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Stand: 2020 Winter Reunion Reflections

Posted by on January 16, 2020

Stand: 2020 Winter Reunion Reflections

by Ben Tabone, Brookwoods Director

Over New Year’s, I was blessed to watch 130 staff, campers, LDPs, and SALTs come together, unified under the same mission at the Winter Reunion. Yes, we were faced with inclement weather, (two days of snow!!) but everyone made it safely and we were blessed with a beautiful winter wonderland. We were thankful to have Joe Lehmann, our summer camp pastor, share God’s word with us. Over the course of the weekend, we came together, worshipped our Lord, learned more about Him, and had a lot of fun!

Our first night kicked off with icebreakers and a message from Joe. Joe broke down our theme verse, Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” Joe talked about what it means to be “justified” through faith. His key question was: Do you have peace with God? Joe challenged all of us by asking: Whose side are you on? The world’s? Or God’s side? 

Tuesday, we had a lot of fun activities planned. After breakfast, we had morning worship at Deer Run and headed back to cabins for devotions. Following that, we had a cardboard sled building competition where the Lodge was converted into a building area. The sleds were amazingly creative; some were built for speed and others for the largest capacity of people. Later that afternoon, we raced them down Deer Run’s back hill. Check out the reunion video for highlights of the sledding action! 

That afternoon, the kids enjoyed more fun during their free time, including sitting by the fireplace and reconnecting with their camp friends. That night after evening Rally, trivia, and cabin devotions, we reconvened at the Main House for a New Year’s Eve Party! We had hot food made by our awesome Food Service Director (Thanks Jon Cooper!), karaoke in the dining hall, the New Year’s Eve live broadcast in the theatre, and a sock hop and campfire on the back patio. And last but not least, we brought in the new year with fireworks (Thanks Bob!) It was a fun atmosphere, including dancing outside and shouting “Happy New Year!” 

As we wrapped up our time together, Joe encouraged the kids to now go out and STAND on God’s truth and to stand on His promise—Through being justified by faith, we have peace with God. When we have peace with God, we gain access into His grace. We can stand on that! The Winter Reunion was a fun three days for everyone who was there, but more importantly, it brought all of us a little closer under the “unity” of Christ. 

Please join me in praying for all the campers and staff to STAND upon the truth of Christ in 2020! We look forward to seeing you this summer….are you registered? If not, here’s the link!


Ben Tabone

P.S. A huge note of thanks to our leadership campers (LDP and SALT) for arriving early! They decorated the Upper Lodge and baked and decorated over 400 sugar cookies. The Friday night snack was a hit with the campers, along with the hot cocoa, of course! 

Ben Tabone is the Brookwoods Director. Ben enjoys spending his free time outside (summer or winter!!) and particularly enjoys whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, backcountry skiing, and ice climbing. Ben and his wife Alexa were married last May and they met at Camp Spofford in Keene, NH.

Think About This… (Happy New Year!)

Posted by on January 3, 2020

Think About This… (Happy New Year!)

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

At the beginning of each new year I examine five areas of my life, asking and answering a question in each:

Interpersonal (think relationships!) – How (and who!) can I love better?

Intrapersonal – In what area I can grow in emotionally?

Spiritually – How may I serve God and others better?

Physically – How can I better care for my own body?

Work /School life – In what specific way can I challenge myself to grow in my career?

This has been an annual ritual since my junior year in college after a professor encouraged us to be intentional with our time. He said something along these lines: “Life will keep moving forward. And with each passing year, it will move more quickly. Before you know it—you will be five years out of college. Then ten; even fifteen. So often, we talk about our five and ten year plan—but it would behoove you to make specific goals each year.”

Small chunks. Small hopes. Small steps forward. Keeping the big picture in mind. That was my interpretation. Ever since 1994, as one year turns into another, I have done just that.

As this new year begins, I encourage you to consider how you can love yourself, your neighbor, and your world better.

Happy New Year.

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 or Instagram @andrea_gurney for practical tips and insights on life!


Trouble at the Inn

Posted by on December 24, 2019

Trouble at the Inn

For years now, whenever Christmas pageants are talked about in a certain little town in the Midwest, someone is sure to mention the name of Wallace Purling.

Wally’s performance in one annual production of the Nativity play has slipped into the realm of legend. But the old-timers who were in the audience that night never tire of recalling exactly what happened.

