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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 about 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.

bob strodel signature

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

Camp Lessons for Quarantine

Posted by on April 24, 2020

Camp Lessons for Quarantine

by Ellen Goodling, Deer Run Staff

Honestly, I am getting tired of reading about, “these unprecedented times,” mostly because the phrase is accurate. Our world has been turned upside-down as we globally take on the practice of dying to ourselves in order to save the lives of others. It is scary, it is difficult, and we don’t know when it will end. 

However, I have been reminiscing about the pre-corona days at camp to get me through. In fact, during quarantine, I have come to the conclusion that Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost people are more prepared for these unprecedented times than most, and here are just a few reasons why: 

We Can Do Hard Things

Wapitis having fun! Ellen second from right.

I tend to sum up my first summer at camp with the phrase: “It was the hardest summer of my life…and it was awesome.” We do difficult things at camp, like hiking, putting up the H-pier, and going on 12 day fishing trips in the middle of nowhere Canada—and most of time we do them in the rain after four hours of sleep. But, every time we are faced with a challenge, we have previous camp stories of perseverance and hilarity to get us through. Like camp, quarantine is hard, but remember that you have likely seen darker (and rainier) times than these, and you have previous stories of God’s faithfulness to give you hope! I know that He will see us through to the other side. Even though it is hard, it will be redeemed. 

We Value Stillness

Because camp is exhausting, we learn to make room for rest. In between banquets and Krazy Karnivals, we go the mountains, we schedule quiet times, we take rest hour (BEST hour!) seriously, and we walk silently together to Sunday chapel. Camp is chaos, but it is also a precious place to be still and hear God speak in a “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12 NIV). So, though this quarantine may feel like a little too much stillness, remember now, how you learned to value it, and open your heart to accept it again.

We Have FUN!

Remember all those rainy days? I bet you do very fondly! That’s because at camp we know how to make the best out of any situation. We sing, we smile, we laugh at the absurdity of our endeavors, we lean on each other, and we choose joy always. Time at camp is precious to us, and we never let it go to waste. Quarantine can be precious too. Remember how you used to smile through the rain, lean on the love of those around you, and sing your favorite camp song to get you through! 

At camp, we can do the hard things, find the still moments, and have some fun because we rely on God fully to make it through each day. We can do the same in these “unprecedented times.” So, remember the summer and let the lessons you learned get you through to the next one! 

Pictured far right, Ellen Goodling is a Theatre Education Major at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. She arrived at Camp Deer Run as a brand-new staff member last summer (2019), where she worked as a Wapiti counselor and taught waterskiing, yoga, and, of course, Random Explosions. She has been counting down the days to summer 2020 ever since! You can get in touch via email egoodling@windstream.net

Baked Oatmeal

Posted by on April 3, 2020

Hot from the Kitchen: Baked Oatmeal

For many years now at Brookwoods and Deer Run, campers and staff have enjoyed our Baked Oatmeal on Lazy Days. It can be enjoyed hot out of the oven, or it can be enjoyed in a bowl with some milk, like cereal.  

We are sharing the recipe so you can make it at home. In fact, here is a video our Food Service Director, Jon Cooper, making Baked Oatmeal.    

Go grab some ingredients and make yourself a bowl of camp happiness!

 

Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients:

3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
16 oz. container of plain yogurt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 cups oats
½ cup golden raisins (optional)
1 cup nuts (optional)

Directions:

Beat eggs until light and airy. Then mix in the white sugar until fluffy. Then add in the brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in the oil, yogurt, maple syrup, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Once combined, mix in the oatmeal, raisins, and nuts, until fluffy. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 (or similar sized) pan.
Cook for 45 minutes at 325* F.  Rotate pan after 20 minutes. 

 

Enjoy!

Jon and April met at Cairn University (then Philadelphia Bible College) as undergraduates and they married in 2006. Since then, they’ve always been cooking up something! They joined our staff in time last year to celebrate the Brookwoods 75th Anniversary.   

This past summer, Chicken Pot Pie with biscuits was on the menu and it was a huge hit with campers and staff. He doesn’t shy away from the “WOW” factor. Last summer he debuted a 100 foot sub. Another night, we had a gutter sundae just as long. It took everyone on kitchen staff and all the LDPs to bring the sundae into the Dining Hall! As you can imagine, the whole Dining Hall went up in a roar! 

