Archive for the ‘NEFC’ Category

The final week of NEFC has come to a close, with about 45 people on camp. We had about 5 Stockaders, 15 Battalion campers, and no Frontiersmen. Several staff have also left, so there were some unique challenges to the week, especially in terms of the kitchen clean up after each meal.

We made every effort, however, to have an exciting week for the kids. For example, on Wednesday in addition to the Battalion doing their normal overnight, the Stockade also went out to Jockey Cap, a nearby scenic spot in Bridgton. On Thursday night I told the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal, which included the lighting of the campfire by a “ball of fire from heaven”. In order to pull this off, we had a cable rigged that went from the campfire to a tree nearby. A staff member attached a bundle of rags soaked in kerosene to a pulley, and at the appropriate time lit the bundle of rags and released it to slide down the cable. Just prior to this, at the point in the story when Elijah poured 12 pitchers of water over the sacrifice, I had poured a bucket over the campfire. My bucket, however, did not have water but had white gas, which they use in cooking out on the trail. When the fire ball hit the fire, it created a spectacular fire.

We did this story last week, and unbeknownst to me the camp director wanted a bigger fire. Where last week they used about 3/4 of a gallon of white gas, this week he told them to use about 1/2 gallon more than the previous week. If you go to the NEFC Facebook Page you can see the week 6 video for camp – the last few seconds show the lighting of the fire.

Separate from camp, this week was also the preparation for my brother Doug’s wedding. Monday, Matthias and I went over to Oxford to help them move a bunch of tables and chairs in preparation for the reception. On Friday, we went over in the morning to help set up the tent and get things ready. And then on Saturday we had the wedding in the morning and the reception afterwards. We stayed around to help take down the tent. It was 9:15 by the time we got back to camp, but it was a wonderful wedding and reception.

This weekend has seen the Day Camp staff arrive. Today (Sunday) families from the area are coming in to register their children for Day Camp, which will run Monday – Friday. Most of the Twitchells, however, are heading home on Monday after breakfast. We are packing things up this afternoon and will load the vehicles this evening, in the hopes of leaving after breakfast in the morning. I am concerned about getting home, however. The last time I drove the suburban, it seemed to be giving some problems. We think it may be the computer module that controls the shifting and transmission, but we are not sure. In any event, I am hoping it will get us home so we can then figure out what needs to happen.

Next weekend we will back here at NEFC to pick up Matthias and to get the rest of our stuff that is down here. Sunday the 21st we will go back home, via Bryant Pond for the Jackson Family Reunion. Then, just one week later, school starts. It’s hard to believe that the summer is practically over, but it’s been a good summer, and I like to think that we have been able to be helpful to the ministry here at camp..

I never got around to posting an update after week 4, so here is an update for both weeks 4 and 5.

Week 4 was almost as big as week 3. There were a total of 76 people in camp. There were 13 Stockaders, 19 Battalion campers, 8 Frontiersmen, and 5 campers on the Water Adventure trip. The remaining 31 people were counseling staff and other support personnel.

We were fortunate this week to have Shelley Zoebisch helping in the kitchen. Her being here meant that Kathy did not need to do as much in the kitchen, and could focus on laundry, food ordering, and menu planning. Shelley was actually able to stay into week 5 for the first half of the week, which was wonderful.

Kathy and I took a day trip home during this week. While coming back, in the midst of a heavy downpour in Farmington, we drove through a large puddle, and for the remainder of the drive back to camp the car ran rough and sputtered whenever we headed up a hill or accelerated. The next day it was still running rough, and while Kathy and I were out picking up a trip, Ryan Hartwell, the camp director, pulled the spark plug wires and found that one plug was sitting in standing water. He blew it out and that seemed to solve the problem.

We also have been having problems with the Suburban. Twice now we have headed out of camp and the brakes have locked up, and we had to return to camp. One of the men who was here for the adventure trip – Pete Burgher – was more than willing to pull the tire off and replace the caliper, pads, and rotor. It was greatly appreciated, because although the parts are not horribly expensive, the labor charge at a garage would have been significant.

