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Camp Brookwoods: 75 Years

Posted by on June 21, 2019

Camp Brookwoods: 75 Years

by Peter Greer, Brookwoods Alumnus

 

While I didn’t know it at the time, my entire life changed underneath the giant stuffed moose outside the Camp Brookwoods office. It was in this spot that my mother, Bonnie Greer, made an introduction to Laurel Steinweg. They had recently returned from leading the Martha’s Vineyard trip and it was obvious that my mom had a subversive plan behind this introduction. Four years later, Laurel and I were rafting the Nile River together in Uganda as she moved to East Africa to serve as a schoolteacher. We were married 6 months later.

That wasn’t the only moment when my life changed at camp. In much simpler and less dramatic ways, my life subtly shifted because of the influence of counselors who lived out their faith, the encouragement of friends to complete the inclined log on the ropes course, the solo experience where a journal and a Bible were all that was required for significant conversations with God.

Camp Brookwoods was more than a summer experience. For ten summers of my life, it was the place where wild adventure replaced normal routine and where deep friendships with God and others took root. For 75 years, Brookwoods has been a place where these types of significant moments are woven together through faithful service and a clear mission. It has been a place where God has drawn together people from all backgrounds, transformed complete strangers into lifelong friends, and changed the trajectory of lives.

Another of the memorable moments for us was the Allagash canoe trip. As our group was canoeing across Eagle Lake, we casually paddled, but mostly were caught up in conversation and using our paddles to splash the other canoes. We sang loudly and poorly, and munched on gorp.

But we didn’t go very far. The currents and winds silently counteracted our feeble efforts and as the day wore on, the wind picked up. Small talk ended as we put our heads down and paddled with all our might against surging whitecaps. But looking at the shoreline to measure progress, it was clear that we weren’t moving. We decided to put up camp and weather the storm overnight.

We woke up at 3 am to make up for lost time and get back on the water before the winds picked up again. But once we reached the river, we faced a completely different situation. The river narrowed and sucked us into foamy whitewater. As we navigated around rocks, our small canoes journeyed where the currents took us.

The Allagash trip taught me never to underestimate the currents and the winds. You pay attention to them because they have their own agenda. You ignore them at your own peril. And at times, you fight with all your might not to let them take you to a place you don’t want to go.

Over the course of my career, I’ve seen the winds and currents at play in faith-based nonprofit organizations, too. Slowly, silently, and with little fanfare, organizations are caught up in the currents and drift from their original purpose, and most never return to their original intent.

Take Harvard University, for example. Early in its history, Harvard had the mission, “To be plainly instructed and consider well that the main end of your life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ.” They emphasized character formation above all else, and rooted all policies and practices in a Christian worldview. Yet, today, Harvard University resembles very little of the spiritual vitality their founders espoused. At Harvard’s 350th anniversary celebration, Steven Muller, former president of Johns Hopkins University, didn’t mince words: “The university has become godless.”

Or consider Franciscan food banks. Created as an alternative to loan sharks in the Middle Ages, these montes pietatius helped those in poverty to manage their incomes. The lifeblood of European peasants, these institutions were even endorsed by Pope Julius II. Today, however, we know these institutions as pawn shops. Over time, pawn shop owners lost sight of their identity. Designed to care for those in need, they have now become a place used to prey on families in distress.

Harvard and pawn shops got caught up in drift, and they are far from the only examples. Mission drift is all around us. But thankfully, drift is not the story of Camp Brookwoods, Camp Deer Run, or Moose River Outpost.

As Brookwoods celebrates their 75th birthday, the Main House looks a little different. The facilities have been expanded and improved. I heard that there is even air conditioning in the Main Office! And while SCUBA diving, archery, and wakeboarding are new camp activities since my time, the mission of Camp Brookwoods has remained staunchly the same: to foster vibrant Christian communities located in awe-inspiring outdoor settings in which young people are spiritually transformed through Christ-centered relationships.

In 1944, in the midst of WW II, Lawrence Andreson (Doc. A.) opened Camp Brookwoods’ doors to 8 campers on 110 acres of land. Today, Camp Brookwoods and Deer Run have grown to house over 850 campers each summer along 500 acres.

