Posts Categorized: Staff News

Conference Center Summer Staff Highlight: Christa Hansen

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

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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.

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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!

Lisa Olson: A New Journey

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

In spring of 2006 Mount Hermon welcomed a new staff member, Lisa Olson. Little did I realize how my life would be impacted as a result of knowing Lisa. I didn’t know she would become one of my dearest friends and be a catalyst in helping advance my faith and spiritual growth into a new place.

I’m not the only one impacted by Lisa. In fact, you may be one of them. Her vast knowledge of the world of Christian camping along with her decades of experience has changed the face of Mount Hermon programming and marketing in many ways—great ways.

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Lisa’s is uniquely wired. She can’t help herself from thinking of the most powerful ways to impact campers with the reality of Jesus’ love. Lisa is constantly evaluating how Mount Hermon can be relevant and in tune with our culture—how do we reach the world with the truth of God’s word? She is definitely not “camp as usual,” and Mount Hermon is a better place because of it.

We have been blessed to have had Lisa at the helm of programming and marketing for over a decade, but sadly, we’ve had to say “Happy Trails” to her. She is now headed into a new adventure in Christian camping in Texas.

Carolina Creek Christian Camp is blessed to have Lisa as their new Executive Director. Carolina Creek was founded in 2002 and is situated on 440 acres of waterfront property, 90 miles northwest of Houston. There are three camps on the property, serving all ages. With over two miles of water frontage, water sports are very popular at camp. They are enjoying their fifteenth summer of ministry this year.

Lisa loaded up and headed out on Sunday, June 19, and she arrived right in the throes of summer camp. For those of us who know Lisa, she stepped right into her element. There is no doubt that Lisa will bless the campers and impact the ministry under her new watch, the very way she blessed and impacted us at Mount Hermon.

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As Lisa began her transitions, true to her nature she did an exceptional job setting up and preparing her team for her departure, for the summer, and for their futures as strong contributors to Mount Hermon. Members of the Program Team are primed and ready to uphold and develop Mount Hermon’s outstanding program to impact campers with the reality of Jesus’s love and encouraging all to take one step closer to being more like Jesus. Jeremy Bentley, who joined our staff in July as the new Vice President of Program, now leads this amazing group of talented professionals into the future.

Although Lisa is dearly missed here, we know without a doubt the Lord is and will use her in a powerful way at Carolina Creek. Her fingerprints are all over Mount Hermon and she has been a significant contributor to our passion for “lives transformed” over the past decade. Thank you Lisa. We send you with love!

Please pray for Lisa and her family as they adjust to this era in their lives and specifically for Lisa as she leads this camp and acclimates to very new surroundings!

If you’d like to know more about Carolina Creek Christian Camp, go to carolinacreek.org

Doc: The Man on Fire

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

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If you have attended Family Camp in the last two years, you no doubt remember being thrilled (and a little nervous) at the sight of a Day Camp counselor breathing fire during the Sunday opener. Well, meet Andrew “Doc” Lee: counselor extraordinaire, fire-breather, and campfire illusionist!

Like so many of our Summer Staff, Doc began attending Mount Hermon as a child, a second-grader, with his family. Since 2002 he hasn’t missed a summer, and now he is on Summer Staff for the third year in a row! Since his first time at camp, Doc knew his primary goal in life: become a Day Camp Counselor! Throughout his teen years he volunteered at church and in the community, working with kids and gaining valuable experience that would prepare him to one-day work at Day Camp.

As is not uncommon for our Summer Staff, Mount Hermon has been an integral part of Doc’s spiritual journey. Attending camp as a kid and as a teen had a huge impact on him in his formative years. Even now as a Summer Staff, he is both aware of and excited about how God continues to work in him and through him at camp. Doc studies psychology at Biloa University, and each year looks forward to finishing school and returning to camp!

We are so grateful for Doc and his years of service at Mount Hermon. Summer Staff make camp happen!

Are you one of our Staff Alumni who have served on Summer Staff? Let us know! Contact Andrew at andrew.summers@mounthermon.org

 

Welcome Drew Otto!

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

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Kidder Creek Camp is excited to welcome Drew Otto back to its staff as our incoming Associate Director!

From 2007–2013 Drew spent most of his summers at Kidder Creek as a counselor, men’s staff counselor and head river guide. The other 3 seasons at Mount Hermon he spent working as a naturalist, principal and developer in the Outdoor Science Program at Mount Hermon.

