Posts Categorized: Adventures Updates

Changed Perspective

Posted by & filed under Adventures, Adventures Updates, LOG, Stories of Ministry.

Our staff are not all the same. I know that seems obvious, but it has been a profound opportunity that Mount Hermon Adventures has been able to embrace— the fact that our amazing staff is a complicated collection of individuals. We are all created in God’s image, loved and invited into relationship with Him, but some of our staff don’t know all that when they join our team.

In every interview process, we explain what Mount Hermon is, our mission, vision, values, heritage, and how we use adventure to invite people one step closer to Jesus. We open a conversation that some who we interview have never had—and even though they may not fully understand, they join our team of intentionally missional adventure staff. Every year we hire a handful of staff that don’t yet know Jesus and over the past seven years many of them have found Jesus because of their work at Mount Hermon.

Adam came to us in the hiring process humbly disclosing a background of some poor, adolescent choices that could cause some employers to shy away from hiring him. Impacted by his humility and openness, we asked him to join our team. At first, Adam worked primarily in our recreation area— helping overnight guests in the McAfee Fieldhouse, leading archery and helping with our community recreation leagues. He emerged as a hard worker, responsible, engaged and most of all questioning what made Mount Hermon different. As Adam continued to learn and grow in his position, he was also learning and growing as part of the Adventures staff community—participating in staff activities and building relationships with staff. He added skills to his repertoire by serving as a Redwood Canopy Tour guide, working on the adventure courses, and developing teams as a Team Building Facilitator.

One day, Adam called Laura Messerly, our Adventure Operations Director, to let her know that he was going to the doctor because of a toothache. The toothache led to the discovery that Adam had a brain tumor. He called to tell Laura the situation and was sad he wasn’t going to be able to work as much.

Upon receiving this devastating news, the Adventures staff rallied around Adam, prayed for him, assisted with care and meals, and showed him love. Initially, the doctors gave Adam a very low likelihood of survival—but Adam continued to join us for work as he was able through his brain surgery and chemotherapy treatment. It was during this dark time that Adam came to understand what a relationship with Jesus was all about, the saving knowledge of Grace, and the power of a loving Christian community.

Adam’s treatment went on for several months, and he continued to work as he was able, sharing his journey with us. His growth during this time was tremendous. His presence blessed staff and guests. Eventually, Adam won his battle with cancer and began the long road to recovery, gaining his strength and stamina back. As he began to discover that there was life ahead of him, he intentionally gave back to the Mount Hermon community by mentoring younger staff, leading by example, and even sharing his story at our men’s Boot Camp program.

After several years with Mount Hermon Adam’s time on staff drew to a close and we were sad to see him go, but excited about the next chapter of his life. About a year after Adam had left I ran into him at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. He shared with me how grateful he was that we had hired him all those years ago and given him a chance when other employers might not have. He shared about how grateful he was for the community and the impact it had on his life and during his fight with cancer. Lastly, he wanted me to know how much being on staff at Mount Hermon had changed his life, and the lives of many other staff and that what we do was special and had great impact beyond the guests that we serve.

Adam’s story is just one of several where a staff member has encountered Jesus while working at Mount Hermon. We are honored and blessed to work with some of the most amazing people, experiencing grace and life-transformation together.

Adventures Photo

Sequoia Aerial Adventure Opens

Posted by & filed under Adventures, Adventures Updates, Building Projects, LOG.

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Built in 2008, the original “Sequoia Ropes Course” replaced the “Canyon Course,” which suffered much damage in the winter of 2008 when a large tree ripped through the challenge course during an ice storm. The new course built in its place was intentionally designed for family camp guests and team building programs, incorporating unique design elements that allowed it to be used by an intergenerational audience. The Sequoia Ropes Course had 12 elements, or activities, and a tandem zip line at the finish.

In 2010 Mount Hermon Adventures was formed, taking the Redwood Canopy Tours, also built in 2008, and the renamed “Sequoia Adventure Course,” surrounding these experiences with other adventures and programs. People from around the world started coming to see the majesty of the redwood forest from the perspective that only our adventure activities could provide. Along the way people overcame fears, laughed deeply, connected with friends, strangers, and their Creator.

