Posts Categorized: Staff News

Meet the Newest Members of Our Year Round Kidder Creek Camp Team

Posted by & filed under Kidder Creek, Staff News, Stories of Ministry.

Danna Ayers

What an amazing opportunity I’ve been given to work at Kidder Creek Camp! I was born and raised in Siskiyou County and our boys went to day camp at Kidder Creek. I’ve been married to Bob Ayers for 30 years and we have two adult boys, Chris & Caleb. The last 13 years I have studied Natural Horsemanship in addition to working 10 years at Jackson Street Middle school in Yreka. Now I will use my love for Jesus, kids and horses at Kidder Creek Camp. Somebody pinch me – I finally found my dream job!

 

Danielle Smith

Born in the bay area and raised in Tracy, I started my family in the Redding area. My work history includes everything from being a server to a stockbroker. I have learned demanding skills as well as life lessons along the way. I am excited to be the new office manager at Kidder Creek.

Keith is a wonderful father to my five children. Alexis 16, Joey 13, Trenten 12, Devin 10 and Elijah 8. They definitely keep me looking to the Lord for answers. We moved to Scott Valley, because we wanted to be closer to his family. While in Redding, we were a part of a large church community. With the move, we are looking forward to a smaller church family and home at Kidder Creek.

We have such an amazing team of people that serve year round preparing for camp and then overseeing our amazing summer staff during the summer! Welcome to the team, Danna and Danielle!

Summer Events at Kidder Creek

Illuminate the Darkness

Posted by & filed under Kidder Creek, Staff News, Stories of Ministry.

For a handful of years I taught Outdoor Education at Mount Hermon in Santa Cruz.  We would hike kids around outside, and stop to learn about nature.  The great thing about using an outdoor setting to teach is that it readily lends itself to turning those nature lessons into life lessons.  Jesus understood this: seeds on different soils was really about the condition of our hearts.

As part of our week with students, we would do a night hike.  The redwood forest is shaded and dark during the day due to the thick canopy, but at night, it is near pitch black.  For many students that came to us from larger cities, this was usually the deepest dark they have ever seen.  That plus being in the woods often made these hikes an exercise in trust (in me) and perseverance.

At one point in our night hike I would gather the kids into a circle and stand in the middle.  Then I would light a small candle and hold it above my head.  Every time (and still to this day) it would blow my mind just how much light that little candle would emit.  That tiny flame, barely an inch high, would cast a net of light 40 ft across!  After a half an hour of stumbling through the dark, you could feel the warmth and comfort that little light brought to our circle.

This summer at Kidder Creek we will be looking at the power of Jesus working through us to “Illuminate” the darkness around us.  The light of Jesus changes everything in our own lives, in our communities and in our world!

Summer Events at Kidder Creek

Lives Transformed– From Camper to Summer Staff

Posted by & filed under Kidder Creek, Staff News, Stories of Ministry.

We are so excited to have many summer staff this year who started out as campers.

These staff share a common purpose in being on staff, they want to be a part of the place that played such a significant role in their lives and in their spiritual journey.  Their lives were transformed here at Kidder Creek as they took little and sometimes big steps towards Jesus each summer.  Here are some
of their answers to some questions we asked them about their time at Kidder Creek.

What is your favorite memory from when you were a camper?

  • Meeting my best friend Claire.
  • I can’t pick one favorite memory; I just loved that I could be free and myself at Mount Hermon.
  • Witnessing God’s handiwork flow through me and the other campers during our week in the wilderness.

What is one step that you took toward Jesus in your time at camp?

  • Regardless of my actions, God Always forgives.
  • I accepted Jesus in my second summer at Redwood Camp.
  • I was never able to attend church, coming to Kidder was my church.  The community and lessons brought me closer to Jesus.

Why did you want to be on KC staff
this summer?

  • Kidder felt like home last summer!
  • To be a part of the culture and presence that God has created here.
  • I knew since I was little that I wanted to work here one day.  Having fun with the kindest people in the most beautiful place, who wouldn’t want to work here?

