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2017 – More Than Just a Fresh Start

Posted by on December 31, 2016

“2016, I am so done with you.”

Statements like those have been a common refrain in my social media feed, particularly after news relating the death of a beloved musician (Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen), actor (Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher), or public figure (John Glenn, Muhammad Ali). For many, 2016 was an especially awful year. Between a bitterly contested Presidential race, a global refugee crisis with no end in sight, domestic and international terrorism, ongoing racial tensions and high-profile police shootings, and many, many other issues—it’s hard to disagree with the sentiment.

Wouldn’t it be nice to just close the book on those challenges? How about a fresh start in 2017, a blank slate, clean bill of health for the world, all debts paid?

Of course, that’s not the way it works.

Life gives second chances (and thirds, and fourths…), but these are always sequels that build on the past, never altogether new. We don’t get the luxury of going back to the home-screen and picking a different story like we do on Netflix. Most of the challenges of 2016 will remain with us into 2017, and their ramifications will raise new challenges unforeseen to us now. The challenges of life aren’t at all affected by the celebration of one more pass around the sun.

But, while life doesn’t offer do-overs, it does move in cycles that give us time to reflect on our “do-next-time’s” and that’s the opportunity found in New Year’s resolutions. The “do-next-time” I’d recommend to you—even if it’s your “do-again-next-time” or “do-for-the-first-time—is to commit to a devotional practice that helps you make sense of years like 2016.

Last summer at MRO, we looked at the stories of Daniel and Ruth as a way of understanding the Big Story of God in the Bible. The challenges that this man and woman faced are similar to our own. Ruth’s family faced utter devastation after the deaths of her father-in-law, husband, and brother-in-law—all in a brief span of time. Daniel was pressured to compromise his convictions at the cost of losing his job and even his life. But the profundity of these stories isn’t that their struggles perfectly mirror ours. The profundity is that their hope perfectly mirrors ours. Or rather, their hope is our hope. Ruth’s story teaches us that the answer to our present suffering is a King who will redeem our sorrows once and for all. Daniel teaches us that God is moving behind the scenes, even when all seems lost, to bring justice and save his people.

Reading stories like these, regularly, reminds us that our struggles aren’t just the unhappy coincidences of a bad year, but the perennial challenges of humankind. More importantly, however, they remind us that the hope of those who have gone before us is the same hope that we can have this year—hope that isn’t founded in casual optimism, but in the real, embodied events of history recorded in Scripture—most notably in the Incarnation of God himself through the person of Jesus Christ.

While we might be “So done with 2016,” I’m grateful that our Lord isn’t. He’s at work in our world, by the power of his Holy Spirit, active in the lives of his Church and in camps like Moose River Outpost, Brookwoods, and Deer Run. So as 2016 comes to a close, think about ways that you’d like to regularly hear words of hope in the pages of Scripture. I’ve included some personal recommendations below.

Whatever you decide, I encourage you recommit to some way of entering into the Big Story of God on a regular basis. That way, whatever comes in 2017, you’ll have something real to offer to a world desperately in need of hope.

Recommendations for Regular Scripture Reading:

As an Anglican pastor, I recommend the Daily Office Lectionary, used by Anglican churches worldwide, which provides four readings from across the Bible every day. Praying the Psalms regularly has helped me to be more honest and authentic in my prayers, especially during times of grief. Or you might try to read the Bible in one year. Friends of mine have really enjoyed this daily email that allows you to listen or read a commentary that helps explain the passages.

by Will Chester, Moose River Outpost summer pastor 2016, Masters of Divinity from Gordon Conwell, pastor at Church of the Resurrection

There is still time…

Posted by on December 27, 2016

There Is Still Time to…
Join The Journey!

One of the most important ways you can impact the lives of campers is by donating to the Annual Fund. (Click here to see our year-end Annual Fund brochure)

When you support camp, you “Join the Journey” as you come alongside campers on their faith journeys as they meet God in his creation and experience love in a Christ-centered community. It is this experience that transforms lives and none of it can be done without your help!

If you have already given—Thank You!

A healthy Annual Fund allows us to maintain and upgrade our programs and facilities and ensure that campers needing financial assistance will be able to attend.

This past summer, we were delighted to gift over $200,000 in scholarships, half of which was covered by donations to the Annual Fund.

Click here to make a donation and help us finish the year in a strong financial position and close the gap in our scholarship fund.

Thank you so much for considering camp in your charitable giving. If Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, or Moose River Outpost has helped you or anyone in your family become more of who you were created to be in Christ, I hope you will “Join the Journey” to give this gift to others today—and for generations to come!

We appreciate your support!

For more information about other options for supporting camp, please contact Ann Higgins, Director of Development or Bob Strodel, Executive Director.

