This is from Sarah (Stoltzfus) Allen. She served here a number of years as a staff member on our summer ministry team and now serves as one of the board members of the camp. This camp has also benefited from the influence of Wesley Stoltzfus over the many years he spent mentoring kids at camp.
Jonathan turned 20 yesterday (the day this picture was taken). Marie and the cooks made him Lasagna, garlic bread, and a tossed salad for supper. Eldon and Ella June Miller got to join us for supper and some singing afterward.
At breakfast, “Pappy” Jim predicted that Jonathan would receive a phone call from his mother on his birthday, and sure enough…. just after supper the phone rang and it was for Jonathan. When he got off the phone he said that his family had done “quite the rendition” of Happy Birthday.
And… by the way, no matter what he tells you…. he’s a pretty good excavator operator.
Interesting point #1 — God provided good dry weather for over a week now and things have dried out.
Interesting point #2 — Tommy had loaned us his excavator and dump truck and we could put them to work.
Interesting point #3 — Earlier when the dirt was being removed to prepare for the foundation, we had piled a large amount of the dirt in the location where the campfire ring was. It was packed down and leveled with a bulldozer and so has stayed nice and dry over all this time.
All this put together meant one thing. We’ve been wanting to get a lot of this back-filling done ever since we got the 2nd floor poured, but haven’t found time or the right kind of weather. Now was the time. We didn’t get it all done, but when the rain started this Thursday afternoon we had both ends filled in and a good path started on the back side so that the truck could back in there and dump.
Chad ran the excavator and loaded the truck
Jim drove the truck
Jim dumped the truck.
Bruce and James put stone next to the basement wall for good drainage.
…and then filled the rest with dirt (wonderful dirt).
There’s not much room to turn around down in the ditch, but Bruce makes a way.
Notice the neat invention used to keep a nice neat layer of rock next to the building.
The handy dandy golf cart has got a face-lift with a new blue seat and a red backrest.
The week of June 11-16 brought 48 campers (grades 6, 7, and 8) to the Bethel Camp facilities. They came from as far away as Canton, OH and as near as Riley Branch just off Hwy 476. It was a great group of campers. They had a lot of energy and played games with lots of energy. They were however much more of a contemplative group when it came to chapel. They listened with open ears and soaked up what was being said. Andrew, one of the counselors commented that his cabin group was very attentive during the morning cabin devotional time.
They may have been a thinking group, but they were also very talkative at meals. There was usually a buzz of conversation as they stood in line waiting for some of those chicken enchiladas or some of Bill’s home-made pizza. There was also plenty of fun to be had as the campers played games in the Rec. Hall. One of the favorite games there was the carpetball game. The other surprise to me was the time that the campers spent spinning on the Merry-go-round. If I as a camp director could harness the energy expended by spinning that think, I might just be able to run all the air-conditioners with that power (smile!).
Camp always gets more exciting as the week goes on, and this week was no exception. The shaving cream struggle was a success on Wednesday as everyone got completely covered in the slippery stuff and slid all over the large sheet of black plastic. The cook-out and hayride were a fun time of relaxing on Thursday and were the prelude to the all new night game called, “Capture the Scavenger.” Bethel Camp Olympics were Friday morning, the tournaments finished that afternoon, and the Bible Quiz allowed the teams to gain a few more points to see who would win the team competition. Later that evening, we experienced a meaningful campfire service, and enjoyed watching the camp video that recapped all the week’s activities.
Probably the most touching part of the week of camp for me was during part of the campfire service when all of us were asked to pray together in groups of 3 or 4 people. I was grouped together with two 6th graders who encouraged me so much with their prayers. They wanted to pray for one of their friends who had lost her mother during the past year and was having a hard time. I expected them to ask for something for themselves, and instead they were concerned about a fellow camper. That is faith in action.
We thank everyone who has been praying for us. God is indeed doing a good work in the lives of campers and staff this summer.
The week of June 4-8 was the first week of summer camp up in Hardshell at Bethel Mennonite Camp. Seventy-one campers attended that week, and from the sounds of all the singing, shouting, and laughing they must have had a good time. They enjoyed activities like going down the waterslide, shooting the bows and arrows, hiking to “window rock,” eating good food in the camp kitchen, buying snacks at the snack shop, going on a creek hike, the shaving cream struggle, and a good game of capture the flag after dark.
Johnny Townsend drove up to Kentucky from North Carolina and shared his talents of drawing and teaching from the Word of God. Mark Driskill taught the basics of growing in Christ by focusing on the topics of Prayer, Bible Reading, Church, and Service. Karl Delegrange led the singing time with a favorite song being the “Grow Song “ which states, “read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow. Neglect your Bible, forget to pray and you’ll shrink, shrink, shrink…..”
Thank you to many of the community people who have sponsored campers or supported Bethel camp. The campers were touched with the message of Jesus Christ and many made decisions to grow closer to Christ. Pray with us that they will continue in that pursuit of God.
The campground here on Little Buckhorn Creek is not only the sole dominion of summer campers. Since the playground is vacant and the buildings are still here while camp is not going on, we often welcome family reunions, church groups, or other organizations to use the facilities. These groups cover the costs of heating the buildings, using electricity, and cleaning costs associated with them being here and we call it a fair trade. We get to see the buildings used, they find a low cost place to host their gathering. This past weekend, a family reunion including people from Crockett, KY, Wyoming, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina enjoyed the beautiful spring weather in Breathitt County while staying at Bethel Camp. They used all 14 guest rooms and asked the staff to cater one of the meals for them. The grandfather of the group was having his 80th birthday party so it was a great time of celebrate family.