Diligently committed to the mission, Doc. A. hired strong leaders committed to Christ and skilled in teaching. When the camp changed hands in 1973, George Bennett, Sr. gathered an intentional board of directors, and the board has fiercely safeguarded the mission. Due to the careful attention of camp leaders like Doc. A., George Bennett, David Strodel, and many others, the Camp mission vibrantly lives on to this day. “The history and traditions, first established by Dr. Andreson, and saved by the Bennett family,” noted a Camp Brookwoods newsletter, “will continue to the next generation of campers and staff.”

Despite changing leadership, a rotating board, and new camp activities, Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost continue to keep the Gospel of Jesus Christ centrally integrated into every part of the camp structure – woven into camp life through Bible studies, mealtime prayers, morning quiet times (PQT), evening devotionals, relationships, and Sunday chapels.

Camp Brookwoods continues to be grounded in Christ, building lives of faith and character.

George Bennett said of Camp Brookwoods, “The goal of camp still remains to introduce young people to Jesus Christ and to help them develop their relationship with God… the purpose of camp life is to integrate a spiritual life with daily activity.” And each summer, more and more students are introduced to the saving grace of Jesus and equipped for lives of service. What a powerful history and legacy!

Happy 75th Birthday, Camp Brookwoods… and to many more!

Editor’s Note: Peter will be preaching Sunday morning at Brookwoods’ 75thAnniversary, July, 28th.

Peter Greer is President and CEO of HOPE International, a global Christ-centered microenterprise development organization serving throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Prior to joining HOPE, Peter worked internationally in Cambodia, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda. More important than his occupation is his role as husband to Laurel and dad to Keith, Liliana, and Myles. For more info, visit www.peterkgreer.com.

I Wish I Could…

Posted by on May 31, 2019

I Wish I Could…

by Ann Higgins, Development Director

Have you ever said, “I wish I could make a gift” when someone asked you to support a charity or cause that you feel strongly about? Have you ever said or thought that about camp? You are not alone! Many people struggle with trying to budget their income in a way to cover current living expenses and give to organizations that they believe in. It can be a daunting task, to say the least!

It may not be immediately apparent, but one way to support causes you believe in is through estate giving. While the terms “estate giving” or “estate planning” may not be familiar to you, it’s just another way of talking about something very basic—the terms of your will! Everyone goes about this differently. Some leave particular assets or an exact dollar amount to causes they support. Others might designate a percentage (a tithe of 10%, for example) of an asset to an organization, and still others give whatever may be left from a certain investment or retirement account. There are many ways to arrange it so that you can support Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, Moose River Outpost, and future generations of campers. While estate planning can be difficult to think about, it’s important. After all, we will all be leaving this world behind someday, and we have the ability to decide what our legacies will be.

Recently, Eileen “Bobbe” Hackman, Camp Deer Run’s first Director, went home to be with the Lord. Bobbe loved camp and its community and was instrumental in the establishment of many of Deer Run’s traditions that continue today. The ministry was important to her, and by naming camp in her will, her legacy is one of sharing this important ministry with kids who need financial assistance to come to camp. She made her “I wish I could” into a future, influential gift to a place she loved. We are incredibly grateful for her and for her kind and thoughtful gift.

So, if you have ever said, “I wish I could give,” well, maybe you can… just not right now. At Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost, we have a planned giving program in place that can help you make a future gift that would benefit campers and the ministry as a whole. Our website has all kinds of information on the many ways you can give as well as general information on estate planning and sample documents for gift designations. As you think about what you would like your legacy to be, I hope you will prayerfully consider including camp in your planning. Your legacy, like Bobbe’s, could be one of sharing the love of Christ through our gospel-centered communities and in the beauty of God’s creation. An experience that, for so many campers, results in a life fully devoted to living out the message of our Lord Jesus Christ wherever they are called to serve. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a remarkable legacy.

For more information or if you have questions about the Planned Giving Program, please contact Ann Higgins.

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

 

A WILD Reunion

Posted by on May 24, 2019

A WILD Reunion

by Julia Page, Deer Run & WILD Alumna

Nearly 8 years after graduating from WILD (Moose River Outpost’s leadership program, Wilderness Intensive Leadership Development), I was headed back to Camp Brookwoods and Deer Run for the very first WILD Reunion. There, I would be greeted by a group of other WILD alumni and staff. All would be excited to spend the weekend reliving those precious days in the backwoods of Maine and forming new friendships with others who carried their own related memories.

