Camp Sentinel 2021 program brochure https://www.campsentinel.org/camps
“As they stepped off the map into uncharted territory, Meriwether Lewis discovered that what was in front of him was nothing like what was behind him, and that what had brought him to this point in the journey would take him no farther. Lewis faced a daunting decision: What would he do now? Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery were looking for a water route, but now had run out of water. How do you canoe over mountains?” Canoeing the Mountains Tod Bolsinger
This past year has been uncharted territory. What is in front of us is nothing like what was behind us, yet the mission at Camp Sentinel continues strong.
We opened this past summer for day, family, adult camp and for personal and family retreats. This fall we hosted Student Care – a place of remote learning for families in need of care for their children while parents headed off to work and we also offered weekly meals to the community in love.
This is how we stay missional by applying God's unchanging Truth in love to a changing world.
What is ahead?
I take comfort in these verses from Lamentations 3:22-23:
"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
Camp provides a place where we can take unhurried moments to focus on the steadfast love of our unchanging God. At camp, we are reminded of how immovable God is through time in the quiet, gazing at the bright stars at night. Our faith deepens as we are reminded that the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases…great is Thy faithfulness.
In 2021 we will explore…
- what it means to be unhurried as we enjoy patient time in nature
- how to be undistracted by maintaining focus on what’s important
- discovering how our faith helps to maintain our hope in the Lord
- and become balanced through listening to God through His Word.
Thank you for your prayers, your support, for standing with us in ministry as we stay the course and look forward to what is ahead.
See you on the mountaintop!
Kevin Van Brunt, Pk
One of the questions that the COVID epidemic has provoked in me is: “What am I missing?” After a Christian journey that has continued for 53 years, including 38 years of ministry, what could I be blind to? John Calvin wrote that Scripture is the lens by which I see the world, but I worry that I have looked through the lenses with sideways vision, maybe believing I have seen it all. Enter COVID, political turmoil, struggling churches, bursts of new energy and I wonder what, because of comfort and habit, have I missed. Learning about technology is learning a new way to see the world. I still like going to the hardware store and wouldn’t know Amazon sold hardware if my family didn’t point this out to me. (I plan to still visit the hardware store.) And what is this Netflix thing?
Recently I completed a course on cultural intelligence and realized I am really a Northern European, stubborn, old cuss who idolizes self-sufficiency. But I am committed to continue reading and listening. I have finished Catherine Parr’s 1546 work, “The Lamentation of a Sinner”. I am re-reading Teresa of Avila’s “The Interior Castle”. I have about finished “Sacred Overlap” by JR Briggs. I am reading “The Pastor in a Secular Age” by Andrew Root. On my reading list is Alice Matthews’ (who taught with Haddon Robinson) “Gender Roles and the People of God” and Wheaton New Testament professor Esau Macauly’s “Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope”. On back order is Leonard Sweet’s and Mike Beck’s book from Fresh Expression “Contextual Intelligence.” I do not read to confirm my thoughts, but I find myself reading to see what I might have missed. Purposely, I read for understanding, whether or not I arrive at the same conclusion or solution. Maybe I am just an old guy reading from another place and time, but I believe a Christian imperative is to understand other people and peoples, times and places, and the crucible of human history. Anger, rage, vindictiveness, threats and acts of violence are not of Christ. Degrading and dehumanizing others are not of Christ. I want to understand others as reflecting Imago Dei and realizing that the same grace I hope others will extend to me, I will first extend to others; that ultimately we might together know Christ’s grace and reign.
A lot has happened that I could have missed in 38 years of ministry. Sometimes in the turmoil and compulsions of temporal pursuit I have even missed Christ. But even now, I believe one can honor Christ by pursuing what one has not clearly seen. Christ understands the human condition so as to die and redeem us. In our limited way, can we understand others in whose condition we share? Regardless of COVID, political turmoil, fatigue, and the temptation to entrench, there is the True Light that shows the way and casts Itself upon the soul’s corners.
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said ‘God have mercy on me a sinner’.” Luke 18:13
A few days ago, I found myself at the waterfront wondering why we were open this summer. It would have been easier and perhaps financially beneficial to remain closed – “shelter in place”. God spoke to me clearly, “Walk in Confidence.” This confidence we walk in requires us to follow.
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8
This year has been challenging for all of us. When we read that scripture, remembering this promise of God- that He goes BEFORE us and is with us, we find peace in our faith.
This summer, 8 weeks, 351-day campers served, 12 staff, 26 volunteers and ZERO covid. Thanks be to God! This summer is not what we planned when we wrote the brochure last fall, and not what I thought when the Bible study theme hit my heart over a year ago, but here we are.
At check out the other day a camper parent looked me in the eyes and through her mask said, “thank you”. Her glance and her words reminded me why we were open. The words hope, encouragement, confidence, fresh air, certainty in uncertain times all have special meaning to me especially this summer.
