summer 2020 Coronavirus Plans Part 2

Greetings Friends.  I shared a week ago via email (part 1) that we expected to run some sort of on-site program and that it was not clear what all would be included.  I will continue to report our progress and plans on a weekly basis.

We received guidance from the Governor’s team Friday at noon stating we would be allowed to run resident camp.

We had a board meeting last night and uncovered some issues and challenges.  Our desire remains to use our wonderful property for the community.

So here are a few things I can share with you, even though we are not yet prepared to announce our summer 2020 offerings.

What will summer camp look and feel like?  Quite a bit different!  Here is a document from the VT Dept. of Health outlining what parents should expect from summer programs.  It details who will not be allowed to attend and that staff will be required to wear face coverings a lot.  We will probably have mandatory face covering times even for campers.  Examples may include when being in the pavilion, or, when cooking together at the fire.  Of course, we will adjust our requirements to stay current with VT Health Dept. guidelines if those guidelines change.

In addition, group size will be smaller overall, and, sessions a bit shorter.  Distancing will be part of the experience.  If we run resident programs, campers will sleep with heads at least 6′ apart in the open air shelters, among other distancing measures.

Will out of state campers be allowed to attend?  Only Vermont campers and those who have been in the state for 14 days will be allowed.  There may be a pathway to get around that, but, it’s unclear if we will be able to walk down that path.

If spots are limited, who gets one?  We expect to give priority to those already signed up, for whatever slots are available.  As of today, we have turned registration off for the weekend so no one else can reserve space.  We did this to ease any anxiety you may feel about getting a spot for your child.  If you already have a spot, meaning, you have signed up online, or, sent in your paper form before this was written, you will likely get to keep it, even if in a different session than what you signed up for.

So much more to plan and work through.  Since it isn’t completed, please be patient with us, and, enjoy the hymn I referenced last week.  This version is sung by my brother and a few of his friends a while ago.  The lyrics are important to me right now and I hope offers you some encouragement.

 

Hope you’re all finding ways to be outside, care for yourselves, and those around you.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

Executive Director

Office closed to visitors. Please get in touch virtually.

Bethany Birches office closed to the public.  Email, call, social media.  We are still working toward summer and beyond!  
Please email camp@bethanybirches.org or call 802-672-5220 and we would love to connect.  The camp’s website and blog and social media will remain updated regarding summer plans.  We are currently considering which versions of summer camp may be possible.  Campers who are currently signed up and deposited will receive priority for any programming that does happen.
Delivery?  Feel free to leave package at the door.  We will check for packages daily.

Why you should sign up now for summer camp 2020

Dear Bethany Birches Parents:

The staff are busy preparing for the 2020 summer camp season at Bethany Birches! We realize that these are uncertain times and there may not even be a 2020 summer camp season.  However, we will continue preparing as though there will be summer campFeel confident in signing up for summer 2020 because of 1 and 2 below.  3 and 4 below are in hopes of giving your children something to look forward to while being home for what may be quite some time.

1. Summer cancellation without penalty. If you have signed up for summer camp, or plan to do so, you may cancel with no penalty.  Cancel for any reason and we will keep every dollar on your account for one year.  You could use this at the upcoming winter sessions or the following summer sessions, or for a friend, different child, etc.  Also, if the current crisis causes a limited summer session, there won’t be as many spots. Sign up now with confidence.  As the pace of life slows down day by day you could get your mind in a different space and reserve your child’s summer spot now: http://www.bethanybirches.org/summer-camps-dates/.  If a session is canceled by us or regulators, same thing applies.  All cancellations must be made 3 weeks before the start of your session.

2. Safety. Our leadership team and medical professionals are upgrading the current health and safety practices we have in place at camp and if summer camp is held this season, we will have robust check-in and quarantine procedures in case of outbreak of any kind, Covid-19 or otherwise.

3. Get the kids out of the house and off the screen. On the topic of slowing pace, Bethany Birches’ property remains open to you.  While indoor spaces will be locked and only used for certain pre-arranged purposes, you are welcome to come and be in the outdoors.  Connect with us to learn how you can be here safely (email, phone, social).

4. Virtual Engagement. While we are staying separate from each other to slow the pandemic in our country, we can still be together in spirit and via internet!  Stay tuned for a few virtual camp experiences. Possibly things like biking with Tuna, crafts with Cheeks and Susie, camp songs with Meatball, Magic with Rupert, chill time with Beehive… the possibilities are endless!  Have a request? Let us know.  In the meantime, if you’re going to give your kiddos screen time, have them check out the BBC youtube channel.

 

You can help

  1. At this time, we believe the most effective thing we can do to stop the spread of this virus (thereby keeping medical facility traffic to a manageable rate) is to keep physical interaction limited (“social distancing”). Please learn and follow local and federal authorities’ recommendations.
  2. We are still looking for some of those great summer staff. For teens 15-17, consider Counselor in Training or Leader in Training.  For teens 17 and older, consider assistant counseling.  For college students and beyond, consider counseling, maintenance, kitchen, etc.

More to come as more becomes known.  We are praying strength for you and peace that passes understanding.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey, Executive Director

P.S. Apparently handwashing is a game-changer.  I continue to challenge myself to do it for at least 20 seconds!  https://www.acacamps.org/news-publications/blogs/camp-connection/handwashing-make-it-really-effective