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A WILD Reunion

Posted by on May 24, 2019

A WILD Reunion

by Julia Page, Deer Run & WILD Alumna

Nearly 8 years after graduating from WILD (Moose River Outpost’s leadership program, Wilderness Intensive Leadership Development), I was headed back to Camp Brookwoods and Deer Run for the very first WILD Reunion. There, I would be greeted by a group of other WILD alumni and staff. All would be excited to spend the weekend reliving those precious days in the backwoods of Maine and forming new friendships with others who carried their own related memories.

Julia far right

Saturday morning, we circled up to pray before heading out to the trailhead of Mount Chocorua. The night before, as I was driving in the dark and pouring rain to get to camp, my mind had been cluttered, thoughts racing between the events of the day and all the work that would await my return. But starting along the wooded path that led us to the rocky peak of Chocorua, my heart and breathing slowed, and the worries faded. God granted me rest, even as my body worked to scramble up boulders, reminding me through His creation of His power and providence. As we climbed up tracks of snow, trying to balance on the narrow ridge of hard pack, we recounted stories of WILD adventures, compared notes on how the WILD experience has evolved, and grew in relationship with each other, whether we had spent two summers in Maine together or had just met.

Mount Chocorua Summit, elevation 3,478 feet

Approaching the summit, the wind roared and snow flurries blew into our faces. “We’re WILD!” someone shrieked, and we huddled for a picture to commemorate the moment, bracing each other against the wind and cold. Nearing the end of our descent, we encountered a rushing stream with no clear way to comfortably cross to the yellow blaze-marked trail on the other side. Hannah began crawling out across a log, and I followed. Then all of a sudden, “She’s doing it!” I turned to look, and Bridget was marching straight across the stream, boots fully submerged. We were WILD, after all.

That evening at camp, after a delicious dinner and a walk down to the waterfront to soak in the view, we gathered by the fire to toast s’mores, share our highs and lows from the day, and tell more stories. Whether WILD was one or eight years ago, we had so much shared experience: trail food disasters, powerful spiritual moments, crossing Moosehead Lake in formidable winds, and a few antics and inside jokes.

We closed the weekend with worship in the outdoor chapel on Sunday morning, reflecting on what it means to know God and singing songs of praise. Looking around at the circle of faces, I was struck by how united I felt with this group of people, most of whom I had met that weekend. We were united by the same things that had drawn me to WILD 8 years before: a love for our God and for the mountains and woods He gave us to enjoy.

Julia Page is a Camp Deer Run and Moose River Outpost WILD alumna. She grew up in Winchester, MA and is currently a graduate student in Boston. page.julia.e@gmail.com

 

 

Hot Potatoes at Camp

Posted by on May 17, 2019

Hot Potatoes at Camp

Bob Strodel, Executive Director

Campers arrive in 5 weeks and final preparations for another great summer at Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost are underway. In the next several weeks, our facility will be transformed from “Conference Center Ministry mode,” back to “Camp mode.” Bunk beds will be repositioned, boats placed outside, grass mowed, Camp Store restocked, and in mid-June staff will start to arrive for Staff Training (175 between the three camps)! It’s a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun. As Incoming Day approaches and anticipation builds, I wanted to share some camp news:

Jon Cooper, Food Service Director

Our new Food Service Director, Jon Cooper, started working at Brookwoods on May 1st. Jon and his wife, April, have a heart for people and they love ministry through serving great food. Last summer Jon worked at Camp Calumet in Ossipee, NH in addition to a full-time position with a local health care provider. New Hampshire campers will be seeing some new items on the menu this summer! The Coopers and their two children, Clara and Samuel, have moved to camp and are living in the Homestead.

We have a lot to be thankful for! This summer, camp enrollment at all three camps is very high. Moose River Outpost is setting new enrollment records and experiencing some filled sessions. We do have some openings left in a variety of sessions and I’d like to request your assistance by telling others about the great stuff happening at camp. We’d love for them to be part of the summer fun. We offer a $100 referral bonus as thank you for each new family enrolled through the referral of an existing enrolled family. Please call Dorothy at the camp office at 603-875-3600, and she can send a New Information package to new families.

