Impressive. Well Constructed. Beautiful. These are words people have used to describe the new pavi when look around the construction site. But the word we hear most is BIG. And it’s true. There is a lot of space in the new pavilion. Outside of renovating the kitchen, more (dry) space was one of the main motivators for a new pavi. And now we have A LOT OF SPACE. It’s easy for me to think of all the games, activities, etc campers and staff can play in that space. But that’s my job.
At Polar Bear camp in February I asked campers to consider what they might do in this space. Before they started making cardboard sleds they acted out activities that would take place in the new pavi. They had no trouble coming up with ideas. Look below to see a couple of the ideas they came up with.
I hope they’ll each come back and use the new space this summer.
They say the third time’s a charm. No doubt that will be true for Romie! Romie started as the counselor of Hummingbird in 2013. She returned to Hummingbird for a 2nd summer in 2014. She has a unique ability to listen and lead, sing and play and share God in a way that makes sense to each individual she interacts with. When I asked Romie if she’d consider returning for a 3rd summer I was delighted to hear her say, “Yes. I believe I’m not done learning at BBC.” Read on for more on what Romie is excited about and why you should join her this summer at BBC! (It’s very possible that if you join Romie this summer you may hear this as a song…)
November is a time when we remember to be thankful – in between stuffing ourselves with a delicious feast and watching football! What would it look like to be thankful each day? Ask anyone who has been to camp and they would probably agree that being at Bethany Birches Camp makes it a little easier to be thankful. The atmosphere surrounding camp makes it impossible to ignore our miraculous God.
Around seven years ago I was introduced to camp. I went to visit a staff member (who later became my sister-in-law) and went back the following year to become a counselor. I spent eight weeks in the mountains in Vermont. Every week presented different challenges but looking back the lessons and blessings that I experienced will last a lifetime. I am so thankful for every moment I spend at BBC!
Bethany Birches gives me the opportunity to be myself and to teach campers about Jesus. God takes our efforts and our abilities and multiplies them more than we can ever imagine. When it’s time to leave camp it feels like a part of me never leaves, and I always try to take a little bit of camp with me.
If you have never experienced BBC I strongly encourage you to find a way to help out. Everyone is welcome at camp, all have a talent, skill, or ability that can be used to further the Kingdom of God.
As you enjoying thanksgiving allow me to leave you with this passage: Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For The Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100: 4,5
Camp is packed full of so many fun activities. While part of my job is to think of new and exciting activities to bring to camp, we have often looked to campers for inspiration as well. From interviews, to camper’s evaluations, to conversations, we want campers to have a voice. If a camper has a creative vision, we’ll run with it. I imagine this is how the pillow log came to be, and it’s exactly why we installed an archery range. Kids after all have the best imaginations!
This year we are putting on our second consecutive special theme week that looks different from the usual Vermont summer camp program. We chose the title UbuildIt. We are harnessing the imaginations of 50 or so campers to create a very fun and interactive week. Campers will be able to pick their favorite activities when they register. We will plan the week based on these choices. Campers will even have the chance to modify existing activities for each other. Some of the favorites up for modification include Mission Impossible, Pig Trough, Slip N’ Slide, Camp Cinema, Group Games.
So often in this day and age we see young people relying on social media, screens and apps to entertain. This favorites UbuildIt week is going to turn this model upside down and challenge campers to get involved in making the fun! We couldn’t be more excited to see what they come up with.
At camp, we tend not to do commercials. We aren’t a commercial place and we try hard to remain rustic. We cook meals over the fire, use wood to heat buildings, use cast iron to cook food, light our way at night with gas lanterns and all sorts of other old-time stuff. This lack of technology at camp helps keep distractions at bay (although, let’s be honest, cast iron and gas lanterns are awesome technologies!).
As we learn how to communicate with the outside world, we try to demonstrate camp as best we can so those who haven’t yet been to camp, can gain a sense for how fun it really is. Each winter camp session, campers just can’t seem to get enough tubing!
We used video to demonstrate how much campers LOVE to tube in this 30 second commercial.
Mission Possible All Around: #WithGod all things are possible…
…#WithGod BBC used Mission Possible as the summer-long theme based on Matthew 19:26. Campers were challenged to be #WithGod both at camp and at home. The Mission Possible theme also explored how we can be #WithGod and why it matters. Shepherds invited campers to be #WithGod in all aspects of life.
…#WithGod BBC created a new week of camp this summer: Mission Possible week. Campers were invited on a week-long mission to prove BBC is achieving its mission. Campers participated in the traditional version of their favorite game multiple times and were surprised with MI versions adapted especially for this first time BBC program…
…#WithGod BBC created a new program this summer dedicated to teen campers who want to be at camp more than one week of the summer. Mission Possible Crew week allowed 14-18 yr old campers to come to camp to help with clean up and program while continuing to enjoying the perks of camper life. BBC Crew campers enjoyed setting up and guarding for Mission Impossible games. One crew member enjoyed it because “we got to help make the campers time at camp better while having fun at the same time!” (Erianna, ’13 Crew Member)
…#WithGod BBC is working towards a new pavilion. Each Friday night campers shared with their parents various reasons why camp needs a new pavilion. Mission Possible: The Pavilion Project is building momentum with 1.2 million of the 1.8 million dollar goal committed.