Wally was nine that year and in the second grade, though he should have been in the fourth. Most people in town knew that he had difficulty keeping up. He was big and awkward, slow in movement and mind.

Still, Wally was well liked by the other children in his class, all of whom were smaller than he, though the boys had trouble hiding their irritation when Wally would ask to play ball with them or any game, for that matter, in which winning was important.

They’d find a way to keep him out, but Wally would hang around anyway—not sulking, just hoping. He was a helpful boy, always willing and smiling, and the protector, paradoxically, of the underdog. If the older boys chased the younger ones away, it would be Wally who’d say, “Can’t they stay? They’re no bother.”

Wally fancied the idea of being a shepherd in the Christmas pageant, but the play’s director, Miss Lumbard, assigned him a more important role. After all, she reasoned, the innkeeper did not have too many lines, and Wally’s size would make his refusal of lodging to Joseph more forceful.

And so it happened that the usual large, partisan audience gathered for the town’s yearly extravaganza of crooks and creches, of beards, crowns, halos and a whole stageful of squeaky voices.

No one on stage or off was more caught up in the magic of the night than Wallace Purling. They said later that he stood in the wings and watched the performance with such fascination that Miss Lumbard had to make sure he didn’t wander onstage before his cue.

Then the time came when Joseph appeared, slowly, tenderly guiding Mary to the door of the inn. Joseph knocked hard on the wooden door set into the painted backdrop. Wally the innkeeper was there, waiting.

“What do you want?” Wally said, swinging the door open with a brusque gesture.

“We seek lodging.”

“Seek it elsewhere.” Wally spoke vigorously. “The inn is filled.”

“Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain. We have traveled far and are very weary.”

“There is no room in this inn for you.” Wally looked properly stern.

“Please, good innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired.”

Now, for the first time, the innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary. With that, there was a long pause, long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.

“No! Begone!” the prompter whispered.

“No!” Wally repeated automatically. “Begone!”

Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary and Mary laid her head upon her husband’s shoulder and the two of them started to move away. The innkeeper did not return inside his inn, however. Wally stood there in the doorway, watching the forlorn couple. His mouth was open, his brow creased with concern, his eyes filling unmistakably with tears.

And suddenly this Christmas pageant became different from all others.

“Don’t go, Joseph,” Wally called out. “Bring Mary back.” And Wallace Purling’s face grew into a bright smile. “You can have my room.”

Some people in town thought that the pageant had been ruined. Yet there were others—many, many others—who considered it the most Christmas of all Christmas pageants they had ever seen.



Merry Christmas from your Camp Family at Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost.



Christmas Traditions

Posted by on December 20, 2019

Christmas Traditions

by Tennessee Bowling, Deer Run Alumna

In the Bowling household our Christmas traditions are serious business. We have traditions for every aspect of the holiday season. Christmas Eve we always drag our table in front of the fireplace and eat our dinner of fish chowder.  Christmas morning breakfast is always southern style biscuits and gravy (with my dad’s famous homemade biscuits.)  A tradition started by my grandmother is our “sock tins”.  Everyone in the family has a tin with their name on it, still in my late grandmother’s handwriting.  The older my cousins and I get, the more exciting those Smartwool socks in the tin become. Whether we realize it or not, every community we are a part of has its traditions.

Closing campfire is one of our most sacred traditions at Brookwoods, Deer Run, and MRO

Camp is full of traditions too.  No Deer Run staff meeting is complete without the counselors circling up, sticking in their left hand (because that one is closest to your heart) and shouting “ahhhh Deer Run!”  It’s not really an opening day rally if we don’t end with a rousing “Days of Elijah,” complete with hand motions and dancing on the chapel stage. A hundred other traditions could be named:  Sing-us-a-song, breakfast cookout, Staff Special, Krazy Karnival, Allagash rocks…the list could go on forever. The final tradition of the summer is always the candle lighting ceremony to end closing campfire.  We form a circle around the campfire, Mary Beth lights her candle from the fire in the middle and then, bit by bit, Inspiration Point is filled with the light from 200 campers and staff.  Each year Mary Beth reminds the girls of the light of Christ that filled them up over their time at camp.  Then one by one we blow out our candles and when it is completely dark we sing “Sanctuary.” Although our faces are no longer illuminated by the light, our voices lifted together remind us we are not alone even in the dark.  Before everyone returns to their cabins, Mary Beth tells everyone to take their candles home and light them on Christmas Eve.