Julia far right

Saturday morning, we circled up to pray before heading out to the trailhead of Mount Chocorua. The night before, as I was driving in the dark and pouring rain to get to camp, my mind had been cluttered, thoughts racing between the events of the day and all the work that would await my return. But starting along the wooded path that led us to the rocky peak of Chocorua, my heart and breathing slowed, and the worries faded. God granted me rest, even as my body worked to scramble up boulders, reminding me through His creation of His power and providence. As we climbed up tracks of snow, trying to balance on the narrow ridge of hard pack, we recounted stories of WILD adventures, compared notes on how the WILD experience has evolved, and grew in relationship with each other, whether we had spent two summers in Maine together or had just met.

Mount Chocorua Summit, elevation 3,478 feet

Approaching the summit, the wind roared and snow flurries blew into our faces. “We’re WILD!” someone shrieked, and we huddled for a picture to commemorate the moment, bracing each other against the wind and cold. Nearing the end of our descent, we encountered a rushing stream with no clear way to comfortably cross to the yellow blaze-marked trail on the other side. Hannah began crawling out across a log, and I followed. Then all of a sudden, “She’s doing it!” I turned to look, and Bridget was marching straight across the stream, boots fully submerged. We were WILD, after all.

That evening at camp, after a delicious dinner and a walk down to the waterfront to soak in the view, we gathered by the fire to toast s’mores, share our highs and lows from the day, and tell more stories. Whether WILD was one or eight years ago, we had so much shared experience: trail food disasters, powerful spiritual moments, crossing Moosehead Lake in formidable winds, and a few antics and inside jokes.

We closed the weekend with worship in the outdoor chapel on Sunday morning, reflecting on what it means to know God and singing songs of praise. Looking around at the circle of faces, I was struck by how united I felt with this group of people, most of whom I had met that weekend. We were united by the same things that had drawn me to WILD 8 years before: a love for our God and for the mountains and woods He gave us to enjoy.

Julia Page is a Camp Deer Run and Moose River Outpost WILD alumna. She grew up in Winchester, MA and is currently a graduate student in Boston. page.julia.e@gmail.com

 

 

Hot Potatoes at Camp

Posted by on May 17, 2019

Hot Potatoes at Camp

Bob Strodel, Executive Director

Campers arrive in 5 weeks and final preparations for another great summer at Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost are underway. In the next several weeks, our facility will be transformed from “Conference Center Ministry mode,” back to “Camp mode.” Bunk beds will be repositioned, boats placed outside, grass mowed, Camp Store restocked, and in mid-June staff will start to arrive for Staff Training (175 between the three camps)! It’s a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun. As Incoming Day approaches and anticipation builds, I wanted to share some camp news:

Jon Cooper, Food Service Director

Our new Food Service Director, Jon Cooper, started working at Brookwoods on May 1st. Jon and his wife, April, have a heart for people and they love ministry through serving great food. Last summer Jon worked at Camp Calumet in Ossipee, NH in addition to a full-time position with a local health care provider. New Hampshire campers will be seeing some new items on the menu this summer! The Coopers and their two children, Clara and Samuel, have moved to camp and are living in the Homestead.

We have a lot to be thankful for! This summer, camp enrollment at all three camps is very high. Moose River Outpost is setting new enrollment records and experiencing some filled sessions. We do have some openings left in a variety of sessions and I’d like to request your assistance by telling others about the great stuff happening at camp. We’d love for them to be part of the summer fun. We offer a $100 referral bonus as thank you for each new family enrolled through the referral of an existing enrolled family. Please call Dorothy at the camp office at 603-875-3600, and she can send a New Information package to new families.

Jason Webster, Heavy Lifter Award at BW Man Camp -2019

Brookwoods Man Camp was a great success! Over the weekend of May 3rd, 52 men came up to Brookwoods to complete a large list of projects: building a bridge, electrical work, splitting logs, repairs to benches at the campfire sites, staining buildings, and spreading mulch. Morgan McRay, the Convergance Coordinator at Sandy Cove Ministries, led the teaching sessions, and Jason Webster, camp Dad, led the praise singing. Over the weekend, 468 man-hours of projects were completed, which is equivalent of one month’s work by our full-time facility staff, for which we are incredibly thankful!

If you missed this opportunity and you’d still like to contribute, join us at Moose River Outpost May 31-June 2! To find out more about the work weekend at MRO click here.

Summer Staff hiring is almost completed at all three camps, but we still have a few openings. We are always looking for great quality folks to join the team. If you know of an individual who fits our staff member profile—think …hardworking…smart…fun… Christian role model, please drop me an email with their contact information. We will be happy to reach out to them.