“I’m excited to be vocationally working for the kingdom and to see God move and reveal himself to our campers AND to our staff. It’s an exciting honor to be a part of what’s happening at Kidder Creek.”

KC-Otto'sFamilyPic-600x432Drew is joined by his wife Charlene and daughter Ellie. Charlene is  pregnant with their second daughter and due in August.

Everyone who knows Drew and Char is so excited to welcome them back to Kidder Creek as part of the full time staff. Together they bring a passion to invest into our staff and to see campers’ lives transformed as they meet Jesus here at camp through our staff and adventure experiences.

Please welcome Drew and Char to our team!   

Camp Sabbath Rest

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

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No Summer Sunday Morning Services

Summer at Mount Hermon is amazing, and I can’t wait for June 2016 to come. My favorite moment of the week is when families show up for Family Camp on Sunday afternoon as the energy and anticipation vibrates throughout the mountain! For three months we have the privilege of enjoying group after group, week after week. Additionally, placed between weekly Family Camps, we have offered Saturday night dinners and concerts, stay-overs, and Sunday morning worship services and meals. This place never slows down. Never.

After experiencing one summer at Mount Hermon I became quite concerned about our staff’s need for a “Sabbath rest,” and so we began to do some research. We learned that most other camps have built rest into their summer schedule between Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, allowing their staff the ability to catch their breath and get ready for the next week of high energy activity.

Therefore, after months of prayer, discussion and input, we made the decision to no longer provide summer Sunday morning worship services at Mount Hermon. The two main reasons are …

  • To provide our staff weekly refreshment, both physically and spiritually
  • To allow our staff to attend their own local church and not miss that for an entire season of the year.

Be assured that Mount Hermon will continue to provide a delicious Saturday banquet and outstanding concerts throughout the summer. Those who stay overnight on Saturday can attend one of the many good local churches in the area on Sunday.

We appreciate that not all will be pleased with our decision, but we do hope you understand why this decision was made. We thank God for the many decades this Sunday service has blessed lives, including mine. To God be the glory!

The Lasting Impact of Summer Staff

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

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We love re-connecting with Mount Hermon Summer Staff Alumni and finding out where and how in their journey God has been using their staff experience. Meet Dr. Terry McGonigal, who helps shape young men and women for ministry at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA. Terry served on Redwood Camp summer staff in 1972.

Q: How did serving at Mount Hermon impact you?

Terry: Dick Dosker, the camp director, deeply loved the campers, wanting them to grow in their relationship with Jesus, and into a life of discipleship. He showed me how to do truly relational evangelism with such a winsome manner. Ken Harrower’s mentoring as pastor to staff was also huge for me. Ken integrated serious biblical study, theological reflection and pastoral caring, and was a model of a life I wanted to emulate. I’m so grateful for both men.

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Q: What was your career journey after that summer?

Terry: After college, at Fuller Seminary I completed a Master of Divinity (’77) and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies (’81). I then was Director of the Institute of Youth Ministries, a Young Life and Fuller partnership, from 1981-94. Our focus was integrating theological education with the practice of youth ministry. Since 1994, until recently, I was Whitworth’s Dean of Spiritual Life and Campus Pastor.

Q: What is your current role?

Terry: I am Director of Church Engagement. Through several grants we support various ministries, such as working with pastors to integrate spiritual formation with their craft of preaching. Our Academy of Christian Leadership equips lay people with ministry skills through tracks in Biblical Formation and Christian Leadership Development. This year we will support 55 Ekklesia Ministry Fellows, Whitworth students spending their summers expanding and deepening ministry projects around the world.

For information on these programs, see www.whitworth.edu/oce.

Read About Whitworth Programs

A Simple Click

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

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Two students sit on the benches outside of the Creative Services office wielding their phones and chatting about the upcoming summer. “Did you see the video? Here, let me show you.” Huddled around a phone and with a simple click, together they watch a sneak peak of the exciting things that will happen at Ponderosa Lodge this summer.

“I don’t know what the Sequoia Aerial Adventure is,” says one guest to another. “Here, watch this video. It’s awesome. We have to do this!”

Video is an anchor in communication of everything that we do at Mount Hermon. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, video is worth a million. But what has become the norm and can be accessed effortlessly actually represents hours of preparation, storyboarding, shooting, editing, color correcting, revisions and hard work.

Micah Smith, who leads our video production team, brings years of film experience from his time working in Los Angeles as a cinematographer and Digital Imaging Specialist, including his Emmy-winning work on the human trafficking documentary “The Pink Room.” Micah’s approach and professional insight have taken our ability to tell the story of Mount Hermon to a whole new level.

