Mount Hermon wasn’t looking to acquire any additional property, but we recognized the significance of this opportunity and how it would allow us to work even more closely with our community. The County of Santa Cruz helped us broker a deal with the previous owners, South County Housing, and we took possession in May of 2012. Shortly after taking possession we began a major clean-up and security effort on the property. We removed (figure of tons) tons of accumulated garbage and debris from the property and installed a perimeter fence to limit the amount of undesirable activity on the property. We also developed a pedestrian walkway to allow neighbors and residents to still access Zayante road and the Felton Faire Shopping Center. Working with CAL Fire and Felton Fire we also reduced the amount of “fuel” on the property and invasive species.
Along with improving the property we hosted a series of meetings with community members, neighbors and residents to begin planning property improvements. Through our conversations a set of guiding principles emerged that would guide our thought process:
- • maintain greenspace on the property
- • employ the most current sustainable development practices
- • consider programs and amenities that would bless the local community
- • design programs that would not compete with already established businesses or facilities, but enhance them
- • create programs that promote healthy families and inter-generational participation
Our guiding principles helped us sort through the myriad options and settle on a few key programs and facilities:
- • a mountain bike facility
- • a community garden
- • a community day-camp and after-school care facility
- • an aerial adventure courses
- • recreation spaces for day-campers
- • connectivity to our existing properties
After our initial clean up, community input and discussion phases we began the design phase. We knew that we wanted to enlist the help of the best people in many disciplines to help us develop a world-class plan. After carefully considering many firms we chose Verde Designs to be the lead design firm and then began enlisting the help of experts in many disciplines including Alpine Bike Parks for the bike park design. This is also when we began working formally with the County of Santa Cruz Planning Department on developing the initial plan design.
Thinking that the design and approval phase would take approximately two years we developed and launched the “Velocity Bike Park” identity and started to promote the bike park and bike school at local events like the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival and bigger events like the Sea Otter Classic, even partnering with GoPro to provide the AcroBag aerial trick bag! It was an exciting time and cemented many great relationships that are carried on today.
After several years of design, survey and studies the Santa Cruz Planning Department recommended our project to the Planning Commission in October of 2015. At the hearing many people voiced support for the project and urged the commission to approve the project. After the hearing the planning commission required the completion of an Environmental Impact Report. The Planning Department spent several months choosing an EIR consultant agency and we began working with them in early 2016 to complete the EIR process.
For the past year we’ve worked with the EIR consulting agency to complete all the required surveys, studies and reports to ensure the best sustainable project possible. We’re proud of all the work that has been done and looking forward to moving forward with the project.
While we continue to wait for the Velocity Bike Park / Felton Meadow project to be approved we have begun offering mountain bike skills development programs at our Mount Hermon property as well at locations throughout the county. Velocity Bike School offers progressive mountain bike programs with talented and experienced coaches certified by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA). Our unique and personalized approach combines core skill development and on-trail riding to help you take your riding to the next level! Programs are available this spring and summer – join us!
The draft EIR is anticipated to publish within the next few weeks which will kick off an official 60 day public comment period. Now is the time to share your voice with local officials to let them know you support the Felton Meadow project and Velocity Bike Park. You can send in a letter directly from our website at either feltonmeadow.org or velocitybikeparks.org.
There will also be two public meetings during the 60 day public comment period where we need you to show up and voice your support. We’ll announce the date, time and location of those meetings as soon as we have them.
Thanks again for your supporting the project and for supporting healthy, growing communities!
Over the past 14 months we’ve been working with the County of Santa Cruz planning department and environmental consultants to complete an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Felton Meadow project, which includes Velocity Bike Park. The EIR is a long and detailed process that looks at all aspects of our proposed plan – the level of detail required to complete the EIR ensures that the project meets and in many cases exceeds required development criteria.The Santa Cruz Planning Department will soon be publishing what is called the Draft EIR for public comment. While it is called a “draft” it is the complete document which is finalized after the public comment period. The official public comment period is scheduled to last for 60 days and is your opportunity to submit letters of support.
What we need from you
This is your opportunity to support Velocity Bike Park – by writing a letter to the Santa Cruz Planning Department. It is critical that the planners and County Supervisors see that the support for this project is deep and wide.