What are your hopes for this summer while you are on staff?

  • I hope I can make the same impact on my campers as my past counselors did on me.
  • To take many steps closer to Jesus as I minister to children.
  • To become more confident in my identity in Jesus and to be humbly bold, while serving the other staff and campers.

We have an incredible summer staff from all over the country, from Minnesota, Texas, Vermont and all up and down the west coast.  One thing is true for all of them: they are excited to be hanging out with kids, getting to know them, sharing adventures in God’s creation and modeling God’s love through their words and actions as they get to serve campers and see them become more like Jesus. 

Summer Events at Kidder Creek

David Talbott 40 Years

Posted by & filed under General, Kindling, Staff News, Stories of Ministry.

How do you measure the impact of 40 years of ministry? You could count Hymn Sings, piano and organ concerts, conferences and retreats, or any number of other activities that Dave has spear-headed in his time at Mount Hermon.

For me, I measure it in lunch dates, Thursday morning breakfasts, weddings, and constant laughter in the hallway. I have had the privilege of knowing Dave for seven years (which compared to many makes me a new-comer)! When I became an intern in 2010, it didn’t take long for Dave to find me. I quickly learned that while he is a virtuoso pianist and experienced programmer, his real passion
is relationships.

For years, Dave’s “unofficial” role at Mount Hermon has been to mentor the young men on staff, and over the last seven years I have seen him invest in and mentor countless interns, summer staff, and full-time staff.

Within the first few weeks of becoming interns at Mount Hermon, Dave invited a group of us to a regular Thursday morning breakfast at his house. Imagine five recent college grads dragging themselves out of bed at 6:15am and stumbling over to the Talbott residence. Each week as we entered his house in a sleepy, zombie-like trance, we were greeted by Dave, who had awoken far earlier than any of us had, and prepared a delicious spread for us to enjoy. I will never forget those mornings filled with great food and great company, real life and sage advice, and above all: deep and lasting friendships.

Since that time Dave and Carla have been staples in my life and in the lives of my friends. Over the years, I have seen Dave officiate the weddings of three of my closest friends, the fruit of an investment of time and energy that takes great intentionality. Carla even helped throw the bridal shower for my fiancé last month! I will never forget the many memories of time spent together sharing some of life’s most precious moments.

I will also never forget the morning this spring when Dave told all of us on the Advancement Team that this summer would be his last, and that he would be retiring in September. We all wept together, and I’m crying now remembering that moment. It was a time of mixed emotion: sadness that I won’t see him in the office every day, excitement that he and Carla will have more time for family and travel, but mostly gratitude for the impact this man has had on me, my friends, dozens of staff members, and thousands of guests over the last 40 years.

As I think about the legacy that I want to leave, I think of Dave. I think of selfless service, relentless pursuit, wisdom that comes from being really old, and a lifetime of working to build the Kingdom.

Dave, I love you, and I will miss seeing you every day. I am comforted to know that you will still be living around the corner, and I look forward to many more breakfasts in the years to come!

2017 Summer Concerts

Looking Back

Posted by & filed under General, Kindling, Staff News, Stories of Ministry.

62 years of Redwood Camp, summer staff, Board of Directors, the last 13 years on Mount Hermon’s staff, this is a place where God is at work, a place at the core of my life in Christ.

Linda and I are grateful that the Lord orchestrated it in such a manner! Yet, all good things must come to a … change point. I am retiring from Mount Hermon the end of September, and Linda and I will be moving to Sonora. We will focus our next ten years on ministry to couples in ministry. Oh! And our grandsons!

Linda’s and my Mount Hermon story is not unusual, it’s what God does so powerfully in those called “apart with Him.” Our story is writ sweetly, both among the Mount Hermon family, and among those who’ve made this place a part of their family. Relationships forged in unity in Christ never fade. Linda and I will see many of you when we visit our “Mount Hermon Home.”

