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Love Affair With a Lake

Posted by on May 22, 2020

Love Affair With A Lake

by Phil Lehmann, Waterfront Staff

Let’s face it, Lake Winnipesaukee is the best place on earth and there is nothing you can do to convince me otherwise. Sure, archery is fun and I guess horses are ok, but we (I) all know where the best activities are at camp. 

As a camper I fell in love with sailing, SCUBA diving, and wakeboarding. As a counselor I was blessed to be able to teach swimming and most of the other waterfront activities at some point. However, once I joined waterfront staff, my relationship with the lake changed—no longer was it simply the place where I got to teach and do activities. The lake became a grounding place for me. A place where I have most clearly heard God’s call to me and the place where I go at my lowest. 

Those who have been on staff know the Diving Pier after dark is a place for hanging out and chatting with friends (before curfew of course!). It is also one of my favorite nighttime haunts, but for the opposite reason. I go to the diving pier to stand alone and stare out across the still waters towards Rattlesnake Island. The wind quiets and I find one of the oft mentioned “thin places” in which God seems most accessible. It is in these moments that I have felt the irresistible urge to pray about anything and everything. Eventually, the moment passes and I head to the Lake Cottage or stand to watch Coach Crowers come back into the cove in his dory, racing the last light to shore. I have had similar “God moments” in life and in some truly random places (e.g. Amsterdam’s train station at 3am), but none of these places possess the raw power of the water. 

I was, and am still to a degree, a Midwest boy, unlearned in the power of the ocean, so the waves on Winnipesaukee seemed large to me as a child. After seven years on waterfront staff, I realize that the waves on Winni may not be the biggest, but they are my favorite. Former staffers will know that most of my favorite things on the waterfront involve unruly water (waterskiing aside). From going on “rescue missions” that test our expertise in righting sailboats, or towing a boat into shore, or to standing on the diving pier watching a big storm march across the lake, slowly obscuring the islands one by one, or to occasionally taking the opportunity for a farcical photo shoot with Cody O’Loughlin, it is these moments where the raw power of nature grounds me to the place God has called me. Where the outside worries of a career and “real life” are quiet and I am able to simply do the job I love, in the place I love, for the people I love.  The lake is more than water in a hole, it is the place where God finds me, smacks me on the head, and says “I’m bigger, let’s have a chat.”

 

Phil Lehmann has been on staff since 2008 and has served as the Waterfront Director for the last 4 years. He enjoys early morning skiing, leaving lunch early to take a nap in his hammock, and drinking coffee out of a battered enamel mug. Contact him at Philip.G.Lehmann@Gmail.com

Full Circle

Posted by on May 15, 2020

Full Circle

by Amy Holbrook Nichols, Deer Run Alumna

I still remember the drive up to camp. I was 8 years old and I had never been that far away from home and I was terrified. I spent the entire car ride so nervous I thought I was going to throw up! Two weeks later I was calling them on the camp phone asking if I could please PLEASE stay two more weeks.

Camp is special like that. It is magical. It makes you want to stay and experience more of what it has to offer. I loved it all, from the days on the beach, to cabin nights, to the horseback riding lessons to all my new friends. I loved it so much I came back, 15 years later…I was looking to do something different the summer in between my junior and senior year of college. The Lord brought camp to mind and I decided to give them a call. Turns out they needed a Horseback Riding Director, but I wanted to be a counselor. Camp very graciously gave me the opportunity to do both.

When I arrived at camp, the term “Horse Chick” (we know how girls love horses) was affectionately batted in my direction. Not only do we have a special nickname, we also have special housing, fondly known as “The Chicken Coop” or “The Coop” for short, located at the top of the camp road. Since horses smell, and this smell is clingy—Horse Chicks preferably need housing close to the Stables in order to clean up before taking that lovely odor down to the Dining Hall to share at mealtime! In retrospect, I think my dual job of counselor and horseback riding instructor saved my reputation. I lived in a cabin and yet could spend my days at the Stable. I lived and breathed camp. I vividly remember calling my parents (from that same camp phone that I used when I was 8) and telling them that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was exactly where God wanted me. I felt His pleasure in my joy and love of camp. During the day I taught students how to ride and in the evenings I had the joy of impacting kids for the Lord in our cabin.

