Fall has so many wonderful, seasonal traditions that we all look forward to each year. These include things like pumpkin spice flavored everything, football games, apple picking, wearing our coziest sweaters- and of course the BBC Annual Fall Work Day!This is always a great time to get together with our fabulous BBC community in the crisp, fresh air and help prep camp for winter. This year we are hoping to do a lot of leaf raking, back country ski trail clearing, buttoning up the garden, and some organizing. Can you help us?
We have set the date for October 27th, from 9:30am-3:00pm, with a hearty lunch provided at 12:30pm. There will be coffee, snacks, and fresh pressed cider to enjoy all day as well.
Feel free to come for some or all of the day. There will be work available for any age/skill level. AND – will also have child care provided from 9:30am until lunch. So bring your kiddos, drop em off and get to work! Please rsvp if you need childcare (no charge) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include number and age of kiddos.
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.
Over the last few years you may have noticed back country ski supplies included on BBC’s wish list. Tuna scours the fall ski swaps and often returns with poles and boots to add to BBC’s collection. Last winter’s registration form included a box to mark interest in skiing the back country of BBC! In 2017 Tuna and GiGi led campers into the snow covered forrest on skis.
A long time snow camper Nick Champine enjoys having fun skiing with Tuna and other campers and having the freedom to go anywhere. He says, “The hills are fun! It’s different than skiing at a resort because you have to go uphill in order to go down and there are less people.” He’s looking forward to learning more this winter.
The development of a back country ski program at BBC Winter Camps allows campers to try their hand at a new skill while enjoying the beautiful winter scenery. Tuna has teamed up with a local telemark teacher, John Tidd, to provide instruction to adults who may have interest in helping campers learn how to ski safely in the back country. If you have interest in volunteering at snow camps in this way contact Tuna (brandon at bethanybirches.org)
The summer of 2017 was the most attended summer in the history of BBC. Praise God! Well over 400 campers came over the course of 7 weeks of summer camp. Serving this many campers required that we also have one of the largest staff teams in the camp’s history. Many different marketing events, individuals, and advertisements helped to make this summer’s registration so momentous. I also believe that campers wouldn’t come (and keep coming!) if it weren’t for the impact camp has on them.
A small group of campers (and staff) were impacted this summer by a new week- long program. The Expedition week was created to be an adventure-based program for a small group of middle school campers. This backpacking-based program provided a unique and powerful atmosphere for campers to find each other and God.
The group of 10 campers and three staff spent their first day at camp focused on team building to prepare themselves for the three-day overnight backpacking trip during the 2nd half of the week. Because this was designed to be a smaller group, campers quickly built meaningful relationships with their counselors and each other. Mim “Sully” Beck, an expedition counselor, describes how those relationships were built:
“One of the best parts of the week was being able to interact so closely with the group of campers and other counselors. We quickly became well acquainted and comfortable around each other as we learned how to pack our bags and cook our food. Even before we left for the trip, we found ourselves bonding while shouting out-of-tune camp songs at the tree houses. Multiple times on the trip we found ourselves laughing and playing games or telling riddles to keep ourselves entertained. One of the most profound experiences on the trail was when we reached the Killington summit. Relaxing in God’s presence after a day of hiking had a positive impact on all of us.”
Current culture has made it easy for most Middle Schoolers to miss out on nature-focused activities. Kids, instead, experience the world behind the glass of their mobile devices and other screens. BBC has always sought to help “human life, wild life and plant life coexist in harmony (statement from original bylaws).” One of the other counselors on this trip, Erin “Corgi” Beidler, describes how campers met God during the week: “Sitting around the camp stove eating freeze-dried chili our group had some of the best conversations. From playing charades to discussing faith the group was open to sharing their experiences. I remember one discussion in particular when we were talking about Moses leading the Israelites out into the wilderness. God gave them just enough manna to survive for that day but no more. We discussed how through the challenge of the hike and whatever challenges life brings God can give each of us enough of what we need to get through. I saw God so much during the three days of hiking. Campers were so willing to share and help each other through the challenges of the hike. I truly believe that being together in such a demanding environment helped the group grow closer to each other, to nature, and to God.”
The impact of this session on campers (and staff) was clear. Expedition will return next year. If you know a 12-14-year-old who would benefit from an experience like this, please encourage them to sign up!
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.
Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Working at camp involves a lot of repetition, and as someone who generally revolts against rigid routines, sometimes I felt like I was going crazy. But somehow, beyond all my expectations, God met me in the repetition.
I came to camp expecting that I would meet God in some life-redefining way. In fact, that was one big reason I initially hesitated about working at BBC this summer ― I expected that I would meet God in some big way, and I was afraid of finding him like that. Because finding God meant that I would have to own up to a lot of things, and I did not want to spend the emotional energy, I guess. But I did not meet God, not in the way I thought, anyway, which fit in so well with our theme of “Expect the Unexpected.” No, he did not revealed himself to me in some flashy Damascus road moment. Instead, he pulled me gently back to him, one small moment at a time.
Every week, I repeated the same advice to my campers, heard the same Bible stories, sang the same songs, cooked the same food, did the same activities.
I knew what was coming next. In the logistical sense, I knew exactly what to expect.
Now, when you do something over and over again, and know you will keep doing it over and over again, you have two choices: you can either jade yourself to what you are doing, or you can look for new threads of meaning within the repetition.
I found myself handing out the same advice to my girls this summer, different campers, different ages, different situations. I told them how important it is to learn to love yourself, because if you dislike yourself, then loving your neighbor as you love yourself quickly derails into a nightmare. And by the fifth or sixth time that I heard those words coming out of my mouth, I realized, hey, maybe I should give my own advice a try.