The weekend before Week 4 began was a huge challenge. We had discovered during week 3 that our well pump was only operating at 50% of its capacity, and we were having time*s when we had very low water pressure. Hiring someone to come in to replace the pump, plus buying a new pump would have been several thousand dollars. However, Pete and Dan Burgher, who ran the Water Adventure trip, had a contact where they could get a new pump at close to cost, and they brought up Dan’s tractor and we spent the day Saturday digging up the well, pulling the pump out, and getting it replaced. We pulled about 500 feet of black pipe out of the well to get to the pump. Of course, during this time we had no water on camp, but we had arranged to send all the weekend campers out of camp for the weekend, and managed to get through with minimal difficulty. By the time parents started arriving on Sunday we were back up to full capacity.

Week 5, which is ending as I write this, saw a total of 62 people on camp. There were 9 Stockaders, 15 Battalion campers, and 6 frontiersmen. Because of the smaller numbers, we actually had a few staff that did not get assigned to cabins, although they were actively involved in crafts and other parts of program. It also allowed some of our staff to be able to swap off some tasks and give people a little extra down time.

In some ways the coming week will be one of the more challenging ones. Several staff are leaving this weekend, and although we only have 20 campers next week, none of them are in the frontiersmen program. This means that staff will have to pick up the slack in things such as kitchen cleanup and bathroom cleaning. With a smaller staff already, it may be a particularly busy week for everyone.

Currently our plan is to move home at the end of week 6. Following week 6 is Day Camp for the kids in the local area, but we are expecting to be moving back home after the final food order is made Monday morning. This will give me about 2 weeks before school starts up again.

Please pray for the remaining staff as many of them are tired. We have an obligation to the week 6 campers to give them as good a program as those that came week 1 when everyone was fresh. Pray that the staff gets the rest they need this weekend, and that they have the energy they need for the week ahead..

Week 3 here at NEFC is drawing to a close today. This has been our biggest week yet, with 84 people on camp for the first half of the week, and 74 for the second half. There were 5 Father n Son pairs that came in on Sunday and left on Wednesday.

This has also been the busiest week so far for our family. We did not have an assistant cook this week, so Kathy spent many hours in the kitchen cooking, in addition to trying to stay on top of the food ordering and menu planning and keeping up with all the laundry.

On Tuesday, I drove the Fathers and Sons (along with Matthias, who was the staff working with them, plus David and Elias) to Cathedral Ledge in North Conway where we had lunch. After that, we went to Diana’s Bath where they enjoyed a couple of hours of playing in the natural water falls and water slides there. We stopped at Ben and Jerry’s on our way back for Ice Cream. Overall, we all had a great time.

Tuesday night was a really late night for Kathy and I, as after campfire there were two campers that we needed to take to the Emergency Room in Bridgton. There was concern about a possible broken thumb or wrist on one of them, and the other had an unexplained swelling in his foot. Both ended up without serious issues, but we did not get back to camp until 1:00 am.

On Wednesday, after we got the Battalion trips out of camp, Kathy and I went to Freeport to LL Bean, and then came back and went to the drive in theater in Bridgton, where we saw Harry Potter. That night was a little earlier – we got to bed around 12:00.

Because of the shortage in the kitchen, Annie got to do some cooking as well this week. She made cookies on a couple of different occasions, and she also made Rocky Road Brownies, which were a big hit.

Peter got an opportunity to sing this week – when staff get mail, they are encouraged to sing for their mail at meal time. Since he had to order an alarm clock, when it came in he got to sing for it.

Again this week I did the JC Bible Ex and the SC Bible Ex, as well as driving boat for the Wakeboarding craft. These activities tend to take up most of the morning for me, and then I get a little down time in the afternoon.

Friday, however, I ended up in the snack shack for a little while. Matthias was running the snack shack, but the door to open the store, which is a 2′ x 4′ sheet of plywood hinged at the top, and held up by a rope, fell on him and hit his head pretty hard. He went to the infirmary for while, and I helped cover the shop for a short while until he felt well enough to come back. He seems to have no particular injury, which is something to praise God for.

