Friday, December 15, 2017

Camping Christmas Gift Guide

If you're still looking for gifts for your family and friends who love to camp, we've got you covered! Whether you're shopping for experienced campers, or those just starting out, we've put together a list of gift ideas that are sure to inspire!

Bonus: Using the links below to shop will help to support the ministry of SBC!

1.     KAVU RopeSling Bag: Sling bags are all very popular right now! They allow you to carry a substancial amount of things without the shoulder pain a regular backpack can bring. The KAVU sling bag also unclips at the bottom of the strap, allowing it to be easy to put on and take off. They are also available in a variety of different sizes!

2.     Yes4AllLightweight Camping Hammock: A camping trip is not complete without a slew of colorful hammocks strung across the trees. However, many hammocks are very expensive. But this durable and less expensive hammock not only comes in many different colors, but it has the option of buying it in the single or a double. It also comes with it’s own straps! It is small, lightweight, and compact. Take your camping experience to the next level with a ready-to-go hammock that will bring some color and adventure to your campsite!
3.     VictorinoxSwiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife: This gadget allows for the luxury of many unique tools in one sleek design. This knife comes in an array of different colors and three different sizes allowing you to be able to customize to your needs! It is stainless steal and has 12 different functions to tackle all your camping needs.
4.     CORE 9Person Instant Cabin Tent: This tent allows for up to 9 people to enjoy a camping experience! Although this is one of the more expensive items on the list, the average rating on this tent is 4.5 stars, making it one of the highest rated tents on Amazon! This tent can fit two queen air mattresses and comes with a room divider, adjustable ground vent, wall storage pockets, rain fly, and electrical cord access port! This sent comes with all the necessities that you will need when tent camping!

5.     AmazonBasics Pop-Up Canopy Tent: This 10 x 10 foot tent canopy is an Amazon Best Seller! If you are looking for a canopy to keep you out of the sun or the rain, this is the product for you! It is built with a steal frame with a high ceiling for maximum headroom and many other features to make your outdoor camping experience pleasant!
6.     SoundAsleepDream Air Mattress: For those of you who love glamping, or love camping but have trouble sleeping on the ground, this product is for you! This queen size air mattress is not only durable and allows for full back support, but it includes an internal air pump! So there is no more hassling with bulky air pumps! This air mattress is also water proof and comes with a carry bag!

7.     Abco TechSleeping Bag: This inexpensive sleeping bag allows for a comfortable and warm camping experience for all 4 seasons! This sleeping bag allows for maximum comfort with its wide shoulder space and narrow leg space. This sleeping bag makes sleeping in temperatures as cold as 20 degrees Fahrenheit a pleasant experience. This is also a lightweight sleeping bag, avoiding extra weight in your suitcase or backpack!

8.     MultimatCamper II Mat: For those who don’t quite need an air mattress, but want some back support, sleeping mats are an essential! This mat has a thick foam core, allowing for maximum comfort! It also includes a stuff sack for sleek and easy travel!

9.     Hikenture4-1 Camping Utensil: This small and useful item can be a great stocking stuffer! This is a 4-1 tool which includes a knife, fork, spoon, and bottle opener, these are all detachable! It is stainless steel and very durable. It also comes in 6 different colors with a storage case!
10.  LED Tactical Flashlight: This 2-pack flashlight set is unique. It comes with many different settings! You can adjust the beam from wide to narrow and 5 adaptable settings (high, medium, low, strobe, SOS). This aluminum design allows for the flashlights to be both shock resistant and water resistant. These flashlights are not only sleek and practical, but is built with many unique functions.

11.  3 or 1 Pack Merino Wool Hiking Socks: These unisex hiking socks come in a variety of different colors! You can also specify if you want 1 pair or 3 pairs. These socks are made with natural anti-bacterial properties to keep your feet warm and dry! They are durable and allow for maximum foot support. These socks are an essential for camping, anytime of the year!

