Posts Categorized: Stories of Ministry

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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Redwood Summer Staff Highlight: Nathan Higuera

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

Nathan Higuera Photo

Nathan Higuera (Sharkie) is a valued summer staff counselor who has been a huge blessing to so many kids at Redwood Camp. We wanted to stop and introduce you to Nathan and a brief snippet of how he feels about camp:

What is your past experience at the Herm? How did you hear about us? What inspired you to come and work on staff?

My past experience at Mount Hermon has been being a counselor at Redwood. I heard about Mount Hermon through my best friend and a desire to be around kids and learn more about myself, as well as learn more about God motivated me to work on staff.

  • Nathan Higuera Photo
  • Nathan Higuera 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?

The people totally make camp special! Sure, I have good memories with campers; however, my favorite memories involve my fellow staff members. It is an AMAZING community that is there for you at every high and more importantly every low. You literally don’t have to go through anything alone, the vulnerability is contagious. I had the opportunity to bond with so many amazing people over fun, difficult, and hilarious memories. I had the opportunities to share parts of my life I had never before and learned new things about myself. There is nothing like a camp setting. Being a camp counselor is not always easy, but being surrounded by so many amazing people makes it 110% worth it.

One week during the summer I heavily emphasized the feeling God gives us. My campers didn’t quite understand what I meant by this until the last night. One of my campers told me he was able to feel God in a way he had never experienced before and what I had been talking about all week long now made sense. I still get chills reflecting on that story.

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

COME TO MOUNT HERMON, specifically Redwood (I might be a bit biased). You will literally, and I mean literally, have the best summer of your life, and you will grow in so many different ways. God is present here, and it can be felt. You will feel so loved, and so special. The friendships you develop with your fellow staff members are totally unique, and cannot be put into words; you will just have to experience it all for yourself to fully understand.

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

Summer staff taught me the importance of vulnerability. It was something that I had always had trouble with, and now I understand why it is so important. The opportunity to be vulnerable with people in my life arises very frequently and without my summer at Mount Hermon I would still shy away from it. Spending a summer at Mount Hermon has taught me how to love people better and what it means to be loved by God.

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Exploring Core Values

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

Core Values Kids Smiling

These are Mount Hermon’s core values that drive “the how” behind the calling of Lives Transformed. Beyond creating a filter and a standard for what happens here, they reflect the heart and desire of what we have been called to do.

Relational
We engage in purposeful, deep, and enduring relationships as an intentional, Christ-like community.

Authentic
We align our faith, passion, attitude, and conduct, drawing closer to Jesus in humility and transparency

Excellent

We work individually and collectively to achieve the highest quality for the best Kingdom outcomes.

Grace-filled

We share a redemptive, restorative, and abundant love that is kind and patient in application.

The following series of stories capture these core values and are examples of how impact at Mount Hermon isn’t just limited to sessions with a speaker, but rather an all-encompassing experience where people are met right where they are on their journey.

The Authentic and Relational core values stand out in the story about Lorents, 61-year-old college teacher raised in another religion, intrigued by conversations regarding “answered prayer.”

In Adam’s story, the core values of Grace-filled and Relational drive the astounding outcome of an adventure staffer who at a young age had to stare death in the face.

Natalie’s story about how participating in the Echo program dramatically redirected her life shows our Relational value at work through the effectiveness of Excellent programs.

Mount Hermon’s core values extend beyond just those who work here! You’ll read about two Associates who grabbed on to the Relational and Authentic values so much that they invested in the lives of someone just down the street from Mount Hermon.

And last but not least, is a story about the incredible impact a devotional book is having in the lives of students. This story captures the Excellence value of the youth programs thinking beyond a student’s week or weekend at camp and Authentic as we hope and pray that students, while they are here and when they return home, will take steps in making their faith their own.

As you read these stories, we are curious to know how your encounters with God at Mount Hermon have impacted and transformed your life. We would love to hear about it!

Submit your story of life transformation at stories@mounthermon.org

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The Circle of Life & Love

Posted by & filed under LOG, Stories of Ministry.

Forest Image

We’ve all heard the phrase, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Well, nothing could be further from the truth at Mount Hermon. Our hope and mission is to spread the love of our Savior everywhere we go—in our homes, to our family and friends, in our workplaces, churches and throughout our communities.

There is no doubt that God has made Mount Hermon a unique sanctuary in today’s world. A muchneeded respite from the culture we live in, where we can hear His voice and see the beauty of His creation all around us. Those of us that love Mount Hermon want others to realize the experience of meeting Jesus in this place.

Such is this story from Steve and Jane; a wonderful, Christ-loving couple who want to share Jesus and Mount Hermon with those who don’t know either one of them—yet.

