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3300 River Road
Mount Bethel, PA 18343

(570) 897-6000

Christian retreat center for New Jersey and Pennsylvania marriage retreat, singles retreat, women's retreat and youth summer camp in Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania.

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Tales of Tuscarora

Would you be interested in submitting a piece for Tales of Tuscarora? We are always looking for stories to tell! Email lindsay@tuscarora.org

Tusca-Romance - Lloyd and Kathy Svendsen

Tuscarora

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The best Tales of Tuscarora are of life-shaping moments, warmed hearts, and hold a little piece of our history. Lloyd and Kathy Svendsen tell a story of a Tuscarora that encompasses all of these things.

Lloyd and Kathy met each other in Princeton, New Jersey during the early 1970's. Before they met, Kathy was in charge of summer youth recreation in their town and Lloyd and his brother attended a baseball game as chaperones.  Kathy initially turned down his offer for a date after the game, but soon after she changed her mind and the two were married on July 14, 1973.

Being married so young they didn't have the money for an exotic and luxurious honeymoon in Hawaii, but they were happy to stay local in the Poconos as long as they were together and alone on vacation for the very first time. As a member of the Bunker Hill Lutheran Brethren Church, Lloyd's family was familiar with the newly founded Tuscarora Inn and Conference Center. His grandmother would come up for six weeks in the summer time and his younger brother would attend bible camps. He suggested the unconventional honeymoon location and the two traveled to the Tuscarora grounds in their 1965 Plymouth Valiant.

They booked Cabin 21 which was frequently used by Lloyd's family and had a view of the pool (only one at the time.) They arrived to a celebratory greeting from their friends who had filled up their cabin with balloons. On their first morning they were even announced at breakfast and given a round of applause. They fondly remember sitting on the bed in their cabin opening wedding cards and being shocked at the generous $20 gifts!

This Tuscarora was much smaller; the grounds consisted of the cabins, the pool, and a smaller dining room. Nevertheless, Kathy and Lloyd both speak fondly of their time here, remembering especially how delicious their meals were - they were served Norwegian pancakes for breakfast, and meatballs and gravy for dinner. Lloyd says, "If it's possible though, the food has gotten even better."

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In addition to the grounds, they were able to enjoy the surrounding area. One night they traveled to see a movie in a tiny theater in town. Only one film played at a time and they just headed in to see whatever was available.

We saw this movie, and we were so impressed with the movie. When we got done we were so surprised by how good it was! And it was of course the Sound of Music!
— Kathy Svendsen

Another day they visited a carnival nearby, making use of what was in the area to entertain themselves. Lloyd was determined to win Kathy a big teddy bear as a prize - and he lost $40 of their wedding money playing round after round! Kathy was able to talk the vendor into returning some of it since they were honeymooners.

The week went by quickly for them, venturing off the grounds during the day and returning for supper in the evenings. In the first few years after their honeymoon they returned to Tuscarora, spending weeks with family and with their church. After moving to Arizona a few years later, their connection faded.

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This summer, their son Lance was invited to come help with the LOUD Summit organizing a Glow Run with his organization RunAnyway. When they found out where he was going, they were eager to revisit the grounds they had celebrated such a momentous occasion on, so they traveled with him to assist with the event.

Many things have changed on the grounds of Tuscarora since they last visited in the late 1970's. Lloyd and Kathy were shocked to be given a room in the "new" Riverside building - and to enjoy having air conditioning in their room. They were happy to see the growth and transformation that has happened in Tuscarora over the years, and were even happier to be able to share this special place with their son.

There are some things that haven't changed. Tuscarora is still a place that welcomes everyone onto our grounds and offers the highest quality in Christian hospitality. We offer a community of believers who are able to fellowship and enjoy refreshment and retreat whenever its needed most. It connects generations of people from honeymooners, to athletes, to young adults to worship together and experience God's blessings.

Now that they have relocated again to New Jersey, they are looking forward to making Tuscarora a part of their future, and the future of their growing family.

Q & A - Brent Barkey, LOUD Activities Coordinator

Tuscarora

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Brent Barkey

Activities Coordinator, LOUD Summit

Brent Barkey, a lifelong guest, volunteer, and overall fan of Tuscarora gives you a glimpse of his story below. Get to know him, and why he's excited to be a part of this year's LOUD Summit.

1.       When did you first come to Tuscarora?

I was a Junior Week camper, way back in the dinosaur ages of the 90s.  I went there knowing a few people from my church, never imagining how much Tuscarora would change my life over the 20 years that would follow.