And now I find myself passing the proverbial torch. My 18-year old daughter, Anna, has caught the camp bug. Two years ago she spent a summer at Moose River Outpost. The wild Maine setting combined with great friends and a great counselor, had such a positive impact on her. This summer, she decided that she wanted to go back to camp, but she wanted to work with horses—SHE WANTS TO BE A HORSE CHICK! And so, I will live vicariously through her. I will walk the road through the woods from the Stables to the Main House. I will swim with her in the clear cold waters of Lake Winnipesaukee. I will eat ice cream with her at Bailey’s. I will sing songs with her after dinner in the Dining Hall. I will pray for her to grow spiritually and to have the same assurance that God has placed her at that place for that time. And, I will encourage her to wear the title (and fragrance) of Horse Chick with pride!

Amy Nichols (pictured on the right) lives in Fountain Hills, Arizona with her husband, John who is a pastor and their two kids. She is an instructor of education courses at Arizona Christian University. In her spare time, she reads, runs, and still dreams of owning her own horse someday. Reach out via email, aenct71@gmail.com

Summer Magic

Posted by on May 8, 2020

Summer Magic

by Bob Strodel, Executive Director I’ve heard it said that your most favorite music is probably the tunes you enjoyed in high school. That’s not surprising as the developmental years in life are so formative and make such long lasting impressions. One of the BEST parts of my job at camp is  visiting and catching up with alumni, and the FUN part of that is hearing “old camp stories.”    Last week I enjoyed a phone call with an alumnus, both a Brookwoods camper and staff member from the 1950’s. He is 83 years old and his memory of his camp days seemed as sharp as the day he served. His enthusiasm was contagious as he regaled me with camp stories, including the ability to recall the names of his fellow staff members and some of the challenges they faced “back in the day.” I was ready to hire him once again on our waterfront staff!    Occasionally, I post a “Throwback Thursday” picture on my personal Facebook page. I’m always fascinated to see the comments unfold from alumni that recognize themselves or their friends who were “tagged” in the photograph. The comments are never anything like, “that was the worst time of my life,” but rather tend toward wonderful, uplifting memories of people, places, and events they enjoyed at camp and look back on fondly. Last week, I posted a photo of the 1981 Deer Run CITs. It resulted in a long string of comments, including: “Such wonderful memories”…”Oh, to be a kid again”…” You look the same”…” That was a great summer.” There is something special about summer camp—I call it “Summer Magic.” The temporary community we call camp manages to form experiences, friendships, and memories that last a lifetime. At Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost, this is what we try to encourage through our programs: shared experiences, appropriate challenges, and conversations about life and our Lord. Parents who have made the camp investment for their kids, also see this growth and development. If I could summarize the most frequent feedback I’ve received from parents over the last 26 years, it could be categorized in these three areas: 
  1. What did you “do” to my kid at camp? They now clean their room and read their Bible.
  2. How do you get such a great set of people at camp? My kid(s)’ best friends are all from camp and they are such a positive influence.
  3. Where did you find such great staff?
Of course, not every child is a good match for camp experiences, but I’ve enjoyed seeing the high rate of “happy campers.” And when parents can help prepare their children for the camp experience, this can help even more campers be successful in our camp environment. Currently we are confident that on June 28th we will be able to welcome campers at Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost. That date is two months away and while we don’t want to ignore what is happening around the world, we believe this period is a “blizzard” and not an “ice age.” I know that parents want to send their kids to camp this summer after the disruption to normal life, the extended distance education experience, and the need to get out of the house for recreation, fun, and interaction with friends. Our hope is that we will be able to provide a safe place for that to happen. We are continuing to accept applications for the summer and spaces continue to fill up.  Some of our sessions are 100% filled, but others still have a few spaces. Please tell your friends and family members about our wonderful camps. We are happy to send out New Information Packages to anyone who requests one.  Please feel free to reach out and contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Camp is a happy place, and we are excited to prepare for a fun summer.
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Bob Strodel has been the Executive Director at Christian Camps and Conferences, Inc. since 1995, and this summer will be his 46th at Brookwoods! His favorite camp activity is model rockets.

What’s Happening at Camp?

Posted by on May 4, 2020

What’s Happening at Camp? – May 4th Update

By Bob Strodel, Executive Director

We know the last seven weeks have turned many lives upside down and presented many challenges for those in our camp family. Life is anything but normal right now! Our hearts are with you and our hope is that you feel God’s presence, provision, and love during these difficult times.  I know of several members of our camp family who are personally dealing with the COVID-19 virus, and we pray the Lord will heal their bodies and those of the people they love.

