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A Christmas Eve Pageant

Posted by on December 24, 2018

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.

Annual Fund: The 5 W’s, 1 H, & 1 TY

Posted by on December 21, 2018

Annual Fund: The 5 W’s, 1 H, and 1 TY

Ann Higgins, Director of Development


For this week’s Friday Blog I thought I would use this familiar journalistic device to talk about camp’s Annual Fund. I hope the information is helpful and answers some questions you might have about supporting camp.


As in “What’s the Annual Fund, anyway?” As a non-profit organization, Christian Camps and Conferences, Inc. (Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost) is allowed to accept tax deductible donations from those wishing to support the work. The Annual Fund is an ongoing opportunity for the extended camp family to partner with us in the ministry through their financial support. Our theme is “Join the Journey” because we believe that everyone at camp is on their own faith journey to learn more about themselves, who they were created to be in Christ, and how to best serve the Kingdom. When you give, you come alongside the many campers and staff who are encouraged along their way at camp.


Camp’s Annual Fund is made up of two parts, General and Scholarship giving. General (undesignated) giving helps with those unexpected expenses. As you would predict, appliances wear out, recreational equipment breaks, and camp often experiences weather-related and other damage to facilities. Undesignated gifts allow us to use the funds where they are needed most. The Scholarship Fund is used to make camp a possibility for those who could not attend without financial assistance. Currently, about 25% of our campers require some assistance to attend. This equates to about $220,000 each year. Recently, our camp family has been faithfully fulfilling this need, which also helps us keep our tuition costs within reach for more families. Put simply, a strong Annual Fund makes an organization stronger and insures its longevity.


The Annual Fund benefits all of our campers: Camp Brookwoods and Deer Run in New Hampshire, and Moose River Outpost in Maine.


A goal is set annually by the Board of Directors for the Annual Fund for our fiscal year, January 1st through December 31st. This year, Scholarship giving has been strong as the Weekend of Giving in July boosted the fund by $59,000 in just three days! There are still a few more days left in 2018 to help us reach our overall giving goals. As a reminder, to qualify for a 2018 tax deduction, online gifts must be made by midnight on the 31st and checks must be dated and postmarked on or before the 31st as well.


There are many ways to support camp. The most direct and familiar way is by donating via check or credit card. The year-end mailer can be viewed here and you can give online here.

Camp is also able to accept gifts of stocks and securities, transfers from an IRA, gifts through life insurance, and real estate. For more information on those types of gifts, please check out this section of our website.

There is also an option for scheduled, automatic giving through our monthly donor program, the Campfire Circle. Circle members receive special communications and a small welcome gift upon joining. You can find more information here.

So, that’s the 4 W’s and that one H. Last but not least, the most important thing is the TY—that’s for a great big Thank You! to everyone who supports camp through their prayers, or gifts of time, or financial support. It takes all of you to make our camps the special gospel-centered communities we desire them to be. May God bless us in the New Year as we seek to serve Him and witness more lives being transformed for Christ. Thanks be to God and Merry Christmas!

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

Why a Leadership Program?

Posted by on December 14, 2018
These SALTers biked 40 miles on the Kancamagus Highway!

Why You Should Apply for Leadership Programs Before Graduating?

As a high school student, there are tons of Leadership Programs to choose from all over the country. Here are 5 reasons why you should apply to one before you graduate.

  1. It will change your life.

When you are in school you are set up for a clear trajectory – to graduate – and after graduation you get to decide what the next trajectory will look like.

Leadership Programs take place in the perfect sweet spot before this next big trajectory happens for you, and they can be instrumental in helping you determine what that next trajectory should be or look like.

How can this happen? Keep reading.

  1. You will discover more of who you were made to be.

The more we experience, the more we discover ourselves. We discover what drives us, what bothers us, how we deal with conflict, what we delight in, what we get life from, and what zaps our energy like nothing else.

Leadership Programs are saturated with a myriad of unique experiences that will help you discover more of how God created you to reflect Him, like nobody else can.

(Side note: These experiences are hard to come by when we spend our summers watching Netflix.)

Second year LDPs on their Canadian Adventure in Chibougamau, Quebec
  1. You will learn how to live and perform closely with others.

Many people enter college and careers without knowing how to communicate well, work together to get a task done, or manage conflict with one another in a way that promotes unity and problem solving.

Being a part of a Leadership Program means you are living in close quarters with other people, overcoming challenges together.

  1. You will gain life-long friendships.

When you have shared experience with a close group of peers, they start to become your friends, even if you wouldn’t have chosen them to be your friends in another context.

Then, after 2 summers together, staying in touch throughout the year, and multiple reunions, this commitment to one another begins to go deeper than just casual friendships. These camp friends start to feel more like family.

One thing you will learn in Leadership Programs is that you need each other. What a gift to carry these relationships through the next trajectory.

WILD on the top of Mt. Bigelow
  1. You will grow in ownership of your faith.

Being away from your family, church, and the friends you may have known most of your life, gives you a chance to step back and reflect on what you believe and why you believe it.

Maybe you have doubts to wrestle through, or maybe you will discover there’s more to this Jesus/gospel thing that you weren’t aware of before.

The truth is that Jesus loves you and He wants you to love Him, and Leadership Programs, through a credible Christian camp, are a great space to go deeper into what this means for you. As a warning, however, you should know that it could change the trajectory of the rest of your life—in the best way you can possibly imagine.

