Spock vs. Yoda

Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

I was asked this week to teach the interns here at Mount Hermon on the topic of mentoring.  (there are about a dozen interns here each year—they’re a fun part of our team here).  Anyhow, as I prepared for this time I wondered who would be a better mentor…Spock or Yoda.  Now I’m no Trekkie and I can’t say I know all of the Star Wars movies by name, but I do know those two characters would be a great way to compare and contrast some of my thoughts on mentoring.  (what’s that show where they make modern day personalities with claymation and battle it out in the boxing ring?—who would win that Spock or Yoda?  I digress…).
So here’s the deal.  Yoda is this all-wise trainer of the Jedi’s.  He was really old and wise (and pretty spry in those light saber battles!) and had a long list of successful Jedi.   I think he did some work with Darth Vader who didn’t turn out so well, so he wasn’t perfect, right?  Then there is Spock.  I know less about this guy/Vulcan.  He was this no-emotion, all logic part of the crew…and he had those killer pointy ears—but Yoda did too—even bigger!  I also remember as a kid we’d do the Spock grip on each other’s neck—ouch.   I don’t remember if he actually did any training of anyone but I do know that he was always true to himself (is he a self?).    What you saw is what you got.
When it comes to mentoring, we’re just supposed to give what God has given us.  If  it is a skill we’ve learned, a gift of encouragement, knowledge or wisdom or just a listening ear and caring heart.  Our job is to pass on what we have received from the Lord to others who will then pass it on as well.  I run into a lot of people who still feel inadequate as mentors, and many of them have years of experience and training!  The sense is that they often fear they will not provide what is needed for each person or that they have too many imperfections in their own life.  While those challenges are real, the reality is that anyone can give away what God has given them.  Just be yourself, discern what God has given to you and pass it on.
Spock vs. Yoda?  I’m thinking Yoda would probably win the death match claymation thing since he’s got that lazer sword and sorta flies when he fights, but mentoring might be a toss-up.  If I wanted to learn about flying a spaceship on pure logic and chase cling-ons he’s my guy/Vulcan.

Opening Day of Ponderosa Lodge: June 25, 1969

Posted by & filed under Alumni.

Ponderosa Lodge’s ministry began June 25, 1969. I found out whenever you begin something new there are a lot of unknowns and we certainly experienced them opening the Lodge. The Dinning Room and Forum were not yet finished so we ate and met in the Multipurpose Room downstairs. That opening year was so anticipated by Churches and people in the Bay Area that we overfilled and had to open up another week before Counselor Training. Yep, we ran a week of camp with no training.  It made the following week of Counselor Training a very special week because we came at training with a need to know how to counsel!

That first summer we only hired 24 counselors – 1 per cabin. So there was not rotation that first summer. Ponderosa’s programming goes from 7:00 a.m. until about midnight most days so I had visions of purchasing pine boxes for each of the counselors at the end of that summer. They held up really well and it proved to be a great unifying factor that summer and continues to this day.

We purchased an 8’ in diameter ball to use on the Recreation Field the first day of summer. The camp was divided in half and positioned on each side of the field…the ball in the middle. The object for each team was to run to the ball and push it across to the other team’s goal on the opposite side of the field. I blew the whistle and every one went flying to the ball. The fastest person from each team impacted the ball at the same time which catapulted them into the oncoming crowd. A counselor hit his head on the knee of an oncoming student and went into convulsive shock. (Remember we only have 24 counselors for 24 full cabins!) He recovered and was back in the cabin later that afternoon with a purple heart. From that time on we had the teams circle the ball and push it back to their own goal reducing the inertia from a straight on direct hit.

In order to get into Ponderosa Lodge in the early days you had to bring a friend with you. We were focused on evangelism at that time in the Bay Area. My most vivid memory is seeing the number of students lined up outside John Fisher’s back of the Forum closet office to talk to him about following Christ. Because John was on the cutting edge nationally of the changing worship styles the students respected him and wanted to know about the Jesus he wrote and sang about. John did the work of an evangelist and was one of the most effective I have ever experienced. The whole staff took on the challenge to love and reach out to students in a time of national upheaval and God brought so many into the Kingdom that summer. I still look at that 1969 Staff picture and thank God for what He accomplished through that special group of people

Announcing Ponderosa Lodge’s 40th Anniversary Celebration

Posted by & filed under Alumni.

Jacquie and I are so looking forward to Ponderosa Lodge’s 40th Anniversary this summer. Can you believe that is has already been 40 years since we started that ministry? Save the dates of August 21-23, 2009 for the big celebration and plan on coming it is going to be great! If you were on Summer Staff, a Camper, a donor, a Mount Hermon Associate, or one of the people developing this ministry/facility, we need you to come and help us enthusiastically celebrate!!! More information following…keep your eye on this blog.

