Posts Categorized: Alumni


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

Redwood Camp Renewal

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Building Projects, Kindling, Stories of Ministry.

Have you heard? We are in the midst of renewing Redwood Camp!

There’s nothing quite like watching a camper’s journey throughout their week at Redwood Camp. Many come in shy and resistant, but by the end of the week they are expressive and open. Through the love of their counselor and the power of God, they not only encounter Jesus but they are able to experience real and lasting transformation, and we see it every day!

Many of the facilities, including the cabins, at Redwood Camp have been in service for over 60 years, and the time has come to renew Redwood Camp! We are in the process of building a number of new cabins (two of which will be ADA accessible), doing a floor-to-ceiling remodel of all the existing cabins, remodeling the bath houses, improving Victory Circle, and more! 

What we are most excited about in the project is the addition of a half bath to each existing cabin. This will eliminate the need for campers to wake their counselor to take them to the bathhouse in the middle of the night. This change alone will have a huge impact on the camper experience as well as a major reduction of fatigue for our counselors throughout the summer.

Why is this project important?

Did you know that over 60% of Christians in America accept Jesus as their Savior between the ages of 4 and 14? Redwood Camp ministers to kids right in that age window! The Lord works powerfully at Redwood Camp, and over the decades, thousands of kids have met Jesus and begun their journey with Him on that sacred ground. 

So where are we now? We have laid the new underground utilities, poured new foundations, and framed the new cabins. We are on track to finish Phase 1 (construction of new cabins and remodels of existing cabins) before camp starts in June.

Will you please be praying for the Redwood Camp renewal?

Pray that the weather will be favorable, that there will be continued unity among the contractor and sub-contractors, and that we will finish the project before the first campers arrive!

Thank you to the hundreds of families who have generously given to make this project possible. There is so much more to do at Redwood Camp so we still need your help!  

If you would like to be part of renewing Redwood Camp, you can go to or contact JR Loofbourrow at

By Andrew Summers
Advancement team

All Things New

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Associates, General, Kindling.

Do you like “new?” New car? New boss? New school? New child? New neighborhood? New friend? New job? New challenge? New problem to solve? New In-laws? I guess it depends on what is “new,” right? 

In a powerful passage of Scripture found in Revelation 21, it talks about a day when all things will be made NEW. It is a day when God will wipe away every tear from crying eyes, a day where there will be no more mourning, or pain, or death. It’s hard to even fathom such a day, a future day that gives us hope as we trudge through days that can include difficulty, loneliness, fear, and heartache. 

Each December our Board of Directors chooses the theme verse for the following Mount Hermon year, and the verse they chose for 2019 is …

“I am making all things new.”  – (Revelation 21:5)

All things. New. God is the one making them this way. Wow!!!

I am looking forward to being in the Mount Hermon Auditorium and watching people read this verse on the large wood placard that hangs down from the ceiling. I will be praying for the hope and healing that this one sentence of truth will bring to the many who visit our grounds. 

Thank you for your investment in this ministry that helps people be refreshed, renewed and transformed by the God who makes all things new. Your prayers, encouragement, involvement and financial support are vital in keeping this ministry thriving.  

To God – the one who makes all things new – be the glory! 

By Mike Romberger

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.

Jeremy Bentley: Our new VP of Programs!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please join us in welcoming Jeremy back to Mount Hermon!

A Dream Comes to Fruition: Redwood Pavilion

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Building Projects, General, Stories of Ministry.


On July 30th, over 300 Redwood campers from past and present, staff, friends, and family all gathered under the Samuelson Pavilion to dedicate it to God’s glory and service. The Samuelson Pavilion has been a project of dreams for years, and this last summer came to fruition.

Dick Dosker, former Redwood Camp Director (1956-1989) captured the significance of the Pavilion during the dedication by saying, “Thank you all for the service in which you have given to this particular place of real estate which is hallowed ground. This new piece of equipment will help us move into the future of year-round ministry.

“I love having the pavilion,” said current Redwood Camper D.J. Renwick. “When it’s foggy, or it’s raining or really sunny, we can play under here and it’s really nice.”



The Samuelson Pavilion sits nestled on the end of the meadow where redwoods provide the backdrop, the sound of the Ferndale Falls heard, the cabins seen, and relief from sun and rain felt. It provides a space for basketball, foosball, dodgeball and more. It also provides a great place to gather and meet with an open air feel.

In many ways—Play is the gateway to a child’s heart,” said current Redwood Camp Director, Chafer Cox. “We close the week with our Luminaria. Campers spread out all over the field and under the pavilion, and this is where many kids accept Christ for the first time and discover God’s unconditional love for them as they look back over the week and make some incredible decisions and take part in life-changing conversations. Last night, one cabin of seven girls all accepted Christ right here under the pavilion.”