Sign the Petition
What happens next
Once the 45 day public comment period closes we are required to respond to all the comments – which is part of the EIR process. Depending on the volume and complexity of the comments we receive this could take a few months. Once all comments have been responded to we’ll be added to the list of projects waiting for a hearing before the Planning Commission – who will vote and have the final say on the project. We’ll need your help at this point by coming to the official hearing where you’ll again have the opportunity to support the project with your presence. The timeline will look something like this:
Waiting for a hearing
August or September
Dick Dosker, former Redwood Camp Director (1956-1989) captured the significance of the Pavilion during the dedication by saying, “Thank you all for the service in which you have given to this particular place of real estate which is hallowed ground. This new piece of equipment will help us move into the future of year-round ministry.
“I love having the pavilion,” said current Redwood Camper D.J. Renwick. “When it’s foggy, or it’s raining or really sunny, we can play under here and it’s really nice.”
The Samuelson Pavilion sits nestled on the end of the meadow where redwoods provide the backdrop, the sound of the Ferndale Falls heard, the cabins seen, and relief from sun and rain felt. It provides a space for basketball, foosball, dodgeball and more. It also provides a great place to gather and meet with an open air feel.
“In many ways—Play is the gateway to a child’s heart,” said current Redwood Camp Director, Chafer Cox. “We close the week with our Luminaria. Campers spread out all over the field and under the pavilion, and this is where many kids accept Christ for the first time and discover God’s unconditional love for them as they look back over the week and make some incredible decisions and take part in life-changing conversations. Last night, one cabin of seven girls all accepted Christ right here under the pavilion.”
We are so grateful for the Samuelson family and for the hundreds of others who helped make this project possible!
Mount Hermon’s Felton Meadow development project, which includes the Velocity Bike Park, is currently grinding its way through the Santa Cruz County planning and approval process. It’s been two years since the plans were first submitted to the County for review and subsequent discretionary approval, and you may be wondering what is taking so long.
In early 2015 the County determined that our project would require an environmental impact report (EIR). After lengthy preparations we officially entered into the EIR process in October 2015. So far so good. No red flags or issues that can’t be mitigated. You can be praying for a few areas of concern to our neighbors: traffic, biotic resources, and visual impact. These can be areas where the perceived impact overshadows actual.
We are hoping to have the draft EIR ready for public review early this summer, the final EIR completed by fall, and be back in front of the County Planning Commission before the end of the year. If all goes well, we could be moving dirt as soon as it is allowed in April, 2017.
In January Mount Hermon hosted a “town hall” meeting for the local community. Colorful displays illustrated the site plan, environmental issues, building concepts and floor plans, and even general information about Mount Hermon. During the presentation our staff spoke about Mount Hermon’s long history in the area, how the community will be blessed through the programs and activities designed for them, and specifics associated with the actual construction, operation, and maintenance of the site.
The goal was to openly inform the public about what we want to do and why. More than 200 people attended including neighbors, business people and a local bike club of Junior High students. We are encouraged by the swell of support we have since received. God is on the move!
Dale Pollock is the Facility Engineer for Mount Hermon. He brings 21 years of experience at Mount Hermon to his role as the Project Coordinator for the Felton Meadow development.
Read More About Felton Meadow
We have recently heard back from the Siskiyou County Planning Department that we are nearing the end of our long journey in the process of approval to our Special Use Permit for the Kidder Creek Master Site Plan. Over the last seven years we have been working with Federal, State and County agencies to dot our i’s and cross our t’s to ensure that we have been diligent in preparing our environmental documents needed in order to proceed. We have most recently finished our traffic impact study and biological survey in the summer and fall of 2015.
Once we receive the application back our next step will be to review any mitigation required and then to submit our application to the planning commission. Prior to the hearing with the planning commission there will be a 30-day public comment phase, which will give our neighbors opportunity to voice any concerns. Please pray with us that God’s hand will be evident throughout the continuation of our process.
Until we hear back we plan to continue to be proactive in getting our plans out into the community by holding meetings and one-on-ones, where we will share the vision and answer questions and concerns that our neighbors may have.
God is doing great things in the lives of young people at Kidder Creek…
…and we look forward to the opportunity to increase that impact by having more campers here in the future. Thanks for your prayers and your support as we walk through this process of approval.
Read More about Kidder Creek
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.
It’s an indisputable truth that Redwood Camp is and has been one of the happiest places on earth for so many. For a century now thousands of lives have been impacted as they have realized the love of Christ under the Redwoods. Uncountable decisions to follow Jesus have been made by the tender, vulnerable hearts of Redwood campers
I had the joy of opening a letter the other day from two of our littlest donors. It brought such joy to my heart and all those who read it that I simply had to share it with you.
Most of you know we are revealing a much anticipated feature at Redwood Camp this summer, the Samuelson Pavilion. We’re not the only ones excited about this wonderful new ministry arena; so are Evan and Rachel.
