Mandaville winter panorama




Middle School Snow Bowl – girl’s cardboard sled competition

Winter programming for BCM’s Mandaville Camp & Retreat Center in upstate New York near the Canadian border wrapped up with a free family snow day Saturday, January 13th, and three separate overnight Snow Bowls, each welcoming a different age group. For younger ages, these events last twenty-four hours from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon. A teen Snow Bowl over school break lasts three days. The Snow Bowls are designed to reconnect with summer campers as well as to welcome new arrivals. Along with Bible lessons, worship, small group discussion, great food, and virtually NO sleep, campers enjoy outdoor activities like tubing, sledding, or building snowmen and forts. When cold, they can retreat indoors for foosball or board games.

The first 2018 Snow Bowl for 4th-7th graders January 19-20 ran smoothly with great tubing conditions. Then came twenty-four energetic, 1st-4th graders February 2-3 with no male counselors to be found. This resulted in a crazy, exhausting weekend, especially for Mandaville director Bob Emmett as he led programming, singing, taught three Bible lessons, and counseled. Another staff member, Dave, pitched in with counseling in between cooking meals. Despite minimal sleep, the kids were all out sledding by 7:30 am! But for all their energy, they listened attentively as Bob shared about three different children mentioned in the Bible whom God used in big ways.

The third Snow Bowl for grades 7-12 was held February 22-24. These teens come from a wide area, and after getting to know each other at summer camps, they look forward to reuniting for a weekend. Warm weather conditions left more mud than snow, but that enabled the teens to experiment with new field games. One youth group from Plattsburg, NY, brought their youth pastor and two parents to help. An international Intervarsity chapter provided the Bible teacher, and a teen summer staffer returned to lead worship for his peers. All of which made the weekend more relaxing for Mandaville staff. Campers left with farewells of “See you in the summer!” The accompanying youth pastor summed up as he gathered his own group: ““Our kids were very excited about coming out here again, and now I know why!”

“We are so thankful for all the prayer support, volunteers, and all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make these events possible,” express camp leaders Bob and Sharon Emmett. “Our campers are strengthened through God’s Word, build healthy relationships, laugh, and have loads of fun!




Teen Winter Blast concert with Christian hip-hop artist, Humble Tip

Winter Blast seems to be an appropriate title to this year’s winter season, one blast after another!  A special Blast took place at Streamside, BCM’s Camp in the Poconos February 9-11, but not a cold one.  One hundred thirteen teens, plus leaders and volunteers, gathered to experience the warmth of God’s Word along with a lot of chilly fun indoors and out.

Streamside director Craig Vincent and soccer coach Glodi Konga recreated real-life conversations over the phone, on a golf cart, sitting around an imaginary campfire, around the biblical principle in Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  In follow-up discussion groups, campers took an honest look at what they wanted most, learning that if they delight first in God, God will either endorse those desires or replace them with  his own desires. On Saturday evening, teens enjoyed a concert from Christian hip-hop artist Humble Tip (aka Jason Lewis).  An eight-member band from NYC, Submerged Worship, led worship for the weekend.

Along with the usual sledding and tubing, Streamside’s new Urban Outreach program director James Forte organized a new twist on a TV classic, “The Amazing Race to Christ”. Along with standard fare of outdoor winter sports, he offered opportunities to each team to help dig a golf cart out of the snow (see picture), find lost keys, and pick up a sudden mess in the dining room.  As competing teams discovered how many points they missed by ignoring those needs, they understood they’d been running the wrong race! Overall, the weekend was a wonderful time of discovering that God wants what is best for us and what will make us truly happy, as the event motto sums up: “I want . . . what God wants . . . and I love it!”

Teen Winter Blast devotional


Originally Published in BCM World April 2018

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