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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 tbowling6789@gmail.com.

 

 

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. matthew.koz@gmail.com

 

 

Winter Reunion 2020

Posted by on December 9, 2019

CAMP BROOKWOODS AND DEER RUN WINTER REUNION 2020

 Here are a few important details below:

WHEN: Monday, December 30 2019 through Wednesday, January 1, 2020. Plan to arrive between 7:00 – 8:00 PM on Monday. Dinner will not be served at camp, so please eat before you arrive. The reunion will end at 2:00 PM on Wednesday.

SALT and LDP: You are invited to come to camp early and your Winter Reunion starts 24 hours earlier. If you are able, please plan to arrive between 5:30 – 8:00 PM on Sunday, December 29th. Dinner will be served at 5:30pm in the dining hall.

WHAT TO EXPECT: This is a unique opportunity to experience New Year’s at camp, be encouraged in your walk with Christ, connect with friends, and catch up with your counselors! Fun, friends, and fellowship! The reunion is a wonderful spiritual retreat where campers can reconnect with their friends and counselors. Campers will have the opportunity to tube down Deer Run’s back hill, snowshoe around camp, make crafts, build cardboard sleds, play games, roast marshmallows, and drink a lot of hot cocoa, and more!

WHAT TO BRING: A sleeping bag, Bible, journal, lots of warm clothes, and your toothbrush!

BUS: The bus will be at the Lexington Service Plaza on the north bound side of I-95 off exit 30. The plaza has a McDonald’s and Gulf station. It will leave Lexington at 6:00 PM on Monday, December 30th, and will return around 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 1st. The first 45 campers to register for the bus will get a seat. There is no charge for the bus.

AIRPORT: Flights into Manchester Airport in New Hampshire or Logan Airport in Boston, should be scheduled to arrive between 3:00 and 6:00 PM on Monday, December 30th. Flights should depart between 2:00 and 6:00 PM on Wednesday, January 1st. Please notify us of flights by DATE. There is no charge for airport transportation.

Register by clicking on this link.

Any questions you can either email, ben@christiancamps.net or call the camp office at 603-875-3600

Here is the video of the event from last year:

Here is what you missed this past year: