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Post Camp RE-ENTRY

Posted by on August 23, 2019

Post camp RE-ENTRY:
How Parents Can Help Children Transition Well

by Andrea Gurney, PhD, Deer Run Alumna,  & Camp Mom

 

Campers investigating Frog Pond

The sweet time on the shores of Winnipesauke and Heald Pond have somehow come and gone. Campouts, blobbing, Color wars, waterskiing, Narnia, morning devos, and Chapel times filled and nurtured our children’s hearts, minds, and bodies. And now it’s over. Our kids are back home, getting ready to transition to the school year yet still holding on to the memories of camp. How can we help them re-enter smoothly? Here are some quick tips to help both parents and campers reboot.

 1. Give your kiddo space. Like all of us, kids need time and space to process an experience. Although we as parents are incredibly eager to “hear all about it”, let’s be mindful that our children are still mulling over their camp experience and insisting that they share it all right away impedes their process.

2. LISTEN actively when your child wants to share about camp. Refrain from questioning, correcting, or giving instruction, as this undermines the choices they made and ultimately, their competence and confidence. Simply take the posture of a listener and allow stories and memories to be shared over time!

3. Related to the first two points, remember that being away at camp has given kids psychological ownership – the feeling that it belongs to them. It’s one of the reasons (whether we realize it or not!) that we send kids to camp. We want them to grow and be challenged, develop grit, and become more independent. So be intentional and respectful of their psychological ownership– what happened to them at camp belongs to them. What a freeing gift!

4. Continue to foster independence. While our kids were away at camp, they took care of themselves. They applied their own sunscreen, packed their backpacks for the overnight, brushed their own teeth, and maybe even showered once or twice. They even did chores in the cabin and undoubtedly, learned new skills. Often, they are eager to show off their newfound abilities. (Anyone else have campers who are arguing over who gets to be “Jennie or Waiter” for the day?) So let’s be mindful to continue to foster their growth and independence! It’s way too easy to slip back into the pattern of doing things for our kids; our brains, after all, prefer what is automatic and to change an old routine requires more attention and mental energy.

5. Cultivate emotional intelligence and problem solving. Remember that while our kids were at Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, or Moose River Outpost, they navigated emotional, social, and mental challenges without you! They figured out how to interact with a bossy bunkmate, listen to others who had a different perspective, problem solve when they didn’t get their first or second choice activities during sign-ups, make new friends, navigate group situations, and the list goes on. So when you’re tempted to jump in and help rescue your kiddo from a sticky social situation, don’t! Instead, acknowledge the difficulty, provide comfort and empathy, and then give them the time and space to figure it out on their own, just like they did at camp.

Camp friends already! This crew is following their parents’ camp footsteps. (Susan Bradley & York Arico, Kate Bradley MacLeod and Dan DiBase) Andrea’s Deer Runners, Madeline and Kate Hashbarger, are pictured far right.

6. On a more sentimental note, keep the memory of camp alive! For my girls, that includes things such as: displaying their rockets made at camp in their rooms; having their camp song book on our kitchen table so we can sing a camp songs together; continuing to use their camp devotional book; watching the chapel and banquet clips posted on Instagram and Facebook from their session; watching the July and August finale videos on YouTube, and reviewing and sharing the Bible verses they learned at camp.

Camp offers so many gifts to not only our children, but to us as parents. May we continue to reap the benefits of what our children learned at camp as we welcome them home and build our fall routines.

Thank you to all of those at Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost for investing in the lives of our children. You have challenged them, cared for them, nurtured them, and loved them well. This is, I believe, perhaps the greatest thing we can be a part of —nurturing another soul and building Kingdom relationships.

 

Andrea Gurney, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor of psychology at Westmont College, and author of Reimagining Your Love Story: Biblical and Psychological Practices for Healthy Relationships. An East Coast camp girl at heart, and Camp Deer Run (Alton, NH) staff alumna, she currently lives in Santa Barbara, CA with her husband, two daughters, and playful goldendoodle. Connect with her at AndreaGurney.com or Instagram @andrea_gurney for practical tips and insights on life!

 

 

 

Prayer Makes a Difference

Posted by on August 16, 2019

Prayer Makes a Difference

Madeleine Schlenz, RN and Camp mom

Camp nursing is different from serving in a hospital: it’s a little bit of mothering, a lot of community health and a ton of smiles and reassurance. Whenever possible, I take time to pray with the kids who come to receive care, and this week I was reminded of the difference that makes.

Homesickness strikes early at camp. Within the first few days we see some kids struggle with being away from family. One that I met this summer will stick with me forever.

A young camper attending Camp Brookwoods from overseas came to visit the Loon on his first night. He was clearly fighting back the tears and just wanted to go home. We spent time with him, encouraged him and prayed with him. Then, he reluctantly went back to his cabin.

The next night he stopped by, less weepy but still wanting to spend time with us. When I asked him if I could pray for him, his demeanor changed and he quickly told me he would love that.

