Dear Bethany Birches Community, I write to you with a full heart. My heart is filled with thankfulness, grace, and abundance. 2020 has been a challenging year for most. For some, it has been beyond challenging. For us here at Bethany Birches it has been stressful, especially this summer. When we realized summer camp would be possible and safe, and that young people needed a Christ centered camp experience now more than ever, we were determined to find a way to abide by the guidelines, keep everyone safe, and run camp! We are so glad we did. Though it was tiring, stressful and extremely challenging, it was character-building and it was worth all of it. I suppose that’s the way it is in the Kingdom of God. Jesus himself said in Luke 17 that whoever tries to keep their life will lose it and whoever loses their life will preserve it. That’s kind of a big topic to throw out in a newsletter, but I keep trying to understand the truth of it. This summer, and year in general has brought various kinds of losses. But we have also gained much including confidence, deeper understanding of our program, and mission success.
On the topic of our mission, I couldn’t be more pleased with one of our counselors this summer. While I was pleased with many of them, and think the summer team did a great job, the story of this one young woman helps me to envision the heart of our work. She had come to camp many years as a child and then into her teen years. She was at camp every chance she got. She brought her friends. As she grew, and became involved in more activities, we saw less of her in her later teen years. She came back to us to be on staff a prior summer. That summer she wasn’t sure she could be a counselor so took a support role. In 2020 she realized she wanted to be a counselor. She wasn’t sure her faith was strong enough, or that her Bible knowledge was great enough. We hired her with enthusiasm because we know and love her and felt she was enough, and trusted her to guide campers toward their own relationships with God as her counselors did with her for so many years. As the summer wore on, she asked hard questions of us. She shared honestly and passionately. She gave deeply of herself to her campers and fellow staff. She started to read her Bible more often. After summer, she asked multiple times for us to begin a Bible study for staff and campers which is now underway – if you’re in 9th grade or above, come join us! She is working hard to apply all she is learning to her daily life. It is young people like this that are so needed right now. This young woman helps me remember that people are connecting deeply with God and those around them through the work we do at camp.
I hope this short example illuminates why my heart is full and why I am filled with thankfulness. If thankfulness is far from you, I get it. That sentiment has been far from me many times this year as well. In light of that, I invite you to join me in celebrating anything positive in your life right now. May the Lord bless you and keep you,
~ Brandon Bergey
Bethany Birches Camp
P.S. it almost seems there is tradition beginning… here’s our current family photo.