Here are a few shots of of the peace and tranquility that is Firwood. The anticipation of the upcoming summer, is something we never grow tired of. Kids have a blast at camp, and we can’t wait to meet each one! We’re believing that God will speak to each young person that gathers here, as they build community with friends and councilors, amidst His creation.
Dear Firs Family and Friends,
As we approach the month of April, in another week or so, we would usually be talking about summer staff recruitment and camper registration levels and new program ideas. We would see Spring Break on the horizon and prepare for our week long day camp program for when school is out for a week. We’d be excited about longer days and warmer temperatures and the telltale signs that summer is on its way.
Instead, we aren’t sure how many summer staff we are going to need and camper registrations have been reduced to a trickle. Spring Break is coming, but with school out a week already and five more weeks of no-school ahead – there is no such thing as a break from school. God has blessed us with a week of mostly sunshine, but instead of being happy for the coming of the summer we are happy we can be outside in a more germ-free environment and because it is lifting our spirits a bit in the midst of growing depression.
How did we get here? When is it going to end? What will things be like when it is over? Will The Firs ever be the same? How does something happen that turns schedules and gatherings and livelihoods and security upside down not just in our community and state but literally across the world? And, what is God up to in the midst of it all?
As a leader, this is where I usually trot out some good, tried and true clichés to encourage people to “hang in there.” As the leader of a Christian ministry, I have a pocket full of good verses to put on display that remind us – God is in control. Believe me, I’ve used most of them already. But this time, with you as my witness, I’m going to do something different.
I am scrolling the calendar ahead on my computer to five months from today – August 20, 2020. On that day, I am telling myself to write “How Do Things Look Now – Part Two” and like this one, post it on our website as a Letter from Tom to you. I’m not making a prediction and there is nothing special about that date. But one thing I have learned – especially over the last few years – is that God is always at work, always brings about good in the midst of pain and over time gives us at least glimpses of what He is doing. We’ll see then what those glimpses might look like.
I will write in-between now and then but you can hold me accountable for part two. Until then, hang in there and don’t forget God is in control.
Trusting God together,
- Please pray for protection from illness for all of our staff and for the kids we continue to serve. The only thing operating right now at The Firs is an all-day program through our ASA. A registered nurse is screening our staff and kids and we have already lost some staff with cold symptoms. So, pray that we will have enough kid’s workers to cover those in the program.
- Pray that we will continue to be able to run this program. So far, an exemption to the “social distancing” rules have been given to all child care facilities, but you never know if that will continue. Pray that if there is room to expand care for kids in our community, that we will be able to do even more than we are doing now.
- Pray for sufficient financial provision for The Firs now and in the months to come. Guest groups are now non-existent at the Chalet and the Retreat Center. Camp registrations for the summer have dwindled down to a trickle (for now). We are monitoring our cash position closely and keeping expenses to an absolute minimum but more will be needed.
- Rumors are running rampant about what is going to happen, or might happen, or could happen on local and state levels in regards to COVID-19. These things create stress at times with our staff and can cause discouragement. Pray that actual, true information can be separated from rumor and that all can be given the perspective needed.
- Another thing that we face is the reality of how fast things change. What is true in the morning may not be true at the end of the day or the day after. This makes planning and adjusting very difficult. Pray for wisdom and patience and strength to navigate through all of this.
- Pray for the search process for the new executive director of The Firs. The search team/company retained by The Firs Board has begun the process. Pray that God will bring about the right person for the job.
- Pray that in the midst of all the concerns and fears, that we as an organization, who seek to love others, would have our eyes open to how to best do that in the current crisis. This includes parents and neighbors, as well as kids.
Emergency Care during School Closures
To help stop the spread of COVID-19 Schools will be closed until April 24th or later
We understand that schools also provide for many families much needed childcare. Many of you who are working to help keep our community safe may need help yourself during this time. The Firs After School Adventure (ASA), a licensed School Age Program, will be open to care for children and families during this uncertain time. At this time, space available will be for essential workers in our community and current families who are required to be at a workplace. It is our honor to serve you and assist those who are required to make it to work. We deeply care about the health and wellness of everyone. To assure you we are taking necessary precautions, the following procedures are now in place…
- Adults and children wash and sanitize hands upon arrival and throughout the day
- Our dedicated staff is putting extensive effort into sanitizing and disinfecting our center, all touchable serves and toys each night.
- Each morning at check-in, we will have a registered nurse screening staff and students who enter the center. Any symptoms or signs of anyone who could be a carrier, or be at risk with the Coronavirus will be sent home.
Thanks to our unique facilities and building here at The Firs, we are able to keep kids in small groups throughout the day, to follow rules and advice from health officials and the CDC. We have 5 rooms available for child care, allowing us to take 10 children per space, for a total of 50 registrations at camp daily.
This is what you can expect during these All Day Adventures:
1. Hours of Operation: 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
2. Breakfast & Lunch provided, complements of the Bellingham School District
3. Clean & Safe Environment
4. Programmed activities based around a weekly theme
5. Educational Games & Instruction (we will have teachers on-site, but don’t tell the kids!)
Cost: Emergency Care During School Closures
DSHS approved subsidies
Registration for non-enrolled ASA students:
To help us gauge the need and interest for these days off school, please email us with what days of the week you hope to have care covered.
Feel free to also email with any questions you may have. We will do our best to answer as quickly as possible. There will be no phone service this weekend at The Firs, so please email instead of calling.
Caring for you,
Stacy Smith, ASA Director
The leaders of The Firs ministries and programs are very engaged in tracking news regarding the COVID-19 virus and responding appropriately. We are alert and sensitive to the promptings of local health officials and focused on doing everything we can to protect our staff, our guests and the children and youth we serve. Our objective, as always, is to provide a safe and thriving environment for all.
Procedures and policies are being put in place, evaluated regularly and communicated to those involved. And, program adjustments or cancellations will be made known or available through the office of The Firs. (360-733-6840). Our prayer is that this virus will soon pass with as minimal health risk to health and life as possible.