One of the things that typically happens around this time of the season is that the staff begins to get tired. Three weeks of campers have come and gone, and people are starting to get run down. We are beginning to strongly encourage staff members that they need to get extra sleep, either on their day off on the weekend or during their off time each day. Please pray that the staff will work hard to keep their energy levels up and that they will still be able to offer the quality program they have been doing for the first 3 weeks.
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Week 2 here at NEFC has just ended. This week saw a total of 63 people on camp, plus 10 more people spending the week on the Moose River on a Canoeing Adventure Trip. We had 9 Stockaders, 17 Battalion boys, 7 campers on the Moose River trip, and 5 Frontiersmen. The remaining people were counselors, nurses, kitchen staff, maintenance, and other assorted support people.

The Canoe Trip left Monday morning about 10:00 am, and returned to camp Friday evening about 9:00 pm. They went up to the Jackman area where they canoed on the Moose River for the week, with their final day doing some white water rafting.

Because the Canoe Trip had the canoe trailer, one of the vans, and several canoes, the Battalion did not go out of camp for their weekly trip this week. Instead, they hiked up to near the end of the road to a large clearing left by the logging company and engaged in several activities involving Air Soft. In case you do not know what Air Soft is, think of BB guns with plastic BB’s, instead of metal BB’s. When they play Air Soft, they wear eye and fact protection, and create various scenarios where one group defends a location and another group attacks. Some of the counseling staff get very involved in this – camouflage clothing, high powered Air Soft rifles, and more. The Battalion absolutely loves these activities. They had their supper up there, camped out in the open area, and came back to camp late morning after breakfast and more Air Soft.

This week in addition to driving the motor boat for the Wake-boarding craft, I also took over the Junior Counselor Bible Ex and the Senior Counselor Bible Ex. I began each group with a discussion on legalism, and we kind of followed the topic wherever it would go. I led both groups into the book of Galatians, partly because that was the book we were working through in church on Sunday mornings before we came down to camp, so it was fresh in my mind. I suspect we will continue that discussion this coming week.

I DID take a day off this week (sort of). Tuesday Kathy and I dropped the 3 youngest kids in Oxford at my folks house, and headed to Kingfield. Kathy worked at the house on the garden, while I did about 4 computer calls. We came back to get the kids and managed to get back to camp just in time for evening campfire.

Today, after lunch, we took a trip to Gorham, NH. It’s about 45 minutes north of N. Conway, NH, where we typically go on weekends for staff to go shopping. However, the Wal-mart in N. Conway is a small one, and we have bought them out of candy for the snack shack. We decided we needed to go to a Super Wal-Mart to get what we needed, and the closest one (in NH) is in Gorham. So we left after lunch, with a couple of staff members, and got back about 5 hours later.

Tomorrow begins our biggest week yet of the summer. Currently, we are short-handed in the kitchen, so this will be a quite a challenge. We’re sure God will provide the staffing that we need, but it’s getting close to the beginning of the week and we are still waiting to see how he is going to work things out.

Thanks for continuing to pray for us as we serve here at NEFC!.

Week 1 saw a total of 61 people in camp. Of those 61, there are 3 CIT’s, 9 Stockaders, 14 Battalion campers, and 4 Frontiersmen. The remaining 31 people are various counselors, administrative staff, cooks, maintenance, nurse, and families.

The Stockaders are campers that are 8 – 11 years old. The Battalion Campers are ages 12 and up. The 3 CIT’s (Counselor in Training) are all 16 years old and have been in camp with the staff since Pre-Camp began 3 weeks ago. The Frontiersmen are 13 – 16 years old, and have a schedule that involves service as well as program activities.

During the week, the Stockade and Battalion campers each choose two skill sessions that they are in throughout the week. These sessions include things such as Archery, Air Riflery, Air Soft, .22, Chess, Wakeboarding, and more. They spend an hour and half in each session each day. In addition to these sessions, they spend time in Bible Exploration each morning with their senior counselor, they have a game time, and each afternoon they have a couple of hours of free swim time. In the evening they have some type of evening action time, and the night closes with a campfire of songs, skits, and stories.