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“I think video at Mount Hermon is important because it can tell a side of the story that a photograph cannot. People connect with the humanity of people sharing their testimonies and how God has changed their lives for the better. To hear and see that transformation in the moving image connects powerfully with the viewer and allows them to identify with similar stories in their own lives as well.”

Making a video requires much more than just one’s skill behind the camera. The work to make a vision go from concept to final cut takes a team of people from several departments working and dreaming together to produce something truly spectacular. The shoot for Ponderosa Lodge’s summer theme-reveal involved not only members of the program and creative services teams, but coordination with guest services in finding a space to use as a set for several days, and the facilities team to rig our older buildings for the extra lights and power needed to create the desired effects.

With the launch of Sequoia Aerial Adventure this March, it was imperative to have a video to explain and show exactly what it is and invite viewers into the course. Micah led a crew of photographers, videographers, and talent out on the course for two days in order to capture this amazing new experience.

Our most recent production involved creating an overview of what it’s like to come to Mount Hermon with a guest group. Micah and his crew captured footage and interviews for months in order to convey to guest group leaders why Mount Hermon is a great place to bring their people for a life-transforming event. After long hours of gathering, shooting and editing, the video was revealed to the Guest Services Team. Bill Fernald, Director of Guest Services said, “This is it! This is the story I’ve always wanted to tell.” This is the moment a storyteller anticipates; capturing the heart of the story and finding a way to convey it to the viewer.

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To see the videos mentioned and many more check out our Vimeo channel at vimeo.com/mounthermon. You’ll be able to appreciate them even more knowing all that goes into a video behind a simple click.

Check out the Mount Hermon Videos

One-Hunder-Ten: 2015 Annual Ministry Report

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

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As I wind down year number one as a staff member at Mount Hermon, I have enjoyed experiencing Family Camps, guest groups, marriage retreats, men’s and women’s gatherings, teen weekend camps, and so much more. But that is nothing compared to God completing one-hundred-ten years of impactful ministry at this special place. Think of that, 110 years of God’s hand upon this place!

Mount Hermon has experienced 110 years of staying on track biblically, 110 years of consistent faith and prayer, 110 years of God’s bountiful provision, 110 years of people choosing eternity, 110 years of marriages strengthened, 110 years of children and youth having the time of their lives, 110 years of godly leadership and staff, 110 years of people being refreshed and renewed, 110 years of families being together, 110 years of strong biblical teaching, 110 years of s’mores (not sure about the accuracy on this one), and 110 years of God’s hand working, moving, and blessing. 110 years. Wow!

Before we move forward I want to look back on what God has done at Mount Hermon this past “one” year. We will never know all the lives that were touched and transformed by the Lord, but we continue to be amazed at how many people God brings to Mount Hermon to be renewed, refreshed and transformed by Him. Each number I share represents people, lives that our Lord loves.

Last summer we served approximately 19,500 people in various ways and forms, from Kidder Creek to Ponderosa Lodge to Redwood Camp to Family Camp to Saturday night concerts to our zip line canopy tours. That’s just the summer. In the fall we saw over 700 Jr. High and High School students attend our “Fall Frenzy” weekend camps. This past year we had a combination of over 1,900 attend Mount Hermon sponsored women’s and men’s retreats, and more than 200 people at our couple’s retreats. On top of all this were thousands of people that enjoyed our grounds in guest group settings throughout the year. Overall Mount Hermon touches some 70,000 people in “one” year.

My favorite number that stands out from this past year is what God did at Ponderosa  Lodge last summer. Only God knows the true number, but 258 Jr. High and High School students indicated that they made first-time decisions for Jesus Christ. Praise God! Look at what a few Ponderosa students said about their summer experience:

“Mount Hermon was one of the best weeks of my life. I was able to connect with God on a deeper level and I love how close I got to my cabin. It was my first time at camp so everything was

new and absolutely fantastic. I will 100% be returning next summer.”

“My week at Mount Hermon was really incredible and life changing. I really learned a lot more about God and it’s just an amazing feeling. Mount Hermon is really the best.”

“This was both a time to have fun and be myself, and a time to accept God and worship Him. This week, I first accepted the Spirit, and it has been one of the best weeks of my life.”

This is why Mount Hermon has been standing for 110 years. This is God’s place, and His hand continues to move in lives as He refreshes, renews and transforms.

One-hundred-ten with one outcome – glory to God!