Saturday, June 18, 2016

Why we don't allow cell phones at camp

Many parents are apprehensive when they hear that we don't allow campers to have cell phones with them at Somerset Beach youth camps. We understand that phones have become the norm, and knowing that your child doesn't have the ability to instantly connect with you might be hard, so we wanted to explain a little bit about why we think it's best to leave the phones at home.

Leaving cell phones behind promotes friendships between campers.
Camp is about learning to look people in the eye and laugh and cry together, without using emojis or abbreviations. Without cell phones, campers learn to carry on conversations and navigate friendships. They won't be staring down at their phones . . . they'll be looking up at the people around them.

The stress associated with damage and theft is greatly reduced.
If campers don't have phones with them, there's no risk of losing them or having them stolen. This is the same reason we collect money and have it stored in their Trading Post account.

It gives campers a break from technology.
Have you ever put your phone down for a day? If not, try it. It's freeing. Our kids need that, too.

Campers are allowed to fully embrace the new friendships and connections they're making and not focus on what might be going on at home.
We believe that camp is an opportunity for campers to experience a world beyond their every day home life. The allows kids to develop independence and a stronger sense of self. They make new friends, problem solve and mature as the week progresses. Knowing that parents are only a phone call away sometimes puts a damper on these things. With few exceptions, homesick campers adjust much more quickly to camp life when they don't have the option to call home whenever they'd like.
We can be sure that campers aren't exposed to inappropriate online media or material.
If your child has a phone at camp, counselors can't track what he or she is looking at or listening to.

Prohibiting cell phones eliminates the risk that campers will contact strangers or continue prohibited relationships.
When a camper has a cell phone in his or her possession, they have full control of who they can contact. They can call anyone they'd like without permission of parent or counselor.

We feel cell phones interfere with what we're trying to achieve at camp. If we learn that a camper has accidentally packed a cell phone, we will take it and keep it in a safe place until pick up on the last day of camp.

Parents, we need your support and help to make sure campers know that cell phones should stay at home. Please discuss this policy with your camper. You should know that if you have a concern about how your child is doing while they are here, you're always welcome to call our email us.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

As staff training draws to a close . . .

Sandy feet. Ice cream from the Trading Post. A quick dip in the lake. Many Jesus moments. These are the moments I looked forward to as a child about to attend Somerset Beach's summer camp.
Growing up attending camp has been something that has significantly impacted my life. From the new friends made to the delicious food served at every meal, I knew this was the place for me. While approaching my freshman year of college, I needed a summer job. Something more than just McDonald's or Burger King. God opened up a door and boy did I jump through it. Now the tables have turned and I have the opportunity to change lives of many campers.
As the youngest staff member, I began to become intensely nervous about this new job. I knew it was the perfect fit for me but I still was worried about what camp would actually be like. Would I be accepted? Would I look dumb because I have less life experience? On my first night, freshly graduated from high school that previous afternoon, I embraced a whole group of new people. As each of our personalities began to unravel I quickly learned that these were the types of friendships my parents have always talked about. These people will become my family for the summer and God could not have picked more perfect people for me to be able to bond with. We quickly began to dive into group building activities and within 24 hours we were closer than close. Now sharing secrets and telling deep stories, each moment became more and more special.
With staff training drawing to a close, I am so so exited to impact the lives of other children and not only share in fun experiences but share the love of Christ with them. Somerset Beach Campground is by far one of my favorite places on earth. Not only is there a constant environment of fun but the presence of God is continuous and full. I am so blessed that Jesus opened up this opportunity and I can not wait to see what this summer holds.

This was written by one of our new staff members, Grace Archer. Grace is from Spring Arbor, MI and will attend Indiana Wesleyan University in the fall.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

6 Reasons You Should Work At A Summer Camp

This article was originally written by SBC counselor Emily Wagler for Odyssey on February 23, 2016.  Emily's allowed us to publish it here, as well.  You can view current job openings at SBC by clicking here.

It may be a little chilly outside still, but summer is right around the corner! It's time to start thinking about what you'll do with yours. Most likely, you'll get a job, because you are a responsible adult now. Or because you're trying not to sign away the entirety of your future paychecks to Sallie Mae.

Either way, this is the time to start looking for a place to spend your summer. You can either work at McDonalds flipping burgers for three months, or you can do something that makes an impact. You can work somewhere that makes a difference in people's lives, somewhere you literally get paid to have fun. You can work at a summer camp.

If you know me, you know that I LOVE my camp, Somerset Beach Campground (a small Christian camp in southern Michigan). My roommate rolls her eyes at me and complains that I talk about my camp a little obsessively, but it's because I've been a part of some really amazing things there. God works in powerful ways through camping ministry, and you are invited to be a part of it. Here's why you should work at a summer camp:

1. You get to spend your whole summer outside. 

The first thing your family and friends say when they see you: “You’re so tan!” Also, flip-flop and watch tan lines are unavoidable. But zip lining, swimming, boating, and bonfires will be a part of your everyday routine. In my opinion, it’s a much preferred alternative to being stuck in a windowless room frying cheeseburgers.

2. You literally get paid to have fun. 

Camp is the most fun job you will ever have. The days are full of activities and playing games and, as I said before, you’ll be OUTSIDE! It’s all the fun of your childhood days as a camper, but you get paid for it. Are you convinced yet?