Ron Demolar

TAYLOR’S TIPS for a productive writing career…

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

One of our Writers Conference faculty, B. J. Taylor, sent this blog today. Enjoy!

When the professional photographer set up a fan and started blowing my hair around I wanted to yell STOP. Wind-blown hair, flying all over the place, that’s just not me. It felt uncomfortable. It felt like I wasn’t in control–every strand of hair wasn’t perfectly in place. It felt well, different. But I told myself it was okay to stretch, to take a leap of faith, to stick my neck out there…to blow in the wind. So I let her take the shots. And I looked at them when she was done. Hmmm…I liked it. I was out of my comfort zone, but it felt kind of good.

I wondered if I was in a comfort zone with my writing. Reach out and try new markets? That would be too scary. Speak at a women’s event? Goosebumps would break out all over my body. Write a novel? Too daunting to even think about.

But what am I getting by doing what I’ve always done? I’m getting the same thing as always. So for 2009 will you join me? Let’s take some chances, fly with the wind, dare to risk. Let’s stick our necks out. Here’s a list of some of the things you might try:

  • Write a book proposal for that idea you have.
  • Speak at an event, or join a speaker’s bureau, to get your feet wet.
  • Make an appointment to talk to an editor or agent at a conference.
  • Submit to three new markets.
  • Begin to work on your novel (you know you’ve been thinking about it!).
  • Take a class to beef up your writing skills.
  • Join a writers group.

What else can you think of that is outside of your comfort zone? It might be a little scary and feel quite uncomfortable, but pretty soon if you keep doing it you’ll become more and more at ease with stretching, growing, and blowing in the wind.

Fly with me in 2009. And if you want accountability, send me a quick email to tell me WHAT you plan to do…and then as Nike says, “Just Do It!

Follow your dreams…

B. J. Taylor

Important Form for Registrants of Writers on Website

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

I just uploaded the form on the web that helps registrants know what the publishers, editors and freelancers want to see and are willing to critique. It’s the most important form for writers to see so they can make intelligent decisions as to what person they want to peruse/critique their pre-conference manuscripts. Have at it, writers! 

Keep praying for more writers to sign up even though the economy is difficult at the moment.  We’re excited about what God wants to do through this time together.

Thanks so much,

Rachel Williams
Director, Christian Writers Conference

Jerry B. Jenkins Got His Start At Mount Hermon Writers Conference

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference has long been the standard by which all others are judged.  I attended their first more than 30 years ago and have been back nearly 20 times.  It’s been a kick to see it grow.

It may seem strange for someone who hosts his own writing conference every year to, in essence, endorse the “competition.”  But I’ll admit it: Our Christian Writers Guild’s Writing for the Soul conference patterns itself largely after the Mount Hermon conference.  It was there I learned especially the value of a deep lineup of workshops and exposure to book and magazine editors and veteran authors to evaluate manuscripts and counsel people on their writing futures.

Mount Hermon also offers inspirational keynote speakers and great music, and the friendships and professional relationships begun there can last a lifetime.  My entire adult life has been immerced in writing, editing, and publishing, and I still like to attend writers conferences as a conferee.  No matter where a writer is in his or her journey, we all need to remain lifetime students of the craft.

Jerry B. Jenkins

New York Times best-selling author of the Left Behind books and Riven; owner of the Christian Writers Guild

Kudos From A Former Writers Conference Attendee

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

I cannot begin to recommend the Mount Hermon Writers Conference enough!  It’s always held Psalm Sunday weekend in the awe-inspiring redwood forests of CA.  I credit this conference (God-inspired, of course) for landing my contract with Multnomah for my passion book, Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer.

Just so you know, I didn’t sign a contract there, but met the editor who would champion my book all the way to a contract.  Networking is invaluable, especially these days when many publishing houses will not accept freelance work.  It pays to know someone.  Editors are looking for fresh talent at conferences.  That is one major reason they participate.  When you send in a query and submission to a publishing house and can say you met the editor at Mount Hermon’s Writers Conference, you’ll most likely get your project looked at.

So I encourage you to go to Mount Hermon’s Writers Conference.  You will learn tons, make invaluable contacts, and begin wonderful new friendships.  It’s not cheap, but nothing worthwhile is. If you can’t go this year, start saving your pennies for next year. 

There are a number of wonderful conferences out there, but this one, hands-down is the best–la creme de la creme!  And what other conference could beat those renowned redwood trees?  Go for it!

Lynn Morrissey

Head Start Mentoring Gets Boost from Mentoring Faculty Member

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

One of our faculty members for the Head Start Mentoring Clinic sent in this e-mail this morning and a new video to encourage those of you who might not have considered this opportunity. Here is what she says in her own words:

I created this new video for the Mount Hermon Head Start Mentoring program that falls right before the conference April 1—3.