At Christian Camps and Conferences, Inc., there are 3 outstanding Leadership Programs to choose from:

  • WILD—Wilderness Intensive Leadership Development at Moose River Outpost
  • SALT—Service and Leadership Training at Brookwoods and Deer Run
  • LDP—Leadership Development Program at Brookwoods and Deer Run

For more information about our Leadership Programs, click here.

The 2019 detailed information packet is here.

and you can Apply here.

Priority Deadline for Applicants is December 15th.

Hannah Jalovick is the Leadership Development Director at CCCI and is the WILD Director during the summer at MRO. 2019 will be her 7th CCCI summer. Her first two summers were spent on the Kennebec River as a Windfall Rafting guide. She and her husband Adam both work full-time at CCCI in marketing and programs. Hannah would be happy to answer any of your questions about CCCI’s Leadership Programs, email her at or call the Main Office: 603-875-3600.

Finding Joy in the Craziness of Christmas

Posted by on December 7, 2018

Finding Joy in the Craziness of Christmas

Esther C. Baird  

Well here we are, as you read this, the season of Advent is already upon us and if you are anything like me, that means mostly a season of increased business, stress, social obligations, and a stack of holiday catalogs that only serve to make your trash heavy.

Christmas has become a commercial and cultural extravaganza. We may know that there is more to Christmas, and we may show up to church on Sunday and say the right things, but if we’re honest, this time of year we often feel stress and anxiety instead of joy and peace. This time of year, by the time I get home at night I’m so exhausted that I no longer feel like there is anything to celebrate—certainly not that I still have to make dinner!

Well good news, if you feel that way, Advent is for you! There is true Joy, there is real Peace, and it’s for you, and it’s for me.

Jesus came at Christmas not as a one-off miracle, but as the continuation of the big story that God has been telling since He created the world. God wants to be with us. He always has. When we celebrate Advent, we are celebrating that God made a way to be with His people first in the Old Testament, then through the real and physical presence of Jesus on earth. Now, He makes a way to be with us through His Spirit who dwells in us. Always and forever God wants to be with us, that’s what Immanuel means, “God with us”.

Yes, Advent is about celebrating the coming of Jesus as a baby, but it is also about looking forward to when Jesus will return. When you sing, Joy to the World the Lord has Come,you are anticipating the promise that Jesus will come again. Joy to the world because Jesus came as a baby but He is also coming back someday! Joy to the world because when Christ returns, all the things that are now broken will be redeemed. Joy to the world because our lives, our exhaustion, our broken relationships, our sorrows, all of it will be set right if we follow the King who came that first Christmas and who is coming again. Joy to the world because this is not the end of the story.

Christmas is about always and forever. Christmas is a year-round celebration (tell your campers to request Christmas carols next summer for morning worship!). This Advent we believe that God has been making a way since the beginning of time to be with us and promises us a future where exhaustion and stress and sorrow will be no more. If we believe that, then no matter what else happens this year, we can claim true Joy.

Joy for the Christmas story, that we are part of today and forever.

Esther Baird (pictured above with her daughter Riley on pick up day at Deer Run) is the Director of Women’s Ministries at her church north of Boston, and a columnist in her local newspaper. Her two daughters have attended Deer Run and MRO for 7 yrs. Her new 25 day daily Advent book,Exodus to Advent: God’s Christmas Plan For You, And For Me, is now available on Amazon both in paperback and on Kindle. Her website is:  

MRO’s Merry Friendsmas!

Posted by on November 30, 2018

MRO’s Merry Friendsmas

If you were there in 2016, it’s easy to remember how this “thing” got started. Craig and Michelle Boronow invited former MRO staff to their Wolfeboro home for the very first MRO Friendsgiving. We packed out every nook and cranny…kitchen, fire pit, living room, dining room, even the garage! Our crew included Windfall rafting guides, MRO staff, both old and young, and a few staff that had worked at MRO before Craig became Director. Even though it was a cold overcast day, it didn’t matter, we had a great time. We enjoyed catching up with each other, laughing together, and reminisced over our shared MRO experiences.

Last year we changed the timing to after Thanksgiving…hence, Friendsmas (and it was a great excuse to break out those crazy ugly sweaters). Between former staff, spouses, and kids, sixty of us took over the Brookwoods Dining Hall for the afternoon. Peter Newton cooked turkey and everyone brought their favorite side dish and dessert. Sounds just like Thanksgiving, right? Folks traveled from California, Virginia, Boston, New York and Maine via planes, trains, and automobiles. This bond that we’ve created, laboring together at MRO to show campers Christ and teach them from God’s word, has become something greater than just friendship. It’s family. And just like we travel for Thanksgiving without thinking twice, MRO Friendsmas is the same, definitely worth the trip to New Hampshire.

The best thing about Friendsmas is the best thing about MRO: The people! Each year the staff that attend Friendsmas changes just a little as work and life will change circumstances. This year will be no different than the first…we will catch up, play some crazy games, and hear how God has been working in each other’s lives.

If you’d like to join us, RSVP here Don’t forget your ugly sweater and favorite Christmas swag!


Looking forward to seeing you!

Seth Coates, MRO Director


P.S. Brookwoods and Deer Runners, if this post makes you camp-sick, Winter Reunion is coming up! You can register here.