Blessings for Military Families

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry.

One of the biggest blessings of my job is working with the many military families who come to Family Camp. You may not know that we have a campership program that brings military families to a week of Family Camp free of charge. Each year I marvel at how the Lord uses a week of camp to heal these families who have sacrificed so much, and to reconnect with each other and Jesus.

Several years ago I received an e-mail from DeeDee. Her husband Spencer, who was not a believer, had just received an honorable discharge from the Marines after serving 14 months in Iraq but having a physical disability that didn’t allow him to continue to serve. They had a special family circumstance. Their eleven-year-old daughter, Kayla, had a number of major medical issues. They had traveled the country looking for help but found few answers, while spending tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for medical bills. DeeDee knew Kayla would need some special accommodations to be able to be at camp for a whole week, and we were happy to help!

So DeeDee, Spencer, Kayla, and two younger daughters came for a week of Family Camp, and had the most amazing time! The next year they returned for another week of camp, and DeeDee and Spencer even came to a Couple’s Retreat. Mount Hermon had become a sacred place for their family, providing time together and beautiful memories.

I am devastated to say that last year Kayla’s battle ended and she went to be with the Lord. This past summer was the family’s first time back to camp without her. DeeDee’s parents, neither or whom were walking with the Lord, joined them for support.

DeeDee and Spencer approached me on Tuesday of that week, and told me, “One of Kayla’s dreams was that her dad would come to know the Lord,” and Spencer did! DeeDee asked me, “would you baptize both Spence and our 7 year old daughter Kadence this week?” I was overwhelmed, and we made plans to baptize them in the swimming pool. It was a special and holy moment as we were surrounded by family and close friends.

Several months after camp I received a phone call from DeeDee’s father. He excitedly informed me that he and his wife had rededicated their lives to the Lord at Mount Hermon and were now attending a local church in Southern California, and he stated, “we are both getting baptized this weekend!”

This military family has experienced both tragedy and blessing. DeeDee sent a note to me with these words: “To say that Mount Hermon has saved our family unit would be one of the greatest understatements we can make. Mount Hermon not only has saved our family unit multiple times, the Lord has used it to secure our salvation.”

We miss Kayla dearly, but are so comforted and encouraged by the knowledge that now her entire family will one day see her again when they join her in eternity with Jesus.

Lives Transformed
Dave Burns

Keeping Youth Connected to Jesus

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry, Youth.

How can we help young people from falling away from their faith?

Not every young person who starts out knowing Jesus remains connected to him. Many Christians between the ages of 18 and 23 are falling away from Church and their relationship with Jesus. A recent study by Fuller Seminary looked at why young people fall away from their faith and they determined the most important factor in whether young people leave the church or remain is their ability to explore doubts and concerns about their faith before leaving home. Camp is a safe place for students to truly be themselves and ask difficult questions of the loving college-aged staff. Our Ponderosa Lodge summer programs for middle and high school students are all based on a solid biblical worldview, one that teaches:

· Absolute truth exists
· The Bible is true
· Jesus lived a sinless life on earth
· A person can’t earn their way into heaven
· God created everything and reigns over the universe

Summer camp experiences reinforce what young people learn in their homes and at Church. Recently, a returning Ponderosa Lodge camper shared the life-changing impact of attending camp. This is her letter to the staff of Summer 2018.

“Dear Pondy Staff,

With this being my last year here as a camper, I felt like filling out an eval wouldn’t sufficiently express my gratitude. Plain and simple, Pondy has been life-changing for me, and it wasn’t just because of this place, for I know that as I leave the mountain, God is still with me. However, when I first came here seven years ago, I had no idea how big a role Mount Hermon would play in my faith. I thought camp was fun, yeah, but as a seventh grader, I didn’t think much about actively pursuing my faith. Through the actions and words of the counselors and staff here, both past and present, I have seen what it looks like to be on fire for Jesus and what it means to be seeking God’s WILD love. God working through you all is SO evident and I pray that you continue to let His marvelous light shine through you. Thank you for providing me a safe and supportive space to learn more about Jesus and for equipping me with the tools to be able to pursue my faith in everyday life. Consider this not just one step, but a life transformed.

Keep on doing an amazing job— you’re all rockstars.”

A summer camp experience at Mount Hermon is a safe place where youth can ask important questions and receive loving answers from college aged staff who are rooted in their faith and just a little further along in their journey. Teenagers should be able to leave home without falling away from their faith and a camp experience can be a powerful tool to help them pursue their faith in everyday life. Mount Hermon is honored to be a part of every guests faith journey and we’re thankful to hear stories like this of youth making lasting connections with Jesus.

Nate Pfefferkorn
Vice President of Strategy

Family Camp Victory

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry.

Every week of Family Camp, we gather together on Friday evening around an old-fashioned campfire in the redwoods we call Victory Circle. We pass the mic and allow guests like you to share victories that God has accomplished in the short course of a week. It’s always incredible to see how personally God connects with the lives of each person and family who attend. Here’s a story that lovingly reminded us of how God uses camp ministry to share his love with us.

Hi. We’re from Campbell, California and this is our first year at Family Camp (although the rest of our family have come here for the past three years). My husband and I have two kids with special needs… They are both on the spectrum, high functioning, but they have their struggles.

We came into this week really praying a lot that our kids, especially our son who is five (but is developmentally four years old), would be able to get on the train. Because of the loud noises, he wouldn’t go near the small scale train in Vasona Park. He would just freak out. We had wonderful one-on-ones with our kids all week— and down at the train too. Because of that, we’ve seen HUGE victory with our kids this week. Our son got on the train and he loved it! He couldn’t wait. When they were shouting, “whoo-whoo” he was joining in!

To see our children grow in the Lord this week has been a huge blessing to us. We’ve seen God in every single staff person we’ve encountered. Our daughter is gluten allergic and we asked the dining staff if they had anything— and they always brought something special out for her. When you come in as an exhausted Mommy and Daddy and you see the theme is “He restores my soul” you don’t think at a Family Camp that will really happen. But, because of the people that have come alongside our children, we have found refreshment for our soul. We have seen huge steps taken in the lives of our children. We’ll be back next year, hopefully being able to do the Canopy Tour.

We’re so thankful for this story of God’s goodness and the way He uses camp to show His love for us. This family is a great example that when we step out in faith, especially with our concerns, that God is faithful to restore our souls. We pray your next camp experience is just as surprising and refreshing.

Story by Topher Matson, Director of Strategic Funding

Reconnect by Reducing Screen Time

Posted by & filed under Youth.

At the start of a new year many of us make resolutions to try and become better versions of ourselves; more fit, more loving, more generous, more connected with our loved ones. Being more strict about your own screen time greatly improves the odds that you’ll be successful with your resolutions, and if your resolution was to reduce screen time you’re in luck!

Of course, we understand the irony of reading an article on reducing screen time on a screen which is why we’ve put together seven reasons why reducing your screen time is a healthy addition to your new year.

1. You’ll model good screen habits for your kids. A parent’s screen time habits strongly correlate to their kids, and putting the devices down together can create mutual respect. Less screen time is not a punishment, it’s an opportunity to connect as a family.

2. You’ll be more present. Screen time is distracting and takes us away from our environment. By cutting back you’ll notice patterns of behavior that occur with and without the presence of devices.

3. You’ll think better. Everyone’s frontal-lobe functions better with less screen time. You’ll be more creative and have increased problem solving skills which makes family time together more enjoyable.

4. You’ll follow through. Whatever your new years resolution, increased brain function helps us sustain self-discipline. Less screen time builds “grit.”

5. You’ll notice emotions. Putting down the device helps you be more aware in the moment and connected to your emotions. Kids often complain of feeling ignored by parents that are on their devices, even when they’re in the same room. Spending time together promotes healthy attachment and actually helps kids protect themselves against overuse.

6. You’ll be rested. Screens promote hyperarousal which makes sleep difficult. Less screen time, particularly before bed, will help you sleep better.

7. You’ll listen better. God often speaks to us in moments of stillness. Creating time to be with Him separate from distractions will ground you in your faith and connect you to the heartbeat of Jesus.