But, back to this post – some of you know Dale’s Homes in White River Junction. Dale and Darlene Snader are the owners and have made significant contributions to the camp… one of those contributions was the Director’s Residence that Cheeks and I currently live in (pictured here):
Well, earlier this week Dale came up to help with the Cardinal cabin. It’s foundation needed work or else campers couldn’t stay in it! While we’ll have to do the excavation in the fall, he was able to secure it for the summer. Thanks Dale!
As he was taking time out of a busy season and crawling around in the mud, I started wondering about what causes someone to give something as significant as a house? What causes someone to give a few hours of their time to crawl around in the mud to help protect children? In Dale and Darlene, I have experienced a generous spirit… the kind of spirit that is enabled by the knowledge that all we have received is a gift from above (including our birth).
Join me in hoping and praying for a summer filled with God’s love and service Dale style.
Greetings friends. The below blog post was written by a friend and consultant, Mark Vincent. He has been working closely with me (Tuna) on our campaign to rebuild the pavilion. This summer we are entering the “Public Phase” of this effort and so I thought I’d share it with you this “Tuna Tuesday”.
Capital campaign communication: 2 awesome examples
We learn so much from our clients. Occasionally we can pass the benefits along.
I have been privileged to work with Bethany Birches Camp as they ready themselves for their first big capital campaign. Their Executive Director, still in the early stages of his career, is an outstanding example of someone who knows he doesn’t know and is therefore able to learn and grow and put a lot of long-timers to shame at the excellence he is already achieving.
Most noticeable is the way he, the board and volunteers have been able to inject the organizational culture of the camp into all their campaign communication. Whenever the constituency interacts with them they are having a camp experience, not just a communication from the camp. Here are two awesome examples:
1. Their video that introduces the campaign and makes the case provides an excellent standard other organizations can aspire to reach:
2. A recent update on an unanticipated project that could have harmed momentum conveys a non-anxious, thankful, yet light-heartedly determined way forward. Anyone who participated can find themselves in the blogs/photos etc. that are linked in the note. It provides a great personal touch mixed with the benefits of social media and web. Here is the text:
Greetings friends. I’m writing with deep joy in my heart for each of you. As you probably remember about a year ago we received some tough news from the fire marshal: that the Bethany Birches Cabin would be shut down April 1, 2012 until we complied with numerous requirements.
One of my biggest concerns was how we’d pay for the upgrades to the building. My second concern related to how to get the work done. Because of you, the work was finished and paid for! THANK YOU!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support of this effort and for your ongoing help in Bethany Birches’ mission to help young people develop their relationship with God. Without you we would still be without the use of the cabin!
And here is one more idea. Why not take these examples to your development and/or communications team to view and then ask what is one step we might take to better inject our organization’s culture into our communication–especially in a capital campaign? How might our constituency have an ongoing experience and not just another communications piece?
Many of you know Cheeks. She’s been the Program Director at Bethany Birches for many years (this will be her 9th summer). She also happens to be my wife. We got married after working here at camp together for a few years.
To me, Cheeks has been a gift from God. Let me explain:
Many days I realize this through various circumstances. Today, I realized it again. This time it was related to the fact that she doesn’t get distracted by stuff (you could even say she doesn’t care much about stuff). Seriously. She doesn’t like to spend a lot of money on stuff. She uses stuff until it breaks down entirely. If she looses something, she shrugs it off and mentions that she didn’t really need it anyway. Take her purse/bag for example. Right now, there’s a hole in it and one handle has broken off. She’s still using it. If it broke entirely, she might never get a new one. She might use another bag in the closet or fill her pockets.
I am quite different. I like stuff. I like high quality stuff and I like when it performs well. If it gets scratched or damaged, I like to repair it. Take my bike for example. I rode it today and it was wet. When I got home, I hosed it off and set it in front of a fan to dry. I washed it so the chain was free of grit and used the fan so that nothing would rust.
Here’s the thing. We only get so much time on Earth. Old people tell me that it goes fast. Researching, getting and taking care of stuff takes a lot of time. And, those of us who care about our stuff can at times be on the verge of caring too much for it. This is part of why Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell his stuff.
Back to me and Cheeks. She is a constant example of what it looks like to care less about stuff. With her attention not focused on stuff, she tends to focus on people… and she’s very good at considering others! Not only is this a blessing to me, it’s a witness.
I hope you find a way to bless those you live with today like Cheeks blesses me. When that way is unclear, look to Jesus. He will show you.
Among the blogs I read is Generous Matters. It’s largely about generosity, giving and making ourselves rich toward God (rather than just plain old rich). This past Friday, the author of the blog included an excerpt from CS Lewis… I love CS Lewis! Here’s what he wrote in one of his books:
“Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that is ‘finding his place in it,’ while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of really being at home on Earth, which is just what we want. You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.”
Having read Screwtape Letters, I know that Lewis does not consider it a good thing when we feel “at home on Earth.” Being at home on Earth makes it hard to be at home in God’s Kingdom.
This summer, we hope to have a ton of fun while discovering together this special place some Christians call God’s Kingdom. If we trust Jesus’ words, we know that in that place is where we receive “life to the full.”