I’m always excited this time of year, when summer is right around the corner. But this year I’m even more excited! Our 75th Anniversary celebration is July 26-28 (week 5) and I hope many of you can join us!


Bob Strodel has been the Executive Director at Christian Camps and Conferences for 25 years.  This picture is of Bob and his family when they first started working at Brookwoods.  Bob can be reached here.

 

Camp Community

Posted by on May 3, 2019

Camp Community

John Lindsell, Brookwoods alumnus    

 

Brookwoods is many things for different people. For me, it is community. My connection to Brookwoods goes back to birth. I spent my first summer there as a baby in 1952. No memories there! In 1957, Doc A. (Lawrence Andreson) and my dad, Doc L. (Harold Lindsell), travelled to Europe for the summer with their wives. The children—the Andresons and the Lindsells—spent the summer at camp. Donny and Jimmy Andreson were proper campers. The rest of us, we were just staff kids. We lived in the Eagle cabin, cared for by Aunt Claire and Uncle George Olson. With their two girls, we totaled seven kids under one roof.

It took a village and the community looked out for us all. Uncle J.J. (Thomassian) threatened to put me in the potato peeler—dangling me above the scary looking machine. I also spent time looking for the “pitcher squeezer” in the kitchen, a favorite prank pulled on the younger members of the community.

I returned in 1961 at age 9 for my first experience as a camper, living in the Porcupine Cabin for the month of August. It was a tad overwhelming to be without my family for the first time and for such a long time. But men and women like Uncle Woody and Aunt Dawn (Strodel), Aunt Grace (Strodel), Aunt Jennie and Uncle Carl (Berggren) came along side us to comfort us when down and to encourage us in our successes. Once again, community at work. Uncle J.J. would lead us in special Christian Camp songs, singing scripture verses and the like. Those are sweet memories and helped establish my Christian faith in those early days.

In Junior High, I went to camp each summer. I was a Bear and then a Ranger for two years. The camp also had a new addition—girls at Camp Deer Run!

My second year as a Ranger, I was a CIT and worked at the Boathouse. During this time, various people poured into my life.  Our counselors were always helpful and tough. After all, we were Rangers! I am especially grateful for Uncle George (Egli) at the Boathouse. He took an interest in me that led me to earning my skipper’s certification in sailing and my eventual assignment at the Boathouse. During those years, community was again a constant theme. The very people who had watched over me so carefully when I was a boy, also watched over me as a teenager, investing in my character and spirituality.

College, work, marriage, and children followed. Our girls both went to Deer Run as campers and then in college joined the staff as counselors or other roles.

In 2001, I got a phone call from Bob Strodel asking if I wanted to drive ski boats for the summer. I signed on. My wife, Stephanie, worked with Aunt Rose (Thomassian) in the Craft Shop. Both of my daughters were also on staff that summer. It was our turn to give back and help lead the community, serving young people in a meaningful way.

In 2013, I came back to serve as Waterfront Director, walking in the footsteps of people like Uncle J.J., Uncle George, and many, many others. And now my grandchildren and grand nieces and nephews are campers, the fourth generation!

Camp is a community of men and women, boys and girls, who gather together for about 10 weeks each summer. Together, we serve God and learn how to deepen our relationship with Him, and how to serve one another. We do so at one of the most beautiful spots on God’s green earth, using camping and other outdoor activities as the tools to hone our character, skills, and our relationship with Christ.

Over the 75 year history of Brookwoods, the leadership has employed a variety of ways to help bring us closer to Christ: Sunday services overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee is always a special time, early morning devotions (PQT), songs sung during meals, small group discussions in our cabins, exposure to nature through spending time in the woods, mountains, on waterways, time spent counseling with the Camp Pastor—all with the goal that we might understand we are fully known and deeply loved by God, our Savior. Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost are communities of fun, communities of learning, and most importantly, communities of faith.

My family, and my sisters’ families, are all looking forward to returning to Brookwoods this July to celebrate its 75thAnniversary. We hope that you’ll join us; we can share more camp stories around the campfire.

John Lindsell has spent most of his working career as a head of school, serving schools in the southeastern United States. He is currently the Head of School at Oakbrook Preparatory School in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  The extended Lindsell family has been deeply involved in the Ministry of Camp Brookwoods and Deer Run since its inception in 1944.