My Mount Hermon journey began in 1955 at Redwood Camp. My three siblings and I received a “week” each summer as a birthday gift, in the hope we would have an eternal “birth day.” We carried the gospel home from camp each year, and seeds of life were sown. It is directly attributable to those years at Redwood Camp that in 1966 our entire family came to Christ! Thank you for your camperships!

I’m eternally grateful to have worked with Roger Williams, such a mentor and friend. By God’s grace he asked me to join the Mount Hermon team, allowing Linda and me to serve alongside some dear friends. We travel on by God’s calling, but our hearts remain. Ours are truly lives transformed.

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Staff Highlight: Josh Brady

Posted by & filed under General, Staff News, Stories of Ministry.

Josh Brady Photo

One of the best things about working at camp is the amazing people that we get to work next to every day. We’d like to share with you a small peek behind the curtain, and introduce you one of them. Josh Brady is an important part of our dining team. We took a moment to ask him a few questions about how he feels about camp.

How long have you been working at Mount Hermon, and what kind of work do you do?

I’ve been working since September of 2016 and I am a server in dining at our Redwood and Ponderosa Camps.

What makes you most excited about coming to work at Mount Hermon?

I love the people I work with, our supervisors Erin Funk and Steve Rom are super funny and great people to work for. This job has definitely given me a new perspective about what it takes to make camp run. Seeing all the prep work that goes into making our guests feel welcome is incredible. Plus I get a lot of joy from seeing people’s faces light up with something we usually take for granted, like the sight of the food we bring out.

 

What about our guests? Has there been a time where an interaction with our guests really stood out to you?
Josh Brady Photo

One of our guests that was a high school student was talking about how they were going to play pick up Basketball later that night.Since I felt so comfortable with the group I asked if I could join and they said of course! After my shift I went to the court and we played a game of 4 on 4, leaders against students. It was a blast to be able to connect to both the leaders and students since I’m in-between both ages. The students and I could talk about future plans (colleges, classes, etc) and I could learn from the leaders about their college experiences and wisdom they picked up as well. Around 11PM, we were all pretty worn out. We said our goodbyes, and I took off and I knew that it was a wonderful memory that will really stick with me.

How can people pray for you and the people in dining?

As you can probably imagine, if we happen to be short a team member or two for an event we really have to make sure that we are stepping in to give our guests a stay that they will remember. On top of that you would be amazed at all of the moving pieces behind the scenes that have to happen.

 

 Thanks Josh for your spirit, impact on team members and our guests! You are a valued part of Mount Hermon.

 

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Conference Center Summer Staff Highlight: Christa Hansen

Posted by & filed under Adventures, General, Staff News, Stories of Ministry.

Christa Hanson Photo

Meet Christa Hansen! We love stories about how God works in amazing ways not only in the lives of campers and families, but also in the lives of our staff! Christa’s story is an example of just that! We asked her a few questions about her time on the mountain. This is what she 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 worked at a different camp in 2014 and had a really awful experience of being overworked and unsupported. I ended up burning out so badly that I left the camp early and felt like a failure. One of my friends who had worked at Mount Hermon encouraged me to give it a try the next summer. He told me that the care for their staff was so much more tangible and that it would be a growing experience for me.

I have a passion for the outdoors, so in 2015, I applied to work on the adventure/rec staff. While I love hiking and other outdoor adventures, I had a huge fear of heights, and the thought of working every day 80 feet up in a sequoia wasn’t appealing at first. God called me to challenge my limits that summer and I took each fear in stride. I felt his presence encouraging me through every obstacle. Before long, I had overcome so many of my own mental limitations and found a home up in those trees, as well as a deep bond with the other members of my team who encouraged me through each moment of that summer.

  • Christa Hansen photo
  • Christa Hansen photo

A lot of staffers 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?

My entire adventure/rec team bonded like a family. Each of them was so unique and quirky and incredibly dedicated to using their passions to serve the kingdom. I can’t really pinpoint what made them like family. I think it was just the subtle familiarity that comes with sharing life so closely together. Between exhausting joy-filled days in the sunshine, countless games of Catan, and too many trips to the fountain for our wallets or stomachs to handle, we just settled into being a team. When I was overwhelmed, someone always was there to soothe the anxiety, and when I was happy, there were countless people to laugh with. In every area that I felt weak, someone would support me and fill in the gaps, and in every area that I was strong, I felt affirmed and enabled to do good. It was such a beautiful picture of God’s design for his kingdom- unique brothers and sisters of Christ sharing their specific strengths for service.

