Read on for news and upcoming events this fall & winter at Birchwood Camp. Plus, get the report on all the great news from camp this summer. 

Summer 2014 Report

Summer 2014 was a busy and full season. Birchwood Camp organized six weeks of summer programs, primarily for children and teens. We served 213 campers, and we had a total of 1043 camper days during those six weeks. This was a slight increase from our camper numbers in 2013, which were at a 10-year high. But most importantly, campers found a safe, nurturing space at Birchwood Camp this summer and many had life changing experiences.

Here’s what some of our campers told us they learned this summer:

  • I learned that we should try to say nice things instead of mean things.
  • I learned that it’s okay to be yourself & God doesn't care about your flaws.
  • I learned to be brave and to take chances.
  • I learned that sometimes swallowing pride and asking for help is good.
  • I learned that I can be a good leader in a community.
  • I learned to connect to people, both socially and spiritually.
  • I learned that every one of God’s people is family and that we should love one another.

Praise God for these and all the lessons learned at camp, for they are deep and important experiences for our children and teens. May we continue to nurture these lessons in our campers and in ourselves. 


Please join us for our Annual Meeting, Dinner and Auction on October 26; we will celebrate the past year of ministry, elect new board members, enjoy a meal together, and support the mission of the camp through the live and silent auction. This year the funds raised at this event will support our camp scholarship fund and help add bathrooms to Fireweed Hall.

Event Details: The silent auction will open at 4:30 pm in Fireweed Hall at Birchwood Camp. The meal will begin at 5:00 pm, with the program and live auction to follow. We plan to wrap up the event by 7:30 pm. Kids are welcome to attend with their parents– we will have childcare available in the Main Lodge after dinner.

Seating is limited! RSVP: 907.688.2734 or

Shout Out to our Summer Staff

It’s difficult to convey the deep value of good staff and volunteers, but I can tell you one thing for sure: this year our summer staff and volunteers were excellent! One of the things that makes Birchwood Camp special is the caring, safe relationships kids create with their counselors & staff. In reality, it takes a village to make sure that the physical, social, spiritual, and emotional needs of every camper are being met during the week. We were grateful to have a strong, committed, compassionate “village” for our staff team every week this summer. THANK YOU to all who served on staff this year!

Improvements at Camp: Volunteers Make it Happen! 

Birchwood Camp relies on volunteers to complete many of our maintenance and improvement projects each summer. This year we hosted four different work teams for a total of 64 volunteers and approximately 2560 volunteer hours! We are very grateful to all those who served with us from Evergreen UMC (Colorado), Claremont UMC (California), First UMC Tuscaloosa (Alabama) and the NOMADS organization. We are also thankful for the many dedicated local volunteers that help to make Birchwood Camp a special place.

Here’s a few of the things our volunteers and staff accomplished this summer:

  • We are nearing completion on the lower level of Fireweed Hall - lots of mudding, taping, and electrical work was completed this summer. The windows are in, and the doors are ordered & on their way. We plan to start using the space this fall.
  • A new lifeguard shed and wood storage area was constructed near the fire circle.
  • The deck on cabin 1 was rebuilt & upgraded (which means all 6 cabins now have new ramps and decks)!
  • Our maintenance shed and storage barn was completely re-organized, and an annex was built for extra storage.
  • We started installing new, energy efficient front doors on all the sleeping cabins, as well as upgraded door knobs & hardware.
  • Our volunteers completed lots of fire mitigation and trail maintenance around camp; things are looking beautiful and clean!
  • A new ceiling and lighting were installed on the inside of Sourdough Cabin.
  • Lots of building were log-oiled, logs were split, windows were cleaned, gravel was spread & much more. We are thankful that our great volunteers are willing to help with the small and large projects, which are both equally important!


In Memory of Linda Jean Myers

All of us at Birchwood Camp were deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Rev. Linda Jean Myers in July. She had been recently appointed as the pastor at the UMC of Chugiak, and her whole family has been actively involved at Birchwood Camp over the years.  Linda Jean first came to Alaska on a mission trip to Birchwood Camp when she was in college, and it was at Birchwood Camp that she felt her call to ministry. Because of this deep connection to Birchwood Camp, the family felt it would honor her memory to start a memorial scholarship fund in her name, and they asked people to make donations in lieu of flowers.

Gifts designated towards scholarships at Birchwood may now be given to either one of our scholarship funds: the Bruce Roberts Memorial Fund or the Linda Jean Myers Memorial Fund. We are grateful for meaningful ways to honor & remember those who have come before us, while also building up our children & youth.