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At this point the Sequoia Adventure Course was used only by guests of Mount Hermon programs and our Team Building events. We saw interest in the Sequoia Adventure Course grow and we began fielding multiple requests every week from individuals that wanted to bring their friends and family to Mount Hermon for an aerial adventure experience. These guests were hungry for adventure, looking for new experiences, and excited to direct their own adventure experience in a unique way.

In 2014 we began offering limited numbers of individually registered day guests the opportunity to access the Sequoia Adventure Course. We were quickly overwhelmed with the response and began planning on how we could expand the course to maximize the “teachable moments” a guest would encounter on course. Due to a generous donation in 2015 we were able to bring this vision to fruition!

sequoiaConverge1000After months of hard work and preparation we’re ready to announce the Grand Opening of the Sequoia Aerial Adventure!  Over the winter months we expanded our existing Sequoia Adventure Course by adding two new levels of challenges and the exciting “Quick Jump” free-fall device. A new way to experience the redwood forest, this aerial adventure combines balance and partner challenges high above the forest floor. The Sequoia Aerial Adventure now offers 30 activities graded by difficulty into “tracks” that guests can explore at their own pace. Like the “ropes course” of 20 years ago it is terrifying, it is exhilarating, it leaves you wanting more. During the expansion we also rebuilt much of the existing course, using the newest technology to promote long-term tree health, reduce annual maintenance, and ensure compliance with all regulations. This newest version of the Sequoia Aerial Adventure is one of the finest adventure courses in the nation!

While we’re excited to launch this expanded program we’re even more excited at how God has used Adventure over the past eight years to draw new guests to Mount Hermon. This newest adventure is just the next step in an expanding ministry that uses activities as the tool to draw people into relationship through intentional experiences in creation, and new opportunities to encounter their Creator.

Best Job in the World

Posted by & filed under Adventures, Adventures Updates.

Seated in the sky for hours at a time is a good feeling.

Coming down from time to time to meet a new group of friends only to usher them into the experience of a lifetime makes each day unique. Majestic redwood trees older than America remind that there are bigger things at work but also that you play a vital role in the story. The sounds and smells of nature, the laughter of strangers becoming friends, the sense of accomplishment and success, the soft morning light radiating through the fog—this may be the best job in the world.

Sunshine, redwoods, smiles that stretch across all corners and eliminate the empty places leading into a straight line towards growth and change—Mount Hermon Adventures staff live the dream daily. The Redwood Canopy Tours, Sequoia Aerial Adventure, Recreation Programs and more are the tools staff use to invite guests into more intentional ways of living—living deeper. The redwood forest that is the setting for most of these adventures isn’t just pretty, it’s unreal, and it serves as the metaphor for everything that takes place. Redwood tree roots don’t go very deep, only 12-16 feet down. These titans of the forest live lightly on the land—but they grow best in community. Those same roots spread out in all directions, connecting, intertwining, fusing in a dense web of interconnectivity. In the same way our team uses adventure to help people understand their relationships from a new perspective, recognize their connections, and celebrate their strengths.

As the sun sets each day actions become memories—many of which are quickly forgotten. The memories made at Mount Hermon Adventures though are sticky—resurfacing at interesting times in the company of friends, when the light is just right, of when a challenge presents itself. The memories made by the staff and the friendships they make last a lifetime.

Mount Hermon Adventures is asking people loving, adventure seeking, team playing people to join them in transforming lives through adventure.

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Team Building with Fresh Lifelines for Youth

Posted by & filed under Adventures, Adventures Updates.

Working with other people is an essential skill

Mount Hermon Adventures Team Building program recently hosted a return group from Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY). FLY is an award winning non-profit dedicated to breaking the cycle of violence, crime and incarceration of teens. Through FLY’s unique and powerful combination of programs-legal education, leadership training, and one-on-one mentoring-youth get off probation, engaged in school, and back on track with their lives. We’ve worked with FLY for years to include Team Building and Aerial Adventure experiences into their curriculum as the catalyst for creating lasting change in the lives of these young people and their mentors.

