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Deer Run Mentoring

Posted by on May 29, 2020

Deer Run Mentoring

by Sarah Bartlett Cohen, Program Director

When I arrived at Camp Deer Run for the first time at the wise age of 18, my visions of what I would be doing as a camp counselor included lines of little girls trouping behind me through the woods, assembling one s’more after another, and reading Bible stories by flashlight after “lights out.” While many of these visions became a reality, there were unexpected blessings that rounded my experience and keep me coming back to Deer Run summer after summer. One that I still reflect on is the Deer Run mentoring program.

In the summer of 2004 I was paired with camp legend, Bekah Peterson. I don’t remember much of what we talked about, likely funny stories of what my Whitetail campers did or said or how I spent my day off. What I do remember is that Bekah made me feel comfortable to be a clueless, eager, and overwhelmed first-year staff member. She had been around camp longer than me and she had more life experience. She listened and asked good questions that helped me see the bigger picture of camp and God’s Kingdom. Plus, she was just fun and cool and I liked hanging out with her.

Sarah Cohen (right) visits mentee Ellen Goodling in Nashville this past fall.

At this point in my “camp career,” I have spent at least a decade of my camp experience as a mentor. It is still one of my favorite parts of camp life. Every summer I have 1 or 2 mentees and my relationship with each of them is different; I love the way each relationship develops authentically. Sometimes we go for a walk along Damon Drive. Another mentee might prefer to stop by my office several times a week to chat for 10 minutes while eating a handful of M&Ms on her way to her next activity period. We always talk about campers, co-counselors, and the ways they are seeing God in those relationships. We talk about life at college, plans post-college, and how to discern God’s calling. We talk about future things, like marriage, babies, and family. Sometimes they just need to vent about the hard things that come with camp ministry and living in very (very) close community.

The mentoring program is a way that Senior Staff can support young adult staff in their daily ministry. As much as my mentees long for and need my listening ear, I also need to be reminded of the work God is doing inside each cabin and out on the front lawn. Just as Bekah helped me to see the bigger picture of God’s Kingdom, each summer my mentees remind me of God’s faithfulness and the work He is doing at Camp!

Sarah Cohen loves her job as the Brookwoods and Deer Run Program Director. Other jobs she’s held at camp include Whitetail counselor, Junior Unit Director, and LDP counselor. Sarah is a former 2nd grade teacher, now stay-at-home mom who brings her whole crew to camp every summer! She is mom to three future campers, Jacqueline (6), Paul (3), and Audrey (1). The Cohen Cabin loves breakfast cookout and can be frequently be found “selling” free sticks or painted rocks by the Eagle. Say hi to Sarah here!

Love Affair With a Lake

Posted by on May 22, 2020

Love Affair With A Lake

by Phil Lehmann, Waterfront Staff

Let’s face it, Lake Winnipesaukee is the best place on earth and there is nothing you can do to convince me otherwise. Sure, archery is fun and I guess horses are ok, but we (I) all know where the best activities are at camp. 

As a camper I fell in love with sailing, SCUBA diving, and wakeboarding. As a counselor I was blessed to be able to teach swimming and most of the other waterfront activities at some point. However, once I joined waterfront staff, my relationship with the lake changed—no longer was it simply the place where I got to teach and do activities. The lake became a grounding place for me. A place where I have most clearly heard God’s call to me and the place where I go at my lowest. 

Those who have been on staff know the Diving Pier after dark is a place for hanging out and chatting with friends (before curfew of course!). It is also one of my favorite nighttime haunts, but for the opposite reason. I go to the diving pier to stand alone and stare out across the still waters towards Rattlesnake Island. The wind quiets and I find one of the oft mentioned “thin places” in which God seems most accessible. It is in these moments that I have felt the irresistible urge to pray about anything and everything. Eventually, the moment passes and I head to the Lake Cottage or stand to watch Coach Crowers come back into the cove in his dory, racing the last light to shore. I have had similar “God moments” in life and in some truly random places (e.g. Amsterdam’s train station at 3am), but none of these places possess the raw power of the water. 

