BCH Center reopens for summer Family Camp Weekends, new interim directors at the helm

After more than a year of pandemic-necessitated closure, the diocese’s Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center in Greenfield, N.H., is reopening for family camp weekends this summer, with new interim directors at the helm.

The Rev. Deacon Helen and Rick Hargreaves arrived at the end of May to serve for six months as interim directors, following the departure in April of longtime executive director John Koch who took a new position at the Bishop’s Ranch retreat and conference center in the Diocese of California.

Helen and Rick Hargreaves Courtesy photo Helen and Rick Hargreaves

The Hargreaves said in a recent interview that they found the facilities in good shape and, aside from the need to hire housekeeping workers—which is proving difficult across the hospitality industry right now—the core staff is in place.

“They are solid and really helping us,” Helen said, “and we’re all working together as a team to get things done, whether it’s making beds or mopping floors or whatever needs to be done.”

Instead of a traditional summer camp program this year, the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center will be hosting six Family Camp Weekends starting July 2.  Households can choose private lodge rooms or a cabin, and there will be both intergenerational and age-specific activities. 

After Labor Day, the center plans to host a full fall schedule—including an Oct. 22-24 “Haydays” celebration weekend of activities—and it is accepting group and retreat reservations through December 2022. 

The Hargreaves found their way into interim camp ministry after serving for 15 years as executive directors of Camp Mitchell in the Diocese of Arkansas. 

“At Camp Mitchell, we had kids come in second grade, and when we left, they were the adult leaders.  To see the tremendous changes in their lives and the influence camp had on them was just awesome,” Rick recalled.

Helen added:  “When we retired, we kind of looked at each other and said: We finally kind of know how to do this.  What are we going to do with all of this knowledge that we have now?” 

Soon after, they completed interim director training through Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers (ECCC), a professional development and support network.  They’ve since served as interim directors at Sandscrest Conference and Retreat Center in the Diocese of West Virginia and the Cathedral Ridge Center in the Diocese of Colorado.   

The Rev. Natasha Stewart, the president of the BCH Center’s board of directors, said the board is on a fall timeline for hiring a permanent executive director.

She said, during the interview with the Hargreaves, that the board has been engaged in a discernment process “to figure out where the Holy Spirit is moving the BCH Center next,” both in terms of program and sustainability.  

“We’re going to finish up that work this summer to have a job description, we hope by August, for the kind of executive director we need to lead us in this next stage,” Stewart said, with interviewing and hiring to take place in the fall. 

“We’re in really good hands” in the meantime, she said, with the Hargreaves in place.  “They’ve already been incredible with the things they’ve been able to help us move forward with, and the ideas they have.  We’re really blessed to have them.”

The Hargreaves, in turn, credit the ECCC.  “We believe in it because when Rick and I first went to Camp Mitchell in Arkansas, we were green as grass,” Helen said.  “We loved our camp, but we really didn’t have a lot of experience. ECCC is where we learned everything.  They supported us, helped us straighten out any mistakes we made, helped us move forward. It’s just an amazing network of other directors that support each other, because there aren’t a lot of people around who do this kind of work.  They helped us, and so we hope to help, in turn, grow other camp and conference centers.”

--Tracy J. Sukraw

Visit www.bchcenter.org for more information, including Family Camp Weekends details and registration and Oct. 22-24 Haydays updates.