April is a talented baker and helps out in the kitchen when she can. Jon’s favorite thing that she makes is her grandmother’s plum pudding with hard sauce, a New England favorite. April’s favorite thing that Jon makes is fish and chips. Clara, their 5 year-old, likes everything that her dad makes, and so does her younger brother Sammy. Let Jon know how your baked oatmeal turns out by emailing him.

10 Tips for Staying Sane Working from Home

Posted by on March 27, 2020

10 Tips for Staying Sane Working from Home

by Rebecca Moore, Camp Mom and Entrepreneur

#1 Create A Schedule
Create a schedule for yourself and your family. Let them weigh in, but make sure that the non-negotiables are crystal clear. Examples: breakfast on your own, clean up after yourselves, phone-free time during “remote school hours”, lunch together, chores before entertainment, daily fresh air minimum, screen time limits, if the dog barks let him out, etc.

#2 Be Still
This is important. Get up 2 hours before your family. Before starting your work or making breakfast, take 30 minutes of quiet time to center yourself. For us as believers, we can meditate on Scripture and spend time in prayer. Remind yourself what is truly important: your and your family’s health and well-being, safety, and shelter. The rest is frosting. Think of one person whom you can help and set your intentions to reach out to them during the day.

#3 Eat Healthy Meals
Plan out healthy meals for your family. Plan to eat at least one meal together daily. Don’t let your teen’s lunch times slip to mid-afternoon. Resist the urge to snack all day. Put out a “Kitchen Closed” sign in between meals (the kids hid ours!)  If that doesn’t work, cut up fresh veggies and set them out on a plate to ensure your family munches on healthy stuff first.

#4 Time Block Tasks
Either on a calendar or an app, identify the top 3 things you must complete each day and block out time to complete them first. Then break down all other tasks into 20 minute chunks and keep the list handy, checking off completed tasks. Limit your time spent on social media, news, and any other activity that can turn into a “rabbit hole” and suck your productivity.

#5 Take Breaks
Make sure to get up from your desk every hour to improve your circulation for at least 5 minutes. You can use a timer to schedule breaks. Or, use the inevitable interruptions to get up and move! (I keep a mini notebook handy to jot down what I was working at the time of the interruption so that I can immediately pick up where I left off.) Breaks are important to clear your head (I also use them to complete quickie chores like tidying up, letting dog in/out, loading washing machine, yada yada.)

#6 Buy Noise Cancelling Headphones
By far the single most useful tool for working at home (besides my laptop) has been my noise cancelling headphones. When I wear them, I am able to concentrate and completely block out all the annoying home noises. All I need to do is play the babbling brook soundtrack on Spotify and I’m in “focus heaven”. I recommend investing in a really good pair. Your sanity will thank you.

#7 Create a Work Space (or 2 or 3)
My office is in our finished attic. It’s awesome. But when I need to keep a pulse on the household (and my kids’ studies), I have another spot, namely the dining room table. It is important to stake out a designated place to work and make sure your family honors it. Let your kids choose their own work space to work nearby (NOT on their beds) so that all their belongings and projects stay in one spot.

#8 Quiet Zone
It’s easy to let structure fall by the wayside in these uncertain times. But we ALL need some structure to stay sane. Make it clear what times of day are considered family’s “work” time (e.g. 9am-12pm, 12:30-5pm.) and agree that this time (and your designated work space) remain a quiet zone. This means no blaring music, horsing around, or hollering. Infractions will result in phone confiscation.

#9 Exercise Daily
We all know it is unhealthy to be sedentary. Social isolation should not be an excuse to become a couch potato. Make sure to build exercise into your day, even if it’s a cheesy exercise video, a walk around the block, or jump-roping in your basement. Include the kids and make it fun!

#10 End Time
Agree to end your day at a specific time (this one can be difficult!)  Plan something fun to do each evening with your family (board games, cooking experiment, karaoke, art project, build something, movie) to lighten up and laugh!  If you have an evening conference call, let your family know in advance and find a private corner to take the call so everyone else can enjoy the evening.


Rebecca Moore pictured far right.

Rebecca Moore has lived in Lexington with her husband and 3 Deer Runners for the past 23 years. A dot-com veteran, MBA, and art history major, she founded InANutshell Consulting to empower women to envision and build their own businesses. Her clients share the belief that running a small business is one way to cultivate purpose in their lives and make a meaningful impact. You can connect with her on Facebook @inanutshellceo, instagram @inanutshellceo or via email, rebecca@inanutshellconsulting.com