We are so grateful for the Samuelson family and for the hundreds of others who helped make this project possible!

Doc: The Man on Fire

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


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

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

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

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

Are you one of our Staff Alumni who have served on Summer Staff? Let us know! Contact Andrew at


Family Camp Summer Theme: Settlers of Hermon

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


This summer at Family Camp we will be invited to “Come and Settle” with God. Using Psalm 23 along with a portion of John 10, campers will be encouraged to explore what it means to have God as our shepherd.

On Monday we will look at the first stanza of Psalm 23, and explore the idea of God as our shepherd who provides for all of our needs. He provides us rest, renewal, and refreshment. On Tuesday we will jump to John 10, where Jesus tells that He is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for us. Thursday will focus on God’s presence with us in hard times, including dark valleys and attacks from our enemies. Finally, on Friday, we will see how God initiates a relationship with us and pursues us relentlessly, no matter our response.

To contextualize our spiritual curriculum, campers will be invited into the land of Hermon. Hermon is a quaint and quiet land. The Army first came to the area to build an outpost but quickly saw the potential of what a great settlement it could be with rich veins of ore, rock and coal, land for wheat, overgrown forests for responsible foresting, pastures for livestock, mainly sheep, and clay for building houses, buildings, and more.


The Army sent a call to those in the East inviting them to come and settle this fine piece of uninhabited land. Many came. When they arrived, they discovered it was just as the Army had reported, a land ripe for settling and leaving the stresses of their old lives behind them.

As news of Hermon began to grow, people did come, but some came for other purposes. Some pioneers came only to stay for a little while and then plow through to see what was next, missing the whole point of what the land had been intended. And with new people, came other kinds of people. People who didn’t care about working the land, or finding new land. Just people who felt that they could benefit from the work that others did and left behind them.

But the Army has stayed true and consistent since the beginning. They came to set up the fort, they guard the roads keeping the Settlers of Hermon safe during the harvest season and are quick to assist when trouble arises.

Redwood Summer Theme: Port Redwood

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


After narrowly escaping death on the open sea, ship destroyed and captain lost, four swashbuckling pirates wash up on shore in their dinghy. In desperate search for water to quench their thirst, they stumble upon an unknown treasure. Loading up as much as they can into their small dinghy, they head to Port Redwood with one mission in mind, get another boat without being seen or suspected and get the rest of that loot! Just as their quest begins the pirates discover they have stolen the treasure of the Dread Pirate King. They begin to hear the rumors of the dread that follows this king and any who cross his path. As they continue preparations the crew realizes they are missing one of their own and fear the worst… The Dread Pirate King has taken him captive. Soon after they receive correspondence from this mysterious King, leaving them to wonder who this mysterious Pirate King is and what he wants with them. After hatching a plan to discover the truth of this ominous king, the crew recruits the townspeople of Port Redwood, to help them discover the truth of the Dread Pirate King.

This summer we will discover who Jesus is, shining light on the myths about Him, while seeking to understand what it means that Jesus is King. Using daily small groups, founded in scripture, we will take the misconstrued ideas society has about Jesus and debunk them, one at a time illuminating Jesus’ Kingship. We will start the week showing that Jesus is not taking captives, but is inviting each and every one of us to follow Him! As the week continues we will dive into Jesus’ revolution not of violence, but of love and His new Kingdom here, where all are chosen! Campers will learn that they are worth “walking the plank” for as Jesus gave His life to save theirs, and they now have the choice to follow Him. We have weighed the evidence and decided Jesus is worth following, and now that they have all the evidence the choice is theirs.

The Lasting Impact of Summer Staff

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


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

Q: How did serving at Mount Hermon impact you?

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


Q: What was your career journey after that summer?

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

Q: What is your current role?

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

For information on these programs, see

Read About Whitworth Programs

They Serve… Because They Believe

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


I want to share with you some numbers that I thought you might find interesting:

67 / 282 / 264 / 613

What do these numbers mean?
Each number represents a group of incredible Mount Hermon staff members!

67 full-time year round
282 part-time year round and seasonal
264 summer staff
= 613 total Mount Hermon staff

Each Mount Hermon staff member plays an important role, roles that include clearing trails, washing dishes, harnessing adventurers, overseeing technology, receiving reservations, planning conferences, cleaning toilets, raising money, loving children, fixing repairs, cooking meals, creating brochures, selling books, assisting pastors, impacting teenagers, teaching science, holding babies, making beds, managing finances, painting fences, making videos, cutting grass, serving food, changing light bulbs, and oh so much more!

We are blessed with a great staff, and God has impressed deep upon my heart the need for us to celebrate, appreciate, care for and adequately provide for our staff. They work long hours, sacrifice, care, and love this ministry as they give tirelessly of themselves without high pay or great benefits. They serve because they believe in this special place where God regularly touches lives.

