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Epiphany

Posted by on January 11, 2019

What Is the Epiphany and How Do I Celebrate It?

Craig Higgins

“I’ve had an epiphany!” Have you ever heard someone say that? I don’t know that I’ve ever said it, but I’ve felt that way—the excitement of new insight breaking through my thick head! An epiphany is a manifestation—a disclosure of something not previously fully seen. For Christians, the Epiphany is a festival day—and an entire season—in the traditional worship calendar. And what we celebrate is God’s full disclosure of His love for the whole world.

The Epiphany is celebrated on January 6—the first day after (yes, just like the song) the Twelve Days of Christmas. The focus is the visit of the Magi, the Wise Men of Matthew 2. In some places, this is the day (sometimes called Three Kings Day) on which gifts are exchanged, remembering the gifts brought by the Magi to the Christ Child.

Remember: The Wise Men were Gentiles, the first non-Jewish people to worship Jesus! This event, therefore, is an epiphany of God’s love for the whole world—the revelation that Jesus is not only the Messiah of Israel, but the King and Savior of all the nations of the earth. The Epiphany season then lasts from January 6 until Ash Wednesday.

 

Celebrating Epiphany

First, don’t cut Christmas short; celebrate all twelve days! In our house, we set up our creche well before Christmas—but baby Jesus doesn’t appear in the manger until Christmas Eve. Similarly, our three Wise Men start on the other side of the room and only make their appearance on the Epiphany!

Do something special on January 6. One tradition is to bake a King Cake, in which some trinket is hidden. Whoever gets the trinket wins a small prize—which could be a book, or simply the privilege of not doing the dishes!

Last—and most importantly—the entire Epiphany Season is a time to focus on the church’s global mission. Matthew’s Gospel opens with Gentiles worshiping the Christ Child, and closes with Jesus sending His church to make disciples of all the nations. So, during the Epiphany season:

  • pray for missionaries, especially those in distant or difficult places.
  • pray for the mission of the church—including the mission of camp!
  • consider ways that you can make a special offering in support of the church’s mission.

Maybe you’ve known about the Epiphany for years; maybe this celebration is new to you. In any case, why not make it a part of your year? After all, don’t we all need to be reminded of God’s amazing love for the whole world?

Dr. Craig Higgins is the founding and senior pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in the Westchester suburbs of New York City. Whenever possible, however, he is at camp, where his nametag reads “Resident Theologian.” His wife, Ann, serves year-round as camp’s Director of Development. They have three young adult children, all three of whom were campers, and all have been either LDPs, on staff, or both. You can find him on email, craighiggins@trinitychurch.cc

Your Story: Winter Reunion

Posted by on January 4, 2019

Your Story: Winter Reunion 2019

As I reflect on the Brookwoods and Deer Run Winter Reunion, I thank God for the opportunity to be a part of it. Approximately 130 campers and staff attended, ranging from campers, full-time staff, summer staff, LDP, SALT, and WILD. I attribute the success of the Winter Reunion to the Lord and thank Him for how He faithfully blesses the ministry of Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost.

“Your Story,” was our weekend theme, a spin off of the Toy Story movies. The supporting scripture was Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—.” Craig Higgins, former Brookwoods Camp Pastor, camper bible study author, and Senior Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Purchase, NY, was our guest speaker.

Craig communicated that our individual stories are important because they help us understand where we come from and that our stories are significant. As followers of Jesus, our story is God’s story—the story of Jesus Christ: Christ the Savior is born, Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. But wait, the story does not end there, our story is a RESCUE story. The salvation story of what God has done through Jesus is an amazing story of incredible love, forgiveness, liberation, and resurrection. This is the story that defines my story, and your story. Because of God’s amazing grace, we have the freedom to live out our stories. We are free to worship, to live missionally-minded, and to live NEW lives. As we remember who wrote our story, we are empowered to go out into the broken world, to love all sorts of people, just as Jesus did, and to ultimately live out God’s story.

Whether it was building gingerbread houses, tubing, broomball, playing games with friends, lip syncing across the stage, or fellowshipping around the bonfire, campers and staff had an uplifting time at Winter Reunion. As 2018 came to a close, this was the charge we all needed. Not only are we ready for 2019, we’re counting down the days until Incoming Day where we can continue to empower campers and staff to live out their stories, as God intended us to do.

Blessings to you in 2019,

Ben Tabone

P.S. To see a video clip from Winter Reunion click here!

Ben pictured far right, Glen Boulder Trail, Pinkham Notch

Ben Tabone serves on our full-time staff and is looking forward to his second summer serving as Brookwoods Co-Director. He spent many summers at Northern Frontier camp in New York’s Adirondacks and more recently on staff at Camp Spofford in Keene, NH. ben@christiancamps.net

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Eve Pageant

Posted by on December 24, 2018

For years, whenever Christmas pageants are talked about in a certain little town in the Midwest, someone is sure to mention Wallace Purling. Wally’s performance in one particular production of the annual Nativity play has slipped into the realm of legend. The old-timers who were in the audience never tire of recalling the evening’s events.

