Mid-summer, Overlook Lodge (also known as "The A Frame") is halfway to its new season with an almost fully refreshed interior... and it has already housed its first guests!
Many hours of deliberation and paint swatches down, a door color was chosen, along with stain colors for the siding, logs and chinking. As is often the case, we were amazed that the colors the team selected are very similar to original colors used around camp!
In choosing exterior updates, we wanted to honor the rich history of the camp while also updating to colors that complement the most recently built building (Journey's Inn, now being used as staff housing), and shine within the wooded surroundings! Much research went into color choices as well as finishes that will help preserve the historical buildings as Camp Bethel continues its "reboot" in the future.
As we await the perfect timing for roof and exterior updates, the inside of Overlook Lodge has already undergone major improvements. From rugs to wall art, bedding to lighting, the cabin's "adoptive family" has considered the needs and comfort of guests. Additions like a desk for reading or study in the king bedroom, hooks for towels and racks for luggage have all been thoughtfully placed. Our prayer is that guests will find comfortable furnishings that will last through many visits.
Lord willing, Camp Bethel will continue to have a variety of housing options from rustic historical cabins to a more "airbnb" style housing as we grow forward.
Still to go: new flooring to fix some needed repairs and wear and tear!
Above: the queen bedroom has lighting perfect to curl up and read in the evening, and a view down the tree-covered main road of camp... and yet is still nestled out of the way in the leafy overlook.
While we know only God can raise the spiritually dead, heal generational brokenness, grow men and women in the likeness and obedience to Jesus, we hope that we'll obey His leading to create a place where guests can rest, play, enjoy creation, and have distractions cleared to hear from Him.
Below: the bunk room is perfect for a family with kiddos or young adults, a small parent/child retreat, or a ladies' group.
Enjoy this gallery peek at stage 2 of the "reboot" of Overlook Lodge at Camp Bethel!
“Everything that parachurch ministries do must be done for the love of Jesus’s church,
local and universal.” - Jon Bloom, Desiring God
We love this sentiment shared at Desiring God. It is our heart's desire to come alongside the local and extended church, providing a place of welcome where individuals and groups can rest, learn, and grow... to come to know Christ personally, to grow in their walk with Him, and to follow the great commission, sharing the gospel from generation to generation.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says this: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
Just as He commanded the Israelites, God calls believers today to love Him fully, to love others because of Him, and to teach His commands to our family, neighbors, and the world.
Camp Bethel seeks to do this both by becoming an increasingly beautiful, efficient, cared-for, growing facility where guests can experience the beauty of creation away from their everyday, and by partnering with churches and other parachurch ministries as they, too, walk out the call to share Christ with others, as we follow Him.
So what is a parachurch ministry?
"The broad concept of parachurch ministry is wonderful. Para in Greek means to come “alongside.” By definition and design, then, parachurch groups ought to come alongside churches to provide ministries those churches cannot fulfill alone. (As one person observed, the difference between churches and parachurches is like the difference between families and soccer teams.)" (Jon Saunders, for The Gospel Coalition)
We are called to support, never replace the local church.
Camp Bethel is always looking to develop deeper relationships with church leaders, volunteers, community members and parents. We also seek out opportunities to grow in our skills and develop our property and facilities so that we can support the primary work God has called the church to do.
"Yes, it’s wonderfully true that the ministry of the local church carries out God’s Great Commission plan. But it’s equally true that this will only happen if the church goes and ministers to students like parachurches do. Congregations must leave the friendly confines of the church building and go into the dorms, the intramural buildings, and the coffee shops to make disciples." (Jon Saunders, The Gospel Coalition)
Locally, we have several initiatives and partnerships where we invest time and resources to more effectively live out this calling - these are some but not nearly all of those!
We are wholeheartedly committed to the Gospel.
At the heart of everything we do, we seek to first and foremost know Christ, and to make Him known. It is only by faithfully following this calling that we can effectively serve the church!