This week forced a change in our weekly trip for Battalion. Normally, Battalion does an overnight trip Wednesday afternoon into Thursday. Because of the forecast, we moved that trip to Thursday afternoon into Friday morning. One group of campers climbed Blueberry Mountain and spent the night on the mountain, and the other group did a Canoe Trip down the Saco River. While the Battalion is off on their trips, the Stockade has a somewhat free afternoon, and then has Tin Foil Dinners someplace in camp for supper. They also have a flexible morning the next day, and their breakfast is cooked out over a fire.

These trips and cookouts are designed to give staff an extended period of time where they can talk with campers about Christ or other issues campers may be struggling with. It is also a great experience for the campers, whether they spend the night on a mountain or enjoy canoeing down the river. Part of what we want to do here is get campers to see nature in a way that they may have not seen before, and use that as an opportunity to talk about the creator of all things.

A few campers will be spending two weeks. Saturday, when the rest of the campers leave, these two weekers will be engaged in various activities around camp. They will be joined by a new batch of campers Sunday afternoon as we move into week 2.

During this past week, I spent time driving the boat for the wakeboarding craft, made drives into town for various supplies needed, drove the hiking trip out to Blueberry mountain, and ended the week being responsible for things as the camp director needed to be out of camp for 24 hours.

Kathy was extremely busy this week helping in the kitchen as well as trying to keep up on the laundry. She is working hard behind the scenes to help keep track of food available, as well as to help place the order each week.

Continue to pray for us as we serve here, pray for the staff as they interact with campers, and pray that the campers are impacted in a positive way in their relationship with God..

The last two weeks have flown by. We have been real busy here at New England Frontier Camp getting ready for the campers to arrive today.

I have been doing a variety of things. We are working to rebuild the Hillside Campfire site, and to that end we’ve been working on cutting logs and splitting them to make benches. These then need to have the bark stripped, and then taken down to the site to be installed. There are currently two benches in place, two more at the site ready to install, two more at the top of the property ready to take down, and one more log ready to split into two benches.

I have also been assisting the Camp Director with some of the training for the staff, and helping to coordinate tasks for everyone. It’s hard to realize that two weeks have gone by since we arrived – time just seems to disappear here!

Kathy has been working on a variety of things as well. She is responsible for the laundry for camp, both for the kitchen as well as for the staff. There are two washers and two dryers available, but if all 4 machines are turned on at once it pops the circuit breaker. Her preference in any event is to hang laundry out to dry, so she does that whenever possible. In addition to laundry, she is helping behind the scenes in the kitchen, with menu planning, food ordering, and some baking. And, of course, she still tries to do some school work with the kids – just because it is summer doesn’t mean learning stops!

Matthias is a huge help to the camp director in the office. He is doing all camper registrations and taking care of filing paperwork, entering payments, and organizing the camp store. From his Facebook post last night (or rather this morning), it appears he was up until about 3:00 am finishing up things for today.

Peter is a CIT – Counselor in Training. He and two other CIT’s have the task of getting the Hillside Campfire site ready. They have cleared out the old benches, started placing new benches, raked out the entire area, and are working on rebuilding the steps up that area. For many years the steps have been logs, which have rotted away, and the CIT’s decided to replace those with rock steps. Friday night the three of them spent the night in the woods. Initially they thought they were going on what is termed a “solo”, where they are by themselves for the night. They were given a list of items that they could “purchase”, being able to spend 10 points. For example, 3 matches were worth 2 points. A sleeping bag was 4 points. They had to make a choice from a dozen or more things to take with them. We actually, however, put them together, not separate. They were placed at their site about 5:30 Friday afternoon. They were not allowed to come out until the next morning, and they all had to memorize a different passage of scripture that they were given before they could leave. By 3:00 pm Saturday they were finally out of the woods – hungry, tired, and smelly, but having successfully completed the assignment.