Wally was nine and in the second grade, though he should have been in fourth grade. Most people knew that he had difficulty keeping up. He was big and awkward, and a little slow in movement and mind.

Still, Wally was well liked by the other children in his class, all of whom were smaller than him—though the boys had trouble hiding their irritation when Wally would ask to play ball with them or any game, for that matter, in which winning was important.

They’d find a way to keep Wally out, but he would hang around anyway—not sulking, just hoping. Wally was always helpful, willing and smiling. He was also the protector, paradoxically, of the underdog. If the older boys chased the younger kids away, Wally would say, “Can’t they stay? They’re no bother.”

Wally fancied the idea of being a shepherd in the Christmas pageant, but the play’s director, Miss Lumbard, assigned him a more important role. After all, she reasoned, the innkeeper did not have too many lines, and Wally’s size would make his refusal of lodging to Joseph more forceful.

And so it happened that the usual large, partisan audience gathered for the town’s yearly extravaganza of crooks and creches, beards, crowns, halos, and a full stage of squeaky voices.

No one on or off stage was more caught up in the magic of the night than Wallace Purling. They said later that he stood in the wings and watched the performance with such fascination that Miss Lumbard had to make sure he didn’t wander onstage before his cue.

Then the time came when Joseph appeared, slowly, tenderly guiding Mary to the door of the inn. Joseph knocked hard on the set’s painted wooden door. Wally the innkeeper was there, waiting.

“What do you want?” Wally said, swinging the door open with a brusque gesture.

“We seek lodging.”

“Seek it elsewhere.” Wally spoke vigorously. “The inn is filled.”

“Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain. We have traveled far and are very weary.”

“There is no room in this inn for you.” Wally looked properly stern.

“Please, good innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired.”

Now, for the first time, the innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary. With that, there was a long pause, long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.

“No! Begone!” the prompter whispered.

“No!” Wally repeated automatically. “Begone!”

Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary and Mary laid her head upon her husband’s shoulder and the two of them started to walk away. The innkeeper did not return inside his inn, however. Wally stood there in the doorway, watching the forlorn couple. His mouth was open, his brow creased with concern, his eyes filling unmistakably with tears.

And suddenly this Christmas pageant became different from all others.

“Don’t go, Joseph,” Wally called out. “Bring Mary back.” And Wallace Purling’s face grew into a bright smile. “You can have my room.”

Some people in town thought that the pageant had been ruined. Yet there were others—many, many others, who considered it the most Christmas of all Christmas pageants they had ever seen.

Merry Christmas from the Staff at Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost.

Luke 2: 9-14: “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’”

 

Bob Strodel is currently serving as the Executive Director at Christian Camps and Conferences, Inc. Bob and Debbie have been at camp since 1994 and enjoy seeing Camp’s third generation of campers become a part of the camp family.   bob@christiancamps.net

Annual Fund: The 5 W’s, 1 H, & 1 TY

Posted by on December 21, 2018

Annual Fund: The 5 W’s, 1 H, and 1 TY

Ann Higgins, Director of Development

 

For this week’s Friday Blog I thought I would use this familiar journalistic device to talk about camp’s Annual Fund. I hope the information is helpful and answers some questions you might have about supporting camp.

What?

As in “What’s the Annual Fund, anyway?” As a non-profit organization, Christian Camps and Conferences, Inc. (Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost) is allowed to accept tax deductible donations from those wishing to support the work. The Annual Fund is an ongoing opportunity for the extended camp family to partner with us in the ministry through their financial support. Our theme is “Join the Journey” because we believe that everyone at camp is on their own faith journey to learn more about themselves, who they were created to be in Christ, and how to best serve the Kingdom. When you give, you come alongside the many campers and staff who are encouraged along their way at camp.

Why?

Camp’s Annual Fund is made up of two parts, General and Scholarship giving. General (undesignated) giving helps with those unexpected expenses. As you would predict, appliances wear out, recreational equipment breaks, and camp often experiences weather-related and other damage to facilities. Undesignated gifts allow us to use the funds where they are needed most. The Scholarship Fund is used to make camp a possibility for those who could not attend without financial assistance. Currently, about 25% of our campers require some assistance to attend. This equates to about $220,000 each year. Recently, our camp family has been faithfully fulfilling this need, which also helps us keep our tuition costs within reach for more families. Put simply, a strong Annual Fund makes an organization stronger and insures its longevity.

Who/Where?

The Annual Fund benefits all of our campers: Camp Brookwoods and Deer Run in New Hampshire, and Moose River Outpost in Maine.

