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Making Time to be Grateful

Posted by on November 27, 2019

Making Time to be Grateful

by JB Hecock, Brookwoods Alumnus

No doubt that your calendars are filling up with holiday events, parties, get-togethers, and shopping trips. It’s super crazy this time of year. It’s hard to find time (or more accurate, give time) to reflect on what we are thankful for. Ever since our kiddos were little, my wife Iris has had each of us take a piece of construction paper and draw or write what we are thankful for since last Thanksgiving. Stickers, markers, and crayons cover the table each year. If we had guests, they were no exception to our Thanksgiving morning tradition—everyone fills up a piece of paper with thanks. It’s pretty cool to go back now over the last decade or so, and see what was going on in our lives. Call it a tradition, or a spiritual discipline, it’s definitely worth giving time and space to these moments.

And about those moments…for me, it’s hard to live in the moment. It’s hard to be present to what is going on around me. I tend to be focused, albeit too much, on the future. This is even more true when I am going through a difficult or stressful time. Over the last few years, we have faced some incredibly difficult and challenging times, almost feeling as though the entire world was against us. Against me. And in the moment, it is hard for me to see God in the midst of it all. I can only see what is directly in front of me. The fog of the hard keeps me from even seeing the next step.

I’ve started giving space for reflection, inviting the Holy Spirit into that time. I know, that’s like Christianity 101. And though it feels basic, in our culture and for me, it is still incredibly hard to do. I’ve learned over time, that when I do give space and invite the Holy Spirit into my reflection, He shows me where He was in the hard. He shows me where He was protecting me in some cases, leading me in others, as well as present, but silent in yet others. And, perhaps the most unexpected thing, He shows me the blessings that were in the hard. His presence, voice, protection, leading—they are all blessings. Not necessarily what I wanted while walking through the hard, but they were definitely what I needed in the hard.

This season of giving thanks, anticipating Christmas, the start of a new year, I would encourage all of us to give space and time for the Holy Spirit to not only show us the tangible blessings of family, provision, snow, but to also show us blessings in the hard. I would encourage us all to pray for the supernatural ability to be grateful for the hard. Have a blessed holiday season.

JB and Iris Hecock along with their three kids, reside in Northern Ohio. After living an adventure of coffee roasting, community development, and church planting in Russia and Mongolia, they are now embarking on the adventure of leading a church that is growing in awareness of the Holy Spirit. In the spring of 1999, JB searched online for “Christian camp” and Brookwoods was the first thing that popped up! That summer he was a Moose counselor and returned in 2000 as the Senior Unit Director. You can reach JB at jb@bac.church.

 

 

The Beach and the Blob

Posted by on November 22, 2019

The Beach and the Blob

by Conor Grennan, Author & Camp Dad

 

When Finn, now 10, was a toddler, our family moved from Connecticut to LA for a single year. I’m not much of a beach person but when you live in LA you sort of have to go to the beach. Otherwise when your friends back east will say “I bet the beaches are amazing, huh?” and you’ll have to admit that you don’t really love the beach and then they’ll look at you like you’re some kind of mole-person.

I don’t want to go to the beach. The beach is where sand gets in your swimsuit and your shoes and on your tuna fish sandwich. You feel like it will never come off and you will never be clean again. So it was a relief when Finn, age 3 at the time, didn’t want to go to the beach either. Liz tried to put his feet in the sand and he just cocked his little legs higher and higher, like she was trying to lower a cat into a bathtub.

But last year, when he was 9, Finn was going to Camp Brookwoods for the first time, and everyone talked about the beach.

“The beach is amazing!” our friends told him. There was swimming and playing and something called the Blob which people couldn’t quite describe physically but only emotionally – the Blob made you feel like you were some kind of magical beast flying through the air. The Blob sounded glorious, Finn admitted. But it also meant going to the beach. And the beach meant the sand – the sand that would stick to you and never come off. When we dropped Finn off, I assured him that he, in time, would learn to love the beach. He pointed out that I still didn’t like beaches and I was, like, a million years old. (I had no rebuttal.)