3. Spiritual growth. 

You will encounter God in a deeper way than you ever have before. I’m not going to lie, camp is exhausting sometimes, but it’s all worth it. God moves in such a unique way in the camp setting. You will be stretched and challenged, and in the process, he will grow you through your experience.

4. The staff becomes a family. 

You will work with a group of incredible people at camp. The beauty of it is this: your personalities will be all different, but you will be great friends by the end of the summer. You will be connected by the bond of sweaty days in the sun and the kind of side-splitting laughter that puts you in tears. I wouldn’t trade the relationships I built with my fellow staff members for anything. And another thing, because of the nature of the job, I guarantee that you won't hate your boss! The people who run Christian summer camps are amazing, and they are the ones who really help to foster that family environment among the staff.

5. You’ll make an impact. 

You will have the privilege of being a role model in a child’s life. Your campers will look up to you and learn from you, even in the short week you’ll spend with them. They’ll come away from camp full of stories of the fun they had with their new friends and their awesome counselor.

6. They’ll make an even bigger impact on you. 

You will get to sit with kids and talk with them, hear their stories. You’ll get to see their childlike faith in action. You will be impacted by the simple way that kids love people and the way they have fun with everything. While it’s your job to be their role model, you’ll find that they have a much more profound impact on your heart.

It all boils down to what you want your summer to look like. A job at a camp is something meaningful, something that will give purpose to your summer. It is full of laughter and good old fashioned fun-in-the-sun. You'll make friendships that will last well into the school year, and you'll see God show up in some really cool ways. I promise you won't regret the laughter, the memories, or the tan lines.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Generations of Family Campers: Family Camping at Somerset Beach Campground

This post was originally published July 19, 2014 by Melanie Eccles. Two years later, after five years of infertility, God graciously answered her prayers for a child. Kirsten Grace will be six months old, joining she and her husband Kevin at her first Somerset Beach Family Camp in July 2016!

Dear Little One,

Your daddy and I can't wait to have you with us at Family Camp. You see, for the past ten years of our lives we've been in a constant state of flux. First it was off to college, then summers of working at camp, then two major moves across three states in our first six years of marriage. The one thing that has remained constant is Somerset Beach Camp. Kevin has been attending Southern Michigan's Free Methodist Family Camp since he was in utero; he's only missed a few in recent years. I became an SBC girl during my first summer of working there. I was a youth camp counselor in 2005, then I returned in 2007 on the housekeeping staff, and after your dad and I were married we lived on the grounds in 2010 while I worked in the office and he worked programming. Regardless of the number of employment years we've spent at Somerset, there's something about those dirt roads, the serene lake, the trusty buildings and the faithful people that whisper,"Welcome back. You're safe here."
This past week the Eccles family (well, the Kevin Eccles family) reserved their very own campsite for Family Camp. We were just around the corner from Mom and Dad Eccles and Grandma and Grandpa Arvidson. The week was spent rekindling old friendships, recounting wonderful memories, and retiring around the campfire. The days were shockingly cool given mid-July averages. I wore jeans and a sweatshirt most days, and donned socks each night in bed. (That's a major indicator of cold for me. I can never wear socks to bed.) I know a few people were very disappointed in the chillier temperatures, but your daddy and I were quite content. It was wonderful.

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We slept past our alarms each morning and plodded to the bathhouse with mussy hair for all (of the other early risers) to see. Coffee perked as I made up the blankets on our air mattress, and bowls of cereal sufficed for breakfast. I spent lengthy times in solitude with God, craving the peace and freshness that His Spirit brings. The outdoors, the stillness of the morning, the sacred gathering of kindred spirits opened my heart to the words of the Lord.

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Kevin was able to play tennis with his brother and go golfing with his dad, and I got to make many new friends at the Pastors' Wives lunch. We had ice cream at Freddie's Freeze with our dear friends Jeff and Ruth (Bradstreet) Tyson and played with their 5 month old, Jenna. Todd and Katrina Crouch showed up one afternoon and along with Kyle Anderson, your dad and I had a great time catching up with them. There were sweet conversations with dear friends such as the Andersons and the Wiards, the Lukes and the Rhodes, and so many others who have watched your dad (and me) grow up.

Evening worship was refreshing
. There's something about having a group of people from across many different congregations coming together and singing praise to Jesus in one voice. The messages of the morning Bible Studies and marriage sessions contained threads of reminders I needed to hear. Your dad and I had lots of good conversations as we discussed our thoughts on the matters of Flag Page personalities and how they affect our marriage. And you know what? That's just a snippet of our week at Family Camp. Won't it be wonderful to have you along for the week? You'll love the kids worship each morning and the marshmallow roasting at night. I can't wait to have you with us to bring that added excitement and energy, watching as you look eagerly at the big kids playing four square and the families swimming in the lake. I'm fairly certain having you along will mean a lot more work and focused attention, but I still can't wait. I love knowing that we're going to be following in the steps of Grandpa Eccles who wrote in his recent autobiography,
I was saved at Family Camp. That caused me to plan to have my children attend Family Camp just as I had done as a child.
Come quickly, Child.


Melanie Eccles is worship director at Monroe Free Methodist Church where her husband is pastor. She is pursuing pastoral ordination, and this fall she will begin her Master's in Spiritual Formation and Leadership through Spring Arbor ​University. She loves teaching Holy Yoga classes, forming community over coffee dates, going on early morning runs, and baking a few too many cookies. Kevin and Melanie have been married since May 2008 and have one daughter, Kirsten (December 2015).