Great! So how do we reduce our screen time as a family? First, consider giving up all entertainment related use including social media, aimless browsing and video games for one month. Plan a family movie night together for entertainment and discuss what you watched afterwards. Second, try to not use your device when the kids are home. Third, if you must use a device for work or homework when the kids are home set specific time limits and stick to them. Forth, designate a place for devices to live besides in your pocket and keep them there. Lastly, ask your kids what they think healthy screen time looks like and how it makes them feel when adults use devices. Listen and commit to change together.

We all desire better relationships with our loved ones and a deep personal connection with God. Reducing our screen time and developing healthy patterns of device use help us connect with what is truly important.


Nate Pfefferkorn
Vice President of Strategy

Tips for a Stress Free Year

Posted by & filed under General, Uncategorized.

Everyone, even those of us at Mount Hermon, get stressed. Just the work and home life obligations and put a strain on your physical and mental well-being. We serve a God of peace who wants his people to rest in His presence, loving Him and loving others from a deep well of refreshment yet often we feel anxious and out of control. Here are some helpful and practical ways you can lean into the refreshment and rest the Christ offers:

1. Identify unhealthy coping mechanisms

How do you currently deal with stress? Are these behaviors unproductive or even unhealthy? Identify if you use any of these mechanisms that may actually promote more stress later:

  • · Smoking
  • · Drinking too much alcohol
  • · Overeating
  • · Mindless TV watching
  • · Withdrawing from your family
  • · Over-sleeping

If any of these are true for you it’s a warning sign that you’re under stress and may need assistance in setting new habits.

2. Get some exercise

Research has shown over and over that exercise reduces stress and can help you through particularly stressful life events. Almost any kind of physical activity is helpful in boosting your mood and energy. 20 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week can have profound impacts. Exercise doesn’t have to mean sweating it out at the gym. You can try:

  • · Walking somewhere instead of driving
  • · Take the stairs at work
  • · Dancing with your kids
  • · Trying a new hobby

3. Build and maintain real relationships

Even though when we’re under stress the temptation is to withdraw there’s lots of evidence showing the power of support networks in helping us regulate our emotions. Keep in regular contact with friends and loved ones – ideally face to face. Even one friend that you can be real with can alleviate the isolation we feel when stressed. Try:

  • · Calling a family member to catch up
  • · Schedule a weekly walk with a friend
  • · Ask a co-worker out to lunch

4. Pray

How we respond to negative thoughts can have a huge impact on our stress. There are a few ways you can pray through your stress. First, tell God what your negative thoughts are and ask Him what opportunities they might present. Be patient and wait on God to give you feedback.

Second, ask God for perspective. Ask him if this is a situation that you should care about and if so ask him how to respond. He is the God of things big and small.

Third, ask God for humility and acceptance. So much of our stress comes from seeking perfectionism. Know that God loves us as we are, not as we wish we were.

5.  Develop healthy coping strategies

Lastly, it can be helpful to know you have resources to help you fight stress when it arises. There are a multitude of things you could put in your “toolbox” but here are some ideas:

  • ·  A walk in God’s creation
  • · Time in silent prayer
  • · Watch a favorite movie
  • · Enjoy a coffee with a friend
  • · Ride your bike
  • · Book a massage

God want’s us to live a life fully dependent upon Him, not stressed about today or tomorrow. Let us hold to his promise for us in Matthew 6 which says:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Nate Pfefferkorn
Vice President of Strategy

We’ve Got a Leak!

Posted by & filed under Giving.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

There are few things more soothing than the sound of rain outside your window as you curl up on the couch with your comfy blanket, perhaps in front of a roaring fire.

But suddenly, there’s another sound… and it seems to be coming from the hallway. You get up off the couch, walk around the corner, and there you see it…the roof is leaking. You grab a towel and a bucket because those drops that were so calming are now dripping all over your floor!

We’ve all been there. In my home, we’ve had our share of roof leaks over the years. Now imagine having over 100 roofs to maintain, especially in the midst of a very wet winter. Welcome to Mount Hermon!

When the rains started this year we noticed the familiar sound of drip, drip, drip. We discovered a number of roofs that urgently need significant repair:

• One Staff Home
• Conference Center Bookstore
• Forest Hall Program Office
• Youth Memorial Meeting Room
• Six Guest Cabins at the Conference Center
• Six Guest Cabins at Kidder Creek

And as I think about these spaces, I think about the moments that happen inside them. I think about parents and kids in their rooms at Family Camp. I think about campers and counselors in their cabins. So much ministry happens in these spaces!

We need $150,000 to repair and replace 20 roofs this spring.

Would you help us meet this critical need?  Your gift ensures the buildings we love serve the next generation of those connecting with Jesus at camp.

>> Give to New Roofs Here <<

Thank you so much for your prayerful consideration.  We are grateful for you and your faithful ministry partnership.

For King and Kingdom,

JR Loofbourrow
Vice President of Advancement

reboot button for pro track

Ready to Reboot Your Career?

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized, Writers Conference.

Even best-selling authors can feel dissatisfied with their careers.

“It was the day after Thanksgiving, 2017.  I was out in the yard raking leaves and thinking about my writing career.  I had let my marketing slide over the last few years, and I could see 2017 was going to be the worst year financially for my writing in a long time. So, I decided to turn things around. And I gave myself a year to do it.” Randy Ingermanson clearly wasn’t pleased with where his career was going.

Randy isn’t the only one who thinks such thoughts. Christy-award winning author James Rubart said this when asked if he’s ever been unsatisfied with his career, “Today. Ten years ago. Ten years from now (assuming I’m still here in what Paul calls our tents). I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied, and I think that’s a good thing. I want to stretch myself, grow as a writer, take on new challenges, and learn how to give back more than I ever have. This journey has been beyond my expectations, but it’s still a journey, and because of that, there will be highs and lows still to come. And that’s okay. More than okay. God will use them to train me, drawing me closer into alignment with who I was meant to be.”

If these rock-star writers have a sense of discontentment, is it any wonder we may feel frustrated with our careers? Is it because we aren’t multi-published? We need to work harder? Is it all about the money?

“Let’s be clear,” Randy said, “life is not about money. Money won’t make you happy. So what good is money? Money is time. Time is freedom. Freedom means you can do what you were put on earth to do. This is something my friend Jim Rubart and I have been talking about for years.  Freedom.  In our Pro Track, we’re going to talk about how writers can get that freedom.”

The Professional “Pro” Writers Track Randy mentions is one of the Major Morning Tracks offered at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference.

According to Randy, “We’re going to focus on the few things each writer can do, right now, to boost their revenue and move their career forward. To teach a new way of thinking, a new mindset. A mindset that gets results.”

And James adds they will, “give concrete ways for our students to increase their sales, expand their influence, and understand their brand more completely.”

The goal is for attendees to take away an action plan to reboot their careers.

Randy includes a caveat. “And that means we’re going to work our people like dogs during the conference. LIKE DOGS! If you don’t want to work like a dog, please, please, please don’t sign up for our Pro Track.”

But he promises those who are “burning with desire to make a change . . . do what it takes to turn [your life] around, you will leave with a plan that will get results.”

James said he wants attendees to leave with hope. “This crazy writing world isn’t an easy one to navigate . . .  most of all I want them to leave encouraged. They can do this. They can make it through hard times. There is great light ahead.”

The Pro Track meets Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 9:00 to 10:30 and 11:00 to noon.

Attendance in this track is by application only. Please read the prerequisites and fill out the application. Go to Major Morning Tracks and scroll down to the Professional Writers Track section.

Deadline to apply is March 23, 2019. Applicants will be notified of acceptance within one week of applying. If accepted, a link to a form to tell Randy and James more about yourself will be sent before the conference.

Writing pros James Rubart and Randy Ingermanson proclaim the “Jim-and-Randy Professional Writers Reboot Camp” will transform your career and your life.

Are we ready to get serious about our careers and take the challenge? Apply today.

green and purple exotic bird

10 Reasons to Apply for a Mentoring Clinic Now

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Mona Hodgson

A rare bird. No two are alike. The green and purple speckled bird flying through this year may not take the same route next year. Sometimes we don’t realize we’ve seen a special treat until the moment is past. Then we wonder why we didn’t take the time to appreciate what was before us.

The Mount Hermon mentoring clinics are like the rare bird. A particular genre or specialty offered this year may not be available next year. And even if it is, it won’t be the same breed. Each mentor brings a rarified personality (was that adjective polite enough?) and body of experience and insights to their clinic.

