For years, whenever Christmas pageants are talked about in a certain little town in the Midwest, someone is sure to mention Wallace Purling. Wally’s performance in one particular production of the annual Nativity play has slipped into the realm of legend. The old-timers who were in the audience never tire of recalling the evening’s events.
Wally was nine and in the second grade, though he should have been in fourth grade. Most people knew that he had difficulty keeping up. He was big and awkward, and a little slow in movement and mind.
Still, Wally was well liked by the other children in his class, all of whom were smaller than him—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 Wally out, but he would hang around anyway—not sulking, just hoping. Wally was always helpful, willing and smiling. He was also the protector, paradoxically, of the underdog. If the older boys chased the younger kids away, Wally would 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, beards, crowns, halos, and a full stage of squeaky voices.
No one on or off stage 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 set’s painted wooden door. 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 walk 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 the Staff at Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost.
Luke 2: 9-14: “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’”
Bob Strodel is currently serving as the Executive Director at Christian Camps and Conferences, Inc. Bob and Debbie have been at camp since 1994 and enjoy seeing Camp’s third generation of campers become a part of the camp family. email@example.com
I wanted to provide you an update on the search process for the Director of Ministry Services position at CCCI.
Over the past several months we have conducted a search for the right individual for this position. A detailed job description was formulated and the opening was posted on several sites, including: InDeed, ACA website, CCCA website and through an announcement on camp’s social media network.
We received a surprising strong level of applicants for the position, and many additional phone or e-mail conversations with me from folks who wanted more information. A detailed weighted matrix was established to screen the candidates, and the top candidates were given phone interviews, followed by a video conference interview with the HR Committee of the top candidates.
An offer has been extended and accepted by Tim Nielsen, who has directed Camp Sandy Cove since 1989. He is a former Brookwoods camper, and has earned an MA in Christian Education. His undergraduate work in Communication was done at Houghton College in New York. Tim has been involved with ACA and CCCA for many years as a true camp professional.
When we looked at the candidates, Tim provided a great mix of experience, stability, prior history with the camp and ability to make an immediate impact. Tim loves the ministry of camping, and we believe that this love, combined with emotional ties to Brookwoods, will foster a long-term stable relationship.
I would like to thank the HR Committee (David Bass, Bob Bennett and Jon Bryan) working through this process with me over the past several months, and for their blessing they provided on the hiring of Tim.
Tim and Adina are finalizing arrangements for transition to New Hampshire with Tilba and Dagny.
Bob Strodel, Executive Director
We are very pleased to welcome Dorothy Legro to the team at camp. Dorothy will be serving as the Camp Registrar at Brookwoods, Deer Run and Mooser River Outpost. Originally from Massachusetts, Dorothy has a host of fine customer service experience with several professional firms. She moved to Alton a few years ago with her dogs, Ben and Jerry, and enjoys gardening and spending time with her family and church friends. The Registrar is responsible for working with parents in getting our 1000+ campers signed up for each summer. Dorothy will be serving you with a smile on her face, which you can almost hear, if you give her a call at the camp office with questions or concerns.
To the parents of campers at Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost:
As part of our continued education, we belong to the American Camp and Conference Association. This non-Christian organization provides professional skills for those of us in the full time camping field. Every so often I see a nice piece, and today was one of those days. I have Audrey’s permission to share this piece with you…
Worrying when our kids are away from us is normal for parents. Every time I’ve ever dropped my kids off for a new adventure without me, I’m excited for them. But I’m also concerned about their safety, secretly wishing they would just stay home, then counting the days until they return. I know it’s not rational (few things about parenting are), but I believe my kids are always safest when they’re home with me.
If you are new to sending your kids to summer camp, let me reassure you that while they are away, you can relax your worrying muscles. I’ve spent the past three decades working at a summer camp, sending my kids to other camps, and participating in the networking and training of summer camp professionals. I know A LOT of camp directors, have visited many camps through the American Camp Association accreditation process, and am a faithful reader of Camping Magazine. I definitely know about camp.