At Christian Camps and Conferences, we understand that a lot is up in the air right now. Even so, our current plan is to open the camp gates on June 28th to welcome our first session of campers to Camp Brookwoods, Camp Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost. This date is still about two months away. While we know things are tenuous right now, we are very hopeful that camp will go forward as planned. We are praying that this will be so. Our ministry at Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost is life-changing and we want to see kids head up to camp for adventure, fun, and meaningful connection with other campers and staff. Our unique camping environment—founded on the Christian faith and centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ—changes kids’ lives.

 Our lives have always been in God’s hands.  Nothing has changed!  

I want to encourage members of the camp family to remain positive.  Don’t be an Eeyore!   The  Governors  of New Hampshire  and  Maine  are  gradually  “opening  back  up”  the  States,  which  is  encouraging  to  all.  While we  don’t  have  a  final  timeframe,  progress  is  happening  in  the  right  direction!  

If however, we are forced to alter or cancel a session this summer due to COVID-19 CDC recommendations, we will let you know immediately. Also, you can be assured that camp is committed to eliminating any financial risks of signing up your kids for the summer. If any of our sessions are cancelled you will have four options:
1) Receive a full refund
2) Transfer to a session later in the summer (if space is available)
3) Use your deposit for a future summer experience, or

4) Designate your money as a donation to help the camp ministry. (As you can imagine, COVID-19 has negatively impacted our ministry due to loss of spring conference group income. Now, more than ever, we are relying on, and are grateful for, the financial support of our camp family and friends.)

We also understand some of you might not feel comfortable sending your kids to a camp this summer. We hear you. Let us know, and we will honor our assurance that camp is committed to eliminating any financial risk for you; you will have these same four options. Be assured, though, that health and safety are at the top of our priority list. As each camper arrives on Incoming Day we will check him or her for temperature, outward signs of illness, and medical history. We always have campers use hand sanitation stations when entering the Dining Hall at mealtimes and encourage that throughout the day. We also have experienced medical staff on-site to care for campers and staff, with the latest up-to-date information.                      

We are continuing to accept applications for the summer, and spaces are filling up.  Some of our sessions are 100% filled, but other still have a few spaces. So please tell your friends and family members about our wonderful camps. We are happy to send out information packages to anyone that requests one.

Over the next few weeks, we will be posting some fun videos about some new stuff at camp, some old stuff, and some informative stuff. Here is a video we did several weeks ago week discussing some of the new programs at camp this summer. (Make sure to watch it to the end!)

Here is a recent video I sent out to all the parents.

Please feel free to reach out and contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Camp is a happy place, and we are excited to prepare for a fun summer!  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

bob strodel signature

Bob Strodel, Executive Director

Bob Strodel has been the Executive Director at Christian Camps and Conferences, Inc. since 1995, and this summer will be his 46th at Brookwoods! His favorite camp activity is
model rockets.

A Generous Time

Posted by on May 1, 2020

A Generous Time

by Ann Higgins, Director of Development

We have heard so many adjectives used to describe this current era, as we navigate life during a global pandemic—historic, unprecedented, strange, interesting, weird, scary, and the list goes on! But a word I have rarely heard used in this way is generous. Amongst all the shortages we are seeing (think toilet paper and hand sanitizer), I have noticed generosity everywhere. 

In my town, near New York City, there have been efforts to collect donations for medical supplies and to provide food and snacks to hospital staff, restaurants are donating meals to essential workers, while others are giving their time to make masks for those who need them, teachers are voluntarily providing childcare for essential workers, and children are sending notes and messages to the elderly where visitors are prohibited. The list goes on. What an encouragement to witness these acts of kindness. This spirit of generosity is what #GivingTuesdayNow is all about.

#GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. Participating in #GivingTuesdayNow is about joining a global movement for generosity in whatever way you are able. Whether you give your voice, goods, your time, or your money, being generous is a way to reflect the generous God that we serve and to show your support for the causes you care about and help people in need. 

At Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost, our needs may not be as urgent as some who have been more directly impacted by COVID-19, but we do know of camp families who have experienced job losses and reduced income these past few months and will need financial assistance in order to attend camp. If you are so led, a donation to camp’s Scholarship Fund on May 5 would be greatly appreciated to offset this need. Alternatively, an unrestricted gift would allow for camp to use the funds where they are most needed which would be particularly helpful as Camp has already experienced lost revenue from the shortened conference season.

We know that this unprecedented, weird, scary, (you name it), time will pass. We also know that our generous God will provide for His work at camp to continue; still, your support at this time helps sustain the ministry and ensures that lives will continue to be transformed through a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ, the One who is our all in all. May you feel a generous outpouring of God’s presence and provision now and in the coming days.

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