Donated Land Becomes Camp with a Mission
by Bethany Birches Camp Staff
Bethany Birches Camp began in 1965 when Lloyd and Alice Moyer gifted land in Plymouth, Vermont to be used as a summer camp for young people. The Moyers had noticed that many area summer camps were very expensive. They wanted a place for children from modest families to have options for constructive summer activities. Nevin Bender, the pastor of nearby Bethany Mennonite Church at that time, became the first camp director, and served, with the help of his wife Lourene, until 1980.
Bethany Birches had modest beginnings with volunteer staff, tents as the only lodging, and days filled with old fashioned camping fun. Since then the camp has grown both in sophistication, programming, staffing, and facilities while still maintaining its rustic roots and core values. Today we run summer and winter camps, rent the facilities, and seek financial and volunteer support so we are able to provide our programs affordably.
The core mission of Bethany Birches Camp is to help young people develop their relationship with God by providing them with a Christ-centered camping experience in a natural and nurturing environment. The leadership team assembles summer and winter staff teams who are committed to this mission.
Each year over 400 children, ages 6-17, attend Bethany Birches Camp and many attend for multiple weeks. True to its original mission of accessibility, about half of the campers can attend because they receive financial assistance. Most campers do not attend church. Only 17% report active engagement in a church, and only 16% feel their faith is strong and supported at home.
With careful guidance, training, and supervision, we craft programs within our core values of community, fun, nature, and God. We build relationships, care for each other, and live together in family-sized camping groups. Campers and counselors live together in the woods on the Bethany Birches property in the Green Mountains of Vermont during both summer and winter.
We at Bethany Birches Camp are thrilled to be salt and light as we live in the Way of Jesus among those who may have never read the Bible, heard the gospel, or encountered Jesus. We have seen growth, transformation, and new life among our campers.
Bethany Birches Camp is the result of much support and effort from Vermont and Pennsylvania church communities. As Laurene Bender said, “We say ‘with God all things are possible.’ However, it takes people willing to do the sweat work and who have the vision.”
Each year volunteer groups come for a week to help maintain and improve the property. Mowing, woodcutting, office, and accounting work has been consistently done with the help of volunteers. Help is always needed during the summer and winter in the kitchen as well. Campers are sponsored through the Kids to Camp fund and counselors receive support that the camp matches.
Anyone interested in investing their time and resources in the lives of children should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-672-5220.
Please consider joining us for our annual benefit auction (virtually) November 6-8, 2020. Visit www.bethanybirches.org/benefit-auction/ for more info and to get signed up for emails.
- Help Bethany Birches Camp to utilize the experience they gained from running summer camp during this pandemic. Help them move forward to benefit and love their community this fall and winter.
- Lord, make yourself visible to the summer campers who shared the difficulties they are experiencing being stuck at home. Give them hope.
- Give strength, creativity, and peace to parents who are struggling to tend to their responsibilities while their children are learning from home.