Summer/Fall 2014 Volunteers

Know any of the folks below? Next time you see them, give them a high-five and thank them for their volunteer work at Birchwood Camp! 

Aaron Smith, Adam Muhr, Alan Dennis, Ann Miquelon, Al Kline, Ally Brawner, Amara Meierhoff, Amy Floyd, Ann Noone, Austin Gilland, Barbara Kramarz, Bay Tipping, Benee Braden, Betsy McGrew, Betty Burke, Bob Bontz, Bryan Miquelon, Carlo Rapanut, Clint Fulford, Conoco Phillips' Day of Caring Work Team, Courtney Darnell, Craig Fulford, Dale Kenyon, Daniel Valette, Dave Little, Dave Wachsmuth, David Duprow, Debbie Hayson, Dennis Holway, Dick Tipping, Dorothy Goodman, Dorothy Raymond, Doug Handlong, Eddie Templeton, Ellen Franklin, Emily Hayson, Emily Goodrum, Emily Ripley, Faith Owen, Genaro Cordova, Geoffrey Woods, Gretchen Moritz, Hilary LaConte, Ibrahim Al Obeydi, Janette Bramer, Jenna White, Jenny Smith, Jeremy Beckett, Jessie Boyne, Jessie Herring, Joan Stassel, Joey Bramer, Joey Miquelon, John Quinley, Joseph Noone, Joyce Hughes, Judy Kline, Kallie Handlong, Karen Burch, Kathy Ozlowski, Kelsey Lien, Ken Brown, Kwon Anderson, Lannis Haldeman, Lauren Hawes, Laurie Shields, LeeAnn Wohlgemuth, Leif Lidin-Lamon, Liz Ashlock, Leonard East, Les Lakie, Linda Ploog, Linda Stamer, Lori Royer, Lucca Shields, Luke Johnson, Maggie Boyne, Kay Shearer, Margaret Lakie, Marian Brown, Mark Burch, Mary Lee, Meagan Parker, Melanie Little, Mike Stratton, Miles Harlan, Monica Bazaldua, Nathan Woods, Nikki Rueb, Nora Ortiz Fredrick, Phyllis East, Richard Raymond, Robert Hicks, Robin Bassett, Robin Roberts, Roscoe Bayless,  Sandra Woods, Sarah Sailor, Scott Henry, Seth Roberts, Shane Inch, Shannon Templeton, Shawn Gilland, Sheldon Haase, Spencer Martin, Steve Lambert, Susan Roberts, Susie Holway, Teri Inch, Terri Donati, Terry Bass, Tim Floyd, Tim Ploog, Todd Owen, Todd Zizzi, Virginia Bontz, Von Cawvey, Wesley Boyne, Weston Donati-Leach, Xan Anderson. 

Thanks to our Supporters

Thanks to all the individuals and families that supported Birchwood Camp between March 20 - Sept. 10, 2014:

Al & Judy Kline, Allison & Barron McLain, Ann Larabee, Ann Murray, Arthur Beck, Barry & Teresa McLaughlin, Becky Krause, Betty Burke, Betty Charnon, Betty Lange, Betty Jo Worthington, Bruce & Candace Morinitti, Carolyn Hill, Cathy & Chris Barnes, Chip Derrick, Cory & Kodiak Cullen, Dan Lien & Terry Gryting, Dave & Kim Beckett, David Duprow, David & Aleen Fison, David & Lori King, David & Sharon Fetzner, Debra Wallace & Charles Graham, Donna Marie Addison, Dorothy Roberts, Dyann & Bryan Hardy, Earendil Burd, Eleanor Franke, Elizabeth Engle, Ellen White, Erin & Matthew Narus, Erynne & Ian Smith, Esther & Dale Davidson, Floyd & Mary Bettis, Fran Lynch, Francine Copeland, Francis & Janice Dumerauf, Gail Dudley, Gayle Miller, Gina Tabachki, Greg & Jane Taylor, Harry & Sandra Barnes, Heather Dean, Janet Ulrich, Jeff & Cindy Worrell, John & Barbara Shaffer, John & Jacqueline McIntosh, John & Lynn Miller, Judy Burd, Judy Gastrock, Judy & Bob Smith, Julia Chinn, Kathie & C. Ronald Platt, Kathryn Ozlowski, Lanelle Montgomery, Lee Ann Wohlgemuth, Les & Margaret Lakie, Lex Freita & Reynaldo Soliz, Lourdes Simmons, Luthien Burd, Makeleta Berry, Margie & Rich Runser, Margo & Bill Slingerland, Melinda & Mark Geskey, Michael Bender, Mike Redmond, Mike & Barbara Stratton, Morgan Christen & Jim Torgerson, Nathan & Sandra Woods, Nell Mitchell, Omer & Carol Carey, Peter & Karen Perry, Phyllis Sullivan, Rachel Runyan, Reta & Scott Boone, Robert & Nancy Raymond, Robert Bowers, Robin & David Bassett, Robyn & Andy Wallace, Rocky & Helen Howard, Sandra Anderson, Sandra Hague, Sandra Hall, Summer & Andrew Cutting, Tamara Gonion, Theresa & Melvin Vargas-Tutaan, Thomas Green, Tim & Linda Ploog, Tom & Abbe Dunning Newbury, Tom & Ann York, Tresa & Jerome De La Cruz, Tricia Saulnier Littlejohn, Vandana & Manoj Ingle, Von & Jan Cawvey, Warren & Eloise Falk, Wendy Daniel, Yuh Yin Hsi Liu. 
Thanks to all the churches and organizations that supported Birchwood Camp between March 20 - Sept. 10:

