Posts Categorized: Youth

Katie Keil: Staff Alumni and Associate

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Associates, Giving, Kindling, Stories of Ministry, Youth.

Katie is one of those “Mount Hermon” people, maybe a lot like you! She came as a camper, she served on staff, and she’s chosen to support this ministry—she loves Mount Hermon!

Meet Katie, her story may be your story…

“I can’t remember a time when Mount Hermon wasn’t part of my life! I have been coming to Mount Hermon for our church retreat since I was a kid. I could not wait to be old enough to go to Ponderosa Lodge in high school and I started going the summer before my freshman year. I loved camp so much as a camper and had a family friend who served as a camp counselor, so I could not wait to be a counselor in college.

I ended up working as a counselor at Ponderosa in 2001 and 2002, but that wasn’t enough. I came back as a Staff Counselor in 2006 and then spent a summer as a Staff Pastor in 2008. After finishing camp in the summer of 2008, I started a job in Marketing at Clorox and have been there ever since.”

Clearly Mount Hermon was and is an important part of Katie’s story. Ponderosa Lodge is her Mount Hermon home.

“I always loved being at camp because it was a place I really came to understand God’s love for each of us. Between the Bible studies, speakers and worship time, I was challenged to think more about who God is and how His love for me should change the way I live and love others. I also made some of my best friends as a counselor.”

One of her favorite Mount Hermon memories-

“My favorite day at camp was Monday afternoons for field games! We played this crazy Jello slip-in-slide game and the counselor round always got very competitive. It was so fun and led to a lot of laughter every week. I cannot tell you how often campers used to say they loved watching the counselors because there was something different about the way we lived and loved each other.”

Ron Demolar is a big fan!

“I had the privilege of working with Katie at Mount Hermon several summers ago when she worked as a minister to the summer staff at the Conference Center. I appreciated Katie’s giftedness in administration, pastoring, and teaching at some of our summer staff meetings. She has a God given ability to build deep and lasting relationships with people. I am delighted she has gone on to serve God with these gifts of leadership in the business world.”
– Ron Demolar

Katie has turned her love for Mount Hermon into action through becoming an Associate over a decade ago.

“My time at camp and the life-long friends I made as a counselor have played such a formative role in who I am today. I loved my experience so much that I want to help others experience the same growth and
joy that I do every time I set foot
on the grounds.”

Katie is just one of thousands whose lives were transformed through the love of Jesus at Mount Hermon. Thank you for being part of her story through your support and prayers for Mount Hermon.

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.

Apply for Summer Staff

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.

Apply for Summer Staff

Kidder Creek Summer Theme: Rooted

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

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There are so many messages coming at us in today’s world.  It can be easy to feel blown around by the winds of pop culture. That’s why it is so important to invite kids into the hope of the eternal truth of God’s Word. In Colossians 2:7, Paul gives the instruction to “Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

Our theme for summer 2016 is “Rooted.” We each have roots and we each have to choose where we allow our roots to grow. Do we allow them to grow down into our personal talents, our outward appearance, our social status? These options are temporary and unsteady. Instead we’ll be challenging campers to allow their roots to grow down into God’s eternal love for them. Once firmly rooted, they will be prepared to navigate the joys and difficulties that they face every day.

Please join us in prayer as we unfold this theme in the coming months. Our desire is that campers would leave Kidder Creek with a better understanding of how to grow in their faith in Christ.

A Fierce Fall Frenzy

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

fallfrenzyjackBy Zak Flowers

This year’s Fall Frenzies were a great success as well as a tremendous blessing to everyone involved: students, church leaders, volunteers and staff alike as all of us took one step closer to Jesus. This year’s Fall Frenzy was called Fierce: Fierce Love, Relentless Trust.

Continued from Newsletter

We were looking initially at Psalm 20:7, “…but we trust in the name of the Lord our God,” and then expanded off of it to focus on God’s fierce love for us and how that drives us to relentlessly trust in Him. Each day we looked at a different aspect of this in our objectives: God loves us with a fierce love, God’s fierce love calls us to ruthlessly abandon doubt and relentlessly trust Him, and we can stand firm in God’s fierce love no matter the circumstances we face.

With this idea of God’s fierce love and our relentless trust in mind, we decided to embody that in the style of Vikings! It is because of God’s fierce love that we are able to relentlessly trust him through the storms that we face. Who better to use to bring that to life than ferocious Vikings that constantly faced and persevered through storms by trusting in each other and most importantly their captain? Thus, we transformed Ponderosa Lodge into a Viking village filled with boulders, ropes, shields, furs, weapons, and even a Viking ship in the forum.

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The “Fierce” mentality did not just stop at the set and look of Ponderosa, no no no. It was in everything that we did, especially the games and activities we played. One of the most enjoyed games was our night game called Lost at Sea: Snorri’s Family Reunion which brought campers and church leaders into the world of the theme skit as they searched the lodge for items, corresponding to their own team’s role on the ship, that had been lost during a fierce storm. Whilst doing so, they had to avoid Snorri’s family (a main character in the skit who was a very boisterous operatic Viking) for when they saw campers they began singing loudly which attracted sea creatures that could affect their small group negatively.

