Posts Tagged ‘summer camp’

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

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

Are We Accomplishing Our Mission? Beyond Anecdotes.

Over the last few years Bethany Birches has been committed to partnering with academic organizations researching the benefits of Christian Summer Camps. Last year the Hope Study (University of Oklahoma) measured whether campers experienced increased hope as a result of their camp experience.  The Hope Study 2018 found “The results of this report continue to provide support for the positive impact the participating Christian camps are having on the boys and girls attending those camps, not just in terms of Hope and Well-Being, but also in social connectedness and interest in their Faith.” Fifty-six percent of campers had increased hope scores after coming to camp. This was most closely correlated with making friends and having developed some faith.  

This year The Power of Camp study (POC) has given us preliminary data about campers’ engagement with faith, relationships with peers, and connection to staff as a result of their camp experience. Based on early data from this summer all of the parents surveyed said their child made friends at camp and 67% of campers said they were strengthened in their faith. Only 24% of parents reported reading the Bible with their children and 87% of parents felt we were “effectively teaching Christian faith.” All of the parents surveyed said they would send their child back to camp and 90% of campers ranked “the entire camp experience” as their most enjoyed part of camp. The initial data we have received from this summer is very encouraging and points toward significant mission accomplishment. We are excited that 100% of parents surveyed were pleased with our “system of addressing bullying/ conflicts.” We see Jesus’ teachings of “Love your enemies” and “treat others as you wish to be treated” in this statistic.

2019 was the third summer in a row in which our seasonal staff participated in The Power of Camp.  POC was conducted by Wheaton College looking at how staff of summer camps are affected by the experience. We have received data specific to our staff’s experiences and are able to compare this with the average of camps participating in the study. Participating in these studies allows us to quantitatively identify our areas of strength as well as opportunities for improvement. For example, between the 2017 and 2018 staff studies we saw a significant increase in how staff felt supported by their supervisors. We improved from being on par with other camps with a 4.1 out of 5 rating to a 5 out of 5 average rating from the staff. Also improving in the same period were the percent of staff who experienced growth in the teamwork and emotional intelligence areas assessed by the study. These and others had been identified as areas for improvement by camp leadership and the following year increased by 22.5% and 21.5% to be on par or higher than the average camp in the study. Between the summers 2017 and 2018 we improved parts of staff training, intentionally sought ways to provide more support for staff, and had better and more frequent meetings to improve communication. These improvements have been continued this last summer and we look forward to the forthcoming 2019 research study results.  

It is encouraging to have data to inform our decisions and confirm what we are doing is consistent with our mission. We were able to see that staff was improving in areas of spiritual growth, leadership, and resiliency similar to other camps and pinpoint what we could improve the next year. We feel both affirmed by the research and able to identify potential areas for improvement next year. We will continue pursuing these research opportunities because they have been and will continue to be part of making Bethany Birches Camp better at achieving our mission to help young people develop their relationship with God.

 

~ Patrick “Rupert” Graber,

Office Coordinator and Facilities Manager 

Day Camp: No Week Looks the Same!

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 day camp specific crafts and activities related to the splash week theme.

Despite differing themes – each day Camp 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!

Wonder Woman Returns to BBC Day Camp

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.

Counting down the days till summer,

Courtney Hollingsworth   (aka Wonder Woman)

 

 

Day Camp Safari

Treehouse lunch hike

Post Pig Trough