12.  Hydro Flask Water Bottle: These 4.5 rated water bottles can keep hot liquids hot for up to 6 hours and cold liquids cold for up to 24 hours. Hydro Flasks are non-toxic and BPA free. They are stainless steel, has a double-wall vacuum, and has no-sweat technology. They can come in 14 different colors and can accommodate many different caps!

13.  Yodo Collapsible Soft Cooler Bag: This cooler bag is rated 4.5 stars. This cooler is built with a waterproof canvas and an interior aluminum lining. It also includes padded handles and a shoulder strap for easy convenience. It is 25L allowing you to pack everything you need for your trip. It finishes off with outer pockets to carry utensils or other essentials. It also comes in two different colored striped designs. 

14.  4 x COLEMAN Camping Outdoor Chairs: These camping chairs are perfect for your camping experience! They come with a built in 4 can cooler, a mesh cup holder, side pockets, and a cushioned seat/back. It is versatile and practical. These chairs come in a pack of four, allowing for your whole family to enjoy your camping experience to the next level. They come in a variety of 4 different colors.

15.  Amazon Essentials Men’s Long-Sleeve FlannelShirt: No camping experience is complete without wearing a flannel. Flannels are versatile, warm, and can go with any outfit. Even though this flannel is specifically a men’s flannel, the bigger and roomier fit can be extremely comfortable for women as well. So whether you are throwing it over a tee-shirt or tucking it into a pair of jeans, flannels are an essential when camping. And this flannel comes in 11 different colors and 5 different sizes!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

5 Things Your Child’s Camp Counselor Wants You To Know

We're finishing up staff training this week, and are excited for our campers to arrive! This article was written by SBC staffer Emily Burrill (pictured on the right). Emily is qualified to share what camp counselors want you to know, because . . . well, she is one. She is beginning her second summer as a counselor on our staff. She's a camper favorite, and after spending a few minutes with her, it's easy to see why!

1. "We are qualified."

Yes, the counselors look young. Some counselors even get mistaken for the campers. Even though they look young, they are very qualified.

Long before the campers come, the counselors are there. They move in and begin to bond with the staff, giving them the opportunity for spiritual and social balance and support throughout the summer. From there, they learn everything about camp and about campers. They learn every single activity inside and out. They have numerous training sessions involving the personal aspect of camp. They learn about the differences of age groups, how to lead bible studies, the importance of one-on-one conversations, and how to convey the heart of the Gospel to all age groups.

They are also trained to act in emergency situations. They are CPR certified, many of them carry around face masks in the happenstance of needing it for respiration purposes. They are trained on how to deal with blood and injury. They are trained on how to act if there is mention or suspicions of abuse or neglect. They know how to deal with even the tiniest of emergencies, boo-boos, bed wetting, and meltdowns. They are all trained in aquatic observa

tion and watch out for your children on the beachfront. On top of all that, many of them have either worked at camp before or have worked with children. They are familiar with the random situations they may come upon while working with kids.

So, the point. They may look young, but they are more than capable. If you have any concerns or questions when dropping off your child at camp about training or their qualifications, ask the counselors! They would love to fill you in.

2. "We LOVE Jesus."

These counselors LOVE JESUS. Many of the counselors are ministry majors, or want to work in ministry at some point in their life. This is not just a summer of "showing Jesus" to people. It's hands on experience for the rest of their lives.

One of the very cool things about camp counseling is the selfless attitude of all the counselors. These college kids give up their time, money, and summer to pour into kids and show them Jesus. They are in this job because they LOVE kids and they LOVE Jesus.

On the weekends, they may share their testimonies with each other. When they are overwhelmed during the week, they pray for each other. They study the word while in community. They sing out Christian music in the car while running into town for more camp supplies.

These counselors love Jesus. It's the reason they're are all at camp. They were called by Him, so they went. And at camp, they are continually blessed by Him. Their goal is to spread that love, blessing, and joy of Christ to your children. They want them to embrace the gift that He has given them so they can experience this life in His light.

Just as Jerry Jacoby states, "The Gospel Means Good News," and the counselors' passion is to show that, because they really, really, really love Jesus.