“On our way to a weekend concert at Mount Hermon, we stopped at a local coffee shop for lunch. We placed our order, then found out they only accept cash. We stood there figuring out what we could get based on how much money we had to tide us over until the huge Mount Hermon dinner that awaited us later. The young man behind the counter pulled out his wallet to pay for our lunch; his name was Gordon. What an utterly sweet gesture but we couldn’t let him do it. After we had sat at our table, I found a twenty in my purse, so we were able to get the rest of our lunch.

As I talked with Gordon, we learned he had never been to Mount Hermon, even though he works right at the base of Conference Drive! I told him about the conferences and the Redwood Canopy Tour. He was very excited to hear about them and said he would like to take his brother.

I so wanted Gordon to be able to go but thought he might have trouble paying for it. I went ahead and bought two tickets for the Redwood Canopy Tour. Just a couple of weeks later when we were back at Mount Hermon, I took them down to him and thanked him for his kind gesture. He was flabbergasted, so excited and grateful. My heart’s desire is that Mount Hermon will draw Gordon in, and ultimately into the kingdom.”

This is a beautiful example of the circle of life and love at Mount Hermon. People come here and through Jesus’ love their life is impacted and transformed. Then, they want others to experience that same love, so they reach out and invite someone new into their own Mount Hermon experience. You may be one of the many who have shared Mount Hermon with someone you care for, or maybe like Steve and Jane, a stranger crossed your path and the Spirit encouraged you to share. Either way, thank you. Keep ‘em coming, we have a big world to reach.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35 (NLT)

Would you say a prayer for Gordon and his brother that the seeds that were planted are growing? Thank you!

The Difference

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

Caroline Family

Every summer countless stories about how God transforms lives at Mount Hermon begin to pour in. We have the privilege to see Truth revealed in people’s lives over and over and over again through these stories. It is a reassuring confirmation that what happens at Mount Hermon makes a difference.

Woven around each and every story we hear are the components and people that must be in place for our multiple ministry arenas to operate seamlessly and smoothly for these life-transforming encounters to happen.

Let me share a story from a family that attended Family Camp this summer which provides a great example:

“This summer we attended Family Camp with our disabled daughter Caroline who has Angelman Syndrome. Angelman Syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by severe intellectual and developmental disability, seizures and jerky movements (especially hand flapping). I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for providing an absolutely amazing week of fellowship, friendship, restoration and love for myself and my family.

“Against all odds, Caroline has learned to walk, although she is not completely steady and cannot do long distances. She doesn’t talk per se, but she does talk to you in her own way; through verbal noises, squeals, laughter or physical touch: patting on the shoulder, pulling hair, pinching… not to be mean…just to elicit a response or your attention. Her seizures are thankfully controlled with daily medication. She has trouble chewing food, so we normally chop up all of her meals or they are a soft, oatmeal consistency. She also puts everything in her mouth, which is why she wears a chewy necklace (in different colors) around her neck at all times. With all of this, we were nervous as to how Caroline would react to so many people in a “Camp” environment and we were nervous as to how everyone at “Camp” would react to her.

Caroline Family Photo

“I was deeply struck by how open, loving and welcoming everyone at Mount Hermon was and your Child Care Staff was absolutely incredible! Miss Koala, Mr. Chief, and Ms. Shannon engaged Caroline in a way that was authentic and not forced. Being with Caroline wasn’t just a “job” for them, they were truly just being themselves and having fun with her making sure to include her in all of the activities and crafts. Mr. Chief would always make sure he had music going for her, and he would dance with her. Even though the other kids asked lots of questions, they seemed to warm up to Caroline quickly. The tearjerker for me happened the last day when each of the children made a shepherd that looked like themselves. One of the little boys pointed out that Caroline’s shepherd needed to have her necklace, so they made her one. Miss Koala even made a staff for Caroline covering it with tape to ensure she could safely chew on it.

“Miss Koala, Mr. Chief, and Ms. Shannon were amazing as they tended to Caroline in such a loving way reflecting patience, leadership, and careful communication.

“I wanted to let you know how touched my husband and I were by the incredible show of support from so many strangers and how thankful we are to have a place to attend that reduces so much of the stress felt by parents traveling with children with disabilities. We are forever grateful for the experience Mount Hermon provided for us. Our relationship with God is stronger and our marriage is stronger than ever. Our hearts were filled with God’s Love and we can’t stop sharing our story with all of our family and friends!”

THIS MAKES THE A DIFFERENCE

Caroline and her family experienced something special and unique for them, yet this is something that happens over and over at Family Camp for families who have a child with special needs. We hire counselors who love children then train them to go the extra mile to accommodate, integrate and lavish these kids with the love of Jesus.

Sometimes accommodating and integrating campers with special needs requires Mount Hermon to assign an individual counselor for the duration of Family Camp. Does that require extra resources? Yes. Does that require additional staff? Yes. Does that make a difference? Yes.