I asked their mom Stephanie how this all happened. She said…
“Redwood Camp is a very special place for our family. As a camper I made a commitment to Christ at Redwood Camp. My husband and I met as counselors at Redwood Camp. Now our children will be going to Redwood Camp for their 5th and final summer, before making the jump to Ponderosa. At last year’s Associates in Ministry Celebration we decided to help financially support the new Pavilion in the small way we could.
This decision got our children thinking. On their own they decided to save their allowance and find small ways to raise money for the Redwood Camp Pavilion. Redwood Camp is their favorite week of the summer (and maybe even their favorite week of the whole year!). To them it was a no–brainer to donate their money to such a special place.”
Years from now Rachel and Evan will look at the pavilion and know they were a part of that historic event in the life of Redwood Camp and all the lives that have been transformed there. The beautiful legacy of Redwood Camp and Mount Hermon flows from generation to generation, family to family. Thank you for being a part of Mount Hermon’s story.
Invest in Mount Hermon
Redwood Camp is where it all started—Mount Hermon’s birthplace in 1906. Things have come a long way since then and we are thrilled to be unveiling one of the most anticipated additions Redwood Camp has experienced.
It began in May of 2001, when the current master development plan for the Conference Center and Redwood Camp was approved by Santa Cruz County. There are many wonderful and exciting projects associated with our master plan, and each one, when completed, will be used to support the mission of Mount Hermon—lives transformed. The new pavilion at Mount Hermon’s Redwood Camp definitely fits into that category.
The Samuelson Pavilion is an open–air structure that will set nestled back towards Bean Creek, preceded by a sprawling grass meadow. The pavilion will be the new hub of activity, offering shade in the summer, and protection from the rain in the winter months.
The project started September 15, 2015 with strategic removal of trees and mass grading of the site. We were under the gun to get rough grading completed in less than thirty days. We pressed on and were able to complete the work by October 14. What an answer to prayer!
Since then, it has been full speed ahead with a six–inch water line to the fire sprinkler system, concrete foundation, heavy timber framing, and roof structure all completed. Our original date of completion was March 7, which included twenty days for rain delay. Even though we’ve had more than 20 days of rain, we are still on track to finish well ahead of the start of summer youth camps.
Someday we believe it will be hard to imagine life without the Samuelson Pavilion and its ministry impact. We feel confident, that day is not far away.
Read more about the Samuelson Pavilion
Mount Hermon began its first summer of ministry in a meadow off the railroad tracks, a space now known as Redwood Camp. Since then, this sacred space has seen tens of thousands of people, young and old alike meet Jesus and experience His love firsthand!
Redwood Camp is filled with kids and non–stop fun each summer, yet its facilities and location have allowed only limited use at other times of the year. The geographical footprint is only seven acres and it’s surrounded on three sides by water, with the fourth border being Zayante Road. The guest cabins have served us well, but were built over fifty years ago with only two centrally located bath houses for boys and girls. In addition to these rustic accommodations, there is no indoor recreational facility like the McAfee Fieldhouse.
This severely limits our program options when the weather turns wet or windy. Imagine an entire weekend conference with little to no recreational options, due to inclement weather.
Now imagine a brand new year–round recreation pavilion, packed with kids, surrounded by new guest cabins, designed and built for year–round comfort, with increased acreage for recreation. That would require a miracle, you say? Then please join with me as we Praise the Lord for how He is opening doors that allow Redwood Camp to be just that in the future!
Consider this: when Mount Hermon purchased the 15 acres of land, now called The Felton Meadow, this significantly increased our opportunities for exciting and new recreational growth at Redwood Camp.
Add to this our plan for new guest cabins designed with bathrooms and showers, along with more interior space, thanks to a two–story layout that maximizes ministry and minimizes land use. This design protects and preserves our proven counselor–to–camper ratio. Final design is pending and cabin funding is still needed.
Now the REALLY exciting news: Late last year a family who loves Mount Hermon
heard from Heaven regarding our need for a year–round recreational pavilion. PTL! They are responding by providing the majority of the funds needed to build this amazing new facility! Prayers, plans and preparation for this pavilion go back decades, but now, through the faithfulness and generosity of this family, the Lord has provided 80% of the funding we need to get started. We anticipate breaking ground this Fall. Piece by piece the Lord is providing a miracle. Just imagine the impact on all the additional children and adults whose lives will be touched and transformed due to the increased year–round ministry at Redwood Camp!
Roger Williams often said: “You can’t minister to empty beds.” You and I can make a difference; we can be part of God’s plans to build a new Redwood Camp and reach more lives for Jesus. I invite you to join with us.