These weekends were transformational. Time and time again we saw God’s faithfulness, the power of the gospel, and His fierce love in student’s reactions and the stories of students taking one step closer to Jesus. One junior high student wrote this on their evaluation of one thing they learned this weekend:

“This week, I learned that God loves me with an unmatched love and that In return, I need to learn how to trust in him relentlessly.”
zak
This is but one of the hundreds of stories of students taking one step closer to Jesus that God created over these weekends at our Fierce Fall Frenzies.

Zak Flowers is currently serving as one of our Youth and Young Adult Ministries Interns. He was worked several summers at Mount Hermon in Conference Center Youth and at Echo.

 

 

 

Band of Brothers: Leading Young Men One Step Closer to Christ

Posted by & filed under Associates, Kindling, Stories of Ministry, Youth.

Band of Brothers Header

Leading students one step closer to Jesus: this is the vision that drives all of Mount Hermon Youth and Young Adult programs. This is true regardless of whether the programs are at the Conference Center or Ponderosa Lodge and regardless of whether the programs last a weekend, a week, or two weeks.

This summer we started a new two–week intensive program for guys in high school (juniors, seniors and graduated seniors) called Band of Brothers. Band of Brothers was created to lead young men one step closer to Jesus by teaching them what it means to be a man after God’s own heart. During the two weeks they spent together, these guys were immersed in Scripture as they learned four main character traits of a godly man: humility, love, wisdom and freedom. They lived together, ate together and went on adventures together, they prayed together and studied the Bible together, all with the goal of integrating these character traits in their lives. Furthermore, Band of Brothers taught these young men that they can’t walk this journey alone. They left the program knowing the importance of having the influence of other godly men
in their lives.

Here’s what a few students had to say about their experience this summer:

Alex said,

“You really get to know the people in the house and you really bond. You see that there are other boys your age that are struggling with their faith and struggling with what it means to be a man in today’s society. You really learn how to be a Christian man.”

Noah was initially skeptical about the program.

 “I’m not going to lie. I really tried to hate it in the beginning… but this program was anything but negative. Every aspect had some form of character and made me feel a lot better as a person. When I stepped into it there was no aspect that I didn’t like from the very beginning.”


Lastly, Caleb was asked if he would recommend this camp to other guys and he said,

 “For sure! If you are a young man seeking to be a wise man, a free man, a loving man and a humble man, you should certainly do Band of Brothers.”

BandofBrothers_insert2015 was the first summer of what will be many summers helping young men cross the threshold from adolescence into manhood. If you know of any students who will be juniors, seniors or graduated seniors in high school, let them know about this program. Spaces for 2016 are going to fill up fast!

 

 

 

Learn more about Band of Brothers

Summer Themes Revealed!

Posted by & filed under General, Youth.

Summer-Themes

It’s no doubt one of the questions we get asked the most: What the theme this summer? Well, we are excited to announce all of the themes for the different camp centers!

Kidder Creek:
The theme for campers at Kidder Creek is “Masterpiece Restored.” Campers will learn that they are uniquely created by God with His perfect intention. The theme verse for Kidder is: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Redwood Camp:
Campers will enter the Headquarters of Paradox and through “time travel” will learn spiritual truths that Jesus is God and that He is with us and for us. Throughout the week, campers at Redwood Camp will look at Jesus is God.

Ponderosa Lodge:
“Mutation” is the concept for Ponderosa Lodge this summer. The definition of mutation is “a change in form and nature.” The focus will be choosing to live by the power of the Designer. The question will be asked of the students: “Who are you becoming?” All of us are undergoing transformation and have a choice to become more like the world or more like Jesus. This summer’s theme verse for Pondy will be: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2).

Watch the Ponderosa Theme Trailer

Family Camp:
The Conference Center will be transformed into Mount Hermalot with a medieval theme. You’ll see Lords, Ladies and Knights roaming the grounds. There are even plans for a castle with a drawbridge. The theme verse is: “The Lord is near to all who call on Him.” (Psalm 145:18)

We are looking forward to an amazing summer of ministry!

Integrated Theming

Posted by & filed under LOG, Youth.

Integrated-Theming-1

 

When I was a student in southern California, and made countless drives up and down highway 5, I was always perplexed when I passed the exits for Disneyland. Seeing the top of the Matterhorn mountain or Hotel Tower of Terror, I’d think if it weren’t for the signage, most people would drive by the “Happiest Place on Earth.” They would miss the experience of being transported to another time and place. The sites, sounds, smells, the people you encounter and the overall experience lead you to believe you have been moved into another world.

It is that experience, the transportation into a world unlike your own, that the youth team at Mount Hermon strives to replicate any time a student or parent walks on these grounds.