The experience you and your family have at Mount Hermon is important to us and we are committed to providing a place where you can engage God right where you are without distraction. We always want to do whatever it takes to make a difference.

That difference in your experience comes through the Mount Hermon Annual Fund. The Annual Fund covers three main things at Mount Hermon: Camperships, Foundational Capital Projects, and “The Difference.” The Difference is that space between having people on staff and having the right people on staff. The Difference is having the ability to accommodate children with special needs while also providing the needed upkeep for aging and historic buildings, and so much more.

Covering that “difference” is only possible because of the faithful financial support to our annual fund by our Mount Hermon Associates. Mount Hermon Associates make that difference possible each and every day with each and every opportunity that the Lord puts before us.

The Difference takes faith and resources. The same faith and resources that keep the moving parts behind the scenes operating as smoothly as possible along with the countless other unplanned ministry speed bumps that pop-up on a regular basis. All of this and more requires two million dollars per year in ministry support. Simply put, “the difference” between ministry revenue and ministry expenses comes to two million dollars each year.

God provides for this two-million-dollar difference through Mount Hermon Associates. When a roof leaks or an unsafe deck is in need of repair, or a septic system fails or camp vehicles need replacement, or dishwashers wear out or … ministry can be compromised. Situations like these can distract campers from what God has in store for them while they’re at Mount Hermon. Associates make the difference by empowering our ministry and mission to remain focused and strong! Our Associates are not only part of our culture; they’re woven into the fabric of our entire mission touching tens of thousands of lives each and every year.

Steve, a Mount Hermon Associate, shared this at Victory Circle:

“I love Mount Hermon. This is where we come every year to get that refreshment over and over again. I want to encourage you to be an Associate. It will give you an entirely different perspective of Mount Hermon. We are up-to-date on everything, and we receive encouraging messages from Kerry and other staff. I encourage you, if you are not an Associate, become one.”

Steve is right. As a Mount Hermon Associate, you are someone who makes the difference in the lives of those who come here, a true partner in ministry, so we do our best to make sure you’re aware and informed of what God is doing throughout Mount Hermon. Whether it’s Camperships, or being able to minister to those with special needs or tending to facility needs with excellence while allowing the mission to remain strong and growing… God has blessed Mount Hermon in unimaginable ways, and we can’t imagine life at Mount Hermon without the faithful, loving support of our Associates. They truly make “the difference.” THANK YOU!

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Conference Center Summer Staff Highlight: Christa Hansen

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

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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Do Any of Us Really Know?

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

Mount Hermon Bridge

“I am a 61-year-old college teacher raised in another religion, but I am a new Christian because of Mount Hermon.” That’s how my conversation started with Lorents, a member of the worship team during JEMS week this summer at Mount Hermon.

The Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society has hosted a conference every year at Mount Hermon since 1950. Young Nisei pastors, who struggled to revive their ministries in California after the traumatic World War II internment, gathered their families and young people from various Christian denominations for the first Nisei Christian Conference in June of the same year. Today, over 1,500 people from throughout the Mainland, Hawaii, Canada and Japan gather at Mount Hermon and various locations in July.

I could hardly believe this man, Lorents clearly beaming with the love of Christ, hadn’t known much about Christianity only a year ago. Here’s his story:

Raised as a Buddhist in a traditional Japanese– American household, Lorents had a friend in Southern California who kept telling them about “this place we go for summer vacations that’s even better than Hawaii.”

Eventually, Lorents told me, “I thought I’d better check this place out!” He was a guest at Mount Hermon for the very first time with his wife and daughter during JEMS week in the summer of 2015.

The beauty of the grounds made a positive initial impression to Lorents. But then he was impressed with the beautiful spirits of the groundskeepers.

“I couldn’t help noticing that the facilities crew, the housekeeping crew, the registration desk, all had the type of smiles and warm, welcoming spirit that you encounter all too infrequently in customer service industries these days. And it went beyond friendliness: they seemed to truly love one another, and love the guests.”

An announcement was made inviting people to go for a morning run on Tuesday, and Lorents, an avid jogger, decided to join in. When he showed up at the post office that morning, the only other person was the staff member leading the run, Bill Fernald.

Runner at Mount HermonBill is the Vice President of Guest Care at Mount Hermon, also an avid jogger. Bill was delighted to take Lorents on a personal jogging tour of the campus. As they ran, Bill casually pointed to building after building, relating the stories behind their existence.

“Maybe he didn’t realize it at the time, but every story he told was about how these buildings were an answer to prayer,” Lorents said. “Bill would point to a building and say, ‘Oh that’s really an answer to prayer.’ Point to another, ‘There’s another answer to prayer!’ That made a big impression. Prayer to me had always been just a ritual.”