2.       What different roles have you held? Do you have a favorite?

I've been involved in SO many of Tuscarora's ministries and in SO many ways that I honestly don't think I can list all of them!  A Junior Week camper and counselor, a Teen Week camper and counselor, Summer Staffer, Summer Staff Head Counselor, Leisure Week volunteer, Winter Weekend counselor and staff, and so many more! I may hold the record!

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3.       What sort of impact has Tuscarora had on your life?

It would be an understatement to say Tuscarora has helped my faith. I truly believe my relationship with God wouldn't be as strong as it is without the relationships that have been built over time there. God brought so many people into my life through this place which has altered my life for the better - and that never would have been possible without the ministries they offer.

4.       What is your favorite memory from your time at Tuscarora?

I have too many funny memories to share, but one of my absolute favorites was a night the dining hall had flooded from a huge storm. We had to wake up in the middle of the night to clear out the water before breakfast.  Everyone was in a terrible mood from not being able to sleep, but we were determined to make the best of it.  With this in mind, we basically turned the whole dining hall into a slip and slide, and we were sliding around in the middle of the night, and laughing harder than you could believe.

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...We basically turned the whole dining hall into a slip and slide, and we were sliding around in the middle of the night, and laughing harder than you could believe.

I have a very vivid memory of being on Summer Staff, and after a particularly hard day, our counselors noticed that we were all struggling and overtired.  They took us for a walk together to the basketball courts where we sat, talked, prayed, and sang worship songs.  I remember feeling a sense of community like never before.  Everyone sitting with me in that moment felt like a family.  God did so much more than refresh my tired soul from that day, but showed me the importance of community and worship, and how it can bring people together, even in hard times.  

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5.       What unique experiences have you had because of Tuscarora that another person may not have experienced?

During my time in college, I was moving around a lot, due to internships and other jobs.  I was moving to a city where I had never lived before, and had no idea what I was going to do.  Without even asking, an old friend from Summer Staff called me and invited me to move in to save money.  To me, that shows how strong the bonds of Tuscarora are.  It builds a friendship so strong that you can welcome them into your home as more than just a guest, and continue to build a relationship.  

Not only that, butmy experiences of Tuscarora helped me meet diverse people of different backgrounds. This helped me to learn about how each individuals testimony is unique, and our life stories can often be our biggest tool. By living in an environment like this I was able to learn how to defend my own faith.

6.       Who is someone from a Tuscarora experience that has impacted your life that you wouldn’t have met otherwise?

I remember a Teen Week counselor, Dave, who has the honor of being part of my life during my most awkward teenage years.  I had no idea who I was and where I stood.  He did something so simple that taught me so much: he sat with me, listened to me, and prayed with me.  He loved being the center of attention, and owning a room, but he was also open and honest about what he believed.  Even though I didn't really want to sit and discuss my faith with someone who I barely know, he showed me the benefit of learning other people's perspectives and learning to view life, and faith, through another's eyes.  

After we were done praying, he told me how thankful he was for talking and praying together, and told me he loved learning about faith from me.  I immediately thought: What on earth would I have to offer, as someone who has no idea what I'm doing with my faith?!  I thought I was learning so much from HIM! Testimonies can change lives, if you take the time to hear them, no matter who you are.  

7.       What role will you be playing at the LOUD Summit and why are you excited about the weekend?

I am going to be coordinating the activities during free time.   I am so excited that Tuscarora is offering a place for Young Adults to come and learn about their faith.  I have no idea what to expect, but I know Tuscarora's track record of putting on amazing events, so I know I am going to learn a ton.

8.       What do you think makes Tuscarora a special place?

Tuscarora is a safe, but fun place to explore your faith.  Not only does Tuscarora make you feel welcome, it gives you a sense of purpose, and a sense of caring that you don't get anywhere else. 

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9.       Is there anything that you are excited about in Tuscarora’s future?

I love to see Tuscarora taking the time to find new ways to engage Christians and further their faith.  I know they will be a big part of not only my life, but the life of my family as well. 

To me, that shows how strong the bonds of Tuscarora are. It builds a friendship so strong that you can welcome them into your home as more than just a guest, and continue to build a relationship.

Please consider joining us September 8 - September 10 at the first ever LOUD Summit at Tuscarora Inn. Register by visiting tuscarora.org/millenials. We look forward to seeing you then!

