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Indispensible Anchor Points of Great Living!

Posted by on July 17, 2019

Indispensible Anchor Points of Great Living!

by Uncle Woody Strodel, Brookwoods alumnus

 

“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalm 118: 22-23

The Strodel Family

On behalf of the entire Texas Strodel family and my dear departed wife, “Aunt Dawn,” I want to express my deepest joy to Camp Brookwoods and its current leadership on this marvelous 75th Anniversary. We celebrate this time remembering Miles and Grace Strodel and their many years of camp leadership in Massachusetts, Maryland and New Hampshire. Dawn and I had the privilege to walk beside them and assist in many years of service together—these years have provided incredible focal points in my Christian camping ministry and guided me as I served as executive director at First Presbyterian Church Camp in Pittsburgh years later.

Camp Brookwoods, 1976 Uncle Woody second row, 6th from the left

I firmly believe when we blend home, school, church, and Christian camp, four key anchor points of true discipleship in Jesus Christ are born. Brookwoods has emulated the perfect example nation-wide like no other institution of such a framework. It has done this with huge success over these 75 years and I have no doubt will continue.

Much of my personal Christian growth at Brookwoods was due to the kindness of Dr. Harold Ockenga, who released me from Park Street Church in Boston during the summer months to assist and learn from Miles. Enormous pleasant memories are still with me, as I recall initiating the Maine Wilderness trip, Chibougamou adventures, the 100-mile bike trip in New Hampshire and Maine, golf trips, and many teen camps (after the regular camping season). Serving alongside my brother, much as Bob and David Strodel do today, was a joy and privilege I hold dearly.

“Uncle Woody & Aunt Dawn” by the stone wall

I lean on those early years and have so many fond memories from silly dining hall skits, to driving the ski boat, or playing softball on the Brookwoods backfield. There were countless great Biblical discussions as we poured our hearts into teaching others about the importance of trusting the Lord and gaining Christ-centered tools for life. I learned so much from Miles including how to be grateful. I remember Miles telling me “God has blessed us with balance, good choices, mentors, and good wives.” He also advised me to “Preserve the core and stimulate progress,” from author Jim Collins. These are moments I will never forget. I have been blessed beyond measure as there are so many others from my days at camp that molded me personally and professionally. To this day, I still quote Uncle Nubby who told me to “always bring your criticism up to date.” Powerful stuff.

Time will only tell the depth of Camp’s impact for the Kingdom of God because of the unique endeavors that stem from Brookwoods. Psalm 118  from Euguene Peterson’s translation titled, The Message Bible, says: “This is the Lord’s work. We rub our eyes – we can hardly believe it! This is the day God acted – let’s celebrate and be festive!”

Sadly, I’m unable to attend this great event, but I am delighted to share my deepest appreciation and love for Brookwoods and its legacy through this letter. God Bless you all, and God bless Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost.

 

With love and gratitude,

Uncle Woody

“Woody” Strodel and his family happily worship and serve our Lord at Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, TX. After more than 50 years of active ministry, he is retired but continues as Pastor Emeritus. Woody would love to hear from you, wdstrodel@aol.com

 

 

 

 

The Weekend of Giving

Posted by on July 17, 2019

The Weekend of Giving

by Ann Higgins, Director of Development

“What is the Weekend of Giving and why does camp do this?” you may be asking. It’s a good question! Many people may not realize that Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost are incorporated as a non-profit organization called Christian Camps and Conferences, Inc. That basically means that we are not in operation to produce profits which go to shareholders or owners, but that camp tuition and conference fees go back into running the organization. In our case, back into a ministry of creating communities where lives are transformed for Christ! What a mission! And we’ve been at it for 75 years!

Camp staff helping to promote the Weekend of Giving

With that in mind, Camp, as a non-profit, is allowed to accept tax-deductible donations from folks who love what we are doing and want to be a part of it. That is why we regularly try to communicate the needs of the organization and invite our Camp family to join the mission, or “join the journey” with us through giving financially to the ministry. Hence, a Weekend of Giving!

Instead of sending you zillions of emails on Giving Tuesday, (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) like other organizations, we decided to try a concentrated fundraising effort for our Scholarship Fund over Changeover weekend (the mid-point of Camp). Approximately 20% of our campers require financial assistance to attend each summer, and this year, we plan to gift $300,000 in assistance. We look to our Camp family to substantially provide for this need, and how the families appreciate it:

“My daughter has attended and loved this amazing camp for several years, which was made possible by the camp scholarship opportunity—and I can’t thank Camp Brookwoods and Deer Run and its donors enough for that!… [She] now knows and loves God because she wants to, because of her meaningful experiences at camp—from the love, devotion, and friendships she experienced at this special place.” –Camp Mom

 And there are many, many more testimonies like this one!

Last summer, on our first Weekend of Giving, our generous donors gave over $50,000! This year, we have set an ambitious goal for the weekend. We are hoping to boost the Scholarship Fund by $75,000 in honor of our 75thyear of ministry. It’s a big goal, we know(!), but we had to do it! We’re gonna need a LOT of help to get there! What can you do? Please give, (any amount is helpful) and you can help us promote the weekend on your social media by sharing posts and hashtags, which is also vital to the weekend’s success.

