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Mind Your PQTs

Posted by on March 22, 2019

Mind Your PQTs

by Lis Schuman, Deer Run Camp Pastor, Alumna

Camp is a wonderful place to grow spiritually. Daily chapel and Bible study keep the focus on God in the midst of the fun. The cabin is a central part of the camper’s spiritual experience. Each day, counselors use a prepared curriculum to share Bible studies with their cabin as a group, but another important part of the daily schedule is what some campers call “PQT” – Personal Quiet Time.

Campers have Personal Quiet Time – PQT

After breakfast and cabin clean up, the campers find a space – inside or outside – to spend time alone with God. Some use a devotional to guide that time. Some keep a journal, some read their Bibles, some pray. Some are not quite sure what to do…

If you’re anything like me, I can get distracted pretty easily, especially when I am doing something quiet and alone! God knows our weaknesses and our tendency to lose focus, and yet He still invites us to spend this time with Him each day. When Jesus walked this earth, He would steal away to spend time alone with His Father. As we are to live our lives modeled after Christ, how are we to do PQTs well? Here are a few guidelines to help us:

  1. Focus on God’s Word. Devotional books can be a great tool when studying God’s Word, but they should not replace reading the Word itself. Prayerfully choose a book of the Bible and begin to work through it, even if you cover only a few verses a day. Some passages may have a loud, clear message that we can easily identify. Some passages may not be so clear. Persevere. Finish the book. God’s Word is complete, and He has something to say through the entirety of His Word, not just in certain verses.
  2. Trust God to teach you. Sometimes we read a passage and are not sure what it means. We can ask God to help us understand what He is saying to us. The cry of the psalmist in Psalm 119:33-34 can be our own: “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes… Give me understanding, that I may observe your law, and keep it with all my heart.”
  3. Keep it consistent. In Joshua 1:8, the Lord instructs us: “’This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.’” It’s not easy, but if God calls us to do it, He will also equip us to do it. Be realistic about when and how long you can read God’s Word each day. Then do it. Everyday. If you miss a day, pick it back up again the next day. Just as an athlete works his or her body to strengthen it and create “muscle memory” for his or her sport, we Christians hone our spiritual bodies through consistent practice.

So as our campers head to camp this summer, know that they will have PQT every morning. During your own PQT, pray for them – that they will keep focused on God and His Word, that He will teach them and give them understanding, and that they will remain consistent and walk with Him.

Lis (Waldron) Schuman and her husband, Eric, have four campers – two at Deer Run and two at Brookwoods. Lis and Eric were counselors in the mid-90s and since 2017 Lis has been serving as Camp Pastor of Deer Run and Eric as the BASIC Coordinator. In their non-camp lives, both Lis and Eric are Spanish teachers. Eric has been known to sing in Spanish if he is ever called up for “Sing Us a Song.” You can email Lis here.

 

 

The Colors of Camp

Posted by on March 15, 2019

The Colors of Camp

by Sarah Cohen, Program Director

Regardless of which years each of us spent at camp, I bet similar colors and scenes come to mind when we reflect on our time there. I can close my eyes and picture the black, blue, red, and yellow rings of an archery target, set against the backdrop of lush green trees. Or at the waterfront I see the weathered white of the H-pier and the classic red, white and blue sails of the sunfish, filling Chestnut Cove.  Up at the Craft Shop there is a beige layer of sawdust on the floor and fresh white ceramics lining the walls. On the front lawn I see a neon, spray painted model rocket launching high into the bright blue sky.

Rocket launch on the Front Lawn

Our activities are colorful in nature, but they are also colorful in variety. Just as a balanced diet of different foods is important for our health, a balance of rich learning experiences is healthy for our children. Camp is a wonderful, non-committal environment to try new things. If something piques your interest, you can do it again, working towards mastery of your goals and earning awards. If it’s not your thing, there are so many other choices to try out next! How many of us have tried something for the first time at camp and then went on to pursue it as a lifelong hobby?

At Brookwoods and Deer Run, campers sign up every weekend for three new activities for the following week. It’s a crazy, loud, somewhat overwhelming process as campers try to decide what they want to take, when they want to take it, and with whom. There are certain activities that always fill up right away.  Wyn Byker consistently has a long, very straight line for Archery.

Aiming straight in ArcheryWomen of the Wild practice wilderness skillsNew pajama pants made in Sewing

The campers signing up for wake-boarding and waterskiing form a rowdier clump, but are just as enthusiastic. Some of the popular activities are ones you might not expect, and every summer it seems to be a different trend. Junior Unit campers can’t get enough of Women of the Wild or Boys of the Backwoods, an introductory nature exploration and wilderness skills class. Volleyball has been incredibly popular in recent years, especially at Deer Run. Two summers ago the entire Bear cabin wanted to take Sewing!  They made themselves pajama pants and many of them were sporting those pants the following summer, as LDP 1s. As you can imagine, cake decorating is another new and desired activity, and not just because campers get to eat their work! Summer after summer, the couches of Moose Hall are filled as John Harutunian reads C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books.