When?

A goal is set annually by the Board of Directors for the Annual Fund for our fiscal year, January 1st through December 31st. This year, Scholarship giving has been strong as the Weekend of Giving in July boosted the fund by $59,000 in just three days! There are still a few more days left in 2018 to help us reach our overall giving goals. As a reminder, to qualify for a 2018 tax deduction, online gifts must be made by midnight on the 31st and checks must be dated and postmarked on or before the 31st as well.

How?

There are many ways to support camp. The most direct and familiar way is by donating via check or credit card. The year-end mailer can be viewed here and you can give online here.

Camp is also able to accept gifts of stocks and securities, transfers from an IRA, gifts through life insurance, and real estate. For more information on those types of gifts, please check out this section of our website.

There is also an option for scheduled, automatic giving through our monthly donor program, the Campfire Circle. Circle members receive special communications and a small welcome gift upon joining. You can find more information here.

So, that’s the 4 W’s and that one H. Last but not least, the most important thing is the TY—that’s for a great big Thank You! to everyone who supports camp through their prayers, or gifts of time, or financial support. It takes all of you to make our camps the special gospel-centered communities we desire them to be. May God bless us in the New Year as we seek to serve Him and witness more lives being transformed for Christ. Thanks be to God and Merry Christmas!

Ann Higgins is the Director of Development for Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost where the best part of her job is interacting with the thankful and generous camp family that supports our mission. You can reach her at ann@christiancamps.net

Why a Leadership Program?

Posted by on December 14, 2018
These SALTers biked 40 miles on the Kancamagus Highway!

Why You Should Apply for Leadership Programs Before Graduating?

As a high school student, there are tons of Leadership Programs to choose from all over the country. Here are 5 reasons why you should apply to one before you graduate.

  1. It will change your life.

When you are in school you are set up for a clear trajectory – to graduate – and after graduation you get to decide what the next trajectory will look like.

Leadership Programs take place in the perfect sweet spot before this next big trajectory happens for you, and they can be instrumental in helping you determine what that next trajectory should be or look like.

How can this happen? Keep reading.

  1. You will discover more of who you were made to be.

The more we experience, the more we discover ourselves. We discover what drives us, what bothers us, how we deal with conflict, what we delight in, what we get life from, and what zaps our energy like nothing else.

Leadership Programs are saturated with a myriad of unique experiences that will help you discover more of how God created you to reflect Him, like nobody else can.

(Side note: These experiences are hard to come by when we spend our summers watching Netflix.)

Second year LDPs on their Canadian Adventure in Chibougamau, Quebec
  1. You will learn how to live and perform closely with others.

Many people enter college and careers without knowing how to communicate well, work together to get a task done, or manage conflict with one another in a way that promotes unity and problem solving.

Being a part of a Leadership Program means you are living in close quarters with other people, overcoming challenges together.

  1. You will gain life-long friendships.

When you have shared experience with a close group of peers, they start to become your friends, even if you wouldn’t have chosen them to be your friends in another context.

Then, after 2 summers together, staying in touch throughout the year, and multiple reunions, this commitment to one another begins to go deeper than just casual friendships. These camp friends start to feel more like family.

One thing you will learn in Leadership Programs is that you need each other. What a gift to carry these relationships through the next trajectory.

WILD on the top of Mt. Bigelow
  1. You will grow in ownership of your faith.

Being away from your family, church, and the friends you may have known most of your life, gives you a chance to step back and reflect on what you believe and why you believe it.

Maybe you have doubts to wrestle through, or maybe you will discover there’s more to this Jesus/gospel thing that you weren’t aware of before.

The truth is that Jesus loves you and He wants you to love Him, and Leadership Programs, through a credible Christian camp, are a great space to go deeper into what this means for you. As a warning, however, you should know that it could change the trajectory of the rest of your life—in the best way you can possibly imagine.

At Christian Camps and Conferences, Inc., there are 3 outstanding Leadership Programs to choose from:

  • WILD—Wilderness Intensive Leadership Development at Moose River Outpost
  • SALT—Service and Leadership Training at Brookwoods and Deer Run
  • LDP—Leadership Development Program at Brookwoods and Deer Run

For more information about our Leadership Programs, click here.

The 2019 detailed information packet is here.

and you can Apply here.

Priority Deadline for Applicants is December 15th.

Hannah Jalovick is the Leadership Development Director at CCCI and is the WILD Director during the summer at MRO. 2019 will be her 7th CCCI summer. Her first two summers were spent on the Kennebec River as a Windfall Rafting guide. She and her husband Adam both work full-time at CCCI in marketing and programs. Hannah would be happy to answer any of your questions about CCCI’s Leadership Programs, email her at hannah@christiancamps.net or call the Main Office: 603-875-3600.