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Operation Valentine

Posted by on March 1, 2019

Operation Valentine

by Melissa Yonan, Alumni Director

Feb 2019, rolling and cutting out cookies

When I was an undergraduate student at Indiana University in the 1980s, my second semester highlight was the Valentine’s Day package that arrived from Hope Church (Wilton, CT). Moms would collect smallish boxes for weeks and bake dozens and dozens of cookies. They met in the Fellowship Hall before Valentine’s Day and put their assembly line to work. Every college student at church got one of those loved-filled packages. Sharing these cookies with my friends and the simple act of being remembered was priceless.

While I was living in Washington, DC, I invited several friends to come over and make cookies for Valentine’s. Our cookies were going all different directions. One friend was putting a care package together for her boyfriend’s young daughter, another baked for her niece and nephew in Colorado, and another baked for one of her pediatric cancer patients. My packages were destined for college campuses, to the Deer Runners, women I first came to know as Junior Unit campers and had mentored when they were on staff.

Since our inaugural Operation Valentine in 2007, Camp has sent 1,157 care packages to our college-aged Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost alumni who have attended camp for many summers. We started small in 2007. I invited my Bible Study (in Washington, DC) to come up to camp to bake cookies. They bought plane tickets, flew up, and the rest is history. None of us will ever forget it (Hello, sundae bar). Set up in the “New Wing,” we rolled out cookies, assembled our heart shaped cookie cutters, sprinkled colored sugar, and baked away. It was a precious time for each of us and together as a group: camping out in the Loon, hanging out by the fire in the Dining Hall, and snowshoeing out to Plum Island.

Cookies…cookies…
and MORE Cookies!

We put Operation Valentine in the Weathervane, and shortly thereafter, an alumna contacted me and said, “I want to come to Cookie Camp!” Of course this should be an alumni program! Since then, Deer Run alumnae and camp moms spend the weekend at camp, making hundreds of homemade Valentine cards, baking over 3,000 sugar cookies (hearts, deer, moose, and trout), and assembling boxes with devotionals and candy. To all who have been a part of Cookie Camp and Operation Valentine over the years, bakers and postage donors, THANK YOU! We “love” and “like” the social media thank you’s students post after they get their packages. It’s more than homemade cookies, or the cheesy camp one-liner, “We miss you s’more,” it’s about the act of being remembered, and that the Lord, their God, is the real deal when it comes to LOVE.

P.S. I’m beyond thrilled that one of my friends from the 2007 Cookie Camp (DC friends) sent her son to Brookwoods for the first time last summer. How awesome is that? I think he liked the sundae bar, too.

Melissa Yonan, Alumni Director
Melissa (pictured far right, in 2007 with her DC Bible Study) has been a part of the camp family since 1982 and has been the Director of Alumni Relations since 2005. She can name all the past Deer Run Directors in order! She is responsible for our vast alumni network and serves as Editor for the camp newsletter, The Weathervane, as well as the Director for our annual Alumni Camp weekend. These days she is busy planning for the Brookwoods’ 75th Anniversary. If you have camp stories you’d like to tell, she’d love to hear them, contact her here.

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

 

 

 

 

MRO’s Merry Friendsmas!

Posted by on November 30, 2018

MRO’s Merry Friendsmas

If you were there in 2016, it’s easy to remember how this “thing” got started. Craig and Michelle Boronow invited former MRO staff to their Wolfeboro home for the very first MRO Friendsgiving. We packed out every nook and cranny…kitchen, fire pit, living room, dining room, even the garage! Our crew included Windfall rafting guides, MRO staff, both old and young, and a few staff that had worked at MRO before Craig became Director. Even though it was a cold overcast day, it didn’t matter, we had a great time. We enjoyed catching up with each other, laughing together, and reminisced over our shared MRO experiences.

Last year we changed the timing to after Thanksgiving…hence, Friendsmas (and it was a great excuse to break out those crazy ugly sweaters). Between former staff, spouses, and kids, sixty of us took over the Brookwoods Dining Hall for the afternoon. Peter Newton cooked turkey and everyone brought their favorite side dish and dessert. Sounds just like Thanksgiving, right? Folks traveled from California, Virginia, Boston, New York and Maine via planes, trains, and automobiles. This bond that we’ve created, laboring together at MRO to show campers Christ and teach them from God’s word, has become something greater than just friendship. It’s family. And just like we travel for Thanksgiving without thinking twice, MRO Friendsmas is the same, definitely worth the trip to New Hampshire.

The best thing about Friendsmas is the best thing about MRO: The people! Each year the staff that attend Friendsmas changes just a little as work and life will change circumstances. This year will be no different than the first…we will catch up, play some crazy games, and hear how God has been working in each other’s lives.

If you’d like to join us, RSVP here www.facebook.com/events/2037682219856238/ Don’t forget your ugly sweater and favorite Christmas swag!

 

Looking forward to seeing you!

Seth Coates, MRO Director

 

P.S. Brookwoods and Deer Runners, if this post makes you camp-sick, Winter Reunion is coming up! You can register here.

Weekend of Giving: July 20-22, 2018

Posted by on July 12, 2018

Every summer, over 20% of our campers require financial assistance to attend Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost. The need for scholarships is on-going and it’s our heartfelt desire to make our summer camps available to a wider population. Last summer, we gifted over $225,000 to bring more kids to camp.

Be a Changemaker!Commit to helping transform lives by donating to our Scholarship Fund during our Weekend of Giving, July 20th – 22nd. We need your help to reach our goal of raising $25,000 in three days!

Give online at www.christiancamps.net/weekend-of-giving.  You can also help by downloading the graphic above and sharing it on your social media to encourage others to give.  Thank you!

Questions? Please email Ann Higgins, Director of Development: ann@christiancamps.net.

#JointheJourney