God created a beautiful and vibrant world for us to enjoy. As His children, we are just as unique and varied in our gifts and abilities. I have great joy in watching campers not only learn about God’s love, but also experiencing who God made them to be as they embrace challenges and celebrate their accomplishments.

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 (5), Paul (2), and Audrey (5 months). Jacqueline loves breakfast cookout and can be found “selling” free sticks or painted rocks by the Eagle. George Bowling calls Sarah “Crash.” You’ll have to ask her why at Brookwoods 75th!  If you have questions about camp contact Sarah here!

 

3 Ways Into a Holy Lent

Posted by on March 8, 2019

3 Ways Into a Holy Lent

by Matthew Kozlowski, alumnus

Most Christian holidays have joyful greetings: Merry Christmas! Happy Easter! But as for Lent…not so much. I’ve never had someone wish me a “Happy Lent”. This 40-day season before Easter is unique. Yes there is joy, but the deep meaning of Lent is found in prayer, self-reflection, and growing closer to Jesus.

Ok, so Lent might not be the most fun season of the Christian year. But think of it this way: Lent is like the camp worship song “Days of Elijah”— it’s coming whether or not you’re ready.

How might you live into a holy Lent this year? Here are three suggestions:

1. Take an Inventory
As a Brookwoods counselor, I remember the last days of camp when we cleaned and put everything away. All supplies had to be counted, whether they were sailboats or Nerf balls. What was missing? What was in good condition?

In Lent, we do the same thing, but with our spiritual lives. We take inventory, asking: What’s bringing me closer to God? What’s drawing me away? What don’t I need anymore? What’s broken? What’s working well? This process may sting a bit, but it can also feel really good—especially, if we ask God for the grace to be honest and the strength to make changes.

2. Consider Others First

The 40 days of Lent mirror the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert, fasting, praying, and resisting the devil. Notice how Satan tempted Jesus to do miracles that were self-centered tricks: feed yourself by turning stones into bread…jump from a height and be caught by angels. Jesus refused. He knew that his power was mainly for the sake of others. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, ESV).

In Lent, we follow Christ’s example by considering others before ourselves. Be generous, not just with money, but with time and intention. Write a card, send an uplifting text, or take an extra minute to call. A friend of mine once said that Brookwoods was the first place he knew where people asked, “How are you?” and really meant it. That’s the kind of spiritual generosity we can practice in Lent.

3. Give Something Up, for the Right Reasons

It may be old-fashioned, but I still give something up for Lent. Some people give up chocolate, or Facebook, or the snooze button. This is good. But it’s important to ask: what’s the point? If the goal is self-improvement, I think we miss the mark. Lent should not be a 40-day diet or self-help program.

Instead, Lent is a time to grow closer to Jesus Christ, full stop. Giving something up helps us focus on Jesus, and lean on Him. Think of it this way, when you remove something from your life, how will you fill that empty space? A wise minister told me that when he fasts, he prays for the Holy Spirit to fill him. The Spirit always shows up—you can count on it. Just like “Days of Elijah” showing up at the end of camp worship—you count on it.

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

Operation Valentine

Posted by on March 1, 2019

Operation Valentine

by Melissa Yonan, Alumni Director

Feb 2019, rolling and cutting out cookies

When I was an undergraduate student at Indiana University in the 1980s, my second semester highlight was the Valentine’s Day package that arrived from Hope Church (Wilton, CT). Moms would collect smallish boxes for weeks and bake dozens and dozens of cookies. They met in the Fellowship Hall before Valentine’s Day and put their assembly line to work. Every college student at church got one of those loved-filled packages. Sharing these cookies with my friends and the simple act of being remembered was priceless.

While I was living in Washington, DC, I invited several friends to come over and make cookies for Valentine’s. Our cookies were going all different directions. One friend was putting a care package together for her boyfriend’s young daughter, another baked for her niece and nephew in Colorado, and another baked for one of her pediatric cancer patients. My packages were destined for college campuses, to the Deer Runners, women I first came to know as Junior Unit campers and had mentored when they were on staff.

Since our inaugural Operation Valentine in 2007, Camp has sent 1,157 care packages to our college-aged Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost alumni who have attended camp for many summers. We started small in 2007. I invited my Bible Study (in Washington, DC) to come up to camp to bake cookies. They bought plane tickets, flew up, and the rest is history. None of us will ever forget it (Hello, sundae bar). Set up in the “New Wing,” we rolled out cookies, assembled our heart shaped cookie cutters, sprinkled colored sugar, and baked away. It was a precious time for each of us and together as a group: camping out in the Loon, hanging out by the fire in the Dining Hall, and snowshoeing out to Plum Island.