I was, and am still to a degree, a Midwest boy, unlearned in the power of the ocean, so the waves on Winnipesaukee seemed large to me as a child. After seven years on waterfront staff, I realize that the waves on Winni may not be the biggest, but they are my favorite. Former staffers will know that most of my favorite things on the waterfront involve unruly water (waterskiing aside). From going on “rescue missions” that test our expertise in righting sailboats, or towing a boat into shore, or to standing on the diving pier watching a big storm march across the lake, slowly obscuring the islands one by one, or to occasionally taking the opportunity for a farcical photo shoot with Cody O’Loughlin, it is these moments where the raw power of nature grounds me to the place God has called me. Where the outside worries of a career and “real life” are quiet and I am able to simply do the job I love, in the place I love, for the people I love.  The lake is more than water in a hole, it is the place where God finds me, smacks me on the head, and says “I’m bigger, let’s have a chat.”

 

Phil Lehmann has been on staff since 2008 and has served as the Waterfront Director for the last 4 years. He enjoys early morning skiing, leaving lunch early to take a nap in his hammock, and drinking coffee out of a battered enamel mug. Contact him at Philip.G.Lehmann@Gmail.com

Full Circle

Posted by on May 15, 2020

Full Circle

by Amy Holbrook Nichols, Deer Run Alumna

I still remember the drive up to camp. I was 8 years old and I had never been that far away from home and I was terrified. I spent the entire car ride so nervous I thought I was going to throw up! Two weeks later I was calling them on the camp phone asking if I could please PLEASE stay two more weeks.

Camp is special like that. It is magical. It makes you want to stay and experience more of what it has to offer. I loved it all, from the days on the beach, to cabin nights, to the horseback riding lessons to all my new friends. I loved it so much I came back, 15 years later…I was looking to do something different the summer in between my junior and senior year of college. The Lord brought camp to mind and I decided to give them a call. Turns out they needed a Horseback Riding Director, but I wanted to be a counselor. Camp very graciously gave me the opportunity to do both.

When I arrived at camp, the term “Horse Chick” (we know how girls love horses) was affectionately batted in my direction. Not only do we have a special nickname, we also have special housing, fondly known as “The Chicken Coop” or “The Coop” for short, located at the top of the camp road. Since horses smell, and this smell is clingy—Horse Chicks preferably need housing close to the Stables in order to clean up before taking that lovely odor down to the Dining Hall to share at mealtime! In retrospect, I think my dual job of counselor and horseback riding instructor saved my reputation. I lived in a cabin and yet could spend my days at the Stable. I lived and breathed camp. I vividly remember calling my parents (from that same camp phone that I used when I was 8) and telling them that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was exactly where God wanted me. I felt His pleasure in my joy and love of camp. During the day I taught students how to ride and in the evenings I had the joy of impacting kids for the Lord in our cabin.

And now I find myself passing the proverbial torch. My 18-year old daughter, Anna, has caught the camp bug. Two years ago she spent a summer at Moose River Outpost. The wild Maine setting combined with great friends and a great counselor, had such a positive impact on her. This summer, she decided that she wanted to go back to camp, but she wanted to work with horses—SHE WANTS TO BE A HORSE CHICK! And so, I will live vicariously through her. I will walk the road through the woods from the Stables to the Main House. I will swim with her in the clear cold waters of Lake Winnipesaukee. I will eat ice cream with her at Bailey’s. I will sing songs with her after dinner in the Dining Hall. I will pray for her to grow spiritually and to have the same assurance that God has placed her at that place for that time. And, I will encourage her to wear the title (and fragrance) of Horse Chick with pride!

Amy Nichols (pictured on the right) lives in Fountain Hills, Arizona with her husband, John who is a pastor and their two kids. She is an instructor of education courses at Arizona Christian University. In her spare time, she reads, runs, and still dreams of owning her own horse someday. Reach out via email, aenct71@gmail.com

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