Please join me in praying for our staff, that God would protect them, supply all their needs, and truly bless their lives. Pray for unity, joy, and effectiveness as our staff minister to over 70,000 people each year. And when you get a chance, please look them in the eyes and say, “thank you!”

Apply for Summer Staff at Mount Hermon!

Ron Demolar– Pancake King and So Much More

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

demolarSummer staff, intern, year–round staff, Ponderosa Lodge Director, Advancement Staff member, tour director, president of the Trustees, part of the Redwood Society; there’s hardly a category of involvement at Mount Hermon that doesn’t fit Ron Demolar, and it goes back 55 years!

Ron first came on the Redwood Camp Summer Staff in 1961, and returned in 1962 and 1963. On the car trip in 1962, he met Jacquie Dangers, who had grown up in Zaire (now Congo), and was attending Westmont College. After serving together at Redwood and dating, they were married in 1964.

From 1964–67, they came up to host college conferences at Mount Hermon. In 1967, he was named Mount Hermon’s first intern, working at Redwood Camp under Dick Dosker. Together, they put the finished touches on program planning for the new high school camp at Ponderosa Lodge, and Ron became director there in 1969.

Jacquie worked as a registrar in 1967, raised two daughters, and later was full–time in the HR office, in charge of hiring hundreds of summer staffers. This last year she has fought a battle with cancer, and has now finished her final round of chemotherapy. She loves visiting their two grandsons in Colorado and granddaughter in Texas.

Ron led Ponderosa Lodge from its beginning in 1969, and became Program Director of Mount Hermon in 1983. In 2000 he moved to the Advancement Office, and in 2011 he stepped aside when he was named to the Mount Hermon Trustees, which he still chairs.

Because he has influenced thousands of young people who have now moved into responsible Christian ministries world–wide, Ron is considered the “go–to” person when our staff needs information on someone. “He knows everyone, it seems,” says his former Advancement boss, J. R. Loofbourrow.


Ron believes in “paying it forward,” and supporting those whose lives have intertwined with his. He serves on four boards. “Intensive Care” is involved in third–world teaching of pastors. “The Fellowship” in Santa Cruz, with former staffer Rich Price, is involved in discipleship. And he serves on the board of his brother–in–law’s orphanage in Africa, “New Hope Uganda”. Because he has received so much from his involvement with Mount Hermon and now the Trustees, he and Jacquie have also joined the Redwood Society, to pledge part of their estate to the ongoing ministry of Mount Hermon.

It wasn’t in his job description, but Ron is also known as the pancake king, having flipped pancakes two or three times a week every summer for over 45 years. And for years he drove the bus to the beach with eager loads of high schoolers. “At camp, you do a little bit of everything––whatever needs doing,” he reports. He has done it with modesty and willingness. That makes him a pretty popular guy with thousands of young people, now grown up, all over the world.

Apply for Summer Staff at Mount Hermon!

A Reminder of God’s Grace: Redwood Camp Staff Reunion

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.

By Lee Martin

Join us for this year’s Redwood Camp Reunion, July 30-31, 2016!

We are so excited about this summer’s Redwood Camp Reunion! My wife Susan and I (Bosco and Hondo) worked at Redwood summers of 1977 and 1978 as counselors, 1980 as assistant program director and program director and 1985 as staff counselors. Two of our children also worked as Redwood Camp counselors and one worked as a CILT.

Continued from Newsletter

The time working at Redwood was amazing for me in many ways. It was my first experience within a community of believers working for a common purpose: connecting kids with God’s love and grace through Jesus. Although we were imperfect in many ways during those summers, God’s purpose was fulfilled over and over again. I realized that God can use any of us at any time for any reason. That has stayed with me my whole life.

Lee-and-Susan-2 Recently I went to my high school reunion and was struck how different it was compared to the Redwood reunion we did a couple of years ago. At the high school reunion it was based more on superficial things in many cases (it was high school after all). But when we decided to help organize the Redwood reunion, we knew it was based on things that were more about the heart: about a unique intersection of time and place in our lives as well as campers lives that would never be replicated. And because it was about the dealings of the heart which are so rare in our daily lives, we knew the Redwood reunion would be a special time.

And it was. At the last reunion what struck me as one of the highlights was the sharing in Lakeside where about 70 of us got together. We had no agenda in particular but some music and then launched into sharing and stories that lasted about 2 hours. It spanned several decades of participation where staffers from the 21st century were hearing stories from the 20th. I remember hearing someone from the 40’s talk about the early beginnings for Redwood. I sat in awe. It was more like a family reunion, not a high school reunion. But that was because we were family.