One of our all-star facilitators, Gretchen Heim, worked with the FLY team and reflected on her experience:

“Along with my co-facilitators, we created a series of activities and initiatives that built in difficulty throughout the day, ending in the big finale… Sequoia Aerial Adventure! The activities we do with the students are not only fun, but also educational. Not the kind of education you get from reading a textbook, the education of interacting with other people. Working with other people is an essential skill in breaking a cycle of bad decisions, which is one of the many reasons why team building activities can help prepare people and teach them about working in a group, communication, leadership roles, and trust.

The first activity we facilitated seemed just like any other tag game but we used that tag game to later talk about what it looks like to step out of our comfort zones. Many of the students preferred when they stepped out of their comfort zone saying it made it more interesting and fun! From that first game we asked if that was something they would be willing to try all day… to continue to step out of their comfort zones, and try new things. That they might surprise themselves and end up having a lot of fun… but most importantly LEARNING something about themselves and others!

They all agreed and that started the day off great. These students were full of energy and ready to have fun! Through the other activities/initiatives we discussed topics of

  • What it looks like to work together as a team
  • Importance of communication
  • Sharing ideas
  • Taking responsibility

The students were willing to share about what they learned and how it could apply to their lives back at home. All these topics come up in the games, but there is a transfer of learning that must happen in order for team building to be successful. They took what they learned from one activity to help complete the next. The morning of activities and initiatives were wrapped up and one thing that stood out for this group was the ability to ask for help.

Out on the Sequoia Aerial Adventure they had to communicate with their partners to go through various challenges. Students had to ask their partners for help when completing the challenges. Some of the students really pushed themselves and completed an obstacle with their eyes closed while their partner guided them through verbally. Trust, communication, and team work all rolled into one! The activities we did in the morning gave the students confidence to try out harder obstacles. Lots of students stepped out of their comfort zones, that was just one example of many.

The zip line at the end was a reward for most of the students. After all the hard work and challenge the zip line was a fun finish to the end of the day.

My personal favorite part of the day is the final debrief or discussion of the day. This is where the magic happens and things get put into perspective. It is a time for students to reflect on what happened, so what does it mean that it happened, and now what will they do differently because it happened.

I loved facilitating for this group of students. My hope is that they take what they learned with them and apply it to their daily lives. The really wonderful thing about it is that everyone takes away something different. Some students might have overcome their fear of heights, while others overcame their fear of sharing ideas, while others realized how beautiful the redwood trees are! That is another reason why I like the final debrief, you realize how unique we all are. Mount Hermon’s motto is lives transformed. I truly believe this happens with every team building experience, not only for the participants, but the facilitators lives as well.”

Team Building at Mount Hermon

Check out Fresh Lifelines for Youth and the good work they do in our communities flyprogram.org

An Adventure Two Decades in the Making

Posted by & filed under Adventures, Adventures Updates.

It’s been quite the journey

The new Sequoia Aerial Adventure is the culmination of an adventure story that I started twenty years ago. I’m thrilled to share a part of my journey with you and excited for your story to include a Mount Hermon chapter.

1995: I graduated from High School, and like most graduates didn’t have too many ideas about what was next. College, sure, but beyond that the horizon looked far away. That fall as a Freshman at a small liberal arts college in Oregon I experienced my first “ropes course.” I put on a harness, got tied into a climbing rope, and ascended a big Douglas Fir tree only to jump off a tiny platform and attempt to catch a trapeze bar. It was terrifying, it was exhilarating, it left me wanting more.

1998: I was encouraged to apply to be a Resident Assistant for the Freshman dorm and given the job. Part of the training was a one week “Walkabout” in the wilds of eastern Oregon. We’d hike, climb, melt snow for water, watch a bear eat most of our food, evacuate a teammate with a torn ACL and eventually get chased out of the woods by a huge wildfire. It was harrowing and exhausting but created some of the deepest friendships I’ve ever experienced. How could you grow so close so quickly?

2000: Graduated and newly married my bride and I embarked on a career of leading people through all sorts of experiences outdoors. Ropes courses, bike trips, backpacking, rock-climbing, rafting—it was all fun but the most powerful part was watching people’s lives be transformed by adventure. Something about challenge and support, difficulties and real success left people with a better idea of who they were and what was really important.

2010: Mount Hermon Adventures is formed, taking the Redwood Canopy Tours that had been operating since 2008 and surrounding it with other adventures and programs. People from around the world started coming to see the majesty of the redwood forest from the perspective only a zip tour can provide. Along the way people overcame fears, laughed deeply, and connected with friends and strangers.