Just in case you’re not convinced that you need to stop what you’re doing (after you read this post) and apply for a Pre-conference Mentoring Clinic or a Morning Mentoring Clinic during the main conference, consider my ten reasons.

  1. Because you get to meet and hang out with a multi-published writer in your chosen genre who has already taken some of the steps you’re taking.
  2. Because your mentor wants to save you some steps or at least smooth them out for you.
  3. Because you’ve lost all impartiality when it comes to your writing. (I don’t know how I know this.)
  4. Because your other clinic members serve as a friendly focus group for your writing.
  5. Because your mentor will read your work and offer a constructive critique, replete with encouragement.
  6. Because you’ll receive comments and suggestions you get to sift through. (Hopefully, you like that sort of thing.)
  7. Because most morning mentoring clinics meet in a cabin, not a classroom. The tea kettle is close by and so is the restroom.
  8. Because a mentor and your other mentees can point out distracting proliferations of alliterative phrasing and purple prose in your manuscript. (See #5 and #6.)
  9. Because you benefit from reading other writers’ works-in-process. (Whether you believe it now or not.)
  10. The mentoring clinics offer you a first-rate opportunity to face your fears. (You’re welcome!)
  11. Here’s a bonus reason for applying for a mentoring clinic now: the application deadline is tomorrow, March 20th.

Since you asked (whether you did or not), my morning mentoring clinic is the best even if you don’t write for children. Thankfully, I’m not expecting Jan Kern, the mentoring clinic coordinator, to agree with me.

See you at Mount Hermon next month, friends.

Mona is leading a Morning Mentoring Clinic for children’s writers, A Work-in-Progress Clinic for Children’s Writers.

A second nonfiction mentoring clinic with Renae Brumbaugh Green has been added.

Pre-conference Mentoring Clinics

Morning Mentoring Clinics

Mona Hodgson photo

Mona Hodgson, an award-winning author, has published 42 books, historical novels, and novellas for adults and children’s books for ages birth to twelve. Her writing credits also include several hundred nonfiction articles, poems, and short stories, which have appeared in 50 publications. Mona speaks for churches, schools, and conferences, including YWAM, Mount Hermon Christian Camps and Conference Center, and MOPS groups.

High-Point Experiences

Posted by & filed under General, Kidder Creek, Uncategorized, Youth.

How “High-point” experiences unlock learning

Often the way Church works is that the focus is on the pastor. He or she is the source of information, sharing expertise through sermons and directing you to certain passages of the Bible. While participating in a Sunday worship gathering is good, how many sermons have you heard that you really remember? Things we hear, we may remember, but things we experience, we know.

Christian summer camp has long been a place where people of all ages come to know God more fully through experience. Campers learn in ways that are practical and hands-on, in both structured and self-guided times, and the counselor acts as a guide to help identify lessons they can apply to future experiences. One of the key reasons camp works is because it pairs physical activities with biblical metaphors allowing campers to experience God in powerful ways. These physical activities unlock learning and help the lessons to be “sticky;” easily remembered whenever the activity is recalled.Camp is a place where campers can stretch their comfort zones by experimenting with new activities, roles, ideas and behaviors.  They can try new things, fail, succeed and learn in a supportive environment free from distractions. Camp gives campers the chance to do things that are uncomfortable and see that discomfort doesn’t mean something is bad. All of this new learning is cemented in us through real experiences, “high points” that are remembered for years and allow us to easily recall all we’ve learned.

Here’s how it works:

As a camper during the cabin morning devotion time you discuss as a group what it means to have a rugged faith– one that is tough and determined. You discuss new ideas together and look at the Bible for inspiration and truth. Later that day during cabin activity time your whole cabin has the opportunity to ride the zip line together. The zip line looks scary, spanning over 1200ft and soaring over 200ft above the valley floor. You’re scared to step off the platform, but the caring support of your counselor and cabin gives you the courage to do it– and once you step off the platform it’s one of the best feelings you’ve had all year: fun, exhilaration, confidence, success. You’re proud of yourself, glad you did it, and thankful you shared it with new friends. This is a “high point” moment.

Now, several weeks later when you’re back home you run into a friend who asks you, “how was camp?” Immediately the first image that pops into your brain is your trip on the zip line and you feel the same things you felt then: fun, exhilaration, confidence, success. The story of the zip line comes tumbling out, but then it is followed by a recollection of what you talked about earlier that day – what it means to have a rugged faith. At that point you decide to take the path of determination and share with your friend other things you learned at camp: that God loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. This is the power of a “high point” experience.

At Kidder Creek we build in “high point” experiences for every camper– something new and memorable that will help them remember their week of camp forever.


Nate Pfefferkorn, Vice President of Strategy

guide in the sunbeams

What Guides Your Writing Process?

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Jan Kern

When I had a PC (before my MacBook), I changed the hover-over message for Microsoft Word to say, “apart from him I can do nothing,” a personalized rephrasing of a part of John 15:5. I wanted to bring into my time of writing an awareness that I need God to do this well.

Writing with prayerful intentionality became important, even crucial. Not that I always did, but I noticed the difference when I didn’t. Somewhere along the way, I developed a sort of creed that now hovers in the background of what I teach in my clinics at Mount Hermon. It also hints at the content of our hours together as we look at writing elements that matter for our reader, how to know and care well for our reader, our author presence and its impact in our writing, or ways to identify the arcs and create flow for our projects.

These are practical teaching points but alongside is a recognition that God is active in each. The words I chose for the paragraphs below grew out of those initial words from John 15:5. They reflect the development (over years, I’m slow) of my writing process with God and his invitations to keep him in the center of that process.

I encourage writers I mentor to consider creating a simple creed shaped by their own writing journey with God. I share this one with you with the same encouragement.

  • • Writing That Reaches toward Your Reader
  • We tell our stories and share our passion around our topics honestly, humbly, and prayerfully with our readers always in mind. We know the difference between writing for ourselves and writing with a sensitivity to our readers’ questions, hurts, and needs. We pray for our readers often and before we write.
  • • Writing That Reflects the Writer God Created You to Be
  • We honor who God is creating us to be as a writer through our authentic and creative use of words. We are alert to the ongoing process of discovering and developing our writing voice and its genuine reflection of the uniqueness of our person and calling. We pray for his continual transformative work in our lives.
  • • Writing That Remains Open to God’s Overarching Purposes
  • We seek God’s wisdom in writing the message he has given us. We remain open to his leading of the structure, forms, and tone that will carry that message well. We pray he will help us see, beyond our own understanding, the connections and flow of the message or story he has placed on our heart.
  • • Writing That Flows from “Apart from Him I Can Do Nothing”
  • We understand the responsibility inherent in the opportunity to write to others. We realize our lack and God’s grace and gifts in making each project we write possible. We pray he will help us to abide daily and closely with him when writing and when not writing so our words flow from open and discerning hearts ready to serve.

So, what guides your writing process?

If you look closely, you might see, hovering in the background, that one phrase that guides you well—like John 15:5 does for me. Jot it down. Recognize it as God’s invitation to join you in your writing process. That’s where you begin each time you write.


If you’d enjoy a focused, small group mentoring clinic for your current nonfiction book project, consider one of the main conference clinics. Jan Kern and Joseph Bentz are teaching nonfiction clinics. Mona Hodgson is offering a children’s writing clinic, and Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen is leading a clinic on blog writing. Fiction clinics are also available with Brandilyn Collins, Sarah Sundin, and Ginny Yttrup.

During the pre-conference, we also have fiction and nonfiction clinics. Highlighted is a newly opened beginning nonfiction clinic led by Renae Brumbaugh Green, and a clinic specifically focused on proposal writing, taught by Janet McHenry.

For more information about the various clinic and application details, visit Morning Mentoring at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference webpage.


Jan Kern headshotJan Kern, author, speaker, and credentialed life coach, is passionate about story—not only how we live it with courage and intentionality but also how we write it with craft and finesse. Her Live Free series for teens launched with Scars that Wound, Scars that Heal: A Journey Out of Self-Injury, an ECPA Gold Medallion finalist. In the series, she intertwined a narrative style with fiction techniques to tell the true stories of teens who struggled with pain and brokenness. She knows about writers in transition as her focus has turned to writing for and serving women through Voice of Courage, a multi-generational organization she founded with her daughter.

check off items from list

Spiritual Growth … It May Not

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Bill Myers

Often the Christian life becomes a list of dos and don’ts.