Love, Learning, and Leadership - Summer Staff Counselors

Tuscarora

Brianna Esposito

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About a week before the Staffers appear, ready to work and grow together, the Summer Staff counselors arrive in order to prepare for the summer and plan every detail that will make the experience memorable for everyone involved. Without a doubt, Summer Staff is an integral piece of Tuscarora’s ministry but the role of the counselors is to be a source of leadership, support, mentorship, and, inevitably, a sort of parental guardianship for each and every Staffer in their care over the course of each session.

Over the years, a variety of young people have taken up the call to come and serve in this capacity. Perhaps out of a desire to give back to the program what their counselors did for them, or to gain experience in counseling and ministering to teenagers in order to pursue such a calling in the future. Whatever their motivation, each counselor brings to the table their own strengths and experiences that, when brought together, create a powerful environment to enrich the lives of their kids.

I came back because of how much I’ve gotten out of the program and grew from it. I learned how to really work, and I wanted to impact the Staffers the way I was impacted by my counselors.
— Kylie McCann

I know I will never forget the counselors that taught me and prayed over me and remembered me for the sessions I was involved. In my teenage eyes, they were the pillars of faith and love that I hoped to become one day. Now that I’m older and, to some level, share their charge of making the summer a special one, I am gratified that I’m able to see them for the very capable and promising young adults that they are. For all the struggles that come along with mixing so many personalities and backgrounds, they manage to focus and come together as a single body that their Staffers can lean on and look up to in every circumstance. This previous summer in particular, I couldn’t help but swell with pride as I witnessed five very dear friends – four of them former Staffers themselves – fulfill their duties with admirable grace and maturity.

This year definitely taught us to put our pride aside and compromise with each other. We were able to cooperate and learn together.
— Caleb Lee

From what I witnessed, this summer of 2017 was a special and singular one. I have never seen such a strong bond between Staffers and their leaders, and it gave both sessions an air of happiness and relaxation that seemed totally effortless. The kids departed for home in high spirits, and the counselors could be satisfied with a job well done. With that, of course, came satisfaction that they also would leave changed for the better, all thanks to the Staffers they served.

I learned more from [the Staffers] than anything else. Coming in to this, willing to learn from their life experiences and letting God build relationships in so many ways was so important because I’ve never had this kind of relationship with a counselor; I’ve never seen this before. It was really cool to be a part of something like that for this year.
— Kiana Schwab
Josiah Houseal, Kylie McCann, Katriel Schwab, Kiana Schwab, Caleb Lee 2017 Summer Staff Counselors

Josiah Houseal, Kylie McCann, Katriel Schwab, Kiana Schwab, Caleb Lee
2017 Summer Staff Counselors

Beyond their responsibilities behind the scenes, however, the counselors are also blessed to be able to enjoy the summer just as much as their Staffers After spending hours in order to create and organize the daily activities, they get to enjoy the experience of watching their kids take part, as well as be involved themselves. The games and events are a special way for the Staffers and counselors to bond together outside of work and make memories that are especially for their family.

Agreed upon by all the counselors, regarding their most treasured moments with Summer Staff, were the private and uplifting words of encouragement and gratitude that they received from the kids. Their job is a difficult one that can leave a person drained and uninspired, but across the board, what kept them all going during the most testing moments was hearing what a positive affect they were having on those teens in their care.

One of the best feelings is getting positive feedback from the Staffers. Hearing ‘I’m so glad that you’re my counselor’ and ‘You impacted me so much’ . . . especially on the days we need it most . . . to be told that by a young person you’re serving was just very special.
— Kylie McCann

All the counselors came away from the summer changed for the better, having been affected so powerfully by the Summer Staff and each other. This year, I was gratified to witness how important the position is, and how much of a change it can make for all the teenagers who come through the program. Those young men and women who take up the charge of this role have an opportunity to influence many different kids who might need such a person in their lives more than ever. The pressures of so much expectation teach them to rely on one another, as well as take seriously then need to work to the best of their ability to reach the hearts of their kids. With a focus on God and a yearning to give Him the glory through their efforts, the counselors who come through Tuscarora as a part of Summer Staff are in a place to do amazing things and bring about a palpable change in young people who will carry on growing in such an example.

10 Reasons You Should Run the Tusc Mudder

Tuscarora

We know how it is. You've had the Tuscarora Fall and Winter brochure on your coffee table for the last few months and you've been thinking about the Men's Retreat. Then you started seeing some stuff online about this event called the Tusc Mudder. You're not sure if you're really into the idea of climbing over walls and getting muddy.

