Meet Christa Hansen! We love stories about how God works in amazing ways not only in the lives of campers and families, but also in the lives of our staff! Christa’s story is an example of just that! We asked her a few questions about her time on the mountain. This is what she said:
What is your past experience at the Herm? How did you hear about us? What inspired you to come and work on staff?
I worked at a different camp in 2014 and had a really awful experience of being overworked and unsupported. I ended up burning out so badly that I left the camp early and felt like a failure. One of my friends who had worked at Mount Hermon encouraged me to give it a try the next summer. He told me that the care for their staff was so much more tangible and that it would be a growing experience for me.
I have a passion for the outdoors, so in 2015, I applied to work on the adventure/rec staff. While I love hiking and other outdoor adventures, I had a huge fear of heights, and the thought of working every day 80 feet up in a sequoia wasn’t appealing at first. God called me to challenge my limits that summer and I took each fear in stride. I felt his presence encouraging me through every obstacle. Before long, I had overcome so many of my own mental limitations and found a home up in those trees, as well as a deep bond with the other members of my team who encouraged me through each moment of that summer.
A lot of staffers mention that it’s the “people” that make camp as special as it is. In your experience, what about the people make camp so impactful? Do you have any short anecdotes about specific campers or staff members you would like to share?
My entire adventure/rec team bonded like a family. Each of them was so unique and quirky and incredibly dedicated to using their passions to serve the kingdom. I can’t really pinpoint what made them like family. I think it was just the subtle familiarity that comes with sharing life so closely together. Between exhausting joy-filled days in the sunshine, countless games of Catan, and too many trips to the fountain for our wallets or stomachs to handle, we just settled into being a team. When I was overwhelmed, someone always was there to soothe the anxiety, and when I was happy, there were countless people to laugh with. In every area that I felt weak, someone would support me and fill in the gaps, and in every area that I was strong, I felt affirmed and enabled to do good. It was such a beautiful picture of God’s design for his kingdom- unique brothers and sisters of Christ sharing their specific strengths for service.
If you could encourage anyone to join our staff, what would you tell them?
If I could encourage anyone to join Mount Hermon, I would invite the ones who are afraid to do it. To those who say, “I could never do that,” I say, “Come let God rock your world.” Before my summer working on adventure/rec, my fear of heights was almost a deal breaker. But part way through the summer, it felt like home and I had discovered a new confidence in myself. I remember looking at the staff counselors that summer and thinking, “I could never do their job.” But two summers later, God has called me back to serve as a staff counselor, and I’m going because I am ready to be amazed again by what God has designed me to do. To anyone interested in working at Mount Hermon, I say apply, come with an open heart, and be prepared to work hard, make incredible friends, have epic adventures, and be reshaped by the Creator of heaven and earth!
Has your time on summer staff provided you with any tools (professionally or personally) that have been applicable post camp life?
Yes! I had just graduated college with a psychology degree when I first worked at Mount Hermon. I knew that I wanted to go into counseling, but I wasn’t sure what direction God was calling me to pursue. After working with the families and other campers that came through our adventure/rec activities, I realized what a positive impact getting outside and away from the norm could have on families. That summer, I realized that I want to become a marriage and family therapist, and I want to take families out of their comfort zones through outdoor therapy and wilderness immersion experiences to allow God to work a transformation into their lives through my counseling.
Once I confided this new dream to my staff, I was offered tons of opportunities to grow in that area. Nate, Lindsey, and Donny let me shadow them during their team-building sessions with guest-groups, and I learned a ton about group processes that directly applies to what I want to do as a marriage and family therapist! God works in awesome ways, and little did I know that summer that he was also preparing me to return as a staff counselor this year! I can’t wait to see what new skills I pick up this summer and where God leads me to apply them in the future.