  • Read Scripture
  • Go to Church
  • Pray
  • Be nice
  • Help others
  • Give
  • Forgive
  • Cheat
  • Kill
  • Steal
  • Party
  • Drink
  • Use drugs
  • Pre-marital sex
  • And on and on and on …

The Bible has hundreds of rules. Jesus condensed them into:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.

Here’s how I see those three parts of us: heart, soul, and mind. We’re emotions (heart) and intellect (mind). Where these two overlap is the complete us, who we really are—our soul.

In the center of the soul is God’s Spirit. It’s what was breathed into Adam and what I believe makes us different from animals.

To keep our heart and mind functioning well we need to feed them. We do that by feeding our bodies three, four times day. The Spirit in our soul needs to be fed as well. How many times do we feed our Spirit?

The impact of the Spirit on my life is my choice. I am the one who decides whether to feed it. If I do, by abiding in God’s presence, its influence in me continues to grow until it is actually replacing my old ways of feeling, thinking, and behaving.

Sadly, many Christians stop feeding the Spirit. The worries and cares of life begin choking it out. As a result, their spiritual life begins to starve. It becomes stunted. But as we continue to feed upon God’s presence, it continues to grow, and we continue becoming more and more like him.

This is what makes Christianity so unique and different from any other religion or philosophy. Christianity is based on a living, vital relationship with God. It is not a list of dos and don’ts. The dos and don’ts are still important, but we don’t focus on them.  Instead…

We pursue our relationship with God
Which in turn grows the fruit of his Spirit
Which allows us to naturally live the dos and don’ts.

Many of us have it backwards, focusing first on the dos and don’ts of our behavior. Instead, God calls us to focus on our relationship with him. And that makes all the difference in the world.

© Copyright 2015 Bill Myers

In addition to being a keynote speaker, Bill Myers is also teaching a Major Morning Track, “Keys for Unforgettable Storytelling.”

Photo Bill Myers

Writer/director Bill Myers’s work has won more than 70 national and international awards, including the C. S. Lewis Honor Award. He’s sold more than eight million books and videos, including McGee and Me, Imager Chronicles series, Eli, and his latest nonfiction, The Jesus Experience: Journey Deeper into the Heart of God. His film company, Amaris Media, is in development with multiple projects. Find out more at

Bill first taught at Mount Hermon in the late 1980s, when he and Robin Jones Gunn were rambunctious newbies having food fights in the cafeteria. (He says biscuits fly the best.)

Why We Need To Do Hard Things

Posted by & filed under General, Kidder Creek, Uncategorized.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out WHY” — Mark Twain

So often we take the easy way out– taking shortcuts, not really putting in the effort, or avoiding the hard conversation. A new idea– probably the best idea– is to do the hard things in life instead. This means making decisions to do the things that other people aren’t willing to do, or the things that you’ve always avoided doing. Kidder Creek has been built upon the belief that doing hard things, alongside other people, reveals the character of a Jesus in profound ways. Here are 5 reasons why doing the hard things is the best way to connect to the heart of God:

  • 1. You will grow

    There are few things that are as fulfilling as growth. Expanding your knowledge, community and understanding of the world, your place in it and how God is using you are deeply satisfying. Challenge yourself to experience people, places, and things that are outside your norm. Allowing yourself to do the harder things in life will help you grow into who God has made you to be.

  • 2. You will stand out

    Many times people avoiding helping another or doing the task that nobody wants to do. Not being this person, and instead being the one who chooses to take on the project, or do the task, will help you stand out.

  • 3. You will become better

    Taking the time to solve a problem, or plan an event, puts your mind into overdrive. You’ll learn to come up with great ideas for doing new tasks, and open your mind to new concepts, you would never have come across taking the easy way out.

  • 4. You will be valued

    People look up to those who consistently do “hard things” and know they’re someone that can be depended upon. When you are able and willing to have the hard conversations people know that your actions are in alignment with your faith and that you can be trusted.

  • 5. You will find joy

    Probably the most important reason to do the hard things in life is that it will bring you joy. When you know you’ve done the hard things you’ll have a sense of accomplishment, pride, and that you’ve made a difference. When you listen to that still, small voice telling you to press on, and you do, you’re more connected to the heart of God. It becomes easier to listen and easier to step forward in faith to do more hard things.

At Kidder Creek we present campers with ways they can do hard things like: getting up early to help prepare breakfast, rafting down a river, praying in front of other campers, or stepping off a high platform to ride a zip line.  When a camper takes that step – into thin air before the zip cable catches them – they get to exercise their faith. They get to experience that they can do hard things, that God has them, that they are enough and always have been.

Let’s do hard things. God believes in us even more than we believe in Him.


Nate Pfefferkorn, Vice President of Strategy

outdoor layrinth

The Path of Questioning for Writers

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Eva Marie Everson

In February 2017, my brother called to tell me the mass doctors had found the week before was malignant. Because my brother has no other family, I put all my plans on hold and headed “back home” to help.

That March, I spoke at a writers’ retreat. Between writing, directing the Florida Christian Writers Conference, speaking, running a writing contest, and traveling to be with my brother, I was exhausted. My room at the retreat wasn’t the Ritz Carlton, but it was quiet and clean, and the bed was pretty comfy. I got what I needed at night: sleep.

On the last day of the retreat, as I headed out of the room, I noticed a piece of paper on the nightstand. Pick it up, I heard a voice say. So I did, shoving it into my purse. Days later, I read it and learned the retreat center had a prayer labyrinth. Unfamiliar with this concept, I did a Google search and discovered what became an amazing formula for my journaling: The Path of Silence … The Path of Memory … The Path of Questioning …

Prayerful silence I understood. Reminding myself of God’s faithfulness had long been part of my quiet times with the Lord. But the questioning part had me stumped. I only had three questions for God. When I wrote in my journal that I didn’t know how to handle this part of the new journey, I heard God’s still, small voice say, Not your questions. My questions.

My journal pages filled quickly with the questions God asked—the ones recorded in Scripture. Where are you? What have you done? Where are you from and where are you going? I understood that God already has the answers to those questions, but by asking, he demanded that I examine myself. One question—What is it you want from me? —left me nearly staggering for the remainder of the day.

In October 2017, I sat at the feet of Robert Benson for five days, along with eleven others, at a retreat center. The teaching was superb, the writing time priceless, the food tasty … and they had a prayer labyrinth. One afternoon I walked between the rocks that formed its paths. Afterward I headed back to my room … and my journal.

As I wrote, the circumstances of my life came into focus. My brother’s cancer. The piece of paper on the nightstand. My new practice of labyrinth journaling. The writing retreat. Something inside me stirred until it led me to a greater understanding of what God wants from me … and what I want from God.

This nearly year-long season led to the most difficult question of all: Why do you think I called you to write?

Too inspired to keep this to myself, I emailed the director of a large writers’ conference and asked if I could write and lead a different kind of practicum that year—one that would help attendees learn who they are in Christ, who Christ is in them, and why he called them to this marvelous thing called writing.

We writers come to God with questions on a daily basis. When is that door going to swing open for me? Should I take this road to publication or that one? It can be frustrating, especially if we feel God is ignoring us or refusing to answer.

But what if God is waiting for us to hear his questions? What if we could dig into those questions and discover the answers we’ve been waiting for all along … or perhaps find a new path?

I taught that continuing class to writers whose hearts God was piercing as he had mine. I have since spoken on this topic several times, and each time the results have left me breathless.

Now I am bringing this class to Mount Hermon—which has its own permanent outdoor prayer labyrinth. And this year, the writers’ conference will have an indoor labyrinth too! During our time together in the “Spiritual Life of the Writer” Major Morning Track, I will show how God took my writing to a deeper level, my role in Christian publishing to a higher place, and my heart to a new rung of understanding what God wants from me.

Pre-registration for this track is strongly suggested so I can provide tips on preparing your heart and mind for our sessions. To pre-register, email me at with “Mt. H. Labyrinth Practicum” in the subject line. Then come prepared to listen, to write, and to share. At the end of the conference, you’ll not only know how to write but why.