In fact, a former Redwood counselor who had passed away shortly before was represented by her husband and her young children to come see and hear what had been so important about this place to her. Yes, there was not a dry eye in the room.
Another highlight was sitting at Victory Circle again with singing and sharing by Deacon Dick Dosker and Ron Taylor. Sitting in that backdrop, the two of them shared from their hearts what Redwood meant to them and historically to all of us. It was another reminder of God putting all of us together for a single purpose, in a unique community that could never be duplicated.

That’s was drives us about the Redwood reunion: to remind all of us that God’s grace works all the time in so many ways. I think we all need that reminder from time to time in our lives. And we know that He will be faithful in the future as new generations of Redwood counselors come to camp.

For more information about the Redwood Reunion or to register go to

Outdoor Science School expands to China

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.

By Todd Clark

Question: What’s cooler that teaching kids about God through His amazing creation in the beautiful redwood forest of Mount Hermon? Answer: DOING IT IN CHINA!

Most people know that Mount Hermon has an Outdoor Science School that ministers to thousands of Bay-Area students every year at Ponderosa Lodge, but did you know that Mount Hermon now runs several weeks of OSS at a camp outside of Beijing every summer? Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.

Last summer eight of our Outdoor Science School team members spent the month of August at this camp, impacting children in a transformational way by teaching them about creation, and by living lives consecrated to Christ. Last year’s theme asked the question, “Where is your treasure?” This prompt provided ample opportunity for fun activities as well as deeper exploration for campers, Chinese volunteers, and our own team.


Jared, one of our naturalists, watched as, after lavishly creating a treasure box, a sixth grade girl began her journal activity where she was prompted to examine what “treasure” was for her. The question had a deep impact as she realized her treasure wouldn’t fit in a box! Her treasure was her parents! In an eloquent speech at closing ceremony, she laid out her heart, asking to spend more time with her parents and inviting them to see her as treasure as well.

Stephanie, also a naturalist, led the first-grade campers on a night hike. Describing the solar system, Stephanie explained that if the earth was located even a few degrees closer to or further from the sun, it would either burn up or freeze. The kids were amazed at how the earth fit perfectly for life to thrive and wondered how that could happen. A little girl in the group spoke up and said, “It’s because of Jesus!” Stephanie encouraged her to say more. The child explained to her friends how a creator God made sure the earth was in the perfect spot.

china4I think Jesus said it best when he instructed his followers to put their treasures in heaven. Treasures can come un-expectantly, intentionally, and powerfully when we realize that all of life is a mission toward transformation. It is transformative to our life perspectives when we realize real treasures are the relationships that we have. This journey of discovery doesn’t end just because we are back in the States. It’s a never ending question we are still asking ourselves and each other, “Where are you finding your treasures?”

This summer we’ll be running programs again! Our naturalists will help students explore the theme: The LORD is My Strength and My Shield (Psalm 28:7). We’ll be sure to keep you updated with stories and pictures of what God is doing!

Revamping Parent Child Retreats in 2016

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.

Moms & Sons Photo

By Kara “Quack” Podesta

Since I began working in the Children’s Ministry department, one of the biggest joys of my job has been the Parent Child retreats! Three times a year we get to create a time for families to pack up a bag and escape from the responsibilities of life to come play with us in the mountains. Parent Child retreats are an incredible ministry that allow parents an opportunity to connect with their kids both intentionally and spiritually, while having the opportunity to play, dance, and be silly with their kids.

Continued from Newsletter

The start of 2016 has brought us two retreats back to back this February! Kicking off our revamped Dads & Sons retreat followed by our Moms & Sons retreat, has created a busy, yet incredible past few weeks.

Dads & Sons Video

Together as Dads & Sons we traveled back to ancient Athens and took a look together at what it means to be a well-rounded man of God. A man who does not simply pose physical strength, but who is intellectual and in pursuit of the Lord. We competed in our very own Olympic Games ensuring that our team’s torch was lit and illuminated proudly to those around us. Dads & Sons completed a Decathlon where they completed puzzles and riddles, created a map of the stars and dedicated a family crest.

Four days later 100 moms & sons dropped into camp for a jam packed weekend, where we prepared for our first launch as Paratroopers. Together we walked through the attributes of a paratrooper, learning what it means to be courageous, loyal, and steadfast, while forming an Unbreakable bond with each other and with Christ. We defied all obstacles against us to rescue stranded paratroopers, participated in target practice, and took the leap off the high dive and zip line.

These retreats continuously remind me of the beauty in the relationship between parent and child. No matter which retreat it is, I am left full of awe and joy. Throughout the Dads & Sons retreat, I was reminded of the lengths that a parent will go through for their child. Our night game required pairs to sneak around camp completing a series of tasks and collecting objects without being caught by the guards. One dad scarified comfort and speed for his son, completing the entire game crouched behind a chair with his son behind him. They went in and out of buildings and up and down stairs, completely hidden behind a small chair, but the joy on that son’s face is something I will never forget.

moms&sons1000Parent Child retreats have allowed me to form lasting relationships with parents who I keep in contact with and am ministered to by. The ministry of these retreats is one that will make an eternal impact in not only these kids lives, but in their relationships with their parents forever. Lives transformed is happening outside of summer, and it is happening here at these retreats.