Alaska United Methodist Conference, Anchor Park UMC, Christ First UMC Wasilla, Claremont UMC, Conoco Phillips Matching Gifts, Eldora UMC, First UMC Tuscaloosa, Jewel Lake Parish, Saint John UMC Anchorage, UMC of Chugiak, UMC of Evergreen, United Way of Anchorage, Willow UMC.
*We appreciate all our volunteers & camp supporters! Please contact us if we've made an error or left someone off this list. We will make sure to publish it correctly in the next e-newsletter.

Young Adult Retreat (YAR):
October 24-25

All young adults in their 20s & 30s are invited to Young Adult Retreat 2014. This two day retreat is designed to be a good mix of downtime to relax and fun scheduled activities to do together.  This year we’re offering a Saturday only option for those who can’t stay overnight. Childcare is provided during the worship & discussion portions.
Get more information about the retreat or register online at

Winter Youth Break-Away: December 27-30

Teens in grades 6-12 are invited to attend our annual winter camp at Birchwood Camp. Campers will have the opportunity to build community, make new friends, try new winter activities, experience different and unique worship styles, and have some fun during their winter break!

Registration for Winter Youth Break-Away will open on November 1, 2014. Details and online registration available at:

Meet our new Office Manager

In July we welcomed Ms. Radie Rapanut to our staff team as our new office manager. Radie holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration, and her organizational and administrative skills are a tremendous blessing to the camp.  In addition, she has a great passion for camping ministry and has been involved as a volunteer at Birchwood Camp for many years. We are truly grateful to have her on our staff. Say hello to  Radie next time you call the camp office!

Camp Directors on Renewal Leave this Fall

Our Camp Directors, Marie & Stephen Sweezey, are celebrating 5 years at Birchwood Camp! This fall they are taking a well deserved break to help them refresh and re-energize. They will be traveling internationally September 15 through October 23 and will be mostly “unplugged” during their time away. The camp will still be in full operation thanks to our other staff and dedicated volunteers. Feel free to contact the camp office if you need assistance with something while Marie and Stephen are away.

Our Wish List: 

· A riding lawn mower
· A small tractor with front end loader and PTO drive
· A new gas range (residential) for the kitchen in Caribou Cabin
· A generator (call for specifics)
· A kayak to be used by our lifeguards
· A sponsor for our new outdoor pavilion (to replace the failing picnic shelter)
· Sponsors for the furniture (tables & chairs) for Lower Fireweed Hall
· Your unused air miles to help transport our interns and summer staff to Alaska

Birchwood Camp is in need of these new or gently used items. Please contact our office if you have something to donate. You can always find our wish list on our website

Our Board of Directors

Aaron Smith, Benee Braden, Dave Wachsmuth, David Duprow, Doug Handlong, Joyce Hughes, John Quinley, Liz Ashlock, Mike Stratton, Nathan Woods, Nora Ortiz Fredrick, Robert Hicks and Teri Inch. 

Our Staff

Camp Director: Marie Sweezey
Program Director and Camp Manager: Stephen Sweezey
Food Service Manager:
Berneita Norris
Office Manager: Radie Rapanut
Reservations Coordinator:
Liz Hoffman
Camp Hosts: 
Brent and Liz Hoffman
Camp Cooks: 
Megan Rutherford, Sandra Nerlfi, and Tana Noe 

2014 Summer Interns: 
Andrew Nelson, Brandon Hansen, Breann Lindsey, Clayton Farmer, Julie Greenleaf, Marah Hild-Ladebauche, Philip Lambert, and Phoebe Pearson

Thanks for reading! 

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Our phone & fax number is:  907-688-2734
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