Eva Marie Everson photoEva Marie Everson is a best-selling, multiple award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction, including such titles as The Ornament Keeper (2018), The One True Love of Alice-Ann (2017), and Five Brides (2016). Her Reflections of God’s Holy Land (2008) earned her a Silver Medallion. She is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of both the Florida Christian Writers Conference and North Georgia Christian Writers Conference. Eva Marie is also the managing editor of Firefly Southern Fiction. She is both a graduate and a sometimes-student at Andersonville Theological Seminary. Eva Marie enjoys working with new writers through her company, Pen In Hand. When she’s not jet-setting about, she makes her home in central Florida, where she and her husband are owned by a small but feisty dog. They are the parents of three amazing children and nine beyond-amazing grandchildren.

writing books and paper with quill

Looking for the Next Level

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Susan K. Beatty

“An adventure . . . where I re-discover that I’m here to experience with them—writers, authors, and instructors—the same fears, goals, and desires about their writing journey as I have. From there, I’m encouraged to step to the next level of my writing adventure.”

Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference attendee Anina Swan is praising her experience with the Pre-Conference Clinics.

I am like Anina, looking for the next level in my writing journey.

I’m a somewhere-in-between, not a beginning but not an experienced published writer. I’ve been wondering how I can get the most out of this fabulous, gem-packed conference and how to step up to the next level without feeling fire-hosed.

Comments from Anina and others have me considering taking one of the Pre-Conference Clinics held April 10-12.

The conference website says, “Why not get a jumpstart on the main conference by signing up for a pre-conference mentoring clinic!” Why not, indeed?

Clinic Combines Learning and Fellowship

Another attendee said, “An excellent warm-up, relationship builder, and venue for personal critique. I am sure the main conference had greater impact because of this personal orientation for this first-timer.”

How could we go wrong when each clinic combines learning in a small-group setting, a mentor critique of our work in progress, and a one-on-one consultation with our mentor?

Each clinic is designed to give writers at all levels an opportunity to focus on developing projects or to support other areas of a writing career.

“Encouraging, informative, helpful, insightful, and so much more,” said another attendee.

And the faculty. Wow. I’m not sure how to choose from among these talented professionals: Lori Freeland (Beginning Fiction); Tim Shoemaker (Intermediate to Advanced Fiction); Jan Kern (Beginning Nonfiction); or Doug Newton (Intermediate to Advanced Nonfiction). Also, within the specialty topics, choose from Renae Brumbaugh Green (Humor Writing); Laura Christianson (Website Building); or Janet McHenry (Proposal Creation).

Pre-Conference Clinic Application

Participation in a Pre-Conference Clinic requires an application. The process includes a statement of your purpose and goals for participating and a three- to five-page sample of your writing, depending on which clinic you choose.

Don’t be daunted; just be sure to follow the instructions available on the website. Application deadline is March 20.

The clinics are a value-added opportunity for an additional fee and space is limited.

I’m thinking of applying for intermediate to advanced fiction. Or maybe website building. Or proposal creation. Oh, my. Which will you choose?

“Best part of the whole conference!”

With applause like that, what are we waiting for? Let’s choose our clinic and get our applications started.

Off to start my application. What about you?

Susan Beatty

Susan Beatty is the author of An Introduction to Home Education manual. After thirty-five years of leadership in the homeschool community, including writing, editing, and managing conferences, she retired in 2017 and is now pursuing a novel-writing career. Her first novel is in revision. She is the assistant director of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and recently became the president of her local ACFW-OC Chapter in California. Susan is a professional writer/journalist.

blank business card in hand

Essential Information to Include on Your Business Card

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Laura Christianson

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met at conferences who moan, “Ohhh, I forgot to get business cards made!”

They smack themselves upside the head for not having the foresight to bring along those tiny-yet-essential pieces of card stock to exchange with everyone they meet.

What info should you include on your business card?

Some people prescribe to the “less is better” method; others like the “more is better” method. Just remember, whatever information you print on your card, it has to be easy to read (please, no 6-point type!).

You don’t have to squish everything on one side of your card. It usually doesn’t cost much extra to get cards printed on both sides.

For the front of the card, I recommend:

Laura Christianson business care front
  • Business name
  • Business tagline
  • Your name
  • Your title (or a descriptor of what you do)
  • Your professional-quality headshot
  • Primary website address
  • Key social networks (Facebook, Twitter)
  • Email address
  • Phone number(s)
  • Fax (if applicable)

And on the back…

Laura Christianson business care back

The back of your card can include any of the above info, or:

  • Graphic logo that brands your business (I recommend hiring a graphic designer to create an eye-catching logo)
  • Images of your product(s)
  • Bulleted list of your primary services
  • Photo of you (make sure it’s professional-quality)
  • Inspiring thought
  • QR code

Card sizes and shapes

Print your business cards the standard size. From time to time, people give me over-sized or oddly-shaped cards, which I can’t fit in my business card pages without folding them. This is irritating, so I usually throw the oddball cards away.

Print the copy horizontally, instead of vertically. It’s okay to put a vertical image on the back of your card, but the writing on the front should go horizontally across the long side of the card. Again, for folks who organize their cards in business card pages, it’s much easier to access and read the information when it’s in standard format.

Laura’s super-secret strategy for organizing business cards

When I attend events, I bring along several sheets of Avery Business Card Pages. Each clear sheet (made to fit in a three-ring binder) holds twenty standard-sized business cards.

Whenever someone hands me their card, I write notes to myself on the back of the card to remind me of who the person is and where/when we met, and then I slip the card into the card page. When I get home, I add the full card sheets to a binder and label each sheet with the name of the conference.

Whenever I need to contact someone I met, their information is at my fingertips.

(Copyright 2018. Originally published December 18, 2018, Blogging Bistro,, used by permission.)

Laura, along with Susy Flory, will be teaching a Major Morning Session, Career Growth Track. These sessions will cover business strategies for all writers.

Laura Christianson

Laura Christianson helps everyone from pre-published writers to best-selling authors establish a vibrant online presence. She owns Blogging Bistro, LLC (, a business that builds custom websites and provides brand coaching and marketing education. The author of several books and thousands of articles, Laura serves as marketing director for West Coast Christian Writers. When you can drag her away from her computer, you’ll most likely find Laura swimming laps, rollerblading, or bicycling. Laura and her husband live in the Seattle area and are the parents of two young-adult sons.


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

Each Sunday evening last summer, I stood in the dark backstage, listening to the “Wild” skit being performed. I felt afraid and overwhelmed, knowing that in a few short minutes I would be standing on stage, by myself, in spotlights, talking in front of hundreds of people, and facing my deepest insecurity. It was in these moments of fear that I felt God speak truth and light into my heart. And each opening day, and throughout the whole summer, He ALWAYS said the same thing. 

What started as a spark of peace in my life last summer, grew into something much bigger, and has culminated in this summer’s Ponderosa Lodge theme: Always. 

This summer students will experience the truth that God is with us always, no matter what fears we face. We will be looking at the life of David, a man who many times throughout his life had reason to be afraid. Each day we will look at a narrative passage of David’s life, and pair it with a Psalm written by David around the same time. Students will see God’s faithfulness and steadfast love as He walks with us through every fear we experience, always

To help students grasp this truth, we will be creating a Dream World. Dreams are often a place where we are confronted with our fears, as dreams can suddenly turn into nightmares. What does it look like for God to be with us always even when we are afraid that we’re not enough, or when we have every reason to fear? How do we experience God with us always when giving Him control is hard, or we’re faced with the consequences of our sin? In what ways is God with us always, even when it feels like we’ve been waiting on God for a really long time? 

In all of these things, God is with us always

Please join us in praying for the campers who will be at Ponderosa Lodge this summer, and for the counselors who will be loving them and leading them one step closer to Jesus.

Find out more about Ponderosa Lodge Summer 2019

man tired of blogging

Four Ways to Keep Blogging When You Want to Quit

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

As a writer, you know how hard it is to stay motivated. As a blogger with low or no traffic, you have an additional problem: you hope someone will read your posts, but it seems like nobody cares. And that makes you want to give up.

You are not alone.

I’m celebrating my tenth year as a full-time blogger, and believe me, there were times I wanted to quit. Surprisingly, it was at the height of my blog’s popularity and financial success that I most wanted to walk away.

And walk away I did. I went back to school for my Master of Social Work (MSW), which helped me see why my blogs were no longer fulfilling. I was chasing the wrong things: traffic, money, comments, and social media approval. I needed something more meaningful.