In order to have traditions, you must have a community to create them and carry them out year after year.  Sometimes this looks like eating the same breakfast each Christmas morning with your family, and sometimes it looks like screaming down a “slip ‘n’ slide” with friends every summer.  Our traditions mean something shared, creating a bond between one another. Repeating a ritual reminds us that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, and lighting the closing campfire candles reminds us of the light of Christ that we share in community. When you are not at Brookwoods, Deer Run or Moose River Outpost, it is easy to feel alone, just your little light flickering. The tradition of lighting our candles on Christmas Eve serves as a reminder that even though we are spread apart, together we can still light up the darkness with the light of Christ in us.   Our greatest comfort and hope is the certainty that Christ remains with us even when we blow the candle out.

Tennessee Bowling (pictured on left) recently graduated from Grove City College with at B.A. in Communications and French. She is one of the few that can say she literally “grew up at camp”, (her family lives in the Owl cabin) not just “going to camp”. She served on staff for four years. One of her favorite camp memories is canoeing the Allagash both as an LDP and as an LDP counselor. You can reach her via email at



Advent – He is on the Move

Posted by on December 9, 2019

Happy New Year – It’s Advent – He is On the Move

by Matthew Kozlowski, Brookwoods Alumnus

Every December, in the season leading up to Christmas, Christians celebrate Advent.  But Advent is more than just a countdown.  Here are three points to remember about this season.

1. Happy New Year!

In the church calendar, Advent is actually the beginning of the year.  We start anew, as we await the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  It’s interesting that the year starts with a period of watchful waiting.  So much of our culture demands action – what can be done now?  Advent says the opposite: don’t rush to act, but wait, stay alert, watch.  This is the only way that we will recognize the coming of Christ.

I remember at camp how counselors would lead devotionals at night.  A lot of times they would ask, “Where did you see God today?”  This is a good thing to ask ourselves in Advent!  Keep watch, stay alert, He is on the move.

2. The Second Coming

While Advent most clearly awaits the incarnation of Jesus on Christmas, the season also speaks of the time when Christ will come again.  As it says in Mark 13:26, “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”  What will this be like?  The Bible gives us descriptions of the end of times, and many of these descriptions are troubling.  But Jesus also says in John 16:33, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.”  

I had a counselor friend at camp who struggled for a while about whether he was ‘truly saved.’  He confided this to a few of us, and someone replied (gently but firmly): “Look, do you believe in your heart and confess with your lips that Jesus Christ is Lord?” 

My friend replied, “Yes, of course.” 

“Well, then, you’re saved. End of story.”

Thinking about that conversation now, it seems like a good thing to keep in mind during Advent, as we await the second coming of our Lord.  We are assured that Jesus is ours, and we are His.

3. Most Highly Favored Lady – Mary

Advent is a time to consider Mary, the mother of Jesus.  But wait, you might say, is Mary only for Catholics?  While, Roman Catholics have unique devotions to Mary, you don’t have to be Catholic to think about Mary at this time of Year.  In fact, Christianity Today just ran a front page article on this very point.  

The Bible says that the Angel told Mary, “The Lord is with you!”  Indeed, the Lord Jesus truly would be with Mary, growing inside her as an unborn babe.  She literally held the son of God in her body – and years later, after Jesus had died for our sins – she would once again hold his body, this time at the foot of the cross.  At camp there is a place called “Inspiration Point.”  Well, I think that Mary is a “Point of Inspiration.” May her love, courage, and devotion inspire you this season.

He Is On the Move

Well, I couldn’t close this article without mentioning Narnia at least once.  Remember, in the depth of winter, Mr. Beaver whispers to the children, “Aslan is on the move!” I believe that God is moving today, all around us.  Yes, there’s plenty for us to do at this time of year.  But that’s no match for what God has already done, and what God is doing right now.  

Advent Blessings to you and yours!


The Rev. Matthew Kozlowski is an associate priest at All Saints Church in Chevy Chase, MD. He lives in Alexandria, VA with his wife, Danielle, and two daughters. “Koz” was a counselor at Brookwoods and Moose River between 2002-2005, where he taught sailing and wrote mildly amusing skits for the Staff Special.