Cookies…cookies…
and MORE Cookies!

We put Operation Valentine in the Weathervane, and shortly thereafter, an alumna contacted me and said, “I want to come to Cookie Camp!” Of course this should be an alumni program! Since then, Deer Run alumnae and camp moms spend the weekend at camp, making hundreds of homemade Valentine cards, baking over 3,000 sugar cookies (hearts, deer, moose, and trout), and assembling boxes with devotionals and candy. To all who have been a part of Cookie Camp and Operation Valentine over the years, bakers and postage donors, THANK YOU! We “love” and “like” the social media thank you’s students post after they get their packages. It’s more than homemade cookies, or the cheesy camp one-liner, “We miss you s’more,” it’s about the act of being remembered, and that the Lord, their God, is the real deal when it comes to LOVE.

P.S. I’m beyond thrilled that one of my friends from the 2007 Cookie Camp (DC friends) sent her son to Brookwoods for the first time last summer. How awesome is that? I think he liked the sundae bar, too.

Melissa Yonan, Alumni Director

Melissa (pictured far right, in 2007 with her DC Bible Study) has been a part of the camp family since 1982 and has been the Director of Alumni Relations since 2005. She can name all the past Deer Run Directors in order! She is responsible for our vast alumni network and serves as Editor for the camp newsletter, The Weathervane, as well as the Director for our annual Alumni Camp weekend. These days she is busy planning for the Brookwoods’ 75th Anniversary. If you have camp stories you’d like to tell, she’d love to hear them, contact her here.

Why We Send Our Children to Camp

Posted by on February 15, 2019

Why We Send Our Children to Camp
By Marta Hummel Mossburg, alumna

After 36 hours of planes, trains, trams, cabs and tugging overstuffed suitcases on cobblestone streets, my eldest son, Hank, and I arrived at our hotel in Tel Aviv overlooking the Mediterranean Sea last night. This afternoon we start a 10 day tour of Israel, tracing Jesus’ steps through this ancient land graced with the birth of our Savior.

The trip stretched our budget, means two weeks away from my husband, and other two children, two weeks away from school for Hank, and promises a lot of trekking. It also, through direct contact with the places Jesus lived and routes he walked, immerses us in our shared story of salvation amid few distractions, great discussion, gorgeous views, and others seeking to know more clearly how to know Christ and make him known. In other words, it’s a lot like camp, with different scenery.

More importantly, though, it is a part of a strategy of embedding Hank’s identity (and each of our children) in Christ and deepening his understanding of the God who both knitted us together in our mother’s womb and has the power to move mountains. My husband Dave and I know it will not happen by osmosis. As Rod Dreher wrote in The Benedict Option, “American Christians are going to have to come to terms with the brute fact that we live in a culture … in which our beliefs make increasingly little sense. We speak a language that the world more and more either cannot hear or finds offensive to its ears.”

In a country where “my truth” now substitutes for “truth” and even those who profess faith in Jesus define themselves by their online presence or arbitrary cultural hierarchies, we want our children to know first and foremost they are followers of Jesus. And not only to know it, but to be able to explain it and defend it with grace, courage, and humility, even if it costs them “friends,” or likes online, or real consequences like actual friends, or job opportunities as they grow up.

That is where camp (and this trip) come in. It is a place where the joy that comes from living a life rooted in Christ is manifested daily. It is where friendships that last lifetimes are formed, God’s beauty and power amazes and daily habits of praying and reading the Bible often start for the first time. It is where God is bigger than one denomination and different worship preferences and His presence so palpable it’s almost as if His footsteps are visible on the paths to the beach and Dining Hall. And it is where the songs – often Bible verses – become so ingrained that I teach them to my children 25 plus years later.

If we want to reach the culture for Christ, our children first need to know what it can and should be so they do not absorb what others tell them it is. Camp is one significant way to give our children a glimpse of the Promised Land in addition to teaching them the tools they need to live lives of purpose and excellence through daily routines and physical challenges many never thought they could achieve.

Besides, who wouldn’t want to go to camp? When summer hits, I always long for the chance to be on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee once again, waterskiing and hiking and laughing in grungy clothes and no makeup. I know a lot of us who went, saw our best selves there and conjure those memories not to relive those days, but to be the person God created us to be in the present. It’s one of the best gifts I received and want to regift it to our children, for their spouses and children – and the world.

Editor’s note: Here’s the LINK to register for camp!


Marta Hummel Mossburg went to camp in the “ancient 80s”, as her children Hank (10), Charlie (8) and Elsa (6) say. Hank is going to camp for his third time this summer and Charlie will go for the first time. She and her family live in Chattanooga, TN. Reach her at martamossburg@gmail.com.