We stepped-out in faith. Now we need your help. This year Sentinel is looking at a $191,000 deficit. We know finances are a challenge for some and we know some have capacity to give and support. Here is the ask, we are asking 100 friends or churches to give $1000 and 300 friends to give $300. This would help Sentinel recover and continue ministry. These gifts may be a one-time gift or met in payments. A local pastor approached me with the idea and pledged $1000, so we are on our way…. 399 to go.
Sentinel is a ministry and we need your help. Please prayerfully consider helping the place we all love and help us continue to minister to children and families. Tax deductible donations may be sent to the camp office or made at www.campsentinel.org/ministry-partners
As of September 30th, 52 friends and churches have stepped up to support the mission of camp at $54,194! We are thankful for your help and God's provision. The mission of camp continues as we have opened the doors to Student Care and Thursday meals for our community in love. Student care is a place where families may send their students for remote learning this Fall. Here is a recent article in the New Hampshire Business Review.
As we look forward, we are planning the 2021 season and the theme will be released November 1st- stay tuned!
Hope to see you soon on the mountaintop,
Kevin Van Brunt “Pk”
Executive Director, Camp Sentinel
The purpose of Camp Sentinel is to create a welcoming environment for Christian relationship building and spiritual renewal. Within the stillness of God’s creation and through the guidance of the staff, people are moved from discovery into authentic relationships with others and with Jesus Christ.
29 Sentinel Lodge Road, Center Tuftonboro, NH 03816
Gifts may be sent to 93 South Main Street, Suite 201 West Lebanon, NH 03784
I have always treasured the writings of Henri Nouwen and many of his words have remained with me on my Christian journey and on my living in a context of church leadership. One of my favorite challenges and images from Nouwen, is if I was standing on the stage of my life, with no props, or costume, or script, would I be content to live on that stage with nothing but my relationship with Christ? Would every thing both good and bad that brings to me context and meaning, be meaningless in the light of knowing Christ? During this pandemic and turmoil Nouwen’s picture and challenge have often returned to my mind. What is the meaning of COVID rearranging a society and the Church? Personally, COVID did slow me down. Admittedly, cutting off a thumb aided the process. I found more time being with God. One day I just took an inventory of all the ways God has blessed my life. Another day, I took an inventory of my sins. Scripture has spoken louder to me.
During this season the call of the Old Testament prophets spoke the loudest. Whether Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, or Jonah, there is this invitation to return to God. As Isaiah speaks for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel in chapter 30, he writes “return to me and rest” and “in quietness and trust” is first your salvation and then your strength. The Kingdom of Judah was in turmoil over whether or not to form an alliance with the Egyptians or the Assyrians. The people had become fear driven, making plans on how to escape, or who to escape to.. And once again God pleads for his people to return to Him and receive grace and mercy. There are seasons where God strips us of things; props, backdrops, and costumes, so we can stand, or kneel, or sit with Christ alone. Is my hope in alliances I can make, stuff that I call my own, my own script that I write, and does living in a COVID world reveal these futilities? On a barren stage, or at least a reduced one, partially empty, Christ is closer.
Not only is COVID and turmoil removing and reshuffling our personal props and backdrops, I believe the Holy Spirit is doing the same with the Church. There is a great reduction, and sifting in the Body of Christ. This is a time of jettisoning the props. Simple things become more important: baking bread, writing a note, a phone call and prayer. There are big questions about how to live as the Body Christ during a difficult season. There is grief that Christians can be angrily divided, entrenched in opinions and convictions. But all this need not prevail. When all the ways we have “done church” are put on hold, or rearranged, even questioned, we are more inclined to sit with Christ and value each other. The post-COVID church is a church that will need time to understand itself. Maybe our thinking, our presuppositions, will not be clear for another couple of years? There will be ripples upon ripples we have not even anticipated. And there will be temptations to try to “turn back the clock”, or “recapture what we were”. Or a longing for comforts that dishonor our Lord. There are proactive questions to ask our God, “What must we relinquish to receive your future?” “What are You saying to us?” "What do we need to repent of?” 'What do you wish to bless us with?” “How do we obey you?”
When I think of the Body of Christ, I believe we face an historic moment during this time of COVID fatigue and uncertainty. Maybe we are relinquishing Christendom and receiving Christ in a fresher and deeper way. The COVID meaning is finding again we have no Lord but Christ, no cause but the Gospel, no Truth except what Christ blesses us with. And really no control over immense events, no matter how many scripts we re-write and how many props we place around us. Maybe we are to be delivered from a world of potted plants and elevator music. For Christian and Church, COVID may mean we see Jesus Christ clearer and closer than if a pandemic had never arrived.
In Jesus name,
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