Advent – Week 3

Posted by on December 13, 2016

O Come, O Come Thou Lord of Might


Opening Prayer

God of timeless grace, you fill us with joyful expectation. Make us ready for the

message that prepares the way, that with uprightness of heart and holy joy we may

eagerly await the kingdom of your Son, Jesus Christ, who reigns with you and the Holy

Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Lighting of Advent Candels 1-3

Q. Why do we light the Advent candle?

A. To remember this truth: Jesus is the Word through whom all things were made. In

him is life and his life is the light of all people. If we receive his light, our joy is made

complete. (based on John 1:1-3 & John 15:11)

Prayer of Confession

Lord, we have neglected Advent disciplines. We’ve crowded them out with Christmas

celebrations that arrive too early and with our anxieties, selfishness and lack of trust.

Because of this, we have forgotten you and we are joyless. We are lost, in need of your

help. Come, Lord Jesus. Forgive and restore us. Guide and deliver us. Renew our joy.


Readings for Week 3

· Sunday: Isaiah 35:1-10

· Monday: Luke 1:5-17

· Tuesday: Luke 1:18-25

· Wednesday: Luke 1:26-38

· Thursday: Luke 1:39-45

· Friday: Luke 1:46-56

· Saturday: Luke 1:57-66

Prayer of Faith and Response

The Lord’s Prayer or The Apostles’ Creed

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed

Closing Prayer

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are

sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver

us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and

glory, now and for ever. Amen.


Download the full Advent Devotional from Matt Brown. Matt is the Senior Pastor of Resurrection Brooklyn.

Thanking Big

Posted by on November 22, 2016

Thanking Big: Reflections on Thanksgiving

2 Corinthians 9:15 – “Thanks be to God for his indescribable Gift!”

November 1, 7:02 AM. That’s when I saw my first Christmas-themed commercial of the year. My second was at 7:03. It seems like we begin the Christmas count-down earlier and earlier each year. To be fair, I love Christmas and even have a certain regard for the decorations, the eggnog, the trees, the TV specials, the music, and the eggnog. Did I say I love eggnog?

img_2066The traditional response to all this overdone and gaudy… tradition…is to complain that we celebrate Christmas too early, and to argue for the importance of Thanksgiving as the overlooked ethical powerhouse-holiday. In a sense, that’s exactly how I feel about the holidays: I think Thanksgiving doesn’t get it’s due. But in another sense, I think intermingling the meaning of Christmas and Thanksgiving is exactly what we should be doing.

Mind you, I’m not saying we should be stuffing our turkeys with candy-canes. The traditional foods, decorations, and family gatherings have very little to do with my plea for a Christmas-minded Thanksgiving. My point is that we’re thanking too small at Thanksgiving.

With very genuine hearts we give thanks for the many good things we experience every day: Warm homes, the love of family members, job security, religious freedom, and of course good food to eat, as represented by mounds of turkey and stuffing. It is right for us to be thankful for the unprecedented abundance we share as Americans, but most of us are well aware that many others in God’s world can’t give thanks for mooseriveroutpost121-1these things because they don’t have them. What could a season of thanksgiving possibly mean for the orphaned, the poor, the oppressed, and the hungry?

This is where I believe Christians worldwide have an opportunity to “thank big.” We sometimes wonder how God, who is Love, could allow suffering and hunger in His world. What we overlook in that question, is that God doesn’t allow it, at least long term. He takes the suffering of humankind in this fallen and sinful world so seriously that He has offered up the life of His own son to begin the world’s process of redemption. In the words of one of Christ’s apostles,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade.” – 1 Peter 1:3-4

Jesus has overcome death, and will restore this world as well. Because of Jesus we have hope, and for that hope of a just, peaceful, and contented world we owe Him our thanks. In essence, at Thanksgiving (and all the time) we ought to give thanks for the message of Christmas: That God would not stand by and allow sin and it’s ripples of injustice to shatter His world. Instead he sent Jesus.

May we never allow the store-window traditions of Christmas to distract us from the thanksgiving we owe to Christ. May we participate in God’s Kingdom even now by spreading love, mercy, and peace wherever we can, and may we enjoy the holidays with full plates, full hearts, and in the fullness of God’s saving love.

The Tradition Begins

Posted by on November 17, 2016

Editor’s Note:  This article, written by executive Director Bob Strodel first appeared in the recently released Fall 2016 issue of the Weathervane, CCCI’s newsletter.  

Every story has a beginning.

One of our many camp traditions is the annual 10-day trip down the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in Maine. (Did you know it actually flows north?) This 126 mile canoe trip started in 1972. From the beginning it was a special trip for a very unique reason, it was the FIRST co-ed trip at Camp Brookwoods and Deer Run.

allagash-canoes-with-gear-at-the-damForty-four years later, Pam (Butler) McBee shares, “I think about that trip a lot. It was an amazing event. I can still smell the aluminum glue from where people wrapped their canoe around a rock.”