What I saw happen on long trips in the wilderness was happening in a two hour experience seven miles from Santa Cruz!

2016: People were hungry for adventure, looking for new experiences beyond the screen, and excited to direct their own adventure experience in a unique way. Sequoia Aerial Adventures is born by taking the existing Sequoia Adventure Course and adding 20 new activities and the free-fall experience known as the quick jump. A new way to experience the redwood forest, an aerial adventure combines balance and partner challenges high above the forest floor. Like the “ropes course” of 20 years ago it is terrifying, it is exhilarating, it leaves you wanting more—and it has more with 30 activities of increasing challenge even the most hearty adventurer will find something to challenge themselves.

Come experience for yourself an adventure decades in the making. Sequoia Aerial Adventure will become an exclamation point on your journey of adventure! Grand Opening March, 12th and accepting reservations now for all of 2016.

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Velocity Bike Park Update — January 2016

Posted by & filed under Adventures, Adventures Updates, Velocity.

Felton Meadow/Velocity Bike Park Town Hall Meeting

Mount Hermon is excited to announce a public meeting about the Felton Meadow/Velocity Bike Park project. Felton Meadow is a 14.4 acre parcel bordered by Graham Hill Road, the Felton Faire Shopping Center and Mount Hermon’s existing properties. With over a 100 year history in the San Lorenzo Valley, Mount Hermon is proud to steward this important piece of land.

Saturday, January 23
1:00 to 3:00pm
Felton Community Hall

6191 HWY 9, ADJACENT TO THE FIRE STATION

On Saturday, January 23rd from 1:00–3:00pm we’ll be hosting an informational and question and answer time at the Felton Community Hall at 6191, Highway 9, beside the Felton Fire Station. We’ll be discussing our proposed plans for property improvements, community based programs and how you can be involved. We will also give an update on our Environmental Impact Report process and have a time to answer your questions.

There is no need to RSVP—just come and bring a friend! We look forward to seeing you there!

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Strangers Aren’t Strangers on the Redwood Canopy Tour

Posted by & filed under Adventures, Adventures Updates.

The encouragement that was shared through their zipline experience started a friendship that might not have happened anywhere else.

The Redwood Canopy Tour offers our guests the opportunity to not only see redwoods from an incredible vantage point but also to challenge themselves and grow in a variety of ways. A guest challenging her fear of heights is something we see every day but it’s not very often that we see an entire tour group of strangers really coming behind one nervous guest to support them.

Recently I had the pleasure of leading a tour with a woman who was visiting from out of state and had traveled alone. She had booked the tour by herself and was on a tour with seven people she had never met before. As we started the tour she made it clear that she was terrified of heights and wasn’t sure if she should go. We got to the first zip line and she wanted to turn around. Immediately the seven other folks in our group rallied behind her and encouraged her to go on. And she did! By the end of the tour she was whooping and hollering with the rest as if she was never afraid.

She pushed herself through her fear

When we were all on the ground again, many hugs and laughs were shared. She commented on how far she had come and how proud she was of herself that she had pushed herself through her fear. The group had only spent two hours together but you would never know by looking at them after the tour. They shared phone numbers and even made dinner plans for that evening. The love that was shared through their zipline experience started a friendship that might not have happened anywhere else.

Working at the Canopy Tour I get the opportunity to encourage and challenge people out of their comfort zones. I also get to bring people together who might not normally seek each other out. And through those opportunities I get to watch each of those individuals lives change, including my own.

Jamie Reichel has served at Mount Hermon in a variety of capacities through the years and is currently a Daily Operations Supervisor for Mount Hermon Adventures.

Experience Redwood Canopy Tours for yourself!

Velocity Visits Mammoth Bike Park

Posted by & filed under Adventures Updates, Velocity.

As summer is attempting to become fall we’ve been out enjoying riding bikes and gearing up for what is supposed to be a wet winter. Looking for slightly cooler temperatures and some epic dirt, Velocity staff Nate Pfefferkorn and Doug Cline headed over to Mammoth Mountain a few weeks ago to learn more about lift-served operations, trail design, and of course to do some riding.

