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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.

 

 

 

 

Winter Reunion 2020

Posted by on November 3, 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:

 

Camp Community is Crucial for Faith

Posted by on November 1, 2019

Camp Community is Crucial for Faith:
One Mom’s Perspective

by Susan Bradley Arico, Deer Run Alumna & Camp Mom

 

Camp is in my blood, and in the blood of my family. I came to Deer Run as a camper for six summers in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I even did a month-long “January term” winter study at camp in 1995, sandwiched between a summer as a cabin counselor and two more as an LDP counselor. I met my closest friends and even my husband at camp! And when our oldest was ten, my husband and I became camp parents.

For the past four summers we’ve been camp parents—to one, two, and now three of our four kids. Despite my deep love for Brookwoods and Deer Run, though, I had no way of knowing at the start of our parenting journey how meaningful it would be to send our kids there, and how much they would need it.

You see, our family lived in Greece for the past three years, and it was a dry time spiritually. The Greek Orthodox church is the church of Greece, but very few Greeks attend services, let alone non-Greeks. Since our family spoke little Greek, it wasn’t an option for us. There were three tiny international churches in our city, each with a congregation of less than 50. In the Hellenic Ministries church plant we attended, there were virtually no children other than ours. During the sermon my husband and I ran an informal kids’ “Sunday school class,” and nine times out of ten the only participants would be our own four kids. This made for tricky dynamics, as you can imagine.

By the time we left Greece in June 2019, our children were 13, 11, 9, and 8. Because their main (and often only) Christian fellowship was with their immediate family, we were always looking to engage them in meaningful fellowship with other believing kids. But we had few options.

This is why camp was and is such a lifeline. For two weeks each summer, our kids are immersed in a vibrant community of faith. They’re singing praise songs and participating in Bible study. They’re spending time with Christian role models and hearing first-hand stories about God. They’re doing activities with same-age peers who also follow Jesus, and interacting with them around shared faith. These are things they didn’t have the opportunity to do in regular life in Greece. What a gift!

Our son had the same Brookwoods counselor, a guy who’s as fun as he is godly, two out of four summers and has bonded closely with him. His presence and voice of encouragement in our son’s life has been an answer to prayer. Our daughters have also enjoyed their counselors and learned many things about faith from them. This summer, one daughter came home from camp saying that Bible study and worship time each morning was her very favorite thing about Deer Run. It’s tidbits like these that prompt me to bow my head in gratitude to God for providing our kids with a place where they can drink from this spiritual well after a comparative drought throughout the year.

Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost give a tremendous gift to its community, and really the whole region, by being a hub of Jesus-centered faith that’s easily accessible to kids. It’s a place where parents can know that their children will be exposed to God in winsome ways, and where their kids will meet and interact with engaging models of permeating faith. These types of communities can be hard to come by, and being able to plug into one is an amazing blessing. We’ll always be grateful for the central role that camp is playing in our children’s spiritual upbringing, and how God has used it to help close the spiritual gap for our children.

Susan Bradley Arico was a Deer Run camper from 1986-1991 and was on staff in 1994, 1996, and 1997. Her husband York was on Brookwoods staff for three years in the 1990’s. The Aricos now reside in Connecticut. You may contact Susan, or view more of her writing on her blog, or her facebook page.

 

 

 

Post Camp RE-ENTRY

Posted by on August 23, 2019

Post camp RE-ENTRY:
How Parents Can Help Children Transition Well

by Andrea Gurney, PhD, Deer Run Alumna,  & Camp Mom

 

Campers investigating Frog Pond

The sweet time on the shores of Winnipesauke and Heald Pond have somehow come and gone. Campouts, blobbing, Color wars, waterskiing, Narnia, morning devos, and Chapel times filled and nurtured our children’s hearts, minds, and bodies. And now it’s over. Our kids are back home, getting ready to transition to the school year yet still holding on to the memories of camp. How can we help them re-enter smoothly? Here are some quick tips to help both parents and campers reboot.

 1. Give your kiddo space. Like all of us, kids need time and space to process an experience. Although we as parents are incredibly eager to “hear all about it”, let’s be mindful that our children are still mulling over their camp experience and insisting that they share it all right away impedes their process.

2. LISTEN actively when your child wants to share about camp. Refrain from questioning, correcting, or giving instruction, as this undermines the choices they made and ultimately, their competence and confidence. Simply take the posture of a listener and allow stories and memories to be shared over time!

3. Related to the first two points, remember that being away at camp has given kids psychological ownership – the feeling that it belongs to them. It’s one of the reasons (whether we realize it or not!) that we send kids to camp. We want them to grow and be challenged, develop grit, and become more independent. So be intentional and respectful of their psychological ownership– what happened to them at camp belongs to them. What a freeing gift!

4. Continue to foster independence. While our kids were away at camp, they took care of themselves. They applied their own sunscreen, packed their backpacks for the overnight, brushed their own teeth, and maybe even showered once or twice. They even did chores in the cabin and undoubtedly, learned new skills. Often, they are eager to show off their newfound abilities. (Anyone else have campers who are arguing over who gets to be “Jennie or Waiter” for the day?) So let’s be mindful to continue to foster their growth and independence! It’s way too easy to slip back into the pattern of doing things for our kids; our brains, after all, prefer what is automatic and to change an old routine requires more attention and mental energy.

5. Cultivate emotional intelligence and problem solving. Remember that while our kids were at Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, or Moose River Outpost, they navigated emotional, social, and mental challenges without you! They figured out how to interact with a bossy bunkmate, listen to others who had a different perspective, problem solve when they didn’t get their first or second choice activities during sign-ups, make new friends, navigate group situations, and the list goes on. So when you’re tempted to jump in and help rescue your kiddo from a sticky social situation, don’t! Instead, acknowledge the difficulty, provide comfort and empathy, and then give them the time and space to figure it out on their own, just like they did at camp.

Camp friends already! This crew is following their parents’ camp footsteps. (Susan Bradley & York Arico, Kate Bradley MacLeod and Dan DiBase) Andrea’s Deer Runners, Madeline and Kate Hashbarger, are pictured far right.

6. On a more sentimental note, keep the memory of camp alive! For my girls, that includes things such as: displaying their rockets made at camp in their rooms; having their camp song book on our kitchen table so we can sing a camp songs together; continuing to use their camp devotional book; watching the chapel and banquet clips posted on Instagram and Facebook from their session; watching the July and August finale videos on YouTube, and reviewing and sharing the Bible verses they learned at camp.

Camp offers so many gifts to not only our children, but to us as parents. May we continue to reap the benefits of what our children learned at camp as we welcome them home and build our fall routines.

Thank you to all of those at Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost for investing in the lives of our children. You have challenged them, cared for them, nurtured them, and loved them well. This is, I believe, perhaps the greatest thing we can be a part of —nurturing another soul and building Kingdom relationships.

 

Andrea Gurney, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor of psychology at Westmont College, and author of Reimagining Your Love Story: Biblical and Psychological Practices for Healthy Relationships. An East Coast camp girl at heart, and Camp Deer Run (Alton, NH) staff alumna, she currently lives in Santa Barbara, CA with her husband, two daughters, and playful goldendoodle. Connect with her at AndreaGurney.com or Instagram @andrea_gurney for practical tips and insights on life!