The life of an organization can be similar to the life of a person. There are seasons of growth, stagnation, seasons of vision and hope, and times of challenge and fear. This is likely so because organizations, especially camps like Bethany Birches, centered on community and relationships, are filled with people! Just like many people, the camp did a little less at the beginning of and into the pandemic. Turns out that doing anything at all during the pandemic felt harder than doing a lot in a normal year. While we are a bit worn out, we are energized by the signs of campers on site (more than 400 total camper weeks summer 2021), meeting with supporters, and other normalized activities. We are energized enough that we even scheduled 8 winter weekends of programming this December – February, are invested in the counselor in training program (CIT), and working faster than normal to find summer 2022 staff and volunteers. Now we just have to pace ourselves.
We have to pace ourselves so that as we work toward our current goal of winter camp growth, we can see that task to completion. The Bethany Birches mission, while stated in different terms over its lifespan, has long been to help young people connect with God and others in nature. Providing a Christ-centered camping experience is at the core of what we do. We feel that if a camper can be at camp more often their growth in faith, maturity, and strength can be accelerated. It’s a little like starting your plants in a greenhouse during the late winter and early spring.
As we come to terms with the reality that Covid-19 seems to be here to stay, and we create strategies to mitigate risk, similar to so many other illnesses and diseases, we begin to be free to think about what’s next. Will you join me in prayer, and seeking wisdom for how to take the next steps into the future of Bethany Birches? We are working to envision a winter camp experience that will enrich many young people for generations to come, and introduce them to the sustaining and peaceful love of Jesus. May it be so.
-Brandon “Tuna” Bergey, Executive Director