Camp is life-changing. We are praying for lots of “Changemakers over Changeover” to help us bring more kids to experience our gospel-centered communities, hear about the love of Jesus,  encounter God in His creation, and be encouraged along their own faith journeys.

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

 

 

 

That They May Be One

Posted by on July 12, 2019

That They May Be One

by  Craig Higgins, Resident Theologian

Click on Photo to see a short worship video

Just before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed for us, and he prayed for something specifically: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:22-23). Jesus prayed that we, his followers, might be one so that the world may know the Good News.

One of the things that I love about camp is that—at Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost—we work very hard to practice the unity for which Jesus prayed. And we do this so that campers and their families might hear—sometimes for the first time, sometimes in a deeper way—the Good News, the gospel.

Another thing I love about camp is that, for several years now, I have had the privilege of helping with “Staff Week” (which is actually the better part of two weeks) by teaching the amazing people that God raises up to serve as our summer staff. This is—year after year—a group of young men and women who love Jesus, love camp, and love campers.

Bible Study at Camp Deer Run

But this group is very inter-denominational, representing just about every denominational affiliation that you can think of! And one of the points I stress to them is that while we are an explicitly Christian camp we are also a broadly Christian camp. We stress the importance of not dwelling on those things that separate us as Christians but on what we have in common—and that those truths we hold in common—the Trinity, the Incarnation, the atoning work of Christ—are, in fact, the most important truths! We emphasize that “the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing,” and that the main thing is Jesus and the gospel.

Deer Run Sunday Night Vespers at Inspiration Point

This ecumenical emphasis can be life-changing. First of all, I’ve seen staff discover that the Body of Christ is larger than they realize, that Christians of other denominations are truly their sisters and brothers in the Lord. And the campers discover that, whatever their church background (or none), they are loved and welcomed.

Camp is a beautiful example of Christian unity in practice! But, of course, this doesn’t make our “unhappy divisions” (in the words of the Book of Common Prayer) go away. What can all of us—in our homes and home churches—do for Christian unity? Here are three things:

First, recognize the unity of the church. Remember that what (Who!) unites us is more important that what divides us.

Second, pray—daily!—for the unity and reunion of the Body of Christ.

Last, fellowship! I am a member of a Christian organization (comprised of Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and just about everyone else) in which we all commit, at least monthly, to working/talking with Christians from outside our immediate faith community. Building inter-denominational friendships is a great way to recognize our unity and to be reminded to pray for it. Plus, it’s fun!

And if you want to see a good example of genuine ecumenism—genuine Christian love across the sad divisions of the church—come to one of our camps. Here, we believe in the unity of the Church and we do our best to practice it every day!

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

 

 

 

Camp Pictures Forever

Posted by on July 5, 2019

Camp Pictures Forever

by Melissa Yonan, Alumni Director

The Waterfront

Not gonna lie, my life as a full-time camper is pretty great. During the academic year, the “Central PA CCCI Office” is located in State College, PA (is the voice in your head saying “We Are…Penn State!). I patiently (and at times, not so patiently) wait to flip the calendar to June so that we can pack our duffles and head north to Camp for the summer. But that is simply the last step to connect us to Camp. Even though I’m far away from Camp distance-wise, it’s not hard to find camp in our home all year round. From camp shirts in the laundry, to my kitchen clock of two canoers with the words “Camp Forever,” to cabin pictures scattered about, to Peter Ferber’s “The Waterfront” that was commissioned for Deer Run’s 50th birthday hanging over our mantel—they all tell the Camp story and remind us of the place we love. And, over the years, I’ve realized that I’m not the only one with “The Waterfront” hanging in plain view; I’ve seen it in many of your homes, from Colorado Springs to Philadelphia, as you look out to the Boathouse, too.

The Front Lawn

Several years before Deer Run’s 50th birthday, Donna Cordes Lehmann suggested that we contact Peter Ferber and see if he would consider painting a watercolor of a camp scene that we could reproduce and make available to our extended camp family. Bob Strodel invited Peter over to camp one sunny summer day and during the tour, Peter took many pictures for possible paintings. I remember Peter saying, “There are so many beautiful places to paint, we could do a series.” That always stuck with me. At the time, we were certain that we wanted a larger painting and unanimously agreed on the waterfront, the place etched in everyone’s memory. Peter set to work, pencil sketches, then watercolor, and then Peter took the original to Hunter Printers where it was made into giclée prints.

Brookwoods Waterfront

When we started planning Brookwoods’ 75th Anniversary, we immediately talked about more art for our walls, and yours! We picked three scenes that celebrate Brookwoods’ ministry—all that God has done in this sacred place, through His people, for His children (campers and staff alike!). Peter’s initial idea of doing a series came to life with three new paintings, “The Front Lawn,” “Brookwoods Waterfront,” and “To The Boathouse.”