Summer Staff Lives Transformed

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


“Having not come from a Christian family or strong Christian community of friends, KC provided me with an opportunity to work alongside fellow believers. Going through the summer by solely relying on God for His strength and guidance allowed me to take one step closer to Jesus in my day-to-day life now that I am back at school. Prayer, acts of selfless love and engaging conversation about the Lord with other staff members encouraged me to continue to pursue God’s best in my life.” – 2015 River Team Staff Member


It’s not only the campers who have their lives transformed each summer at Kidder Creek but it’s the staff as well. This summer we will hire 58 summer staff to join us in our mission of helping campers meet Jesus through a super fun-filled and adventurous week of camp. Those staff that join us in that mission will also leave transformed as they take one step closer to Jesus by relying on God for strength and His work in their own lives as they strive to serve and love the campers God brings to camp.

Previous staff consistently point to two things that they love about working at Kidder Creek and that lead to them having a life transforming time at camp. The first is the community:  being a part of a team of peers who have come together to do God’s work, to encourage and build each other up in that ministry, and to have supervisors who care about you, pray for you and want to see you grow in the Lord. The second is the ministry: laying it all on the line, setting aside your needs so you can meet someone else’s, to be completely empty of your own strength and to have to rely on the Lord’s strength to keep loving the campers.

staffGirlsSmiling1000 staffRiver1000staffArchery1000

“I learned to better rely on Him for strength when I was weak, I learned to better see and love others the way that He does, I learned to trust Him to speak through me when I was unsure of what to say and He gave me the words I needed to say.”  – 2015 Ranch Camp Staff Member

God uses our summer staff to impact the hundreds of campers that attend camp each summer, and God is using their time at camp to draw them to Himself, to serve Him in the present as well as to prepare them for future ministry.

Apply for Summer Staff!

Always Abounding in the Work of the Lord

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

While recently sitting around a table flanked by Mount Hermon’s Trustees I was impacted by a man who was stepping down after over sixty faithful years as a key leader of Mount Hermon. I’m referring to 91–year–old John Jenks. John has been both on the Board of Directors and a Trustee for over half of Mount Hermon’s 110 year existence! He has helped shape this transformational ministry in ways that only God fully knows.

5DMKII_CC_201305300062In John’s parting words to the Trustees (Trustees are those who oversee the spiritual protection and nurture of Mount Hermon), he quoted this verse:

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain”

(1 Corinthians 15:58).

Think of these words from the Apostle Paul:

STEADFAST: Fixed in direction

IMMOVABLE: Incapable of being moved

ABOUNDING: Rich and well supplied

As John spoke I welled up with gratitude to the Lord as Mount Hermon has remained STEADFAST, IMMOVABLE, ABOUNDING in the work of the Lord for 110 years. This labor is not in vain as God is working! Through the touch of the Holy Spirit lives are being eternally transformed, marriages restored, tired and discouraged people refreshed and renewed, and God glorified. Praise be to God!

As a faithful Associate you are a key part in our abounding in the work of the Lord. Your generosity and sacrifice are having an impact on literally tens–of–thousands
of lives each year.

Thank you!

28 to 28 Associate Profile

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Associates, Giving, Kindling.


Several years ago we launched “28 to 28” as a way for young Staff Alumni to more easily become Associates. Recognizing that giving $500 a year isn’t always easy when you’re starting out in your career, “28 to 28” allows people to give $28 a month to the Mount Hermon Annual Fund until the age of 28 and enjoy all of the blessings of belonging to the Associate family!

Sean Charles Sommerville was our first Staff Alumnus to sign up! We’ve asked him to share about his journey at Mount Hermon and why he has made the decision to become an Associate.

“I first attended summer camp at Mount Hermon as a lowly 5th grader down at Redwood Camp. I never missed a single summer after that and even came back as a “super senior” after graduating high school. I was hooked and knew someday I would come back on staff… so I did (though I’m still not sure who was crazy enough to hire me)! I worked several summers at Ponderosa Lodge, then came back as the Redwood Host intern and Coordinator for the
Echo program in Santa Cruz.

I have been a Christian my whole life, but it was at camp that I finally took ownership of my faith. Escaping the day to day and being surrounded by a staff that was driven by a love for God and others made a huge impact on me, and I still remember where I was sitting in the Forum at Ponderosa when I decided that my faith was no longer going to be something I did just on Sunday mornings. Working on staff was even more impactful and I still think back on late night discussions with staff and campers, of lives transformed for eternity thanks to decisions made, and of all the conflicts that turned into life lessons. Much of who I am today was formed during those summers on staff
at Mount Hermon.