After two months of school I realized writing is what God created me to do. But I couldn’t keep blogging like before, so I went to school full-time while rebuilding my blogs on the side. I took time to examine my reasons and goals for writing. I re-evaluated my identity and learned what really inspired me. Now, I don’t struggle with motivation. I blog every day.

Why do you blog? Maybe you know blogging improves writing skills, helps you connect with readers, strengthens your platform, and increases your chances of getting a book published. However, those reasons won’t bring passion and life into your work because they’re externally oriented. These four tips, on the other hand, are internal and intentional. They helped me rebuild my She Blossoms blog; I hope you find them helpful too.

1. Use the same format for every post
“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work,” said Gustave Flaubert. Using the same format for all your blog posts may seem stifling, but it actually frees you to write boldly and creatively. My articles always follow the same structure (five paragraphs, title, three points, etc). This allows me to focus on what I want to say instead of how I want to say it. The best part? I have extra creativity, energy, and time to write for other websites and magazines.

2. Plan a series you want to explore
One of the hardest parts of blogging is deciding what to write about. My problem was that I had too many ideas, too many reader questions, too much to choose from. It took me years to find a series I love and can sustain—my She Blossoms Through the Bible project. These articles require me to lean on God more than ever. I’m writing an article for every chapter of every book of the Bible. Here’s a recent post, inspired by Genesis 32, “Preparing to Meet an Estranged Family Member.

3. Summarize the purpose of your blog in one sentence
Why are you blogging? Get specific. Organize your blog into something more than a smattering of your thoughts, experiences, memories, goals, and tips. Talk to God, sit down face-to-face with Jesus, ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern your purpose. Take time to pinpoint an overall blog theme or focus. Summarize it in one short sentence and pray over it every day. And remember that if God is calling you to blog, then not blogging is disobedient.

4. Accept that writing isn’t easy
Having a purpose and structure won’t automatically make blogging easy. Just like following Jesus doesn’t make life a walk in the park with a fat-free, double-dipped chocolate ice cream cone. Blogging is hard even when you’re called, even if you create a rhythm and structure. Writing is a struggle even if you believe God is working through you. If blogging was easy, everyone would do it. But you’re not everyone. You’re a child of God, created for a purpose.

And here’s a bonus tip: 
5. Write like you have a message from the King . . .
because you do.

Do you have blog questions or problems? Maybe you’re having trouble starting or sustaining your blog, or you can’t overcome a hurdle. Join my Morning Mentoring Clinic at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in April 2019. We’ll blossom your blog together.

You may also enjoy reading “Morning Mentoring Clinic: Best Choice I Could Have Made.”

Laurie Pawik-Kiwnien

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, MSW, is the author of Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back (Bethany House) and the creator of the “She Blossoms” blogs. Her experiences taught her that choosing to grow forward is essential—especially when you can’t go back. Her degrees are in psychology, education, and social work. Laurie writes full-time in her treehouse in Vancouver, Canada. Visit

Morning Mentoring Clinic: Best Choice I Could Have Made

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

coffee notepad computer

by Susan K. Beatty

Excited as I was at the prospect of receiving small group and professional mentoring advice from the Morning Mentoring Clinic, I was bowled over by the results.

I knew that a skilled, multi-published professional would come alongside me and help with my work-in-progress. I knew the advantages of working within a small group for critiquing and encouragement.

What I hadn’t known was my mentor would be more than top-notch; she was knowledgeable, detailed, kind, encouraging, and, well, you get the idea.

Neither had I anticipated how our small group would bond immediately. It didn’t hurt that three out of the four of us were named Susan, and the fourth even had the childhood nickname of Suzy-Q. Poor Cynthia, our mentor, had to look at each of us for a few moments to remember which Susan she was talking to. And she did a magnificent job all the way around. Okay, you shouldn’t expect to have three people with your same name in your group, but you can expect the members to be picked by the Lord just for you.

A personal appointment with the group’s mentor left me with direction and encouragement. That alone was worth the price of the conference.

What, you ask, is this Morning Mentoring Clinic? Instead of taking Major Morning Workshops, you attend a set of sessions tailored for intermediate writers with publishing experience. The clinic sessions meet each morning on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The mentoring clinics combine learning in a small-group setting, mentor and group critique of your work-in-progress, and a one-on-one consultation with your mentor.

With several options to choose from, there’s sure to be a focus that fits your needs.

For example, intermediate fiction topics include “Novel Structure: Bring Your Story to Life” and “Developing Memorable Characters.”

One mentor, Sarah Sundin, says of her fiction clinic, “You’ll learn about crafting realistic characters, incorporating thematic elements, good fiction mechanics, and grounding readers in the setting without overwhelming them with details.”

Two intermediate nonfiction topics are “Writing the Irresistible Nonfiction Book” and “Writing for Your Reader with Impact, Depth, and Flow.”

Nonfiction mentor, Joseph Bentz, tells us his clinic will “combine teaching, critique, one-on-one coaching, and creative inspiration for the writing life. Six writers will critique excerpts from each other’s work ahead of the conference and will receive careful individual attention during the conference.”

Don’t see what you’re looking for yet? There’s more. Check out the special-interest clinics: Children’s Writing: A Work-in-Progress Clinic for Children’s Writers; Blog Writing: From Good to Great: Taking Your Blog to the Next Level; and From Public Speaking to Published Writing.

And who wouldn’t like to work closely with such great writers and writing coaches such as Brandilyn Collins, Sarah Sundin, Ginny L. Yttrup, Joseph Bentz, Jan Kern, Mona Hodgson, Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, and Doug Newton?

“Okay,” you say. “I’m sold. Sign me up.”

Hooray! There are a couple of details you need to know about signing up. Because these clinics are designed for intermediate writers with publishing experience, participation is by application only. The application deadline is March 1, and applicants are placed upon approval in the order received. There is also an extra fee.

So don’t wait. Follow the link for further information and application instructions.

I think, like me, you will be more than rewarded by your experience in the Morning Mentoring Clinics.

Susan Beatty

Susan Beatty is the author of An Introduction to Home Education manual. After thirty-five years of leadership in the homeschool community, including writing, editing, and managing conferences, she retired in 2017 and is now pursuing a novel writing career. Her first novel is in revision. She is the assistant director of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and recently became the president of her local ACFW-OC Chapter in California. Susan is a professional writer/journalist.

Ten Things You Should Never Say to an Author

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Phil Callaway

My son is an accountant. When people ask what he does, he says, “I solve problems you didn’t know you had in ways you don’t understand.” But when people ask what I do, I wince a little, because they usually follow my answer with at least three questions or a statement I’d rather not hear.

“I’m a writer,” I say, as if apologizing for beating someone to a parking spot.

“What do you write?”


“Do you have one with you? May I have it for free?”

Here are ten other responses I’ve heard. I’m not making these up.

  1. “I have a great idea for a book. You write it, we’ll split the profits.”
  2. “Cool! But what do you do for a living?”
  3. “I should, like totally, like, write a book myself.”
  4. “I write books too. I wrote one in a week.”
  5. “That must be so much fun. I wish could just sit around and write all day.”
    I think it appropriate that I drop anchor midstream and defend myself. Writing books is the closest I will ever come to giving birth. Ask my wife. I am moody. Cranky. I snack at odd hours. I am irrational at times. Writing is slow and agonizing, like a deer moving through an anaconda. But back to our list:
  6. “I found your book in a yard sale for a quarter. You autographed it to the guy who sold it to me.”
  7. “How much money do you make a year?”
  8. “You’re an author? I have a blog.”
    Once again, let me interrupt. Blogs are great. But writing books for publishers requires that authors appear before a fastidious tribunal for approval of each semi-colon; trust me, there’s nothing bloggish about it.
  9. “There’s no way I’m telling you anything. It’ll just end up in one of your books.”
    Writing is lonely work. Mention people’s names and you’re lonelier than a porcupine with halitosis. So, you learn to seek permission of friends, to get it in writing. And if they won’t give it to you, you write novels and change their names.
  10. “Are you still a writer, or do you work now?”