Many people in Breathitt County and surrounding counties who have been associated with Bethel Camp in some way in the past recently received the camp newsletter, The Bethel Camp Times. If you want to receive that newsletter, send us your name and address and we’ll add you to the list so that you get the latest info and encouraging articles from our camp staff. Included with the newsletter was summer camp applications as well as an update on the current building project to replace the chapel and recreation hall.
Summer camp is just around the corner, so make sure you get your camp application sent in to reserve your spot at camp. Typically the camp weeks in June have more room while the weeks in July are “overcrowded” and campers get put on a waiting list. Be sure to talk to your friends and find out which week they are attending so you can come together if possible. Also remember the Spring Youth Retreats in April if you are interested in a weekend packed full of camp activities.
Staff positions are being filled with counselors, worship leaders, cooks, Bible speakers, and maintenance personnel. If you are interested in being on staff at camp for a week or two this summer, get your staff application filled out and sent in.
I’m including a picture from one of the summer camps 2011 to whet your appetite for camp this spring.
There has been a burst of activity at Bethel Camp during the normally quiet months before the camping season starts. Saturday evening the 4th of February was the Valentines Banquet, and the cooking and preparations were being made in earnest both Friday and Saturday.
I was wishing that others of you could have been there to enjoy the banquet; there was room for 10 more people. But by halfway through the evening we were cracking some windows to get a little fresh air in the room (62 people eating good food and talking provides plenty of warmth) . The meal was delicious; Tommy Miller and John Yoder provide the meat, Bill our summer camp cook made the home-made bread, and other staff members worked together to make mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, vegetables, and desserts.
Darryl Watts and Jack Strong provided some great musical entertainment after the meal. Then during the “truly-wed” game we got some great laughs as we found out how well some married couples knew each other. The entire group joined together to sing some well known songs and the melody and harmonies resounded in that room.
Before the banquet, local businesses and individuals had been contacted about giving to a matching fund pool that would act as a challenge grant to the ones attending the banquet. $2925.00 was given in matching funds by the date of the banquet. We shared that number with the guests in attendance and were encouraged by their generosity as they gave $3277.00, surpassing the matching funds. There were also some individuals who pledged to continue on with monthly gifts in order to provide ongoing support for the camp ministry.
The evening ended with a Bethel Camp video showing clips of summer camp 2011 and the voices of campers who received scholarships to attend camp. As camp director, I was encouraged as I realized the quality of the support we receive from so many to make this camp possible for the young people of our community.
Keep in mind the following events at Bethel Camp. The Young Adult retreat (for those out of high school and still think of themselves as young) is February 17-19. Then, at the beginning of March, we are hosting a Women’s retreat. The women are planning some great times of discussion and singing as well as plenty of time to do crafts, and just relax for a weekend. The dates for the Women’s retreat are March 2-4.
If you’ve never been up to the camp, visitors are always welcome. Come out on a nice day and hike up to Big Rock or climb the opposite hill and visit Window Rock. Or if you let me know ahead of time, I’ll have a pot of coffee brewed and we can sit down and talk by the fireplace in the Prophet’s Quarters. I may talk your ear off about stories from camp, but usually I like to listen and hear what God is doing in the lives of his people around our community.
My prayer for this week is that each of you will grow strong like a sycamore tree down by the creek. May your roots receive spiritual nourishment, and may the buds forming in your limbs be the hope of new growth that will soon explode into seed pods ready to spread spiritual truth to those in need.
I wanted to include part of a song in our Bethel Camp column this week that sums up my thoughts for the week. In our church we often sing the chorus of this song as a hymn, so when I heard this song by Josh Garrels, I was immediately interested. You can read a partial selection of the lyrics here and go to your computer and look up the rest of the lyrics if you want to. I think the second verse is almost better than the first verse.
Farther Along (chorus)
Farther along we’ll know all about it
Farther along we’ll understand why
Cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We’ll understand this, all by and by
Tempted and tried, I wondered why
The good man died, the bad man thrives
And Jesus cries because he loves em’ both
We’re all cast-aways in need of ropes
Hangin’ on by the last threads of our hope
In a house of mirrors full of smoke
Confusing illusions I’ve seen
Where did I go wrong, I sang along
To every chorus of the song
That the devil wrote like a piper at the gates
Leading mice and men down to their fates
But some will courageously escape
The seductive voice with a heart of faith
While walkin’ that line back home
So much more to life than we’ve been told
It’s full of beauty that will unfold
And shine like you struck gold my wayward son
That deadweight burden weighs a ton
Go down into the river and let it run
And wash away all the things you’ve done
The song shares the emotion that many of us feel as we strive to obey Jesus in our daily lives and often need to remind ourselves that though there is pain and suffering here on earth, we’re looking forward to a “home” in heaven. In that “sweet by and by” we will look back on our lives and see clearly the reason behind the trials we are now experiencing.
I also like the metaphors used in this song to describe the seductive voice that is attempting to pull us away from faith in Jesus. He’s like the pied piper who “stole” the hearts of the children. We must deliberately choose to reject those lies and walk back home to a father-God who waits for us with open arms. He offers us joy as if “you struck gold” when we experience true forgiveness.
From what I understand, Josh Garrels felt God urging him to give this album away to anyone who wanted it. You can get a free download of the entire 18 song CD at www.joshgarrels.com. I’m always skeptical about “free music” because usually its quality is low. This is not the case with this new album. It is in my top-10 albums of all time.
Just a quick note about Bethel Camp and its longing for the return of campers. The fall retreats in October saw much use of a swing we made so that we could “swing into a pile of leaves.” It was positioned so that a person could jump off an old stump, sit on the swing and then “swoosh” through the pile of leaves. There are quite a few pictures of campers enjoying the swing so I’ve included one of them here. Now at the end of November the space around the swing is quiet and the leaves are wet. In my mind they (the swing and the leaves) are longing for the campers to return and fill this space with joy.