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.
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!
After 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.
One of our brightest and most shining faces in the world of Adventure and Recreation belongs to Laura Messerly. If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Laura and you’ve seen her smile, you know what I mean.
Laura is our Adventure Operations Director. She interacts with our wonderful adventure staff (ranging in number from 50–150 depending on the time of year). I’d love for you to get to know Laura a bit better. I know you too will be blessed by her beautiful, optimistic spirit.
Tell us how the Lord brought you to Mount Hermon?
I found out about Mount Hermon through a professor while in grad school. I found myself moving to California in early September 2011 to begin as an Adventure and Recreation intern. Even though I left after my internship year ended, the Lord had other plans for me.
I moved back home to the East Coast. The next eight months following the internship could best be summarized as “soul searching,” all the while never quite being able to shake off the fact that Mount Hermon had won me over. A week into my first full–time job in North Carolina, I learned of a new full–time position open with Mount Hermon Adventures. After quite a bit of internal struggle and prayer, and lots of frustrating silence from God, I decided not to pursue that position. Despite my decision, a little piece of my heart was undeniably still at Mount Hermon and that little piece did not seem to be shrinking. Instead, it was making it increasingly difficult to be present and effective in my current role. After two long, challenging, extremely powerful months of relying on God, on a whim, I checked the Mount Hermon jobs site. I was unexpectedly flooded with emotions (and tears) to see a full–time position for Adventure Operations Coordinator sitting there on the list. I knew it was the perfect fit! I returned in April of 2013 to begin serving in this role.
Share some of you passions outside of Mount Hermon.
I have always loved the ocean and about a year ago decided it was time to learn how to surf! There were many, many months of falling down and getting back on the board, and falling down and getting back up . . . but I am now standing up consistently and having a lot of fun out there in the waves!
My sister now works at Mount Hermon up at Outdoor Science School so I enjoy spending time with her! And my awesome roommates!
What’s new on the horizon for you in your area of ministry this year?
We always seem to be growing and changing at Mount Hermon Adventures, thanks to our fearless leader, Nate! We have recently added two new levels to our Sequoia Adventure Course, (now called the Sequoia Aerial Adventure), and are excited about our Grand Opening in March. We have been going through the various preparations; exploring the course, training our staff, discussing how it will operate, creating new staffing models, marketing and hiring more staff.
How can we pray for you?
More staff! More housing for our existing and future staff. We are hoping to hire 38 staff this spring (not counting summer staff) to run our programs and courses at full capacity! Housing is a huge, tricky and very expensive factor here in Santa Cruz for all of our staff.
Next time you are in the Adventure Recreation neighborhood make sure to stop by and say “hi” to Laura, our Adventure Girl!
Explore the Mount Hermon Adventures site