Today I was discouraged thinking of these things. So, I came up with a list of ten things I love about being a writer:

  1. I can live anyplace I like. The writer has the freedom to starve almost anywhere.
  2. I can stare out windows without my spouse asking what I’m up to.
  3. A friend who’s a professional athlete retired at thirty. I haven’t developed knee problems yet—just a sore rear end.
  4. My overhead is cheap. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was written on the back of an old envelope.
  5. I can get my picture in the paper without being charged for a criminal act.
  6. I can work in my bathrobe without being charged with indecency.
  7. No heavy lifting. Except when 5,000 books arrive.
  8. I can still speak my mind long after I’m dead.
  9. I can receive notes like this one: “My toddler chewed most of your book. I need another one.” Or this one: “I’m a mother of five. I lock myself in the bathroom and read your book. When I come out, I feel like I can face the world again.”
  10. I’ve been blessed beyond measure to write almost thirty books one word at a time. My children have traveled the world with me and seen lives changed. It doesn’t get better than that.

Still, the next time someone asks what I do, I think I’ll take a cue from my son and say, “I’m an electrician. I wire for money.”

Phil is a keynote speaker at the 50th Anniversary Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. He will also be presenting a workshop The Writer’s Life: If I Can Write, You Can Write.

Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway is an award-winning author and speaker, known worldwide for his humorous yet perceptive look at life. He’s the best-selling author of twenty-five books, including Laughing Matters, I Used to Have Answers…Now I Have Kids, Making Life Rich Without Any Money, and Family Squeeze. He hosts the daily radio program Laugh Again, which is broadcast across North America, the UK, and English-speaking Africa. Phil’s writings have been translated into Polish, Chinese, Spanish, German, Dutch, Indonesian, and English (one of which he speaks fluently). Phil’s humorous stories on family life have been featured in hundreds of magazines worldwide. But he insists that his greatest achievement was convincing his wife to marry him.

How to Plan a Retreat

Posted by & filed under Guest Groups, Kidder Creek, Uncategorized.

by Nate Pfefferkorn, Vice President of Strategy

We know you want to connect with your group in a safe place free from distractions and we know how hard it is to get everyone together in one place at one time. A retreat from the daily distractions can draw your group together and draw them to the lord like no other experience. Finding the right place that can provide the right experience can take some doing so here are some important things to keep in mind as you plan your event!

Choose your Style

Will your event be structured with set times for worship, learning, discussion and set activities? Or is it more of time to relax with self-directed activities and guided conversations starters? Both kinds of events can be powerful but it’s important to consider ahead of time what kind of experience suits your group. It will help you figure out what types of facilities you’ll need for meeting spaces, meal times and activities as well as help you set expectations for your attendees. 

Kidder Creek excels at offering a rustic high-adventure experience that is close to nature. We handle activities like whitewater rafting and cliff jumping so you can participate fully alongside your guests and we can partner with you in teaching and worship or just set the stage for you. 

Set That Budget

Once you know what your retreat is about the next biggest question everyone will have is “how much does it cost?” It’s important to ask your retreat facility good questions so you know exactly what is included in their pricing and what is an add-on cost. Are all meals included? What about snacks? Is there coffee in the morning? Do activities cost extra? Are there microphones and projectors available for use? Think through the details of your ideal schedule so you know what to expect. 

Kidder Creek has Guest Adventures packages to help start the planning process that include lodging, meals and all the activities. The price you see includes everything you need for an amazing event!

How ’bout the Staff?

The staff partnering with you to make your event happen can make or break the experience. Will the retreat center staff know what your groups purpose and goals are and will they support those? Who will answer questions, fix problems, and help make your retreat go smoothly?

Additionally, you should ask the retreat facility you are contemplating booking if they will fully staff all activities. For instance, some will ask that you provide your own lifeguards if you’re planning for pool time, so keep that in mind! Kidder Creek will make sure all your activities have qualified and highly-trained staff available, including lifeguards! And rest assured our retreat host will be familiar with everything about camp and the adventures your group is going on but will also know you, your group, and how to make your experience awesome!

Book It

How far in advance should you start planning your retreat? We recommend three to six months. That way, you have a better chance of booking the weekend that works best for your group before a time slot fills up. You’ll also be able to reserve activities and get on the schedules of all your busy trip participants!

Let’s Do This Thing

Finally, and perhaps most importantly: does the retreat facility you’re considering love Jesus like you do? If they don’t, they may not really understand the power and importance of what you’re trying to accomplish.

With all these things to consider when planning an event why not enlist the help of some pro’s to make it all go smoothly? Kidder Creek will do everything we can to make sure your life remains uncomplicated and that your group has the experience of a lifetime.

If you’re interested in booking an adventure visit the website or call Andy at (530) 467-3265.

Nate Pfefferkorn, Vice President of Strategy

Transform Kidder Creek

Posted by & filed under Giving, Kidder Creek, Youth.

by Andy Warken, Director of Kidder Creek

Kidder Creek offers some of the most diverse camp programs in the camping world.  Campers can ride horses on mountain trails, hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, whitewater raft, and mountain bike on premiere destination worthy trails.  Through these diverse programs campers grow as they play and have real adventures in creation with counselors and staff who care for and lead campers one step closer to Jesus.  
These adventures are needed now more than ever as screen times increase and outdoor play and experience decreases.  Kidder Creek is committed to giving kids real adventures in Creation, using God’s handiwork as the stage on which we work to see young people’s  lives transformed.  

We need your help!

Our goal is to raise $600,000 over the next 3 years to “transform” Kidder Creek. Our focus is on transforming these 3 main areas to better serve our campers and their families:

  1. Program Additions— Laser Tag, New Zip Line, Adventure Ridge 2.0
  2. Existing Facilities Improvement— Finish MSP, Pond Pavilion and Bathroom
  3. New Program Facilities— New pavilions at the Crossing and Outback campsites

Matching Gift: 

All donations, above and beyond our annual fund, are matched through the current Mount Hermon Campaign for a total of $1.2 million in camp improvements.  Through God’s provision and our generous donors support we are already at $410,364 toward the campaign goal! 

How you can be a part of the transformation:

  1. Pray—pray for life transformation to happen at Kidder Creek
  2. Share— share about Kidder Creek’s unique program offerings and how you have been transformed
  3. Give to Lives Transformed at
    1. Become a transformer – a monthly donor of $25 or more
    2. Give to a project – we have a lot of fun projects planned for the campaign!  

We have confidence that God will provide to transform camp and that He will continue to transform the lives of campers that join us each summer.  

Andy Warken, Director of Kidder Creek

A Life Transformed at Kidder Creek

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

by Andy Warken, Director of Kidder Creek

Almost 1,500 campers joined one of our camps or came as part of a guest group in 2018 and another 1,200 visited and volunteered during Fall Festival.  Campers came to raft, ride, and hike, and God used these outdoor adventures to help them grow personally, in community and in their faith. Nearly 200 said they made a first time decisions to follow Jesus!

When asked how they grew closer to Jesus campers said:
“By learning how much God loves me”
 “That God knows me and made me and that He has given me purpose.”
“By praying, reading the Bible, through worship, hearing the counselor testimonies and through campfire talks.”

The following is a story that was given to me, by a camper after summer, about a Thursday night Chapel Hill Campfire during Week Two Ranch Camp last summer.  

A Campfire Miracle 

“Around a campfire on the top of Chapel Hill a miracle happened. Maddie, a spunky hilarious Ranch Camper, sang the words of Reckless Love. Her heart was beating faster than usual and for some reason tears were rising in her eyes. As the last words of ‘Reckless Love’ were sung, Christina, the Ranch Camp lead, got up and shared her testimony of how God had changed her life. Maddie listened intently as Christina told her story. Something was different about tonight. As Christina finished her story Maddie blinked away tears. A cabin mate sitting beside her, asked, ‘Are you okay, Maddie?’  ‘I don’t know, I feel something in here,” Maddie muttered and pointed to her chest.  ‘Hmm, I don’t know what that means. I think you should go talk to a counselor,’ the other girl whispered.  Maddie agreed, got up, and went to speak with her counselor who was able to help her understand the gospel and lead her to Jesus.”

Maddie was one of eight girls that gave their lives to Jesus that night. Under the stars and amidst the smoke the Lord touched their hearts. The Lord performs miraculous things like this all the time at Kidder.

We saw many miracles, large and small, happen in 2018, we look forward to many more stories of lives transformed in 2019! 

Andy Warken, Director of Kidder Creek

Let’s Re-Wild Our Kids

Posted by & filed under Kidder Creek, Parents, Youth.

by Nate Pfefferkorn, Vice President of Strategy

As a parent we all want our kids to be resilient; to be able to rise up to challenges and respond well to difficulties. The problem is we see our kids living life tethered to a screen, indoors and highly scheduled moving swiftly from one activity to the next. Their lives have been scrubbed of danger, risks and obstacles have been removed and in this sanitized life everything is scripted for them. This is not the wild life God has in mind for any of us.