Jason Webster, Heavy Lifter Award at BW Man Camp -2019

Brookwoods Man Camp was a great success! Over the weekend of May 3rd, 52 men came up to Brookwoods to complete a large list of projects: building a bridge, electrical work, splitting logs, repairs to benches at the campfire sites, staining buildings, and spreading mulch. Morgan McRay, the Convergance Coordinator at Sandy Cove Ministries, led the teaching sessions, and Jason Webster, camp Dad, led the praise singing. Over the weekend, 468 man-hours of projects were completed, which is equivalent of one month’s work by our full-time facility staff, for which we are incredibly thankful!

If you missed this opportunity and you’d still like to contribute, join us at Moose River Outpost May 31-June 2! To find out more about the work weekend at MRO click here.

Summer Staff hiring is almost completed at all three camps, but we still have a few openings. We are always looking for great quality folks to join the team. If you know of an individual who fits our staff member profile—think …hardworking…smart…fun… Christian role model, please drop me an email with their contact information. We will be happy to reach out to them.

I’m always excited this time of year, when summer is right around the corner. But this year I’m even more excited! Our 75th Anniversary celebration is July 26-28 (week 5) and I hope many of you can join us!


Bob Strodel has been the Executive Director at Christian Camps and Conferences for 25 years.  This picture is of Bob and his family when they first started working at Brookwoods.  Bob can be reached here.

 

Pre-Camp Prep

Posted by on May 10, 2019

Pre-Camp Prep

by Lisa Forkner, Camp Mom & Deer Run Alumna

 

With Mother’s Day upon us and Father’s Day around the corner, it’s a good time to recognize the amazing efforts that camp parents make each year in order for their campers to get to camp and have a great experience. We celebrate you, parents! At Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River we know that it takes an enormous amount of time, resources, and planning before you drive through the gates for Incoming Day.

The Forkner Family

Though it’s been a while since my kids were campers, I remember well those last few days before camp: the flurry of necessary errands, the piles of clothing to be labeled, the sometimes-anxious camper hearts looking for assurance that they will do fine at camp. As a seasoned camp parent, I would love to offer a few thoughts about how we navigated these pre-camp waters and did our best to set our children up for a great camp experience.

First, the packing list. Our camp packing list system worked wonders for us. Two-week session? Had a list for that. Four-week? List for that. LDP? Yup, list. We spent careful time thinking ahead about what the kids really needed to have with them at camp, then added a few extra things they would like to have. Those lists evolved year-to-year. When the kids were young, I packed for them; later on, they insisted on packing from the lists themselves, giving them a sense of ownership in the process and making my job a lot easier.

The Wapiti cabin, 1980

So, what to include, besides the obvious clothing and gear? A crazy hat for Brookwoods’ breakfast cookouts. Indestructible foam rubber shoes for those wet days and trips down to the beach. Definitely a toothbrush. An inexpensive digital camera to capture all those new experiences. Photos from home for hanging around their bunks. Maybe create “Mad-Lib” style fill-in-the-blank stationery for your younger campers to make letter-writing easier and more likely. They can then fill in words to describe their days, their cabins, their activities, etc., at camp. (Include self-addressed stamped envelopes for the littlest campers.) One of our most innovative packing ideas: a large roll of non-slip foam shelf liner to lay between the camper’s mattress and sleeping bag… no more sliding off the bunk in the middle of the night! (How great is that?) Fishing gear. Baseball glove. Toothbrush. Maybe a light blanket for rest hour. A nylon hammock for your older camper to string up on an overnight hike? And, finally, a copy of the packing list for them to use as they eventually pack to return back home. And did I say toothbrush?

While it’s great to gather your camper’s necessary supplies, it is even more important to prepare his or her heart for the camp experience. As parents, be assured that sending your child to camp—especially to a Christian camp like Brookwoods, Deer Run, or Moose River Outpost—is one of the very best things you can do for them. Do you know why?

At camp, away from home and from technology and school pressures, kids unplug and grow in creativity, confidence, self-understanding, and independence. And at our camps, through meaningful Christ-centered relationships in the midst of God’s awe-inspiring creation, they experience spiritual transformation as they live and play within our nurturing Christian community. (Again, how great is THAT?) Yes, it was hard each Incoming Day as we said goodbye to our kids and drove back out of the camp’s gates, but we always knew that leaving them in camp’s care was one of the very best things we had ever done for them.