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Nate and Doug getting ready to drop in off the summit of Mammoth Bike Park

Mammoth Mountain Bike Park has a lot going for it—3500 acres of terrain and over 80 miles of single track means you can ride hard for two days and not ride the same trail twice! Mammoth has done an excellent job of creating trails for all levels of riders and has some excellent lift-served XC style trails along with more resort-typical gravity and DH lines. Not to mention some of the best high-altitude views anywhere!

From the Top

View from Mammoth summit looking west

Mammoth also has linkages to the Lakes Basin area and USFS roads and trails. By partnering with public land agencies the Mammoth area has created great options for riders both on and off the mountain. It’s possible to ride off the summit on mostly downhill trails for over 20 miles by connecting trails through public lands.

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Joining Mammoth Bike Park trails with USFS trails makes for some epic descents

Santa Cruz and it’s various land agencies have a lot they could learn from Mammoth about creating fun, sustainable multi-use trails that would draw people to the area and showcase it’s natural beauty.

Mount Hermon’s Youth Basketball League

Posted by & filed under Adventures, Adventures Updates, General.

Organized sports in a safe and fun environment

Many of you have heard of Mount Hermon’s Redwood Canopy Tour or Sequoia Adventure Course, but many of you probably don’t know that Mount Hermon also runs a youth basketball league every winter. This is a wonderful time for local kids and families in the San Lorenzo Valley to come together for friendly competition, learn good sportsmanship and teamwork. We focus on students in first through fourth grade and introducing them to organized sports in a safe and fun environment. Parents and coaches volunteer their time after work and on weekends to mentor these young players and demonstrate good character.

Every year it’s amazing to see families in our community come together and support one another through sports. It is also great to see the players grow in their hands-on skills in basketball but more importantly, their growth in life skills. Last year we witnessed many players learn and understand the basics of organized sports, how to compete, how to work as a team and how to ask for help. They learned that having the help of those around them is better than trying to do things alone. While it’s always great to watch kids learn important lessons it’s also a great reminder to us adults who try too often to go it alone when we should be relying on those around us to help us get through life.

This years season starts in December and lasts for 8 weeks. Registration is now open and we’re excited to get the ball rolling! Also new this year is “Family Fun Day” where we’re opening the doors to some of our adventure and recreation activities so the whole family can enjoy Mount Hermon. We’ll have Discovery Grove, the Climbing Wall, Archery and more; all open and available to player’s families. We’ll even host a delicious BBQ lunch. If you live nearby and have a first through fourth grader we encourage you to consider registering today!

Season starts December 1st

Find out how to register

Why Experience Is Better Than Stuff

Posted by & filed under Adventures, Adventures Updates.

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness—

It’s written into the fabric of our nation. But why are people not happy when we have so much stuff to be happy about? Why does that new phone or car or pair of shoes not satisfy as deeply or as long as we might wish? It’s because all the stuff of our lives is external while our experiences, and our memories of them, are internal and literally a part of how we think. Dr. Thomas Gilovich, psychology professor at Cornell University has found the following to be true:

"Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods," says Gilovich. "You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences."fastco

A friend and mentor of mine has said to me that “everything that has ever happened to you has prepared you for where you’re at right now,” which is an encouraging way to think about my experiences and what I’ve learned both good and bad. Those things that make me feel happiest are the times I’ve shared laughter with friends, accomplished a goal with my co-workers, or even come through a struggle or hardship with the support or my community.

"We consume experiences directly with other people," says Gilovich. "And after they're gone, they're part of the stories that we tell to one another." fastco

It’s those stories and the relational fabric that they create that really provides happiness. I think we all know that when we’re old and wise and reflecting on our lives we’re not going to regret the times we spent with loved ones. We’re not going to say, “you know, I really wish I would have had a bigger house. That really would have made life so much better for me.” What we are going to say is, “I’m so glad I spent time with my kids.” Or, “That trip I took to Italy with my wife sure was worth it!”

The things that really bring happiness are those things we do together with other people.

We all have a limited amount of time and money to spend each day, month and year. Mount Hermon Adventures is all about providing places, spaces, and opportunities where people’s lives are transformed. Will you join us for an experience that lasts a lifetime?

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