Our vision is to lead students one step closer to Jesus

In preparing for any youth program, our vision is to lead students one step closer to Jesus; creating a holistic experience in which everything ties seamlessly together is part of that aim. We never want there to be a distinction between the “spiritual theme” and the “fun theme,” but rather that all components of the program-whether activities, free time, time alone devotions, or skits-point back to creating an experience where students are taking one step closer to Jesus.

From the moment guests step on our grounds, we want to hook them into the theme and experience. The parking lot decorations and playlist are just-as-intentionally planned out as the main lodge areas. As they walk in to camp and cross the threshold, we strive for their senses to be overwhelmed just enough that they feel transported, and yet remain curious enough that they want to learn more. No space or area of camp should be left unturned, but everything is transformed. (Here’s a hint: the sign of a truly integrated theme is when even the bathrooms are decorated!)

Integrated Theming 2

For example, this summer at Ponderosa Lodge, we specifically wanted there to be an intentional separation between the two worlds we were thematically presenting. We created an entrance gate, which on one side was reflective of the dark, lifeless Shadowlands. As soon as guests passed under the archway, they were met with the color and life of the Upside Down world, and greeted by welcoming staff who immediately made them feel at home. A 20-foot clock tower stood in the middle of Ponderosa that students walked through to the cabin areas multiple times a day. As they passed through, the theme’s tagline, “live like you belong to another world,” was stated over the archway, reminding them of the Biblical truth they were studying and being challenged with during the week. It was key pieces like these that tied everything together into one grand experience.

Parents often ask staff as they’re on their way out of camp, “where do I sign up?” That wish of wanting to stay and not leave, is exactly what we’re striving for. They’ve stepped in to a world unlike their own for a brief period of time. It is our vision and prayer that they leave changed and continuing to take one step closer to Jesus.

Kelsey Paterson is the Program Administrator for Youth and Young Adults. She served two years as an intern, and now serves full time, designing programs that make a lasting impression and impact on students. 

“… Change My Life Forever”

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

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I sat around the campfire on that summer night; I was 12 years old and moved by the message and the truth that God loved me, that He was real and present in my life. That powerful moment at camp is one I will always remember. My life was immeasurably blessed by having gone to summer camp, and I will always remember the powerful impact it had on my walk with Jesus.

Each summer at Mount Hermon thousands of kids share the same experience, and you are part of making that happen! Here is a letter we received from Zach, a camper at Ponderosa this past summer:

“Dear Ponderosa,

Thank you a lot for giving me the scholarship to go to camp. It was the best week ever for me. I had Alex as my counselor and he was great. I really felt God connecting to me that week. Just seeing how He works and how amazing His love is.  I thank you so much for helping me to go to the best week that will change my life forever. From, Zach”

Zach is not the only grateful member of this family. In the same letter Zach’s mom writes:

“Dear Mount Hermon,

I want to thank you so much for giving my son a scholarship to help get him to camp at Ponderosa this summer. He was able to go with one of his best friends. Zach said it was, “the most awesome week of his life!” He got so much closer to God and his faith has really blossomed. His counselor, Alex, was incredible and a great mentor for Zach. Thank you so much for helping us to afford to get Zachary to camp—your ministry is awesome. Quite a legacy since I went to Ponderosa—so great to share that bond and memory with my son! Thank you, Heidi

Is there any greater gift we can give than sharing the love of Jesus with someone?  That gift is realized when a young person experiences camp, whether it’s Ponderosa Lodge, Redwood Camp, Kidder Creek or family camp. Your generous gifts to our campership fund made this experience possible—Thank you!

The faces and seasons change but the timeless truth of Jesus’ love never changes. Thank you for being part of giving Zach a “…week that will change my life forever.”

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A Day in the Life of the Youth Team

Posted by & filed under Youth.

Written By: Kelsey Paterson

Youth Team Christmas
Many people ask what a typical day at work looks like for the Youth Team at Mount Hermon. To be honest, there are no “typical” days for the Youth Team. Our vision behind everything we do is to “lead students one step closer to Jesus.” We keep this vision in mind throughout the whole year, as we continually implement or plan programs intentionally designed for junior high and high school students.

We move in seasons where pace, project priority and location are always shifting. There is no “down time” and we do not function in a 9am-5pm schedule. We work incredibly hard, but all the while loving what we do and who we are working with, keeping our vision of leading students one step closer to Jesus at the forefront of our minds.
Youth Team Van
At any given time during the year, we’re pushing up to three youth programs forward, all in different stages of development. While brainstorming Fall Frenzy themes and big ideas, we’re balancing building sets for Ponderosa’s summer program and writing small group questions for CC Youth. When traveling on the road to recruit summer staff for the 90+ youth and young adult positions, we’re brainstorming future theme ideas. In the course of an afternoon, we’ll research the elements for a great all-camp game for Ponderosa, plan the CC Youth decorations, and then finish painting a set piece. Every day, and every season is different. Which is all the more reason why we keep coming back to our central vision: leading students one step closer to Jesus. It is the stories of transformation in the lives of campers and staff that keep us motivated. And it is for this reason why the “typical day” in the life of the Youth Team is so rewarding.