Bethany Birches was very fortunate to have two young, retired, volunteer couples join the team summer 2021. Rita and Lowell Peachey from Kansas, and Mark and Kathy Alt, of Maryland. Head cook Amber “Cheeks” Bergey who worked with them asked a little about their experience.
How’d you find Bethany Birches?
Kathy: We found them on the internet. The information was good and we felt God call us there.
Lowell: We are in a stage of life where we are volunteering at church camps and other organizations while living in our RV. We were introduced to BBC by Joe Friesen, our nephew, who was a college friend of Brandon.
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What were some challenges of living at camp for the summer?
Kathy: I didn’t really experience too many challenges living on the campus. It was so nice to be able to walk to work, serve in the kitchen, and share a meal with the staff and be able to use the washer and dryer when needed.
Could you talk about joys and highlights of living at camp for the summer?
Kathy: I absolutely loved working with Cheeks in the kitchen. It was both a challenge and a joy. The challenge came with learning the kitchen and cooking for large amounts of people, special diets and packing the crates sufficiently. The joy came when it all worked out and came together at the end of my shift. I would have to say that having prayer time together with Cheeks each morning before facing the day was a big highlight for me. Another highlight was the end of the week small group time with the counselors and staff. Listening to their challenges and highlights was so inspiring especially knowing the sacrifices of comfort and how they loved all the campers.
Lowell: We enjoyed learning to know counselors and interacting with them, sharing meals together, and some interaction with the campers. Lowell enjoyed the time spent with Brandon looking at plans and visions for the future of the camp along with discussing operational challenges. We really enjoyed being in Vermont and exploring the state.
What have you taken with you from the experience?
Kathy: Definitely inspiration from staff and counselors for the way they sacrificed and loved the campers. Tackling the challenge of learning the kitchen and coming away with new skills acquired and friendships made.
Lowell: We enjoyed not being in charge of anything and being able to serve as needed. We tried to offer the gift of flexibility to the camp to help the team create a meaningful experience for campers and counselors.
What would you say to someone else who may be considering a similar experience?
Kathy: The biggest draw to come back next summer is the challenge of working in the kitchen again. There is a certain type of excitement meeting those goals each day and figuring out new ways for better time management. There is also the added joy of working with the staff again and living in a beautiful Green Mountain state.
Lowell: Go for it! This was our third volunteer gig and the rewards clearly outweigh the challenges. Having said that, your experience is mostly what you make of it. If you have a concern or question about your assignment make sure to let your volunteer coordinator know at the time of the discomfort rather than waiting for the exit interview at the end of the assignment.
Let me add one more thing. It is clear that camp leadership and the board are in alignment as to values and strategic direction and there is a great support – financially and otherwise – from the constituency. BBC is a gem given its clear focus and role in the community. God lives there; He can be seen in the seeds planted among campers and counselors, in the seedbeds tended by counselors leadership and the church community, and in the majesty and beauty of the surrounding mountains and forest.