The Brookwoods and Deer Run camp experience back in the 1960s and early 1970s was very different from what it is today. The two camps were completely autonomous: separate eating schedules, separate program activities, separate swim piers, separate riflery ranges, separate tennis courts and no formal interaction between staffs. Mary Beth Bowling, the current Deer Run Director, recalls getting in trouble as a camper for speaking with her brother Peter on the front lawn after church one Sunday. The Craft Shop was the closest place for interaction, however the girls were limited to the ceramics side and the boys to the woodworking side.

Life at camp was about to change. Ken Olson, a camp Dad in the 1960s and who later donated the 7,000 acres in Jackman, ME that became Moose River Outpost, was an avid outdoorsman. One day Ken spoke to Miles Strodel, the Brookwoods Director, about some potential trips in the Maine wilderness that would be great for camp. Uncle Doug Burke got involved and began to put together a canoe trip down a river, at Ken’s suggestion, that Camp had never explored: The Allagash.

allagash-fallsBobbe Hackman, the Deer Run Director, asked Linn (Heaney) Bond and Tann Beasley to provide leadership from Deer Run. Linn was the lifeguard instructor and Tann the resident canoe instructor. Bobbe actually took them to the grocery store to buy food for the trip! Chris Roués was scheduled to be the fourth staff member on the trip, but the day before the departure he became sick and Uncle J.J. was asked to go in his place.  

Uncle Doug was in charge and he spent hours studying the map. It quickly became apparent that the amount of whitewater expected exceeded anything camp had previously attempted. In order to prepare, the Allagash group made a trip to the Androscoggin River for whitewater training. Hence, another tradition was established.

Allagash trips today start their adventure at the base of Chamberlain Lake; in 1972 the trip started on Cliff Lake. Uncle J.J. recalls, “As the name suggests, there are tall cliffs close to the lake and the sound of loons echoing off them sounded like a sunrise symphony. We said our good byes to the drivers, put in our canoes and paddled out of Cliff Lake towards Churchill Lake.“ The map showed a small stream between Cliff Lake and Churchill; it turned out to be much smaller than anticipated. It took several hours to drag the canoes through low water, at the same time dodging the overhanging brush. Another tradition was born that day; we switched to co-ed canoe partners, it evened out the pace and the group did a better job of staying together. That night at the campsite on Churchill, the group experienced another delicacy that is no longer enjoyed, freeze-dried stew. Remember, it was 1972 and men were still walking on the moon. Part of the astronaut craze was the development of freeze-dried food. In theory, this type of food was a good idea; in practice it is expensive, and back in 1972 it tasted terrible. That first night on the Allagash, it was horrid. The best recollection by those on the trip was that Uncle J.J. was the only person who ate the meal. Peter Eichling suggested, “Bury the rest because it is cruel if the animals get it.”

We paddled to Chase Carry Rapids the next day on empty stomachs. Our Grumman aluminum canoes tended to “stick” on rocks and the majority of the group experienced some unintentional swimming, because they got out of their canoes to push off the rocks. Linn Bond recalls, “My best memory was when my canoe partner and I got hung up on a rock in the river and he jumped out. Freaked is more like it. I could not do it on my own, so I jumped out. The two of us washed down the river a ways. The canoe went head over heels down the river. It was scary! Fortunately no one was hurt.” With paddlers and canoes accounted for, we enjoyed “Tuna Wiggle” for dinner.

“We didn’t know what was ahead” is the best way to describe the trip. Uncle Doug studied the map nightly. Several other groups were on the river at the same time and Uncle Doug quickly figured out that to secure decent campsites, early starts were required. We needed to beat the other groups. On the day we planned to camp at Allagash Falls, it became apparent that extreme measures were required. Uncle Doug strategically paired Bob Milaschewski with Jonathan Wilber; their instructions were to paddle as fast as they could. Their primary objective was to be the first canoe to arrive at Allagash Falls, racing against the other groups on the waterway. Fortunately, they were as fast as Doug had hoped and our group enjoyed a nice campsite that evening. As Allagash alumni can attest, Allagash Falls seems so much larger in person. The Falls look small in photographs, but the noise, mist, and volume of water cascading over the rocks is hard to describe and is best experienced in person.

Bob Milaschewski recalls, “paddling through long lakes while watching loons dive under the surface and the moose on the riverbanks. I can remember a canoe going over the rapids with all our silverware, and pots and pans. This was high adventure! We all became close during that time and we worked as a team. Uncle J.J. and Uncle Doug were awesome, they were always there for us no matter what. We shared great meals and fellowship around the campfire. I looked up to these men so much! Looking back, I am so blessed to have these wonderful memories.”  

The trip ended in the small town of Allagash. We pulled out our canoes where the Allagash and the St. Croix Rivers intersect. Some of us picked up rocks from the riverbed; little did we know those same rocks would become a tradition (rock necklaces) decades later.

Bob plans to write an historical overview of Camp, so if you have a story to tell, please email No surprise, Bob’s two favorite trips were on the Allagash. The first trip because of the sense of true adventure and the second, several years later, because Bob and his dad, Uncle Miles, were canoe partners.