Three nights in, he melted my heart.

While other campers were getting ready for bed, he walked into the Loon (our medical facility) smiling, and just stood there. We asked him about his day. He smiled as he told us what he had done and about all the fun he had. Then we asked if he needed a good night hug. He shook his head, no.  We asked if he wanted some water or if he needed anything medical. Again, he shook his head, no. Puzzled, we asked what we could do for him.

He dropped his head, kicked his feet a bit, then looked up and shyly asked, “Could you pray for me? It really makes a difference.”

I about lost it. I ran to him, hugged him, and wanted to keep hugging him. The other medical staff joined me as we thanked God for this child and prayed for him, lifting him up to a Heavenly Father who is well aware of everything the boy felt and the struggle he was having.

Oh, to have the faith of a child; to simply come and ask for help through prayer! This boy didn’t have a concern with how he looked or what others would think to keep him away. He just came. He wasn’t caught up in his own pride or self-sufficiency. He was vulnerable. He took one small step toward us and we all rushed to meet his request.

Our staff that night consisted of two RNs and an MD, we had plenty of skill, we were confident in our ability to diagnose and treat physical issues, but God wanted us to remember the importance and the power of prayer, because, “It really makes a difference.”

The staff at the Loon is usually busy caring for the physical needs of campers. But this summer, God used a young boy from another country, to show us how much He cares for us, to lift our heads and hearts upward to a God who wants to be brought into everything we do, and to remind us of the value of childlike faith.

 

Madeline and her husband Jeff live in Annadale, VA and they had three campers at Brookwoods and Deer Run this summer, Benjamin, Christopher and Karisa. Before coming to Brookwoods and Deer Run she served on the medical team at Camp Sandy Cove in WV. Her favorite thing to do at camp is fellowshipping with the larger body of Christ and being reminded of God’s involvement in different parts of the world, as well as enjoying the super amazing slushies in the Camp Store. Visit her blog at TurnAside.org (it’s a work in progress :-).

Indispensible Anchor Points of Great Living!

Posted by on July 26, 2019

Indispensible Anchor Points of Great Living!

by Uncle Woody Strodel, Brookwoods alumnus

 

“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalm 118: 22-23

The Strodel Family

On behalf of the entire Texas Strodel family and my dear departed wife, “Aunt Dawn,” I want to express my deepest joy to Camp Brookwoods and its current leadership on this marvelous 75th Anniversary. We celebrate this time remembering Miles and Grace Strodel and their many years of camp leadership in Massachusetts, Maryland and New Hampshire. Dawn and I had the privilege to walk beside them and assist in many years of service together—these years have provided incredible focal points in my Christian camping ministry and guided me as I served as executive director at First Presbyterian Church Camp in Pittsburgh years later.

Camp Brookwoods Staff, 1959 Uncle Woody first row, 2nd from the left

I firmly believe when we blend home, school, church, and Christian camp, four key anchor points of true discipleship in Jesus Christ are born. Brookwoods has emulated the perfect example nation-wide like no other institution of such a framework. It has done this with huge success over these 75 years and I have no doubt will continue.

Much of my personal Christian growth at Brookwoods was due to the kindness of Dr. Harold Ockenga, who released me from Park Street Church in Boston during the summer months to assist and learn from Miles. Enormous pleasant memories are still with me, as I recall initiating the Maine Wilderness trip, Chibougamou adventures, the 100-mile bike trip in New Hampshire and Maine, golf trips, and many teen camps (after the regular camping season). Serving alongside my brother, much as Bob and David Strodel do today, was a joy and privilege I hold dearly.

“Uncle Woody & Aunt Dawn” by the stone wall

I lean on those early years and have so many fond memories from silly dining hall skits, to driving the ski boat, or playing softball on the Brookwoods backfield. There were countless great Biblical discussions as we poured our hearts into teaching others about the importance of trusting the Lord and gaining Christ-centered tools for life. I learned so much from Miles including how to be grateful. I remember Miles telling me “God has blessed us with balance, good choices, mentors, and good wives.” He also advised me to “Preserve the core and stimulate progress,” from author Jim Collins. These are moments I will never forget. I have been blessed beyond measure as there are so many others from my days at camp that molded me personally and professionally. To this day, I still quote Uncle Nubby who told me to “always bring your criticism up to date.” Powerful stuff.

Time will only tell the depth of Camp’s impact for the Kingdom of God because of the unique endeavors that stem from Brookwoods. Psalm 118  from Euguene Peterson’s translation titled, The Message Bible, says: “This is the Lord’s work. We rub our eyes – we can hardly believe it! This is the day God acted – let’s celebrate and be festive!”

Sadly, I’m unable to attend this great event, but I am delighted to share my deepest appreciation and love for Brookwoods and its legacy through this letter. God Bless you all, and God bless Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost.