I always loved the idea of giving back to Mount Hermon, but didn’t think that I actually could. When I became an Associate I was working part time as a substitute teacher while finishing up my teaching credential. That was when I heard about 28 to 28, and I knew right away I wanted in. $28 a month? Yeah,
I can do that!

You see, when I went to camp all those many years ago, I was only able to make it due to camperships. Each year my family relied on that extra funding to help get me to camp. The money I donate now goes toward the same campership fund that enabled me to get to camp.

I am so grateful for the role God allowed the Herm to play in my life and I want desperately to see it continue for many years to come. Please please please consider joining the Associate family.
You don’t have to be a millionaire, it’s just $28 a month!”

If you have questions or would like more information about “28 to 28” contact Andrew Summers at

Redwood Society Creates a Family Legacy

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Giving, Kindling, Redwood Society.

My parents, Doug and Charlotte Jenks, met at Mount Hermon and lived as followers of Jesus throughout their lives. With a vision to thrive in their own faith and see their children embrace the faith they cherished they were consistently engaged with their church and with the ministry of Mount Hermon.

My sisters (Marilyn and Liz) and I have often reflected on the many ways our parents influenced us towards embracing the Lord they loved. They did this with both words and actions. With words they always encouraged us to talk about anything, ask important questions and pay attention to the things that matter the most. With actions they modeled the faith they proclaimed. We were never confused about what our parents valued most deeply.

Doug and Charlotte Jenks were generous people. I remember their telling me about their joy in being able to give to the Lord through our church and Mount Hermon. My dad was the first person to talk with me about money from a broad and biblical perspective. He wanted his children to avoid the dangers of greed, envy, fear or pride that often accompany a misguided perspective of money. He talked with me about having healthy habits around giving, spending and saving. Our parents wanted us to experience the reality of generous living as a response to loving a generous God.

This influence continued in an amazing way as my parents neared the end of their lives, entered heaven and surely experienced the reality that “We brought nothing into the world, and we take nothing out of it” (I Timothy 6:7).


Cancer took Doug Jenks’ life in 1999, but it did not take away his vision be a faithful follower of Jesus and a Godly influence for his family. I remember my father sharing with me that I did not need to worry that his death would create financial confusion for his family. They had taken the needed steps to prepare for the financial changes associated with his passing. Then he shared with me their vision to joyfully share a final financial gift to the Lord whenever my mom would join him in heaven. He wanted me to hear this from him, that a legacy gift was a way they could honor and thank the Lord who had given them so much. He also said they wanted this legacy gift to be a final and specific teachable moment for his children.

When my mom passed away in 2012 we were able to facilitate our parents’ wishes and relay a gift from their estate to Mount Hermon and their church. Our parent’s final financial gifts to ministries that cherished their most precious values allowed them to express in their death what they had proclaimed throughout their lives. I will never forget this powerful expression of faith and my parents’ wise intentionality to give in this way. This was a beautiful and teachable moment indeed! My parents’ legacy gifts were a final kingdom investment in ministries they loved and a powerful influencer encouraging their children to continue to follow Jesus in a humble and generous way.

For info about how you can be a part of The Redwood Society visit or email

New Redwood Sports Pavilion Underway!

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Building Projects, Giving.


For 20+ years now we have been dreaming of a Sports Pavilion at Redwood Camp, and this summer that dream will finally become a reality! Last summer we were uber-blessed with a lead gift of $900,000 along with many other generous contributions which allowed us to reach our funding goal of $1,365,000 and begin construction on our new Pavilion!

Continued from Newsletter

For those of you who have worked at Redwood Camp,  you know that the lack of dry, covered recreation space can be a big bummer. When the meadow gets wet it stays wet, for days. This new space will provide us with the ability to run recreational programs rain or shine, and is also designed to  leave plenty of room on the meadow for other activities. The pavilion will be great for our summer camps and also dramatically enhance our programing options for both guest groups and our own camps throughout the school year. We will now be able to utilize this space even when the rain is pouring down for basketball, dodgeball, volleyball, and much much more!

Construction began in late September, and the pavilion will be open and ready for use this summer! It has been designed with an “open-air” feel. The lack of walls will allow for guests to enjoy an unobstructed view of the whole area while still being protected from the elements. Check out this video fly-through to see how awesome it is going to be.

There will be an official dedication ceremony during the Redwood Reunion  this summer on Saturday, July 30. We would love for you to join us!

Watch the construction happen here:

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.


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.”
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.




Life-Changing Seasons at Mount Hermon

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.