So, as you prepare your child for camp and begin to think about that packing list, consider sending them off with these extra-special provisions:

  • Tell them how camp is an exciting, amazing, beautiful place.
  • Tell them about the new friends and counselors they will come to love while they are there.
  • If they are anxious, remind them that they are strong and brave, and that you know they “can do it”.
  • Repeat how you can’t wait to see how they grow from their time at camp, especially in their understanding of God’s love for them.
  • And then ask them, again, if they remembered to pack that toothbrush!

Thanks, parents, for all you have done and will do so that your campers can come away to camp this summer. Can’t wait to see you on Incoming Day!

Lisa (Bennett) Forkner serves on the Christian Camps and Conferences, Inc. Board of Directors and, with her husband Kent, have three young adult children, all of whom attended Brookwoods and Deer Run as campers, LDP’s, and staff members. Lisa herself was a camper, CIT (LDP), and counselor, first attending Deer Run as a Whitetail in 1978. Favorite camp memories are Miss Deer Run contests, cabin nights on the waterfront, and the Chibougamau canoe trip. Her passions include spiritual formation, Christian higher education, drawing and painting, cooking, spending time with the family dog Jethro, and anything related to being at camp! fork.family@gmail.com

 

 

Camp Community

Posted by on May 3, 2019

Camp Community

John Lindsell, Brookwoods alumnus    

 

Brookwoods is many things for different people. For me, it is community. My connection to Brookwoods goes back to birth. I spent my first summer there as a baby in 1952. No memories there! In 1957, Doc A. (Lawrence Andreson) and my dad, Doc L. (Harold Lindsell), travelled to Europe for the summer with their wives. The children—the Andresons and the Lindsells—spent the summer at camp. Donny and Jimmy Andreson were proper campers. The rest of us, we were just staff kids. We lived in the Eagle cabin, cared for by Aunt Claire and Uncle George Olson. With their two girls, we totaled seven kids under one roof.

It took a village and the community looked out for us all. Uncle J.J. (Thomassian) threatened to put me in the potato peeler—dangling me above the scary looking machine. I also spent time looking for the “pitcher squeezer” in the kitchen, a favorite prank pulled on the younger members of the community.

I returned in 1961 at age 9 for my first experience as a camper, living in the Porcupine Cabin for the month of August. It was a tad overwhelming to be without my family for the first time and for such a long time. But men and women like Uncle Woody and Aunt Dawn (Strodel), Aunt Grace (Strodel), Aunt Jennie and Uncle Carl (Berggren) came along side us to comfort us when down and to encourage us in our successes. Once again, community at work. Uncle J.J. would lead us in special Christian Camp songs, singing scripture verses and the like. Those are sweet memories and helped establish my Christian faith in those early days.

In Junior High, I went to camp each summer. I was a Bear and then a Ranger for two years. The camp also had a new addition—girls at Camp Deer Run!

My second year as a Ranger, I was a CIT and worked at the Boathouse. During this time, various people poured into my life.  Our counselors were always helpful and tough. After all, we were Rangers! I am especially grateful for Uncle George (Egli) at the Boathouse. He took an interest in me that led me to earning my skipper’s certification in sailing and my eventual assignment at the Boathouse. During those years, community was again a constant theme. The very people who had watched over me so carefully when I was a boy, also watched over me as a teenager, investing in my character and spirituality.

College, work, marriage, and children followed. Our girls both went to Deer Run as campers and then in college joined the staff as counselors or other roles.

In 2001, I got a phone call from Bob Strodel asking if I wanted to drive ski boats for the summer. I signed on. My wife, Stephanie, worked with Aunt Rose (Thomassian) in the Craft Shop. Both of my daughters were also on staff that summer. It was our turn to give back and help lead the community, serving young people in a meaningful way.

In 2013, I came back to serve as Waterfront Director, walking in the footsteps of people like Uncle J.J., Uncle George, and many, many others. And now my grandchildren and grand nieces and nephews are campers, the fourth generation!