Annie is helping out in different things around the kitchen and laundry as well. She regularly cuts up fruit or vegetables for meals, and she also helps mom to watch over the younger ones. David and Elias find ways to help as well, whether it is clearing tables, setting tables, or setting up chairs.

This afternoon the first batch of campers arrive. The staff has worked hard to prepare themselves and to prepare the camp for the arrival. Please pray for a successful ministry, reaching boys for Christ as well as helping them grow and mature in the faith. Pray all summer for the staff, as they work to be the servants that God wants them to be..

This summer I’m going to attempt to post weekly about our activities at New England Frontier Camp (NEFC). But first, let me give you a little history of my involvement with NEFC.

I first came to NEFC as a camper in the late 70’s. I think I was here for two years, and I remember during that time that they were building the Stockade area of the camp, about 1/2 mile from the main part of camp. The cabins in this area were built in the style of the old Blockhouses on the frontier, with the upper level overhanging the lower level by about 2 feet all the way around.

In 1986 and 1987 I came to the camp as a Senior Counselor. During the summer of 1987, my then fiance, Kathy, was the head cook in the kitchen. Two weeks after the conclusion of camp was our wedding. It was probably not the best way to spend the summer in preparation for our wedding, as we were quite busy, and had little time to plan. However, somehow we managed to pull it off.

In the summer of 1988, we came for just a week. I was in a cabin and Kathy helped out in the kitchen. In 1989 I don’t think we came at all.

In December 1989, we were looking forward to our first child being born in late June, when I got a phone call from the camp director. He said the administrative staff had been talking, and decided they would like me to be the Stockade Program Director, but they knew that I couldn’t do that with the baby coming. However, they decided to let ME make that decision, instead of making it for me by not asking. I think we surprised everyone when we said “Yes”. Josiah was 4 days old when he arrived at camp that summer – quite possibly the youngest person to ever be at camp.

I worked at camp the summers of 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994. During that time I went on the camp board for a period of time as treasurer, and worked as both Stockade Program Director and then as the assistant to the Camp Director. Matthias was a couple of weeks old in 1992 when he arrived at camp.

At the end of the summer of 1994, our pastor at home resigned, and that led me into a position of speaking each week at church. In addition, the summer of 1995 saw our 3rd child come along, and we decided that we could no longer work at camp. The strange thing was how completely we ended up separated from camp – I do not believe that we set foot on camp property again until May, 2010 when I took my Battalion group down for the Camp-O-Rama. Driving through the town of Lovell began to bring back many memories of camp, and it was quite a remarkable experience to drive down the camp road and begin remembering all the things that I had done there and been involved with. I had forgotten how much I missed the place, if that makes any sense.

Our family had talked about doing some camping that summer, and we found an opportunity with a “Hammer Camp” NEFC was hosting Memorial Day weekend for families. We decided we would go down and camp out in the back field and help out, and we had an absolutely fabulous time. All the kids had a lot of fun and we got a lot of projects done. Over that weekend, the camp director asked Matthias if he would be interested in coming on staff for the summer, and so Matthias sent in an application and subsequently spend the summer there.

We also found out that they were short handed in the kitchen, and so Kathy, Peter, David, and Elias spent 3 weeks there, which turned into 4 weeks. Annie and I made a commute back and forth between home and camp – I needed to stay on top of things at C-Prompt, as well as some projects I was working on at home.

We had such a fabulous time that we decided this summer we would spend the entire summer here. There may be times I will need to go home to tend to things at C-Prompt, but for the most part we are hopeful that the shop will continue without much need for me to be there. Kathy is helping out with the kitchen, both with orders and helping with some cooking, as well as taking care of laundry for the camp. Annie is helping out in those areas where she can as well. Matthias is doing a lot of office work, and Peter is a CIT (Counselor in Training). I’m kind of helping out with whatever I can do – networking, re-building campfire sites, and other miscellaneous things.

In the next day or two I will try to post a summary of our first week. Feel free to post any questions you might have! .