Shenandoah News Update
Brethren Woods Edition
May 26, 2020
From the Desk of District Executive Minister John Jantzi
This Shenandoah Update is devoted solely to the revamped summer program of Brethren Woods. Brethren Woods has been forced to make many adjustments quickly. That the staff were able to produce a creative alternative on such short notice speaks volumes to their commitment and creativity. We ask you that you carefully read the summer program alternatives as described below and consider how you or your congregation might participate.

Serving Christ Together
John Jantzi
Brethren Woods News Update
With Guest Editor Linetta Ballew
Brethren Woods Suspends Traditional Summer Camp for 2020 Season
On Friday, May 15th, Brethren Woods announced that we will be suspending our traditional Summer Camp program for children and youth for the 2020 season. This has been a difficult decision to make, but it comes with the full support of camp and district leadership. As hard as it is, we firmly believe this is the right decision for the health and safety of the entire Brethren Woods community, as well as for the future of Brethren Woods.

We know that this decision is disappointing for campers and their families who are registered for camp. Camp staff and volunteers who had committed to serving at camp this summer are feeling this heartbreaking loss as well. This is an announcement that we never imagined we would have to make. (Our full COVID-19 public statement is available online at https://brethrenwoods.org/covid/ ).
Summer Camp Registration Refunds, Credits, and Donations
Brethren Woods is committed to the modified deposit and registration payment policies we announced in March. Families of registered campers have been contacted by email to complete this form https://brethrenwoods.org/form/ so camp staff can get information about their preferences for any funds already paid for suspended 2020 summer camp programs. In addition to receiving a full refund or crediting funds toward a future event, as you are able, we invite families to consider converting all or a portion of funds already paid into a donation to support camp’s ongoing ministry, including alternative summer programs (see below). Congregations are encouraged to consider sending budgeted funds designated for camper church support, which will not be utilized this summer, to Brethren Woods to provide financial support for camp. Brethren Woods is not immune to the negative financial impacts of this pandemic and we are facing some serious financial challenges.
Brethren Woods Offers Exciting New Opportunities This Summer!
For the first time since 1960, a traditional summer camp program for children and youth will not be held at Brethren Woods. Instead, we will live into the truth of Isaiah 43:19 (NIV) which promises that God is “doing a new thing” and “will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” We will be offering completely new, alternative program options to fulfill our mission and meet camp’s goals this summer!
Family Camp (on-site)
Based on current information about VA phase 2 regulations and guidelines for summer camps, we anticipate being able to open camp’s facilities and resources for families as soon as we move into that phase. Registration for this Family Camp option will open on June 1st when families can select dates and facilities that will work for them.

A reduced summer staff will be on-site to host families, including implementing enhanced cleaning procedures and protocols. While on-site, families will be able to sign-up for craft and nature activities, as well as staff-led adventures like canoeing and archery. They can also enjoy camp’s trails, go fishing, and play together, maintaining appropriate social distance from other groups at camp. Each day, intergenerational Bible study materials will be provided for families to use together. Each family will also be assigned a separate swim time, if current pool restrictions are eased. An optional Morning Watch gathering at the Lake Campfire Circle and evening Vespers at Cherry Hill will be held with families required to wear face masks and maintain social distance from other families at those events. 

Meals will be a combination of family-style breakfasts served out of the Woodland Retreat Center and eaten at picnic tables, cold lunches families can enjoy in their living area, on a trail, or anywhere around camp, and evening cookout options – like mountain pies, foil dinners, tacos-in-a-bag, and Dutch oven delights – all available to be selected by families from the Camp Cookbook with all of the supplies, food, and instructions provided. 

Family Camp is a great on-site, alternative option for camper families that are ready to get out and are feeling comfortable heading to camp! It’s also a fun and reasonably priced vacation alternative for families who may not be able to go on other trips planned for this summer. Find out more online at: https://brethrenwoods.org/familycamp/ .
Watz’ in the Woods (online camp connection)
We know that not everyone will be able to join us on-site at camp this summer, so we also want to provide a second alternative camp program that campers and their families can access no matter where they are. Watz' in the Woods is a completely FREE online camp connection we’ll be offering for seven weeks in June and July! While we believe that “virtual camp” isn’t really possible – this online portal will help current, past, and future campers to stay connected – or get connected – with camp this summer.

Each of the seven weeks will focus in on one of the “This is Our Prayer” Bible themes and scriptures with input from some of our amazing camp deans. Monday through Friday, we’ll post morning watch and vespers videos, a meal grace, a rest time story, and short videos introducing hands-on craft, nature, community building, and water activities. Each week will also include some special features with guest appearances like a visit to the Kamp Kitchen, Shalom Sessions, Health Checks, Adventure/Pioneer Program Outdoor Living Skills, Service Projects, Camp Cookouts, and Hikes. Campers and families are encouraged to join us for a Sunday Night Virtual Campfire to kick off each week and we’ll wrap up each week with a posted slideshow of submitted photos. 

You can register for Watz’ in the Woods through our online registration system or by simply completing the request form on our website ( https://brethrenwoods.org/form2/ ). We’ll send you a username, password, and login information to get started. Access to the portal will open the week of June 7th and continue through July 24th. We’ll even send weekly reminder emails about upcoming activities and suggested supply lists. Find out more online at: https://brethrenwoods.org/dsc/ .

Churches are encouraged to make use of Watz’ in the Woods as a virtual VBS, online Sunday school supplement, or weekly programming option! What about having a weekly church campfire (in person or online) to check in with families and explore the materials provided by camp? Simply get children, youth, and adults(!) in your congregation registered to request a username and password for access and you’re all set! 

Even though Watz’ in the Woods will be offered completely FREE this summer, we do have some costs associated with the program. Donations to support camp’s ministry are encouraged and a minimum donation of $75 includes a special edition 2020 Summer Camp T-shirt!

(If you congregation is making use of Watz' in the Woods, as your congregation is able, please consider donating all or part of funds normally used for VBS, summer Sunday school, children's programs, or summer camp church support for campers to Brethren Woods to support our ongoing ministry, make up for lost revenue, and help to fund salaries for our reduced summer staff.)
Sabbath Summer and Staff Support
The third new opportunity this year is a Summer Sabbath. It’s a time of renewal! Most years camp’s facilities and grounds are booked every weekend with large or multiple groups. Because of COVID-19, all of our rental groups have cancelled, so we have time to work at renewing and strengthening camp’s property for the many years to come. There will be pressure washing, staining, painting, and cleaning up our massive ash tree issues, along with many other projects. 10 of the 24 staff who had been hired to work with the year-round staff for the summer will be with us to get all of this facility work completed, as well as staffing our alternative summer programs. Support is needed through our Staff Adoption and Helping Hands funds to cover their salaries and room and board for the summer. It will take about $3000 per staff member, for a total of $30,000 to cover these expenses. Contact the camp office if you are interested in partnering with us in this way.
Spread the Word and Support Camp
We hope you’ll help us spread the word to friends and families from your church, school, or neighborhood as we welcome families at camp, improve camp’s facilities and grounds as good stewards, and reach out with God’s Good News in new ways this summer! Contact camp staff at camp@brethrenwoods.org or 540-269-2741 for more information about how you can be part of the new things that God is doing at Brethren Woods!
Today's Update was written and edited by Brethren Woods Staff. If you have questions about this issue of the Shenandoah Update,
contact Guest Editor:
Brethren Woods Assistant Director