But today I want to tell you why you should DEFINITELY try the Tusc Mudder at this year's Men's Retreat. You will have the time of your life, feel a sense of accomplishment, and fellowship in the process!

Here is a list of 10 reasons you should try the 2017 Tusc Mudder:

1. Healthy Lifestyle

You don't just run during the Tusc Mudder. You run, jump, swing, swim, roll, and crawl. You'll be doing exercises you never imagined when you signed up for that gym membership a few years ago. And coming to Tuscarora for the exercise opportunities - what a great excuse!

2. Fellowship

Nothing brings people closer together than fierce competition - that's the saying right?

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3. Victory (in Christ!)

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." - Phillippians 4:13

4. Ice Cream

There's lot's of opportunity for refreshment at the Men's Retreat. If you're running the Tusc Mudder no one can make you feel guilty about ice cream from the snack shop twice a day, everyday.

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5. Instagram Opportunities

Pictures or it didn't happen.

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6. Bragging Rights

When you get home, all you need to say is you finished. No one, not even your family, needs to know how long it took or how many people helped you. Speaking of...

7. Serving Opportunities

Sometimes, in order to finish the obstacles you may need to use team work. When you're hoisting someone over a wall or pushing them through a mud pit think of it as giving your brother a helping hand. Or in other words, "Loving thy neighbor."

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8. Bible Lesson

After the race is over, it's a great opportunity to fully appreciate the lesson of 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

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9. Expending Your Horizons

You will definitely see parts of Tuscarora you never have before! From the sewage treatment plant to the bottom of the pool - the possibilities are endless.

10. Finally using your running shoes for, you know, running.

Let those shoes fulfill their purpose!

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Everyone who finishes the race will go home with a custom made TUSC MUDDER shirt. This is an exclusive annual event, you don't want to miss the opportunity to get your hands on one.

Sign up today and join us for the Tusc Mudder at the 2017 Men's Retreat.

Per Rune Larsen - A Lasting Legacy

Tuscarora

For years the summer youth camps at Tuscarora Inn & Conference Center have been a central part of our ministry. During the summer months, relationships with Christ are created, grown, and renewed. It’s no surprise that many of our life-long guests, volunteers, and supporters start their journeys during Junior Week or Teen Week. God speaks to so many in this camp setting, away from the distractions of everyday life.   

Per Rune Larsen was a remarkable young man who attended Junior Week and Teen Week in the early part of his life. These programs made such an impact on him that he chose to come back and serve as a counselor and as a teen on summer staff.

His was a life full of faith and passion for Christ and he always felt driven to share the gospel with others. But his life was cut short following a battle with cancer. Because of the impression his life and ministry made on the friends and family around him his legacy has continued to live on. People have continued to provide financial support to Tuscarora and volunteer in key leadership roles years later. Those closest to him have also made a tremendous impact in his memory by establishing the Per Rune Larsen Scholarship Fund.

Even those among us who may not have known Per Rune Larsen can support the vision of this effort.  Each year, the Per Rune Larsen Scholarship Fund makes Junior Week and Teen Week possible for children who would not otherwise have the financial ability to come to Tuscarora by covering a portion of the costs. With this legacy, his service within Junior Week and Teen Week continues.

Tuscarora is aware that every year the need for this financial support grows – but so does the impact of the fund. In 2010, $5,000 was given out in camper scholarship, and this has grown to $17,000 this past year. God has been so faithful to allow Tuscarora to never deny a child a scholarship when they need it, but each year the fund is nearly depleted. Faithful donors have always helped us to meet the need and allowed us to minister to as many children as possible.

Over 500 children experienced Junior Week and Teen Week this past summer. They experienced fun and friendship in a Christ-centered gospel filled week. The experience at Junior Week and Teen Week can be life-changing and these programs are at the heart of the ministry Tuscarora provides. Each year we know that God brings those children who need most to hear His voice onto our grounds.

Looking ahead, we know next year there will be an even greater need for scholarship money for children to come to camp. We also know that God will meet their needs through the support of the Tuscarora friends and family.

We ask you, the Tuscarora family, to help us close the summer by supporting the Per Rune Larson Scholarship Fund. Help us to head into the fall knowing with full confidence that each child who needs it will have means to experience Tuscarora.

If you are a parent whose child experienced one of our camp programs this summer, an adult who sees how their life has been changed by the Junior Week or Teen Week ministries, or someone who wants to honor the memory of Per Rune Larsen and the impact he made on your life please consider making a gift to the Scholarship Fund by visiting our website.