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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.

 

 

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:

 

Making Time to be Grateful

Posted by on November 27, 2019

Making Time to be Grateful

by JB Hecock, Brookwoods Alumnus

No doubt that your calendars are filling up with holiday events, parties, get-togethers, and shopping trips. It’s super crazy this time of year. It’s hard to find time (or more accurate, give time) to reflect on what we are thankful for. Ever since our kiddos were little, my wife Iris has had each of us take a piece of construction paper and draw or write what we are thankful for since last Thanksgiving. Stickers, markers, and crayons cover the table each year. If we had guests, they were no exception to our Thanksgiving morning tradition—everyone fills up a piece of paper with thanks. It’s pretty cool to go back now over the last decade or so, and see what was going on in our lives. Call it a tradition, or a spiritual discipline, it’s definitely worth giving time and space to these moments.

And about those moments…for me, it’s hard to live in the moment. It’s hard to be present to what is going on around me. I tend to be focused, albeit too much, on the future. This is even more true when I am going through a difficult or stressful time. Over the last few years, we have faced some incredibly difficult and challenging times, almost feeling as though the entire world was against us. Against me. And in the moment, it is hard for me to see God in the midst of it all. I can only see what is directly in front of me. The fog of the hard keeps me from even seeing the next step.

I’ve started giving space for reflection, inviting the Holy Spirit into that time. I know, that’s like Christianity 101. And though it feels basic, in our culture and for me, it is still incredibly hard to do. I’ve learned over time, that when I do give space and invite the Holy Spirit into my reflection, He shows me where He was in the hard. He shows me where He was protecting me in some cases, leading me in others, as well as present, but silent in yet others. And, perhaps the most unexpected thing, He shows me the blessings that were in the hard. His presence, voice, protection, leading—they are all blessings. Not necessarily what I wanted while walking through the hard, but they were definitely what I needed in the hard.

This season of giving thanks, anticipating Christmas, the start of a new year, I would encourage all of us to give space and time for the Holy Spirit to not only show us the tangible blessings of family, provision, snow, but to also show us blessings in the hard. I would encourage us all to pray for the supernatural ability to be grateful for the hard. Have a blessed holiday season.

JB and Iris Hecock along with their three kids, reside in Northern Ohio. After living an adventure of coffee roasting, community development, and church planting in Russia and Mongolia, they are now embarking on the adventure of leading a church that is growing in awareness of the Holy Spirit. In the spring of 1999, JB searched online for “Christian camp” and Brookwoods was the first thing that popped up! That summer he was a Moose counselor and returned in 2000 as the Senior Unit Director. You can reach JB at jb@bac.church.

 

 

The Beach and the Blob

Posted by on November 22, 2019

The Beach and the Blob

by Conor Grennan, Author & Camp Dad

 

When Finn, now 10, was a toddler, our family moved from Connecticut to LA for a single year. I’m not much of a beach person but when you live in LA you sort of have to go to the beach. Otherwise when your friends back east will say “I bet the beaches are amazing, huh?” and you’ll have to admit that you don’t really love the beach and then they’ll look at you like you’re some kind of mole-person.

I don’t want to go to the beach. The beach is where sand gets in your swimsuit and your shoes and on your tuna fish sandwich. You feel like it will never come off and you will never be clean again. So it was a relief when Finn, age 3 at the time, didn’t want to go to the beach either. Liz tried to put his feet in the sand and he just cocked his little legs higher and higher, like she was trying to lower a cat into a bathtub.

But last year, when he was 9, Finn was going to Camp Brookwoods for the first time, and everyone talked about the beach.

“The beach is amazing!” our friends told him. There was swimming and playing and something called the Blob which people couldn’t quite describe physically but only emotionally – the Blob made you feel like you were some kind of magical beast flying through the air. The Blob sounded glorious, Finn admitted. But it also meant going to the beach. And the beach meant the sand – the sand that would stick to you and never come off. When we dropped Finn off, I assured him that he, in time, would learn to love the beach. He pointed out that I still didn’t like beaches and I was, like, a million years old. (I had no rebuttal.)

Arriving at Brookwoods, we quickly realized that there was way more to Camp than the beach. Finn met his counselors, who were welcoming , excited and friendly. Then he realized he was going to be living in the woods. Lemme tell you something: You give a 9 year old kid a cabin in the woods and a teenager who is genuinely interested in him – you have given him a dream he didn’t even know he had. So who cares about the beach? How often would they even need to go down there? Get outta here, sand!

Liz and I were back home just over twenty-four hours when we got an excited text message from our friend Nicole, who also had kids at Brookwoods and Deer Run. Nicole had checked the live webcam of Brookwoods that afternoon to see none other than our boy Finn, playing on the beach. And getting sandy. And heading out to the lake to do whatever campers do on the Blob. It was glorious.

When we picked up Finn at the end of camp, he was, quite literally, like a different boy. He was tanned and grown up. He seemed more adventurous. He spoke differently.

It took a minute to realize why he was so different: He had created his own world. The way a child makes a blanket fort in the living room, Finn had carved out a place just for him – his blanket fort was 500 acres of wilderness in New Hampshire. Brookwoods helped him own his faith, own his community, own his independence.

As for the sand, Finn found that it washes off. The lake at Brookwoods, as it turns out, is more than just the Blob. Lake Winnipesaukee like the camp itself, could rinse him clean. In that lake the sand fell away like the pressures of school and the expectations of family and the stresses of whether he was smart enough or athletic enough. In that lake nothing could stick to him.

That’s what changed Finn. That’s what makes Brookwoods different. For one week, two weeks or four weeks, Brookwoods, Deer Run and MRO washes you clean and allows you to live in the moment. Kids find that moment is filled with faith and friends and mentors. They are filled with the kind of joy that can only come from the truth – that you are a part of God’s Kingdom, and in the Kingdom things can’t stick to you like sand to wet feet. Instead they are washed away, and there’s nothing left but the safety of your brothers and the comfort of your community and the joy of bouncing impossibly high off an oversized inflatable.

Conor Grennan is a NY Times bestselling author and the Dean of Students for the MBA program at NYU’s Stern School of Business. You can get a glimpse of the Grennan family’s life and last summer’s trip to camp on their YouTube channel. Conor has spent a lot of time thinking about exactly what it might be like to fly through the air, check out his new book, The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted. You may contact Conor through his website.