Before I share why you should not worry while your kids are at camp, let me qualify that the reasons below pertain to accredited camp programs. The accreditation process is cumbersome, because the camp needs to meet over 250 standards. That’s what I like about it. By choosing an accredited program, you can be assured that the camp meets industry standards. If the summer camp you choose for your child is not accredited, then I recommend that you verify for yourself what their standards are in these areas. Then you can decide if you need to worry.
Here are five reasons not to worry while your kids are at (an ACA-accredited) camp this summer:
1. They’ll have more supervision than almost anywhere else
When your kids are at camp, they will have more adults caring for them than in almost any other setting. To see the required supervision ratios at accredited camp programs (based on the children’s age), visit this American Camp Association page, which refers to staff screening, supervision, and training. Ratios generally range from 1:5 to 1:10, depending on the age of the campers and the activity.
From my own observation, there are far fewer adults supervising kids at school during recess, and I found data to back up this impression: “As instruction, most courts agree that, in typical school age (ages 6-12) playground environments, an appropriate student to supervisor ratio ranges between 40:1 and 90:1.2.”
Obviously, then, those 1:5 to 1:10 ratios at accredited camps make for a much more supervised environment for kids to play and interact with each other.
2. They’ll be safer than they are on a sports field or in your backyard.
Many parents look at the types of activities kids do at camp and their safety alarm goes off. Swimming? Archery? Campfires? It all sounds so dangerous!
And yet, these and other high adventure activities are supervised by trained staff using safety equipment such as helmets and harnesses and following procedures that ensure a reduced risk of injury. Camp staff who teach an activity like rock climbing are given extensive training before they put a camper “on belay” (the harness system).
Did you know that camp insurance companies don’t allow camps to have trampolines due to how high the risk is for injury? Camps have insurance, health, and other inspections to ensure that they are using best practices to operate their activities. This is a higher standard than most people’s backyards.
In the Healthy Camp Study, which analyzed data from several camps over a five-year period, the injury rates for both day and residential camps were much lower than the rates for many popular sports.
3. Camp counselors receive more training than most parents.
Most camps provide at least a week of training before the summer begins. Many counselors are also required to complete online trainings and certifications before arriving at camp. Camp counselors learn about age group characteristics and how to use positive behavior management techniques. They also have a network of co-counselors and experienced supervisors to guide and support them throughout the summer. I’ve often lamented that a prerequisite for parenthood should be camp counselor training!
4. They’ll benefit from being unplugged.
Do you worry about your kids having too much screen time? I know I do. It’s impossible to miss how today’s teens and young adults—these so-called “screenagers”—are scrolling their way through life and navigating relationships with quick-moving thumbs. We should be worried about our kids’ screen usage and how it’s impacting their social skills development, especially when we read that the average teen spends 6.5 hours a day looking at a screen! One thing I most look forward to about camp is my kids having an extended period of unplugged time, without me nagging them at all.
5. They are feeling happier than they do almost anywhere else.
Many kids say that camp is their “happy place,” and my own research on how camp experiences impact kids’ overall happiness backs this claim. In my 2015 study on the impact of camp on social well-being (i.e., happiness), 3 out of every 4 children surveyed reported being “a little happier” or “a lot happier” after their summer camp experience. So, since as parents one of our top priorities is that our kids flourish and not feel depressed or anxious, being at camp is a great reason NOT to worry about how your kid is feeling.
If you tend to worry about your children, why not take a break and send them to camp this summer?
It could do all of you some good!
Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, MA, with her husband Steve, has owned and directed Gold Arrow Camp (Lakeshore, California) for the past 30 years. She has been a member of ACA since 1989 and was president of the Western Association of Independent Camps (WAIC) from 2007–2010. Audrey researches, writes, and speaks about camp, parenting, friendship skills, and positive psychology. Her upcoming parenting book (Center Street, 2019) offers ideas for bringing the magic of summer camp home. Sign up for Audrey’s book updates at sunshine-parenting.com or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published at sunshine-parenting.com