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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

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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.

A Day in the Life of a Teen Week Director

Tuscarora

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Evan Langlois

Teen Week Director

Pastor of Outreach and Discipleship
Bethany Lutheran Brethren Church
East Hartland, CT

I’ve been tasked to give you all a glimpse of Teen Week from the perspective of the Director.  Since I’m older and a little out of touch, I first had to educate in the ways of “the selfie,” much to my own chagrin.  But I’m a servant, so… here is attempt #1.

I’ve been tasked to give you all a glimpse of Teen Week from the perspective of the Director.  Since I’m older and a little out of touch, I first had to educate in the ways of “the selfie,” much to my own chagrin.  But I’m a servant, so… here is attempt #1.

Attempt #2.

Attempt #2.

I often have to tell my kids to ask for help.

I often have to tell my kids to ask for help.

Out on my own with the students!  It’s great to hear the campers having some fun during our free time activities.  This is a shot of our Slip and Slide kickball game!        Don’t let my awkward grin distract you from the fun they’re having!

Out on my own with the students!  It’s great to hear the campers having some fun during our free time activities.  This is a shot of our Slip and Slide kickball game! 

Don’t let my awkward grin distract you from the fun they’re having!

I’m very grateful for the staff that give up their time to help plan and serve with this ministry!  Here’s our head counselors, associate director and MC for the week helping me hone the craft of selfie taking.        Not a bad looking group, eh?

I’m very grateful for the staff that give up their time to help plan and serve with this ministry!  Here’s our head counselors, associate director and MC for the week helping me hone the craft of selfie taking. 

Not a bad looking group, eh?

“What does camp look like from the director’s perspective?” you might ask.        Well, it’s a lot of problem solving, or as I like to call it, “hiding.”

“What does camp look like from the director’s perspective?” you might ask. 

Well, it’s a lot of problem solving, or as I like to call it, “hiding.”

When they are persistent?  More hiding.

When they are persistent?  More hiding.

I also get to do a lot of problem solving.  Like this one at lunch…

I also get to do a lot of problem solving.  Like this one at lunch…

...or in the snack shop…

...or in the snack shop…

…and even sometimes with the band.        it’s a good thing I like problem solving.

…and even sometimes with the band. 

it’s a good thing I like problem solving.

And hiding.

And hiding.

Despite my facial expression, this is what gets me excited about camp!        I’m grateful that this is ultimately how we solve problems.  Praise God that He always hears us when we call!!

Despite my facial expression, this is what gets me excited about camp! 

I’m grateful that this is ultimately how we solve problems.  Praise God that He always hears us when we call!!

Later, I killed this bug and saved swimmers from a sting.        It was heroic, but nothing like this: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:54-55. 

Later, I killed this bug and saved swimmers from a sting. 

It was heroic, but nothing like this: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:54-55. 

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”        Truth!  But this guy feeds us pretty well…

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” 

Truth!  But this guy feeds us pretty well…

Here is the real bread!  Jay Trainer leading our camp in the Word!

Here is the real bread!  Jay Trainer leading our camp in the Word!

One of the best things is hearing an auditorium full of students singing God’s praises in response to the Gospel!        That we get to sing these words, “Jesus paid it all,” what better way to end a day!        His grace is amazing and undeserved!  It still always amazes me what He does at camp every year…

One of the best things is hearing an auditorium full of students singing God’s praises in response to the Gospel! 

That we get to sing these words, “Jesus paid it all,” what better way to end a day! 

His grace is amazing and undeserved!  It still always amazes me what He does at camp every year…

…even in spite of me!

…even in spite of me!

“Now to him who is able to far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20

Tuscarora Summer Staff - A Beloved Tradition

Tuscarora

Brianna Esposito

            Beginning in the earliest stages of Tuscarora’s ministry, the annual incoming of the Conference Center’s youngest and freshest employees has always heralded our busiest and most exciting time of year. Although it has evolved since its start, the Tuscarora Summer Staff program has withstood the test of time and continues to remain a unique and vital piece of our mission and legacy.

            “I’ve been coming to Tuscarora since I was a kid for Leisure Week and Junior Week and Teen Week. My friend was on Staff for the previous two summers, and she told me what a great experience it was, and how many great friends can be made. I thought it sounded really great, so I wanted to be a part of it.” – Olivia, Summer Staff 2017

            The Summer Staff program itself is engineered to help those teenagers involved grow and learn and bond through their time at work, at prayer, and at play. With its track record of countless teenagers who have decided to come back during their off-school season, there is no doubt the program has succeeded at fulfilling its purpose. More often than not, the teens find that they discovered something about themselves or their faith that they did not even realize they were searching for. If you watch them for long enough, it is easy to see how much God works in their lives while they spend the summer together. Some of the most profound moments between the Staffers occur when they share Devotional time, or pray together by the river, or sing worship songs together during their Large Group sessions. The counselors take their responsibility to uphold the message of the Gospel and to lead their Staffers in the ways of Christ very seriously, and it shows in Staffers’ attitudes year after year.

            “Counseling teenagers is what I want to do with my future, so I was very thankful they had me here to be a counselor last year, and that they had me back again. Tuscarora has been a very special place in my life, and it’s done a lot for me, so I want to give back and show others how much of a difference it can make for them.” – Caleb, Summer Staff 2017

            As a former staffer myself (2012 – 2013), I know firsthand how Summer Staff helped me blossom, and am delighted with every passing summer that I watch more kids return and be introduced to the Staff family. I use the word “family” without hesitation to describe the relationship that bonds the Staffers together. There is no other word for it. The kinship that forms between each session’s collection of teens is a strong and fast-happening one. Over the three to seven weeks that they could spend on campus, the Staffers spend practically every moment together. At work, they share responsibility; at time with Christ, they remember to pray for one another; at free time, they laugh and make memories that will tether them together when they go their separate ways.

               “I was most looking forward to coming back to Staff because I could be with my friends again from last summer, and I would be able to make friends with the new Staffers I’d meet.” – Alyssa

                Even now, watching them as an adult and as a dining room hostess is an experience in and of itself that I treasure. The bonding that occurs between these teens – some of who were strangers before the summer – is a phenomenon that never gets old. It helps me remember the best moments and shenanigans I shared with my Staff mates, and it is something that is shared by most of the full-time and year-round employees, as many of them began their journey at Tuscarora through Summer Staff. I know it will continue its purpose for many years to come. Summer Staff has become an intrinsic piece of life on the Tuscarora campus; it is a life-changing experience that I know anyone involved would not trade for the world.

            “I love it here! I made such good memories and friends last summer; I wanted to come back because I had a craving for it. This place is just magical.” – Alice, Summer Staff 2017