 

With love and gratitude,

Uncle Woody

“Woody” Strodel and his family happily worship and serve our Lord at Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, TX. After more than 50 years of active ministry, he is retired but continues as Pastor Emeritus. Woody would love to hear from you, wdstrodel@aol.com

 

 

 

 

The Weekend of Giving

Posted by on July 19, 2019

The Weekend of Giving

by Ann Higgins, Director of Development

“What is the Weekend of Giving and why does camp do this?” you may be asking. It’s a good question! Many people may not realize that Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost are incorporated as a non-profit organization called Christian Camps and Conferences, Inc. That basically means that we are not in operation to produce profits which go to shareholders or owners, but that camp tuition and conference fees go back into running the organization. In our case, back into a ministry of creating communities where lives are transformed for Christ! What a mission! And we’ve been at it for 75 years!

Camp staff helping to promote the Weekend of Giving

With that in mind, Camp, as a non-profit, is allowed to accept tax-deductible donations from folks who love what we are doing and want to be a part of it. That is why we regularly try to communicate the needs of the organization and invite our Camp family to join the mission, or “join the journey” with us through giving financially to the ministry. Hence, a Weekend of Giving!

Instead of sending you zillions of emails on Giving Tuesday, (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) like other organizations, we decided to try a concentrated fundraising effort for our Scholarship Fund over Changeover weekend (the mid-point of Camp). Approximately 20% of our campers require financial assistance to attend each summer, and this year, we plan to gift $300,000 in assistance. We look to our Camp family to substantially provide for this need, and how the families appreciate it:

“My daughter has attended and loved this amazing camp for several years, which was made possible by the camp scholarship opportunity—and I can’t thank Camp Brookwoods and Deer Run and its donors enough for that!… [She] now knows and loves God because she wants to, because of her meaningful experiences at camp—from the love, devotion, and friendships she experienced at this special place.” –Camp Mom

 And there are many, many more testimonies like this one!

Last summer, on our first Weekend of Giving, our generous donors gave over $50,000! This year, we have set an ambitious goal for the weekend. We are hoping to boost the Scholarship Fund by $75,000 in honor of our 75thyear of ministry. It’s a big goal, we know(!), but we had to do it! We’re gonna need a LOT of help to get there! What can you do? Please give, (any amount is helpful) and you can help us promote the weekend on your social media by sharing posts and hashtags, which is also vital to the weekend’s success.

Camp is life-changing. We are praying for lots of “Changemakers over Changeover” to help us bring more kids to experience our gospel-centered communities, hear about the love of Jesus,  encounter God in His creation, and be encouraged along their own faith journeys.

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

 

 

 

That They May Be One

Posted by on July 12, 2019

That They May Be One

by  Craig Higgins, Resident Theologian

Click on Photo to see a short worship video

Just before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed for us, and he prayed for something specifically: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:22-23). Jesus prayed that we, his followers, might be one so that the world may know the Good News.

One of the things that I love about camp is that—at Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost—we work very hard to practice the unity for which Jesus prayed. And we do this so that campers and their families might hear—sometimes for the first time, sometimes in a deeper way—the Good News, the gospel.

Another thing I love about camp is that, for several years now, I have had the privilege of helping with “Staff Week” (which is actually the better part of two weeks) by teaching the amazing people that God raises up to serve as our summer staff. This is—year after year—a group of young men and women who love Jesus, love camp, and love campers.

Bible Study at Camp Deer Run

But this group is very inter-denominational, representing just about every denominational affiliation that you can think of! And one of the points I stress to them is that while we are an explicitly Christian camp we are also a broadly Christian camp. We stress the importance of not dwelling on those things that separate us as Christians but on what we have in common—and that those truths we hold in common—the Trinity, the Incarnation, the atoning work of Christ—are, in fact, the most important truths! We emphasize that “the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing,” and that the main thing is Jesus and the gospel.

Deer Run Sunday Night Vespers at Inspiration Point

This ecumenical emphasis can be life-changing. First of all, I’ve seen staff discover that the Body of Christ is larger than they realize, that Christians of other denominations are truly their sisters and brothers in the Lord. And the campers discover that, whatever their church background (or none), they are loved and welcomed.

Camp is a beautiful example of Christian unity in practice! But, of course, this doesn’t make our “unhappy divisions” (in the words of the Book of Common Prayer) go away. What can all of us—in our homes and home churches—do for Christian unity? Here are three things:

First, recognize the unity of the church. Remember that what (Who!) unites us is more important that what divides us.

Second, pray—daily!—for the unity and reunion of the Body of Christ.

Last, fellowship! I am a member of a Christian organization (comprised of Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and just about everyone else) in which we all commit, at least monthly, to working/talking with Christians from outside our immediate faith community. Building inter-denominational friendships is a great way to recognize our unity and to be reminded to pray for it. Plus, it’s fun!

And if you want to see a good example of genuine ecumenism—genuine Christian love across the sad divisions of the church—come to one of our camps. Here, we believe in the unity of the Church and we do our best to practice it every day!

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