By Chris Varela

Some of the most life-changing seasons of my life have happened while at Mount Hermon. After my first summer as a counselor at Redwood Camp, a passion for ministry was awakened in me as my eyes had been opened to what appeared to be a gift and enthusiasm God had given me for working with elementary-aged children. This call, though in its early stages at the time, was further confirmed as I spent the next several summers working in a camp-setting.

Continued from Newsletter

By the time I was 23, I had worked three summers at Redwood camp, one summer at a camp in Texas, and had done a 9-month stint with Mount Hermon’s Outdoor Science School. I thought my time pursuing kids and youth ministry as a full-time vocation had ended when I took a job in a non-related field doing marketing and project management, but it seemed as though God had a different plan.

1DMKII_RWC_20120731_0022-2-ChrisA year later, after a series of events that led me back into full-time vocational ministry, I found myself as the Director of a thriving Middle School and High School Ministry at a church. To this day I serve in this role and find myself praising God for the road He led me down to get me to there. Had it not been for the life changing, faith strengthening, passion awakening seasons of life that occurred at Mount Hermon, I would not be doing what I am doing in my current role.

These days, because of my own highly personal and intimate experiences at Mount Hermon throughout the years, I place a huge priority on getting my own students to a Mount Hermon camp. I want them to experience the same life-change that I did! To me, it’s an essential part of their spiritual growth to experience God in the unique retreat setting that Mount Hermon offers. Whether it’s the beautiful location in the forest, the intentional programming, the Christ-centered curriculum, or committed staff members, I have found that the truths my students discover at Mount Hermon to be an indispensable part of their faith, and our church’s ministry to middle schoolers and high schoolers.

Chris Varela serves as the Director of Student Ministries at Canyon Creek Presbyterian Church. He spent several summers working at Redwood Camp and then joined our year-round staff doing all kinds of awesomeness in our Creative Services department.

Meet Juve Muniz

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

JuveIf you’ve ever eaten in our dining hall during a weekend retreat or a family camp, you’ll most likely have met Juve Muniz. Juve is undisputedly the most commended staff member on our conference/retreat evaluations. Juve’s infectious personality and sense of humor are incredible blessings not only to our guests and conferees but to all of us on the staff. His gift of hospitality along with his heart for people are evident to all those who meet him. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Juve to talk about his life and story.

Juve was born in Chicago and lived there until entering 3rd grade when his family moved to Mexico. He lived in Mexico until he returned to the U.S. at the age of 20.

Juve shared with me about a very impactful day in 1994,

“When I was in my early 30’s I had gone for a run with a friend and suddenly an unknown cerebral aneurysm ruptured. The doctors later learned I was born with a weakened area in my brain. This accident resulted in a traumatic brain injury that would change my life forever.”

Before Juve’s injury he was in the customer & food service industry. He managed several restaurants: Winchell’s Donuts, Fresh Choice and Uno Mas. This may be one of the reasons Juve feels so at home in our food service ministry as a server.

“After my injury, I lived at the Assisted Living Project, a home for people with major injuries. The woman who managed the house connected me to Mount Hermon where her husband worked. I began my work in the dining room. I became a Christ follower after I began working at Mount Hermon.”

How is God using your gifts at Mount Hermon?

“My gift is service. I believe that God is with me when I’m serving and people see Him in me. God has given me a
good sense of humor and I enjoy making people happy.”

What are some of your passions outside of Mount Hermon?

“I walk a lot, everywhere really, since I don’t drive. I ride the bus for transportation and make friends along
the way, I’m very likeable. I do a lot of games and puzzles to continue to strengthen my memory.”

What’s new on the horizon for you in your area of ministry?

“I know I want to continue to stay at Mount Hermon and do what I’m doing. I believe in myself and what I do here.”

I want to share with you a beautiful story Juve shared with me:
“I came to the Reception desk one afternoon and asked if I could get a copy of the evaluations from the most recent family camp. The receptionist was curious as to why. I told her I wanted to send it to my mother so she could see what people said about me and my work—so she would be proud of me. I wanted her to be proud of me. She went to retrieve the evaluations she had printed but was gone a long time and I wondered what had happened. It all made sense when she returned and gave me the forms. She’d taken the time to highlight each one of the comments about me!”

I asked Juve if it made his mother proud and he said, “Very!”

I did some research of my own from our Fall Women’s Retreat and here’s
just a small sampling.

“Juve put a smile on my face”

“Juve, so friendly, such great service”

“Juve – coffee guy – loved him!”

“Juve – cheerful server”

“Our server, Juve, was like an ambassador, positive, welcoming, thanking us for coming, smiling & warm.”

“Juve – outstanding!!”

Juve truly exemplifies the words Jesus spoke in Matthew,

The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. – Matthew 23:11–12 (NIV) 

Redwood Camp Staff Alumni Reunion is Coming!

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Kindling.