Arriving at Brookwoods, we quickly realized that there was way more to Camp than the beach. Finn met his counselors, who were welcoming , excited and friendly. Then he realized he was going to be living in the woods. Lemme tell you something: You give a 9 year old kid a cabin in the woods and a teenager who is genuinely interested in him – you have given him a dream he didn’t even know he had. So who cares about the beach? How often would they even need to go down there? Get outta here, sand!

Liz and I were back home just over twenty-four hours when we got an excited text message from our friend Nicole, who also had kids at Brookwoods and Deer Run. Nicole had checked the live webcam of Brookwoods that afternoon to see none other than our boy Finn, playing on the beach. And getting sandy. And heading out to the lake to do whatever campers do on the Blob. It was glorious.

When we picked up Finn at the end of camp, he was, quite literally, like a different boy. He was tanned and grown up. He seemed more adventurous. He spoke differently.

It took a minute to realize why he was so different: He had created his own world. The way a child makes a blanket fort in the living room, Finn had carved out a place just for him – his blanket fort was 500 acres of wilderness in New Hampshire. Brookwoods helped him own his faith, own his community, own his independence.

As for the sand, Finn found that it washes off. The lake at Brookwoods, as it turns out, is more than just the Blob. Lake Winnipesaukee like the camp itself, could rinse him clean. In that lake the sand fell away like the pressures of school and the expectations of family and the stresses of whether he was smart enough or athletic enough. In that lake nothing could stick to him.

That’s what changed Finn. That’s what makes Brookwoods different. For one week, two weeks or four weeks, Brookwoods, Deer Run and MRO washes you clean and allows you to live in the moment. Kids find that moment is filled with faith and friends and mentors. They are filled with the kind of joy that can only come from the truth – that you are a part of God’s Kingdom, and in the Kingdom things can’t stick to you like sand to wet feet. Instead they are washed away, and there’s nothing left but the safety of your brothers and the comfort of your community and the joy of bouncing impossibly high off an oversized inflatable.

Conor Grennan is a NY Times bestselling author and the Dean of Students for the MBA program at NYU’s Stern School of Business. You can get a glimpse of the Grennan family’s life and last summer’s trip to camp on their YouTube channel. Conor has spent a lot of time thinking about exactly what it might be like to fly through the air, check out his new book, The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted. You may contact Conor through his website.

 

 

 

 

Remembering Cheryl Crawford : 1955-2019

Posted by on November 14, 2019

Remembering Cheryl Crawford: 1955-2019

Cheryl Crawford, a member of the Christian Camps and Conferences community, passed into the arms of her Savior on November 3, 2019.

Cheryl committed more than 45 years to the ministries of camps Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost.  In her early days she served as the Deer Run Tripping and Program Director, and in the winter traveled to recruit campers. Cheryl was instrumental in transforming the CIT program into the Leadership Development Program, with the emphasis on training and raising up future camp leaders. She also served as Director of Camp Deer Run over a span of summers in the mid 80’s and 2000’s.  She transitioned into the role of Camp Pastor, while also serving on the Board of Directors for 20 years until her passing. When on camp grounds Cheryl could often be found with a paint brush in her hand as easily as preaching in chapel or helping a staff member connect with a camper. She also enjoyed a boat ride on the lake, a hike in the woods, and a bowl of Moose Tracks ice cream.

Camp Staff 1980: Uncle JJ, Cheryl, Miles Strodel, Becca [Cowan] Johnson

Cheryl had gifts in counseling and ministered to thousands of campers and staff through the years. She was never too busy to have a conversation and lend a listening ear.  Cheryl was active in her support of others and many know that once she found out about a problem or need she was busy creating a solution or plan to meet the need. Many staff, campers, and families benefited from her efforts to help and care in practical ways.

Deer Run Staff in 1983: Mary Beth [Fuller] Bowling, Cheryl, Jean DeVaty

Deer Run Staff 2000: Cheryl, Heather [Walker] Sanchez, Jen [Morgan] Haight sitting on Cheryl’s Harley!

 

In her work in residence life at the University of Southern California, Career Counseling at Biola University or teaching at Azusa Pacific University,  she actively recruited staff for the camps, and she continued to be an encouragement to staff to stay strong and faithful through the summer and the school year.  Cheryl served as a model to young women in ministry. Her faithfulness in ministry inspired others to use their gifts to serve God in many ways, and opened the door for other women to pursue degrees in divinity and seek to pastor as Cheryl had modeled for them to follow.

