Meet Matthew Doherty– a Ponderosa Pro. He has spent two summers counseling, last summer as Pondy’s Program Lead, and this summer– Men’s Staff Counselor! We asked him a few questions about his time on the mountain. This is what he said:
What is your past experience at the Herm? How did you hear about us? What inspired you to come and work on staff?
I was inspired to work on staff at Mount Hermon by my own experience as a camper. I remember a counselor I had at Redwood Camp in 3rd grade, named Pumba. He was the first person to ever have a one-on-one conversation with me about Jesus. Even though I had known about God, and considered myself a believer, being that young I had never encountered the relationship aspect of following Jesus. Pumba inspired me to begin my journey of living a Christian life, and it was his example that I wanted to follow.
I continued going to camp at Redwood and Ponderosa Lodge, and knew that one day I would have my own opportunity to be someone’s Pumba. Each and every summer I met so many people who’s lives looked different, who lived being full of the love of God. I wanted nothing more than to be that type of person, and to live like those people did. By the time I was finally on staff however, I discovered something I never expected. In reality, as is true for most, I didn’t have it all together. And yet, simply by being there to love students, I felt like an instrument in God’s hand. It didn’t matter to God how put together I was, and it surely didn’t matter to the students. All they needed was someone to be there for them, to love them, and to support them, and God was able to use me to be just that.
A lot of counselors mention that it’s the “people” that make camp as special as it is. In your experience, what about the people make camp so impactful? Do you have any short anecdotes about specific campers or staff members you would like to share?
Everyone the Mount Hermon brings together has their own gifts and talents, all of which become vital in meeting different guests where they are at. Whether it is a quirky, exuberant personality, or a more relaxed, reserved one, each person provides their unique strengths to the staff. I love these differences in people because they make coming together and spending a summer serving so much more exciting. Not everyone is like me, and that’s a good thing. Through a staff’s diversity, people need to work harder at living and loving together; it is in these situations where God begins to create a picture of the body of Christ.
If you could encourage anyone to join our staff, what would you tell them?
Joining the Mount Hermon staff is all about joining hand in hand with the work God is already doing in the world, and camp is a special place where God likes to show up. I believe that any apprehension over working with a small group of people for an entire summer gets resolved in the joint vision of Mount Hermon—to lead students one step closer to Jesus. This vision isn’t a pressure put on each individual staff member, it is a calling that one is welcomed into with open arms. Each staff member has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and yet at the same time, they are able to lift each other up based on those qualities.
Mount Hermon is a place like no other, where you will feel supported, encouraged, and challenged to join in with God’s work already being done in the hearts of each guest. If you are looking for a place where God evidently transforms hearts, look no further than Mount Hermon; but be careful—God might just choose to transform you in the process!
Has your time on summer staff provided you with any tools (professionally or personally) that have been applicable post camp life?
Working on summer staff has empowered me in my relationships with others. I have become more confident in myself and my abilities, and have become willing to reach out of my comfort zone. I was challenged in upbuilding ways to love better, work harder, and see value in each interaction. You never know what a guest will remember from their time at camp, which means even a smile can change their next year.
I also learned the importance of teamwork, and what it means to work together towards a common goal. Mount Hermon taught me to work with others who’s personalities aren’t like mine, and that a true team is one where each person’s particularity is equally valued. God calls each person individually to use their gifts they have been given to work for the kingdom, and no where was that more apparent than camp.