New to Bethany Birches?
Greetings Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Foster Parents and other guardians:
If you’re new to Bethany Birches I bet you have some questions. Good! Below are a handful of topics. Go ahead and click on the green buttons related to the topics you’re most interested in. I hope your questions are answered. If they’re not give me a call at the office: 802-672-5220. I hope we get to meet you and your child(ren) during the upcoming summer or winter.
Brandon “Tuna” Bergey
Many people believe in the power of camp and the unique way Bethany Birches does it. Because of generous passionate people we are able to offer camp at an affordable price. Donors pay for capital expenditures and other large investments. With these expenses taken out of our pricing equation, we can charge less. PLUS we are able to offer 4 price tiers. Tiers allow almost any child to come and have a high-quality camping experience.
Here are how the tiers break out:
- Tier IV – our cost to have your child at camp: no subsidies
- Tier III – our cost to have your child at camp + small subsidy. Must report household size and income.
- Tier II – our cost to have your child at camp + subsidy. Must qualify.
- Tier I – our cost to have your child at camp + large subsidy. Must qualify.
All counselors are trained in CPR, Basic developmental psychology, conflict management and resolution, VT mandatory reporting, activity facilitation, and ways to keep your kids safe at camp. We have a 2-week orientation and training process.
On top of good training, we employ an American Camp Association standard for a rigorous hiring process. It includes background checks, references, application and interviews. We strive to be certain that the counselors leading your children are mature, responsible, and fun!
We desire safety for all participants including emotional, social, spiritual, and physical. Read this blog post for the latest on any remaining Covid-19 details. We strongly encourage the required Vermont Department of Health vaccinations as well as the Covid-19 vaccination.
We talk a lot about and spend time building a community of love. Why? A couple reasons:
- Community is a tight-knit social network. Building community using Social Emotional Learning at camp has been proven to drastically reduce bullying. So we work to build strong relationships between everyone at camp so campers feel emotionally and physically safe.
- Building community helps everyone belong. We’ve all been left out and know it doesn’t feel good. Not at camp! At camp everyone belongs.
- We learn from our faith tradition that the most important thing in life is to love. Love God. Love people. This is what Jesus said when he was asked “What is the most important thing?” And so we teach campers to love each other and treat others the way they want to be treated.
Community also creates space in which young people become good friends. The Power of Camp website says it like this “Good friends who exert positive peer pressure can make all the difference in a kid’s life. Friendships with caring adults and other campers, forged through shared experience and the compressed time at camp, can last a lifetime and provide a connection that helps young people navigate the challenges of life.”
At Bethany Birches Camp we emphasize life-long change and learning. One of the camp’s foundational documents includes this statement:
“We exist to provide a camping experience for youth where counselor and camper together can engage in learning relationships which will prepare them for future responsibilities in life.”
We want campers to return home with new strategies for making and keeping friends, developing their faith in God, and treating others with love and respect. Our summer schedule also provides opportunities to learn basic outdoor survival skills, archery, canoeing, fishing, crafts, swimming, sports, and more. Winter campers have the opportunity to learn things like crafts, backcountry skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and… you get the picture.
Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin has done Research showing that educational organizations who are able to “Teach students skills like self-awareness, managing distressing emotions and empathy makes them better learners…”
The Social Emotional Learning that happens here at Bethany Birches will help your child perform better in school. Seriously. Certain types of activity and the lack of distraction at camp teaches young people to focus.
Daniel Goleman writes in Time “Adults can help kids learn better cognitive control… playing games like Simon Says or musical chairs, in which they win by playing close attention, works this mental muscle. Reading a story, or engaging in any activity that requires sustained attention, does the same.”
All of this happens at camp each day. This type of education is one of our priorities as we seek to help your child develop and grow into the full and wonderful human God made them to be.
Camper retention is high (our retention rate of 70+% puts us on par with some of the best camps in the country).
Many parents have found Bethany Birches Camp a very valuable experience. Read some of their reports:
“My son absolutely LOVES BBC! And, so do we! He loves the variation in the days, the Shin-Dig, the counselors, and the general routine in the cabins.” –Lisa
“I really feel that the time spent in prayer and talking about God really helped my son to feel God’s love and to desire to be kind and compassionate with other people.” –Joe
“BBC is doing amazing things and has a long history of awesomeness! We sent 2 of our children to BBC this summer for the first time… we soon learned the campers and staff at BBC are a true family and everyone has life-enhancing experiences there!”
“He loved every minute of his time at BBC- is still singing his favorite songs. He made friends and has been sharing with his friends about his experience.”-Amy
Bethany Birches is a faith-based organization. You can read about our relationship-centered mission here.
“I was worried that I might be making a mistake sending them to a Christian camp because I didn’t want them to feel like they were being forced to learn about something they were not really comfortable with yet. I was raised Catholic and was forced to go to church every Sunday with my family. My experience was not a positive one and I was afraid that by sending the twins to a Christian camp, I would be putting them in the same uncomfortable situation that was forced upon me when I was a child.The way you handled this was amazing. You treated the teaching piece with such care and openness that they were able to embrace the message you were sending rather than being turned off. Thank you so much for this. It really made a difference for my twins who came home talking warmly about God and the teachings of God. I would not hesitate to send my twins to your camp again.” Kristin- A mother
We train staff to:
- Respect each person’s heritage and religious differences.
- Base our teaching, hiring and program in the Christian tradition.
- Strive to provide a program that creates awareness of Jesus Christ and his importance in daily life as seen from an Anabaptist perspective.
- Use the Bible in our daily program.
We train staff to not:
- Force, coerce or manipulate people in matters of faith and religion.
- Prioritize or favor camper’s based on their current religious views.
- Use religion to shame or create fear.
Questions about faith and religion at BBC? Call the office and ask for the director. 802-672-5220
One of our founding documents says it this way:
“One of our purposes is to manage and preserve a camp facility where human life, wild life and plant life can co-exist in harmony with one another.”
In practical terms, this means things like sleeping in a rustic shelter, cooking over the fire, swimming in a fresh water pond and occasionally, getting bug bites and often getting dirty! Most campers find that they absolutely love it.
“Richard Louv, a child advocacy expert, directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation—he calls it nature-deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. He is part of a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. See his book here.
Being outside helps us refocus and become less distracted. It helps us develop a sense of wonder. At Bethany Birches we strive to engage campers with the outdoors and the God who created the outdoors in order to stimulate physical, emotional and spiritual growth.
Brandon ``Tuna`` Bergey
Tuna has been the Executive Director at Bethany Birches Camp for more than a decade. With background in business and psychology, he leads the year-round staff team, works closely with the Board of Directors and leads the fundraising charge.
Anna ``Meatball`` Martin
Meatball served at Bethany Birches as a counselor for multiple summers and now works as our year round Program Director. With a background in elementary education, she leads the way in supervising various seasonal staff, developing fun and age appropriate camper sessions, and guiding campers in learning more about God. On Messy Monday you can always find her in the mud pit with campers!