Camp is a community of men and women, boys and girls, who gather together for about 10 weeks each summer. Together, we serve God and learn how to deepen our relationship with Him, and how to serve one another. We do so at one of the most beautiful spots on God’s green earth, using camping and other outdoor activities as the tools to hone our character, skills, and our relationship with Christ.

Over the 75 year history of Brookwoods, the leadership has employed a variety of ways to help bring us closer to Christ: Sunday services overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee is always a special time, early morning devotions (PQT), songs sung during meals, small group discussions in our cabins, exposure to nature through spending time in the woods, mountains, on waterways, time spent counseling with the Camp Pastor—all with the goal that we might understand we are fully known and deeply loved by God, our Savior. Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost are communities of fun, communities of learning, and most importantly, communities of faith.

My family, and my sisters’ families, are all looking forward to returning to Brookwoods this July to celebrate its 75thAnniversary. We hope that you’ll join us; we can share more camp stories around the campfire.

John Lindsell has spent most of his working career as a head of school, serving schools in the southeastern United States. He is currently the Head of School at Oakbrook Preparatory School in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  The extended Lindsell family has been deeply involved in the Ministry of Camp Brookwoods and Deer Run since its inception in 1944.

 

 

 

 

A Bible Study Here, A Bible Study There…

Posted by on April 26, 2019

A Bible Study Here, A Bible Study There…

By Craig Higgins, Resident Theologian

Sometimes it seems as if there are Bible studies everywhere at camp. On several occasions, I have been asked to write these studies for the counselors to use in their cabins at Brookwoods, Deer Run, and MRO. I enjoy doing it because I love teaching. I have to admit, though, it can be challenging to find the best way to communicate sometimes complicated theology to campers of different ages and faith backgrounds. Let me tell you what I mean.

What all goes into these studies? These studies are taught by the cabin counselors to their respective campers. We want to both communicate biblical teaching to the campers and show them how to read and study the Bible. I just finished writing two sets of seven studies; the study sets alternate each camp session. Each study begins with a running commentary—written for the counselors—on the biblical passage being studied, followed by some inspirational quotes. After a summary of the “big idea” of the study and a key verse or two, the counselors are given a series of questions that they can use to guide the campers into the text, and a few “wrap up” questions as well. (Sometimes, these questions are divided up into “junior unit” and “senior unit”.) At the end, there’s suggestions for how to close in prayer—sometimes with a hymn or a song.

A lot of effort goes into these Bible studies—not just in writing them, but more importantly, in the preparation, discussion, and teaching time that goes on at camp itself. It should be obvious that we think Bible study is very important! Why?

First, because the Bible tells God’s story. Following biblical scholars, I like to say that the whole Bible teaches one big story in six acts: Creation, Fall, Israel, Jesus, the Church, & the End. The story is all about God’s loving redemption of the world, and its center is Jesus—his life, death, and resurrection. The Bible is God’s love letter to the whole world.
Second, because the Bible is God’s written Word. God’s Word is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), and studying Scripture leaves no one unchanged. We want to see campers’ lives transformed as they experience God’s written Word—which always points to God’s Incarnate Word, Jesus (John 1:1-14).

This summer, the first set of Bible studies are on “God’s Welcoming Kingdom,” where we look at Luke’s Gospel and how Jesus is the King who came to welcome everyone into his kingdom, into his family. These studies look carefully at the Good News! The other set is “Men & Women of Faith from the Old Testament,” where we look at people ranging from Abraham to Esther. We see that these men and women are not always perfect, but they all point to Jesus—the true Prophet, Priest, and King.

Many of you may already be praying for camp this summer. That’s a good thing! But will you please pray specifically for the Bible studies? Pray that the counselors will have wisdom and insight into the text and where their campers are spiritually so that they can guide the studies well. Pray also that the campers will be interested and open to learning. And that, through reading and studying God’s Word, we will all be drawn closer to the One of which the Scriptures speak, our Savior Jesus Christ.

From the Book of Common Prayer:

Blessed Lord, who caused all the Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen. (a prayer from the English Reformation)

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 of whom were campers, and all have been either LDPs, on staff, or both. You can email Craig here.