Risk and challenge are vital parts of a balanced childhood. Exposure to healthy risk, particularly physical, enables children to experience fear, and learn the strengths and limitations of their own body, make smart choices for themselves and develop resilience. Yet as parents, many of us are unaccustomed to allowing even the tiniest degree of danger to enter the lives of our children. That’s why roaming distance (how far children play from home) has decreased by 90% in the past 30 years. It’s no wonder that the simulated risk of video games is so compelling and addictive – the real world seems rather tame in comparison. 

So how can we put some of that danger and excitement back into the lives of our kids?

The answer is step-by-step and in an age-appropriate way. First, the outdoors is key. Time outside in God’s creation every day is essential, and not just in the neat and controlled environment of the play area. Encourage young ones to poke around under logs and permit your primary-age children to leave your sight. Unsupervised time, even just in the yard, might lead to more cuts and scrapes or fights between siblings, but it is what many of us did as children and it teaches them how to make risk-related decisions for themselves.

Learning to light a fire is a rite of passage for most children, and from the age of three they can be actively involved in feeding and managing a small campfire. Of course make sure they’re not wearing flammable clothing and show them how to behave safely, but you will be astonished by the respect they show the flames.

Swimming and understanding water is an essential and healthy risk. Let them climb in streams and fall over in the lake wearing all their clothes, let them slide in mud on a salt marsh or go wild swimming in a river. Your job as an adult is to manage the risk not eliminate it – checking the tides before venturing on to a salt marsh or researching good swimming rivers, then stepping back to allow them to make their own decisions.

Risky sports are a reasonably controlled way to allow your children to feel fear. Horse riding or skiing might be expensive, but what about biking, tree-climbing or rock-climbing? Your child will fall at some stage, and they will probably feel out of control – but wow, they’ll feel alive.

Re-wilding your kids and introducing them to risk and joy in God’s creation doesn’t have to just be your responsibility.

A summer camp experience away from you can develop confidence and self-assurance like nothing else. Alongside excellently trained young adult staff, Kidder Creek campers ride horses, raft rivers, jump off cliffs, climb trees and get dirty while exploring God’s wild love for them.

Nate Pfefferkorn, Vice President of Strategy

High Adventure Camp

Posted by & filed under Kidder Creek, Youth.

by Nate Pfefferkorn, Vice President of Strategy

Kidder Creek Adventure Camp is the perfect place for middle school and high school students to develop grit; strength of character. At summer camp youth take on simple challenges like going on a hike, conquering a high ropes course or shooting a bow and arrow and encounter more complex challenges like getting along with a new group of peers, learning how to ask for help from others, and taking appropriate risks without parents nearby.

Cliff Jumping at Kidder Creek High Adventure Camp

The best summer camp experiences offer chances for youth to take manageable amounts of risk and responsibility under the guidance of loving staff and counselors while addressing the big questions of where do we come from, what’s our purpose and where are we going. Kidder Creek Adventure Camp has been intentionally designed from the ground up to engage and challenge youth on a journey to adulthood that includes making a faith in Jesus their own. 

Adventure Camp starts and ends at Kidder, but journeys beyond for rafting on the Klamath River, sleeping under the stars and hiking to spectacular waterfalls. At Kidder Creek campers enjoy pond time, bmx bikes, laser tag and the high ropes course. Lessons flow naturally from the many teachable moments embedded in the high adventure experience while daily devotions, and counselor-led discussions are geared to help 7-12th grade students go deeper spiritually.

At Adventure Camp every camper will come home having experienced these 5 things:
  1. New relationships. with peers and amazing young adults that point them toward a relationship with Jesus. They’ll gain practice in negotiating their own growth in relationships.
  2. A new identity. Camp is a place to try new things and new ways of behavior. Our staff will help every camper find something they can proud of and do well. 
  3. Self-assurance. Campers will have new experiences and face challenges which they’ll overcome. Youth who experience themselves as competent in the face of adversity come home as better problem-solvers.
  4.  Lasting memories. Activities like white-water rafting, cliff jumping and high ropes courses will be highlights of the week but cabin times and one-on-one’s with counselors will leave lasting impacts.
  5. Belonging. There is no more powerful way to bring diverse groups of youth together than camp. Under the guidance of amazing counselors each camper will know they are part of a tribe and are a special and unique child of God.

The life change that happens at camp is powerful and gives youth a unique combination of experiences that helps them develop grit and connects them to their true purpose— to love other people and to love God. 


Nate Pfefferkorn, Vice President of Strategy

Success or Failure?

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Blossom Turner

I first attended the Mount Hermon Writers Conference in 2009 with high hopes, dreams too large for my skill set, and aspirations aplenty. I did not know—as of yet—what I did not know. By the time the action packed four-day marathon was complete, I felt like I had gone to boot camp, not book camp. I learned about POV, show don’t tell, voice, and how to tighten and brighten with word choice. I grappled with grammar, played with poetry, puzzled over punctuation, and struggled to spit-polish my manuscript.

One could look at this experience as a failure, for I did not obtain an agent. No one was clamouring around me as the latest and greatest new talent. No publisher asked for a proposal. And I certainly did not win the award for the best new writer. Instead, I went home with my tail between my legs (having learnd that I should not use clichés as I just did) and ruminated over Steve Laube’s session on “Rejection: Turning Pain into Pleasure.” Overwhelmed and dejected I had two choices—smash my computer into a thousand unrecognizable pieces or hunker down and apply what I had learned.

I attended the following three conferences with a more realistic viewpoint and only one objective in mind, to glean as much knowledge as I could. If any other blessing came out of the process, it would be a bonus. At the 2011 writers conference an opportunity to submit a short story into a book called Kernels of Hope, by Bob and Gail Kaku was presented. I submitted two and to my amazement they accepted both.

Thereafter, financial pressures dictated I work long days beside my husband in our business and place writing into the category of a hobby. I journaled, scribbled short stories, and wrote copious amount of boring company polices, manuals, and emails. I put my novels aside, too exhausted at the end of a twelve-hour work day to think creatively. Oh, and I lamented to God. Thankfully he was faithful even when I was less than pleased with my circumstances. He used me to lead an employee to Christ just before he passed away with cancer and gave me numerous opportunities to share my love and faith with employees and customers alike.

November 2017 God gave the opportunity to return to writing. I reread a book I had started five years earlier and scratched my head. Where was I going with this? As a seat-of-the-pants writer only God knew. With a cup of tea and prayer, my imagination took flight. I finished the book in the next couple of weeks. (I use the word finish lightly, because all writers know that the first draft is horrific, the second, a marginal improvement, and the tenth draft a possibility.)

In spring of 2018 I was given the blessing of attending Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference once again. I looked forward to a reunion with two ladies I had met in 2009. (The connections and friends made at Mount Hermon are a lifetime gift.) Previous failure and gained knowledge led the way. I had my manuscript completed, a pitch perfected, and a one-sheet ready to share. I surrendered all to Jesus, but had also done the hard work of preparing to the best of my ability.

A God appointment followed. I had not intended to meet with the lovely Susan Stewart, senior nonfiction editor from Elk Lake Publishing, as the information had stated they were looking primarily for nonfiction. In conversation she asked me what I wrote with genuine interest. I happily shared my pitch and she asked for a meeting. That meeting, along with others, lead to four requests for a proposal.

The hard work of writing a proposal, more edits, beta readers’ input, and critiques ensued. Finally, in June, I sent the proposal off—and waited. In August that request for the full manuscript felt amazing—more waiting.

What a joy to hear in September that my long-time dream of becoming a published author was about to happen thanks to Susan for her gift of time, to Nick Harrison for becoming my agent, and to God for giving this opportunity. I also include my thanks to the many incredibly talented writer/teachers who helped me, and to Mount Hermon for providing a Christian environment in which an everyday person like me, can fail, can learn, can succeed, and make great friends along the way.

Blossom Turner

Blossom Turner is a freelance writer who has completed one nonfiction book and three romance novels with the first one, Anna’s Secret, due out this year. She is an avid blogger bringing faith and hope to the world. Currently blogging weekly on how to pray using the many names of God. Check out her website at