Reporting from H.I.M. Berea Family Camp

Paul leads Family Camp 1 in mixers the first night.

On my parent’s 61st wedding anniversary, we check in from Camp Berea on Newfound Lake in Hebron, New Hampshire, where we have launched our eighth and final family camp for the 2009 season. Wow! It’s been intense, but so good. We are really thankful.

How grateful we are for the legacy of my parent's marriage:
61 years on August 16.

The few days we had between our seven-week stint at Campus by the Sea ending and our H.I.M. family camps beginning were fairly low-key. We prepared for camp, got haircuts, and prepared to have our 14 staff members from CBS arrive. The pace was a bit slower and we caught up a little on sleep. It was a good break.

Our staff arrived Friday night, August 7, all on time and all luggage in tow. After a hearty brunch featuring Paul’s waffles on Saturday morning, we made the family camp name tags, stuffed an H.I.M. mailing, and piled into cars to drive to camp.

Our staff are ready to go!

This is our 4th year of partnering with Camp Berea on family camp and we are so grateful for a mutually beneficial relationship with them. They love what we do and we love what they do, so it works well.

As was true at CBS, the two weeks of camp here were packed full. We see God’s hand of mercy in that, since many camps are struggling with low numbers this summer.

The campers poured in starting around 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 8, so full of expectation and excitement—and they left six days later, testifying that God had more than met them. Praise Him!

David Swaim, senior pastor of Highrock Church in Arlington, Massachusetts, was our speaker for the week. Since we attend his church when we’re in town, we expected that he would do a great job teaching. We just didn’t know HOW great a job he would do, but he “knocked it out of the park” as they say. His clear, passionate teaching was deeply appreciated and seemed to stir the pot for many. We were delighted to have him and his wife Michelle, along with their three children, Noah, Zoe, and Taylor, in camp with us, and we expect our partnership will continue in the years to come.

We have an incredible staff gathered; many from California, but some great “home-grown New Englanders” as well. Brian and Heather Dietz continue to be with us, leading in worship and directing the Junior and Senior High program. Their daughters, Abby and Lydia, bring great joy and entertainment to the rest of the staff. David and Krista Hart are serving here as Children’s Program Directors as they did at CBS, much to our delight. And having our own Julie here serving on the Junior and Senior High staff is a great joy to our hearts and souls. She’s also a great addition to that team.

One of the highlights of family camp 1 was honoring Dave and Ellie Greenhalgh's 40th anniversary. Their children and grandchildren “made them a cake” much to the delight of those watching. What a wonderful legacy these two faithful servants of God are building!

God blessed us with fabulous weather all week, which just makes everything more enjoyable. Every day the lake was full of happy swimmers, blobbers, and boaters, while others were enjoying paintballing, riflery, archery, the climbing wall, carpet ball, ga-ga, etc. Most made banners under the guidance of Guy and Barbara Steele, who are faithfully serving for the twelfth summer of New England family camps with us. How grateful we are for them!

Our precious dog Baker celebrated her 15th birthday on August 11, and though she gave us quite a health scare that day and several following, she seems to have fully recovered and is happy to be staying at a cabin right next to Camp Berea for the first time ever.

There were many highlights during family camp 1, from the big finger blaster competition, square dance night, corn roast and night swim, to the dedication of Abby Habin Yardley and the baptism of Nate King. The banquet evening was the best ever, as person after person gave testimony to the amazing ways God was working in their lives, their marriages, and their families. It was a night of great rejoicing.

Paul won the one-on-one finger blaster duel, much to the delight of the male campers.

The Yardley family celebrates the dedication of Abigail Habin, just days after she turned one.

The baptism of Nate King was very meaningful.

The staff is all smiles as camp 1 comes to a close . . .

. . . and the family campers are as well.

Our 24-hour “recovery” period was really that, as we rested and recreated. The whole staff played in the lake, made a splash at Sculptured Rocks, enjoyed ice cream at Shacketts, had pizza while watching the Red Sox pull out a nail-biter against the Rangers, and hit a few yard sales Saturday morning before indulging in a sumptuous brunch a la Jim Martis. It was just the break we all needed.

Paul and Matthew Martis make chocolate chip cookies for the staff during our day off.

Christy Johnston makes a dramatic jump into the water at Sculptured Rocks.

Our new batch of campers arrived this past Saturday afternoon and that night, we did our “get acquainted” mixers for the last time this summer. These campers have also come with great expectations and our staff has stepped up to give them a “this is the first week of family camp” experience. We’re off to a great start—and we’re all committed to finishing well.

It’s amazing to reflect on the past 12 years of family camps here. The idea was so foreign when we introduced it at Grace Chapel, but that first year, back in 1997, 125 campers trusted us for the experience. Many of those from that first family camp have become as committed to the tradition as our CBS gang, and we’ve picked up dozens upon dozens of families over the years. We believe more than ever that the venue of family camp is one of the most effective in shaping and reinforcing family values and we are so grateful to be a part of this great work.

For now, I’ll sign off since day 3 of our last family camp begins in just a few hours. We are eager to see what God will do among us in the days ahead!