“The idea of actually having answers to prayer was revolutionary. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”


Then Lorents went on the ropes course with his daughter. Again, he was impressed with the courtesy of the staffers there. When he got to the ropes component called “the leap of faith,” his daughter, who had crossed first, kept calling back to him, “Come on Dad, take the leap of faith!” He began to consider whether he was receiving a larger overall message about the direction of his life.

That evening he attended the worship gathering. Lorents said the message of grace the speaker explained appealed to him greatly, “The idea that life is not just about karma, getting what we deserve because of our actions. The problem with karma was that to work off my bad karma, I had to deliberately add good karma, acts of charity and kindness, for example. But, I started to wonder, if I am doing those good deeds for a selfish motive, bettering the condition of my karma, aren’t they tainted with bad karma? Selfishness is the ultimate bad karma. It seemed to me an inescapable trap. Then I realized the apostle Paul was making a very similar argument in his epistles, for grace and against good deeds as a way of salvation.”

At the end of the meeting, the speaker invited people to come forward for prayer. Having just heard from Bill Butterworth about the effectiveness of prayer, Lorents decided to try it out. He turned to his wife and daughter and said, “Let’s go forward!”

When they met with the prayer counselor at the front of the auditorium, they were asked, “What would you like prayer for?” Lorents wasn’t sure. The prayer counselor made some suggestions: “Your marriage? Your health?”

“No,” thought Lorents, “that’s not it.”

“Would you like to invite Jesus Christ into your heart?” That’s it! Lorents bowed his head and was led in a prayer of repentance and salvation.

The counselor then told him to find two or three other men that very evening and tell them what he had done. Lorents did exactly that, and they were thrilled to suggest further spiritual growth steps. They found out where he lived, and recommended a church in his area.

“And today I stand here, exactly one year later, as an enthusiastic follower of Jesus Christ, involved with my local church, being discipled by mature believers, engaged in the worship team—And I didn’t even really know what it meant to accept Christ at the time!” Then he adds with a twinkle in his eye, “Do any of us really know?”


Lorents makes one thing clear to me: “It really wasn’t only a logical argument that persuaded me. It was the big picture of a loving Christian community that I saw for the first time in my life here at Mount Hermon.”

More Than A Mountaintop Experience

Posted by & filed under LOG, Stories of Ministry.

Young Girl with 25 Day ChalleAfter every one of our camp experiences we encourage students to take home a challenge booklet. This summer our challenge booklet contained twentyfive daily lessons designed for students to spend time in the Bible much like they did during camp. The goal is to keep them close to the heart of Jesus and help ensure that their time at camp was much more than a mountaintop experience. Each year hundreds of students take the challenge and each year, we are blown away at how their camp experience becomes the catalyst to lasting change. We regularly hear back from students about how God used these booklets in their lives.

One student wrote: “…Last year I used to read my Bible every morning without really paying much attention to what I was reading. I think the challenge has taught me how to comprehend everything I read in the Bible. It was a great way to keep in touch with God every day! I learned that God loves everyone unconditionally (even the people you never would think he would) and that he wants us to share the good news with everyone!”

Another student perfectly captured our hope and prayer for these challenge booklets with these words:

“…I learned not only that God is the one I can turn to for anything, but that I am representative of Him here on Earth and I should be living out a life not solely glorifying Him, but also one in alignment with the plan He has for me. Thank you so much for putting together such a great book for me to take home and make my faith reconstruction last longer than the week I was at camp. The Challenge has given me the courage to start going back to church and join the youth group there as well.”

Often, students will ask us to send them more challenge books for friends and family:

“I learned that someday God will show us everything we don’t know and thought we knew, but will put the things we thought we knew into a brand new light to show us how great He is and how small and foolish we are. My love for Jesus (and how good these devotions were) motivated me to finish them. I was wondering if I could get two more. One for me and one for my best friend. Thank you so much! I feel I’m closer to God because of it.”

The impact of these challenge books has exceeded what we could have ever imagined. Our partnering churches regularly request more challenge books. One church even throws a party after their students complete the challenge booklets to celebrate what God has done, and is doing, in their lives. What an amazing blessing it is to be a part of God’s Kingdom work in the lives of students! Soli Deo Gloria!

The Light in a Dark Place

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

For a handful of years I taught outdoor education. We would hike kids around outside, stopping to learn about nature. The great thing about using an outdoor setting to teach is not it readily lends itself to turning nature lessons into life lessons. Jesus understood this: seeds on different soil was really about the condition of our hearts.

As part of our week with those kids, we would do a night hike. The redwood forest is pretty shaded and dark during the day due to the thick canopy, but at night, it is near pitch black. For many kids that came to us from larger cities, this was usually the deepest dark they’ve 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.

I could go on for pages the different metaphors that experience would elicit. This summer at Kidder Creek we will be looking at the power of Christ working through us to illuminate the darkness around us and just how much that changes things!

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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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