And maybe after the 50th morning of singing that all God’s critters got a place in the choir, I could remember that that meant me, someone who has felt on the outside for a while, not sure of her place in the choir or if she wants to sing at all.
And maybe by the seventh time hearing that God’s best friend Moses killed a man would it actually sink in that, hey, God might want to be best friends with me, too, someone who has not killed anything but maybe some mosquitos.
I usually look for God in the strange, unfamiliar places. I can see him working best when I am outside of my comfort zone. I like to go on adventures, push myself, find weird new places to explore, and hope to bump into God along the way.
But this summer, I learned to look for him in the small, quiet moments, in the spider crawling up my leg, in the curious eyes of children, in the encouragement of fellow staff, in the silly song lyrics.
God knows what we need more than we know for ourselves. He knows I can be skittish, he knows I am stubborn, but he also knows how much I delight in small moments of beauty, and he used that understanding to give me what I needed: a gentle push in a better direction that, with enough encouragement, will eventually lead me home.
As I have settled back into the repetition of my life away from camp, into my college routine, I catch myself thinking about camp a lot. I find I am craving the outdoors, craving rain showers and cast-iron griddles and grease fires and charcoal hand prints on my legs, craving the company of children, craving the peace I found on the hill ― these things that separately I can replicate anywhere, but that all together create something beautiful, something powerful, something unique to Bethany Birches.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to work at Bethany Birches, and I am looking forward to returning next summer, ready to embrace the unexpected from day one.
Liesl “Kiki” Graber
2017 BBC Summer Counselor
This summer was the most attended summer in the history of BBC. Praise God! We had well over 400 camper weeks throughout the seven weeks of summer. These high numbers required that we also have one of the largest staff teams in the camp’s history. Many different marketing events, individuals, and advertisements helped to make this summer’s registration so momentous, but I also believe that campers wouldn’t come (and keep coming!) if it weren’t for the ways camp impacts them.
Camp is uniquely powerful in the lives of children for many different reasons. One of the most important reasons, I believe, is the connection between camper and counselor. During the school year children spend 99% of their time with peers (fellow students) and with older adults (parents/teachers). Peers are easy for them to connect with, but often not much of a role model. Adults can be great role models, but difficult to make powerful connections with. Young, maturing, 20-something counselors help bridge that gap. They are fun to be with and people the campers can look up to. Many campers, in fact, realize that they too can grow up to be like these counselors some day. Liesl was an excellent example this summer. In the paragraphs that follow she shares her experiences this summer and you can see that while she made a real impact in the lives of her campers God also used BBC to make a real impact in her own life.
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.
Your child is going to love Summer 2017! There’s plenty of options for all age groups, more things to do at camp, and more choices to help him and her grow and develop emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually!
Exciting things for each age group:
More Options for Younger Campers
If your 9 year-old has experienced Launch and is now ready for a full week of camp sign them up for Core A! Core A is now for 9-12 year-olds to allow younger campers to experience “core” programming!
Discounted Rates for Day Camp Transportation
Day Camp will also continue for another year! This is a great alternative to summer day care, especially since your child will get to experience plenty of classic camp games and activities. Transportation is available from Woodstock for Day Campers and is offered using the typical tier pricing. Click here for pricing.
Your 10-13 year old can come to one, two, or all three! These weeks are the “core” of our programming here at camp. Theme days. Crazy camp-wide activities. Mission Impossible. Whether it’s their first or fourth time at BBC they’re sure to enjoy it!
Wilderness Adventure for Middle School Campers
Expedition is a great option to help your child put down their phone or iPad and experience creation first hand. They will learn important skills like team building, and wilderness living all to prepare them for a three day, two-night backpacking trip! This trip will be led by our experienced staff who will help your camper learn to live minimally and enjoy nature (and walking with a heavy load… seriously).
Exciting Trips for High School Campers
Summit High offers three overnight trip options. Your child can choose the trip that most interests them. This year, we have: White Water Rafting, Bromley Areal Adventure, and Music and Movies at the Treehouses. More info here.
Register this week (by Friday November 18th) and your child will receive a free t-shirt and DVD of your child’s week at camp.
Most campers come summer after summer. If you’re new to Bethany Birches, this page may answer some of your questions. If it doesn’t, call me at 802-672-5220. We hope to see you and your family here at camp this summer.
Dan “Chick” Laubach
“I love everything about camp. This is a great place to learn, grow, love and make new friends.”- Morgan, a camper.
Next Summer is kind of far away. The leaves just fell off the trees here in central VT. But, many of you are no doubt planning your summer vacations and other details of family life. It’s important to us that we have our dates in your hands as you do that planning. And so summer camp dates were released a month ago and now, this coming Friday, online registration for all summer sessions will be open! If you sign up the first week that registration is open, we’ll add the weeks video and tshirt to your registration at no charge.
New to Bethany Birches? This new parents page will answer many of your questions. If you have more questions, just send us a message here on the FB page. And if BBC is old hat to you and your family, will you do us a favor and tell your friends about camp? One mom told me that BBC is VT’s best kept secret. We don’t want it to be a secret!
I just love this quote from Sarah, a new camper mom. “My daughter had a terrific first year at Bethany Birches Camp. Her counselor was engaging, fun, thoughtful, and so helpful to her as she adjusted to life away from parents. She came home talking about the playing on the water trampoline, rock climbing, eating ice cream in a pig trough, and solving the mystery with fellow campers of who stole the chocolate chips!”