Last summer, the counselors would say a specific line to each other. With joy in their eyes and the brightest smile on their faces, they would proclaim, "We get paid for this!" They get paid to love on kids and to show them Jesus. That’s the dream. They love every part of the job. Many of the staff from last year returned because they not only loved the children and loved spreading the Gospel, but they loved the camp environment.

These counselors are basically oversized children. They love to wear crazy & bright clothes on wacky Wednesday. They love tubing & playing in the water just as much as the kids do. When they get to play Gold Rush or Crud Wars, it is never a burden, but the highlight of their week. They love to run around bare-foot, let the campers dress them up in weird clothes and do ridiculous skits during skit night, and clean up a bloody nose of a camper in the middle of the night.

These counselors LOVE their job and yes, they really do get paid to have fun all day, spread the word of God, and love on kids.

4. We are human.

These counselors are human. The counselors are very qualified, but sometimes they get tired. They get sick. They get too competitive during Gold Rush. Their patience wears thin. They get overcome with exhaustion. They have the urge to be selfish. They aren't perfect.

Fortunately, we have plenty of support staff to step in and help them when they need a break, advice or a helping hand. But . . . they still need your prayer.

They need prayer to support them in moments when they feel like giving up. They need the guidance of the Lord in situations that are tricky and over their heads. They need strength when they feel weak. They need energy on Wednesday afternoon when the exhaustion begins to set in. They need patience and gentleness to remember that Gold Rush is just a game and not an opportunity to win.

Yes, these counselors are human. They might mess up and not know what to do. But this is why they need prayer and support. They will be doing everything they can to be your child's superhero. And God will fill in all the gaps in which they fall short.

5. We LOVE your kids.

These counselors love your kids. They have such a huge passion for youth and children's ministry. They not only want to spread the wonderful news of Jesus to your kids coming to camp, but they want to love them, fiercely.

During the months and moments before the campers even arrive, the counselors are loving them. They are taking the time to be trained to know all the situations they might acquire when working with each specific age group. They are learning to connect with the campers. They are getting pumped up to meet their cabin. Some counselors spend the months before praying intensely, for not only the campers that they have had, but the campers that they will have. Why? Because they LOVE your kids. When camp finally arrives, the counselors go crazy. They are so excited (and nervous) to meet their campers. They begin to form intentional relationships with your kids, getting to know the person you've created. They marvel at their camper’s maturity, quirks, interests, and beautiful, God given traits. They hear heart wrenching stories and celebrate in the exciting, life-changing moments. The roller coaster that your child starts at the beginning of camp, gives them just as much a thrill and spiritual fullness to the counselor as the camper. They pour every single thing they have into your kids. Why? Because they LOVE your kids.

When camp ends, their lives are changed. Not only because of the movement of Christ throughout the summer, but because of your children. Some counselors have journals, filled with quotes, stories, and life-changing moments that they experienced through their campers. They hang up pictures with their campers on their walls and pray for them every night. They bring the memories and legacies of these campers everywhere they go, letting other people experience the joy and Christ-moments of their campers. Many people firmly believe that camp can change a camper’s life. However, what people don't tend to think about is that a camper can drastically change the life of a counselor.

Your kids may lack wifi, their own beds, and familiarity at camp, but they do not lack being loved.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Under Pressure

In October, our staff realized there was something amiss with the water pressure in the Cedar Center. An investigation revealed that the oldest well pump on the camp (the one that serves the Cedar Center and surrounding facilities) had given out.

Failed attempts to remove and replace the 50 plus year old pump, along with new DEQ regulations, made it clear that we needed a new well. When all was said and done, the cost of this project would be $14,000 . . . an expense we had not anticipated.

As news about this need spread, all but $400 of the funds necessary for the project were raised within a matter of days. We were once again in awe of how God provided through the faithful support of SBC friends.

The new high production well is almost 200 feet deep and delivers over 50 gallons per minute of water at 50 pounds of pressure.  The new well was drilled in the flower bed on the lake side of the Cedar Center.

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.

  2014-07-15 10.46.59

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.

  2014-07-15 12.48.49

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).