Peter Ferber with “Beating Around Plum Island”

Peter is practically our neighbor and exhibits his work twice a year at The Art Place in Wolfeboro. If you’ve spent time in the Lakes Region, you’ll recognize his work immediately. Since 1994, he has done the annual poster for the New England Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society. Peter’s illustrations have appeared in national magazines, Yankee, Antiques, and Connoisseur. He shared with The Art Place, “In a world that is increasingly complex, impersonal and high-tech, I find myself intrigued with the simple, timeless, and more comprehensible things that often go unnoticed. Having grown up spending all my summers in Wolfeboro, I am drawn to the rural New Hampshire landscape as inspiration for my paintings—the sparkling serenity in the play of evening light across the lake, the simple purity of a white clapboard board in the snow, the warm patina of weathered boathouse shingles, are refreshing to my heart, as I hope they are to yours.”

To The Boathouse

As you look at Peter’s work, you can’t help but notice his mastery of light. At camp, we are also enamored with that play of light and the beautiful New Hampshire landscape. And what about that light? It reminds us that God made this very place with us in mind—we are especially thankful for Peter’s talents, and through his work, we can be reminded of His gift to us, no matter where we are.

This summer, the original watercolors are hanging in the Main Office lobby, and we’d love for you to stop by and see them. Camp prints are available to purchase, please email me. A portion of the proceeds go to the Scholarship Fund.

 

Giclées –  The three watercolors have been made into limited edition giclées, which are museum quality, signed and numbered by Peter. They are are $150 each. Total print size approximately 23” x 17” (image is 19.5” x 13.5”)

There are 8 remaining gicleés of “The Waterfront,” which were made to celebrate Deer Run’s 50th.  These are larger prints (23” x 35”) and the cost is $250.

 

Digital Prints – We also had the paintings reproduced digitally into smaller prints. Each print is $20, or the set of three prints is $50. Print total size 13”x 9.5” (image is 11” x7.5”)

P.S. Also available is a commemorative poster of the Boathouse, to purchase, please email me.

 

 

 

 

Incoming Day 2019

Posted by on June 28, 2019

Incoming Day 2019

by Tim Nielsen, Director of Ministry Services

Yesterday was my first Incoming Day as a staff member at Camp Brookwoods and Deer Run. It was a busy day, full of excited (and sometimes nervous) campers and their parents. Staff were fully engaged in cleaning, greeting, conducting swim tests, preparing meals and so much more! Incoming Day is a BIG DEAL!

A Brookwoods camper moving into his cabins

I have spent the last 30 years directing another camp, and I have experienced over 200 Incoming Days. Each camp manages this experience differently. Here are some highlights from my first Brookwoods Incoming Day (as a camper) since 1979.

Worship and Church – Most of the parents missed this part, but I think it is fantastic. Even though the task list was long, the staff schedule included a time of worship and a time in God’s Word in the morning. This is evidence of camp’s commitment to Christ-centered spiritual transformation!

Alumni Luncheon – What a brilliant idea! This luncheon allowed alumni, campers and parents, to reconnect and reflect on their experiences at camp. It also allowed the leadership to share the future hopes and dreams of the ministry!

Deer Run campers on Incoming Day

New Parent Orientation – Dropping your child off at camp for the first time can be a little scary. This gathering allowed new camp parents to personally connect with the Executive Director, Bob Strodel. The question and answer time was educational for the parents and the Executive Director as well!

Excellent Parking Management – How do you fit 181 vehicles in 80 parking spaces? You need attentive staff managing this process! I thought that this was managed so well!

Campers headed to MRO in Maine – We also loaded and shipped out three vans full of campers headed north to Moose River Outpost. It is such a rich blessing to be serving campers on that amazing property.

Great snacks and multiple check-in locations! – Checking in 281 campers takes time. I loved that this was conducted at three different locations in camp. Each of these locations had beautiful trays of cookies and fruit, as well as refreshing drinks! Waiting in line is always better with delicious snacks!

There is always someone ready to play Ga-Ga

A great dinner followed by a HIGH ENERGY Opening Rally! – The first meal of the summer was hot and delicious. We had Thanksgiving Dinner with hand-dipped ice cream for dessert! The Food Service staff knows how to deliver quality! After dinner the kids learned some camp songs, the camp staff were introduced, and the spiritual direction of the session was set! It was an awesome way to welcome the kids and start off the session!

There were a million other details that made the day great! Most importantly, thanks to the Lord for the perfect weather, that really enhanced the experience!

In 2019, Tim joined Christian Camps and Conferences, Inc., but he is not new to Christian Camping. For the last 30 years he directed camps in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. As a child, Tim attended camp every summer at Camp Sandy Cove and for a few summers in the 1970s, he attended Brookwoods. Tim attended Houghton College and completed a Masters Degree in Christian Education at Columbia International University in South Carolina. Tim’s wife, Adina, is also passionate about camp. They have two young daughters, Tilba and Dagny, who are happily carrying on the Staff Kid tradition. tim@christiancamps.net