If you could encourage anyone to join our staff, what would you tell them?

Christa Hansen PhotoIf I could encourage anyone to join Mount Hermon, I would invite the ones who are afraid to do it. To those who say, “I could never do that,” I say, “Come let God rock your world.” Before my summer working on adventure/rec, my fear of heights was almost a deal breaker.  But part way through the summer, it felt like home and I had discovered a new confidence in myself. I remember looking at the staff counselors that summer and thinking, “I could never do their job.” But two summers later, God has called me back to serve as a staff counselor, and I’m going because I am ready to be amazed again by what God has designed me to do. To anyone interested in working at Mount Hermon, I say apply, come with an open heart, and be prepared to work hard,  make incredible friends, have epic adventures, and be reshaped by the Creator of heaven and earth!

Christa Hansen Photo

Has your time on summer staff provided you with any tools (professionally or personally) that have been applicable post camp life?

Yes! I had just graduated college with a psychology degree when I first worked at Mount Hermon. I knew that I wanted to go into counseling, but I wasn’t sure what direction God was calling me to pursue. After working with the families and other campers that came through our adventure/rec activities, I realized what a positive impact getting outside and away from the norm could have on families. That summer, I realized that I want to become a marriage and family therapist, and I want to take families out of their comfort zones through outdoor therapy and wilderness immersion experiences to allow God to work a transformation into their lives through my counseling.

Once I confided this new dream to my staff, I was offered tons of opportunities to grow in that area. Nate, Lindsey, and Donny let me shadow them during their team-building sessions with guest-groups, and I learned a ton about group processes that directly applies to what I want to do as a marriage and family therapist! God works in awesome ways, and little did I know that summer that he was also preparing me to return as a staff counselor this year! I can’t wait to see what new skills I pick up this summer and where God leads me to apply them in the future.

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Ponderosa Summer Staff Highlight: Matthew Doherty

Posted by & filed under General, Staff News, Stories of Ministry, Youth.

Matt Doherty photo

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.

  • Matthew Doherty photo
  • Matthew Doherty photo

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!

Matthew Doherty photo
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.

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Jeremy Bentley: Our new VP of Programs!

Posted by & filed under Alumni, General, Staff News.

It is my joy to introduce Jeremy Bentley, our new VP of Programs. Jeremy is no stranger to Mount Hermon. He attended Mount Hermon as a camper, served as the Associate Director of Adult Ministries, and is married to Sara Williams, the daughter of Roger and Rachel Williams (Roger served as our President/CEO from 1993-2014).

Jeremy came to know Jesus as a young boy, and at the age of 16 felt a call from God to the ministry. In the summer of 1997 he became a counselor at Redwood Camp where prayer and the Scriptures became truly important to him.

mark-bentley-family Jeremy is a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University and Fuller Theological Seminary. He has served in key staff roles in various ministries, including as Director of Live Events for the Don Moen Company, Assistant Director of Promotions with Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child, and Generations Pastor at Mission Hills Church.

Jeremy is an experienced leader, team-oriented, a strategic thinker, learner, listener, and highly relational. He believes that he has been called by the Lord to create settings, environments, and opportunities for people to encounter God.

“Mount Hermon has always been one of the most special places in the world to me and my family. From growing up coming as a camper, working on summer staff, meeting my spouse here and even getting married in the auditorium, many of our family’s most significant events have revolved around Mount Hermon.  And now, having the opportunity to come back and invest in a ministry I deeply believe in, as well as to raise my family here, it truly is a dream come true! Our prayer is that the Lord would use our family at Mount Hermon to continue to see “Lives Transformed” for many years to come.”  

Please join us in welcoming Jeremy back to Mount Hermon!