J. Mack Stiles says this: "One of the best reasons for a parachurch ministry to exist is to bring people together who are passionately committed to the gospel but who might not agree on every secondary doctrine. To be healthy, all parachurch ministries must maintain a deep commitment to the core of Christianity—the gospel—no matter what else they do. Beware of any parachurch organization that does not hold to the gospel with a firm grip." (From 9Marks Organization)
We actively pursue accountability and transparency with the local church and with our ministry partners.
We know that God's people MUST have healthy relationships with other believers for encouragement and for accountability to walk faithfully with Him. Our staff and volunteers seek to grow in relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ who will exhort, support, and speak the truth in love so that we might become increasingly effective in living out our mission.
"Being in accountability relationships with the church goes beyond mere church membership or attendance; many parachurch organizations already encourage or require church membership. What’s needed is transparent accountable relationships, both individual and corporate. Yes, parachurch ministries should hold their staff and members more accountable to robust involvement in gospel-centered churches, and to a lifestyle of submitting to church leadership. But further, parachurch leadership should seek out evangelical church leaders who are willing to challenge and exhort them..." (J. Mack Stiles, 9Marks)
We seek to always connect guests, visitors, and campers with their families and with their local church.
God has ordained parents and grandparents as the first disciplers of their children, and He has ordained the local church body as the "called out" community where biblical teaching, discipline, and discipleship are lived out. We actively look for ways to point campers and guests to connect intentionally with regular church attendance and to encourage God's work in and through Christian families.
We take seriously this admonishment from John Piper: "The default mode of undergraduate students will be to treat your parachurch ministry like church. You must go above and beyond to make sure your ministry funnels students into the church, not away from it." (From The Place and Purpose of Parachurch Ministries.)
We love how Brian Strider says it: "The gospel is the good news that sinners like us can be reconciled to God through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (Eph. 2:1-10). Being reconciled to God also means we’re reconciled to God’s people (Eph. 2:11-22). Becoming a Christian means being adopted into God’s family, and joining a local church is like showing up at the family dinner table." (From Like Families and Soccer Teams: Church and Parachurch."
Have more ideas? Email us. We'd love to talk more about how we can align with the work God is doing and partner with the Body to serve Him in it!
Together for the gospel, connecting generations in Christ,
- The Camp Bethel Team
Have you been to The Outpost?
The Outpost in Wise is the most cozy place to grab coffee in Wise, Virginia, tucked away in the center of Camp Bethel.
"Officially" opened as a coffee shop, event space and mercantile in July of 2022, this former camp kitchen has a fun history! It originally fed and housed up to a hundred campers in its outdoor "dining room," and grew to include "The Loft" dorm space upstairs. Over the years, this dorm housed the summer staff girls, who gained the nickname "loft ladies," and if walls could talk, there are probably some pretty memorable stories of late nights, tired volunteers, and lasting spiritual growth that took place there. In more recent years, the building also became the camp store for summer campers.
With the "reboot" of camp in 2021, we re-envisioned this space to become a year-round haven for local residents as well as a fun gathering spot for seasonal campers and guests... and the little coffeehouse in Wise was born.
Each week, we post updates to Facebook and Instagram, where you can catch up on our menu, see events we're hosting, and keep track of our schedule (which is evolving as we develop our volunteer barista team and learn the needs of our community!).
The Outpost opened during a summer camp week when history-making rainstorms made outdoor activities nearly impossible, so it quickly became the hang spot for the campers and volunteers. Patient visitors waited in long lines for cold and hot drinks and treats, and stayed for hours to play board games and chat. What an unexpected blessing to have this space in the perfect time!
The heart behind The Outpost is to be a place of welcome where guests can have a delicious drink or snack... but more, that they'll feel the love of Jesus even without a word. Whether it's meeting a friend for a quick catch-up date, studying for an exam (we made sure to bring in good wifi!), curling up on the sofa with a journal, or hosting a small group event, this historic little spot is our way of offering year-round welcome for our neighbors.