We are excited to invite all Redwood Camp Summer Staff Alumni to a special reunion at Mount Hermon on July 30–31, 2016! Mark your calendar for an inspiring, encouraging and fun time to reflect on and celebrate the many ways God has transformed lives through the ministry of Redwood Camp! In June our planning team came together to dream, plan and pray for this reunion. Our team includes: Lee and Susan Martin, Cindy Peterson, Lynne Lundy, Sue Mellis, John and Ann Jenks, Dick and Barb Dosker, Ron and Cheryl Taylor, Dawn Fredrickson, Dave Peterson and Trevor Van Laar.

This will be a wonderful opportunity to connect with old and new friends who have shared in the blessing of serving at Redwood Camp. Our plan is to begin with a lunch together on July 30 and conclude with a morning of sharing and worship on July 31.

If you know other Redwood Camp staff alumni, please tell them about this reunion! We would love to see alumni from every decade of Redwood Camp’s history! For more information and ongoing updates this year you can make a friend request on Facebook for “Redwood Camp Staff Alumni.”

It is my prayer God will use this reunion to bless everyone who attends. May this gathering be filled with the joy, laughter and fun that we all experienced during our summer staff days! God used my summers on the Redwood Camp summer staff to shape my life and faith in a powerful way. (Boomer–1975, 77 & 79) Looking ahead, I believe this reunion will be another opportunity for God to speak to me and shape me in the context of  being in this special place with the Redwood Camp community.

Please pray with us and ask God to make this a great reunion and even more, a time where His blessings overflow in our lives and the ministry of Redwood Camp is strengthened. Continue also in your prayers for Mount Hermon and the ministry of Redwood Camp. There are some amazing possibilities and dreams we are exploring at this time to enhance Redwood Camp in order to position us for many more decades of great ministry.

Lynne (Romper) Lundy sums it up well:

“When I think back on my years at Mount Hermon, both on summer and full time staff, it’s my two summers at Redwood Camp that made an indelible mark on my heart! I dare say, for all of us who’ve worked there, Redwood is a part of who we are. Redwood is home.

Redwood Camp gave me an opportunity to plant seeds for His kingdom every week and to love on kids. It was where my relationship with Christ was stretched as high as the Trinity Trees, and where I made lifelong friends through focused ministry, shared worship, hilarious skits and unceasing laughter! Let’s make some new memories togetherworshiping at Victory Circle, enjoying another pancake breakfast on the meadow, and perhaps even a skit or two! Come home!

Details for the Redwood Reunion will be here as they become available

From Mount Hermon to Camp HOPE: “We do it because it matters”

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.

Karianne-HeaderKarianne Gwinn (seated, far right) started in the dining room and is now the Camp HOPE Director. Photo courtesy of Camp HOPE California.

Some of my very earliest memories of life were at Mount Hermon where my family attended the Insight for Living conferences when I was a wee babe.  Mount Hermon has always been a place of peace and joy for me—from the quintessential smell to the light bursting through the Redwoods.  In 2009 when my grandpa passed away, we attended his memorial service at Mount Hermon and the door opened for a life-changing experience as a summer staffer in the dining room serving conferees.

After having counseled at Ponderosa Lodge and then staff counseling at the conference center, I am still involved deeply in Mount Hermon’s ministry through Camp HOPE at Kidder Creek.  Each camper comes with a Family Justice Center somewhere on the West Coast.  Family Justice Centers provide services of all kinds to domestic violence survivors and their kids.  All of our campers have been exposed to either domestic violence or child abuse and many have, unfortunately, experienced physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse firsthand.

Continued from Staff Alumni Letter

Last year we started a special program at Kidder Creek called Camp HOPE. Camp HOPE is a values-based camp that focuses on character traits, positive self-talk, and experiential learning for kids who come from homes that have experienced family violence. For the past two summers I have had the privilege of serving as the Camp HOPE Director.

This most recent summer we focused on different phrases every day like, “I am becoming my best self” and “My future is brighter than my past.”  Throughout the week, I regularly heard kids proclaiming those truths over themselves and their cabin mates.  What a powerful thing!  One of the most unique things about Camp HOPE is having secular non-profits paired with a faith-based camp.  What a privilege to work alongside summer staffers who love Jesus deeply and show that love through their actions and the way they treat campers as well as the FJC site coordinators and Assistant Counselors.

Our campers often arrive carrying more pain than any person should ever have to experience.  They are warriors.  They are pillars of strength.  They are resilient.  They are soft hearts under the hardest of shells.  They are kids.  They are made in the image of God.  Every time we see a child conquer a fear, believe in him or herself, or forgive an abuser, we are reminded all over again why we do the hard work of loving when it takes everything we have and speaking truth into the hearts of the campers.  And we do it because it matters.  It matters today and tomorrow.  It matters in the context of eternity.