Executive Director Bob Strodel and Cheryl enjoy some Moose Tracks!

In her last months, one of Cheryl’s passions was to return to camp once again to serve.  Her request of donations to the camp’s Scholarship Endowment Fund supports her passion to help more campers experience the joys of camp, to begin or strengthen a relationship with Christ, and raise up a new generation of women and men in leadership.

We will be celebrating Cheryl’s life at a memorial service at Glendora Community Church (CA) on Saturday, December 7, 2019 at 1 pm, with a reception to follow at the church. On the day of the memorial in the spirit and in honor of Cheryl, please join us in wearing khaki and blue or an L.L. Bean flannel shirt or Sperry Topsider shoes, which were all Cheryl’s favorites.

To make a donation in honor of the life and work of Cheryl Crawford, click on this link and designate your gift to  Scholarship Endowment. 

 

 

 

Camp Community is Crucial for Faith

Posted by on November 1, 2019

Camp Community is Crucial for Faith:
One Mom’s Perspective

by Susan Bradley Arico, Deer Run Alumna & Camp Mom

 

Camp is in my blood, and in the blood of my family. I came to Deer Run as a camper for six summers in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I even did a month-long “January term” winter study at camp in 1995, sandwiched between a summer as a cabin counselor and two more as an LDP counselor. I met my closest friends and even my husband at camp! And when our oldest was ten, my husband and I became camp parents.

For the past four summers we’ve been camp parents—to one, two, and now three of our four kids. Despite my deep love for Brookwoods and Deer Run, though, I had no way of knowing at the start of our parenting journey how meaningful it would be to send our kids there, and how much they would need it.

You see, our family lived in Greece for the past three years, and it was a dry time spiritually. The Greek Orthodox church is the church of Greece, but very few Greeks attend services, let alone non-Greeks. Since our family spoke little Greek, it wasn’t an option for us. There were three tiny international churches in our city, each with a congregation of less than 50. In the Hellenic Ministries church plant we attended, there were virtually no children other than ours. During the sermon my husband and I ran an informal kids’ “Sunday school class,” and nine times out of ten the only participants would be our own four kids. This made for tricky dynamics, as you can imagine.

By the time we left Greece in June 2019, our children were 13, 11, 9, and 8. Because their main (and often only) Christian fellowship was with their immediate family, we were always looking to engage them in meaningful fellowship with other believing kids. But we had few options.

This is why camp was and is such a lifeline. For two weeks each summer, our kids are immersed in a vibrant community of faith. They’re singing praise songs and participating in Bible study. They’re spending time with Christian role models and hearing first-hand stories about God. They’re doing activities with same-age peers who also follow Jesus, and interacting with them around shared faith. These are things they didn’t have the opportunity to do in regular life in Greece. What a gift!

Our son had the same Brookwoods counselor, a guy who’s as fun as he is godly, two out of four summers and has bonded closely with him. His presence and voice of encouragement in our son’s life has been an answer to prayer. Our daughters have also enjoyed their counselors and learned many things about faith from them. This summer, one daughter came home from camp saying that Bible study and worship time each morning was her very favorite thing about Deer Run. It’s tidbits like these that prompt me to bow my head in gratitude to God for providing our kids with a place where they can drink from this spiritual well after a comparative drought throughout the year.

Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost give a tremendous gift to its community, and really the whole region, by being a hub of Jesus-centered faith that’s easily accessible to kids. It’s a place where parents can know that their children will be exposed to God in winsome ways, and where their kids will meet and interact with engaging models of permeating faith. These types of communities can be hard to come by, and being able to plug into one is an amazing blessing. We’ll always be grateful for the central role that camp is playing in our children’s spiritual upbringing, and how God has used it to help close the spiritual gap for our children.

Susan Bradley Arico was a Deer Run camper from 1986-1991 and was on staff in 1994, 1996, and 1997. Her husband York was on Brookwoods staff for three years in the 1990’s. The Aricos now reside in Connecticut. You may contact Susan, or view more of her writing on her blog, or her facebook page.