Depending on the day, you might find a fresh pot of soup waiting, a freshly baked breakfast item (with gluten-free menu options!), hot or cold herbal tea lattes, refreshing cold drinks and of course, amazing espresso drinks, including decaf and house-made syrups.
The Outpost also carries a growing selection of handmade goods, shirts, and pottery (we're proud to feature the artistry of locals Kaitlin and Joseph of Wood + Fired). We hope to support small businesses and provide a way to bless friends and family with gifts, as well as items you can use to make your own home more welcoming.
Rooted in the desire to "awaken the palate and nourish the soul," we hope to reflect the creative and welcoming heart of God in the items we serve and the space we create... a spot to pause from the busyness of everyday life and connect with others... with forever-impact. Our by-line is "coffee and community," and we mean it when we say we're making a place at the table for those who visit.
Our goal is to serve you one of the best cups of something good you've had... but also to subtly remind you you're valued by the One who made you... even if it's just that you get a smile and a kind greeting before you find a quiet spot to enjoy it!
(We've also recently opened our space for events rental, and we host weekly Bible studies for groups of all ages. Email us for more information!)
We invite you to come try a seasonal drink, shop for that special item for your home or a friend's, sit by the fire or watch the kids play on the playground, or go for a walk and enjoy this special place tucked away in a special town in the mountains of southwest Virginia. How can we serve you?
Meet the "A Frame." Originally built as staff housing by our founder's son, this cabin has hosted volunteer groups, short-term volunteers and long-term mission staff, and campers and guests of all ages.
Over the years it's held its own season after season, and it's time for some attention!
Last summer this sweet cabin got a quick overhaul with some hard work from a volunteer family who traveled all the way from New Jersey to serve at camp for several weeks! A fresh coat of paint for the bathroom walls and cabinets, a deep scrub, new curtains for the kitchen, flowers in the flower boxes, and recovered dining chairs were just a few of the improvements... it was a wonderful update!
Bunk beds in all three bedrooms meant this cabin could host several large volunteer and camp groups last year. It was great to have them and God worked in the lives of campers and blessed our local community, too! From free medical care for local residents to work on our local parks, to the largest group of teen campers to stay on campus, this cabin served its residents well. And now it's time for a much-needed overhaul!
It's official! The "A-Frame" has been adopted and will be getting a new roof and updated exterior, along with major updates to the interior. It will become more of an "airbnb" type cabin that will be perfect for families and small groups and some day, potential mission staff housing. Follow along to see more of this cabin's transformation over the coming months. (Below is the design board we're using for inspiration as we work with our ministry partners to transform and care for this beloved cabin!)
Are you interested in becoming part of Camp Bethel's ministry
by adopting a cabin?
Whether it's spearheading a major overhaul of long-standing buildings or committing to help maintain a space for the year, you can come alongside the ministry team and help create a place of comfort and welcome so that campers can rest and connect with their Savior. Families, churches, small groups, and volunteer groups can all become part of Adopt A Cabin on whatever level you're able.
We have more information here - head over and learn all about it! Want to contact us right away with questions and ideas? Email Brian, our director today.
Which cabin or community space is your favorite at camp? Share a comment below!
Rejoice! The Light of the world has come, and we can have life in Him!
As we celebrate the birth of our Lord, we also rejoice that His birth made way for His life, death and resurrection. And because of Him, we, too can have life forever with Him! This is why we do all we do - so we can point others to the Light of the World.
A few highlights as we also wrap up another year and anticipate a new one…
Are you on our email list? We’d LOVE to be able to keep up with you as we send updates… and to pray for you as you walk out your God-given calling. Head over to subscribe to our email list .
We are thankful for your partnership in the gospel, and we pray for you as you, too, rejoice in the coming of the Light of the World! Whether you are in Christ or you don’t know Him yet, we ask our God to show you His grace and truth this Christmas and in the year to come.
Brian and Angela Sackett, for the Camp Bethel crew