First off: No, I’m not going to make a career out of writing conference promotional videos!

But, I am really passionate about this mentoring program, offered right before the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. If you know of beginning to intermediate writers who would benefit from some one-to-one and group mentoring prior to the conference, consider steering them toward this clinic. It’s not often folks get to have a professional critique your work, help guide a career, and learn from other writers. This is a unique opportunity.

Check the Mount Hermon website for all conference information, forms and instructions you need to register. By the way, I’m one of the nonfiction mentors for Head Start, so if you’re writing nonfiction, there’s a good chance we might get to work together!

Mary DeMuth

YouTube Video of past Writers Conference

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

This is a wonderful video taken in 2007 by a writer who attended Mount Hermon Writers Conference.  It has such a joyful feel to it and will give you a very clear picture of the beauty of Mount Hermon’s campus, as well as the fun and learning that’s available for participants. 

Mount Hermon Blog Beginning for Writers

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

We’ve coming of age!  Mount Hermon is now “blogging” with everyone else out there.  Intentional information for writers, available writers resources, testimonials from published authors who got their start at Mount Hermon Writers Conferences in the past, and a myriad of other articles by and for writers will be posted here from this point on.  We’ll be posting several times a week . . . hopefully you’ll subscribe to our blog and we’ll become a regular part of your blog reading, an encouragement to your call to write, and a viable resource for you.  We welcome your comments to this new venue.

Our April 3-7, 2009 Writers Conference Children’s Writing Track Instructor (WOW, that was a mouthful!), Mona Hodgson, sent me a wonderful testimonial today and I wanted to share it with you . . .

“I can’t say that I had a dream to write.  It felt more like a nudge . . . even a nagging.  Be that as it may, I felt compelled to explore the possibilities.  That’s what took me to my very first writers’ conference–Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference in April, 1988.  I’ve been a loyal fan ever since.  Little did I know, as I took those first shakey steps, how crucial that conference would turn out to be for my 21 years (and still counting) writing career and ministry.”   

Mona’s website

I’ll soon be putting up links to many of our 2009 faculty members blogs, so keep coming back to see us!

A story of God’s perfect planning at Redwood Camp

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry.

I do not believe in coincidences.

When I was nine years old, I attended Redwood Camp for the first time. My parents were going through an extremely messy divorce. To help me escape and relax through this troubled time, my mom sent me to camp, where I bonded with an empathetic counselor, someone who patiently listened to the fears and challenges my friends at home could not always appreciate. This solace brought me back to Redwood year after year.

When I was too old to attend as a camper, I began volunteering in the Redwood Camp kitchen. And finally, during college, I returned as a counselor. Within my first week of counseling, I found myself sitting on a familiar bench one night beneath the stars, cradling a nine-year-old camper who wept over a broken relationship with her father. This experience repeated itself several times throughout the summer. It seemed my cabin was a magnet for such kids. My painful past, which at one time had been a source of shame, was transformed into a beautiful account of survival that I could use to encourage campers going through similar experiences. Was this a coincidence?

During and after my college years at UCLA, God provided me unique opportunities abroad. Not only did I get to study in France – I also got to spend some time working on a hospital ship in the African country of Liberia. Returning to Redwood Camp for the summers, I was able to minister to several French-speaking campers as well as to a Liberian refugee who had come to Redwood as a camper. I missed Africa dearly that summer, and this girl’s mannerisms, accent and smile eased my spirit. We ate fried plantains (a common Liberian snack) on corndog day, and I loaned her one of my vibrant pieces of Liberian clothing so we could dress alike for twin day. Of all the summers in the 100 years of Redwood’s existence, Vivian came the very summer after I returned from Liberia. Coincidence?

I do not believe in coincidences, because I believe God ordains that people will cross paths at specific places and times, plans for a heartache in one person to stir hope in another, and uses small children to teach adults. Although my time at Redwood has ended, the summers I spent there remind me to look for purpose in encounters and to expect meaning in every situation.

A note from a church pastor about Ponderosa Lodge

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry.

We appreciate all the work and effort you put into accommodating our church group into the community that you have created at Ponderosa. We know that we benefited from all the sowing you did before we arrived.

Our youth who attended camp at Ponderosa can’t stop testifying to the amazing time they had there. They have captivated their friends at Sunday school. We just sit and listen, and our hearts are overflowing.

One of our students has given a mini-sermon to her peers to “hunger and thirst for God, because He hungers and thirsts for you too!” Another student said that he especially enjoyed getting to know the guys in the surrounding cabins. That’s just a snippet.

Thanks again for including us. You guys are doing a great work!

— From a church pastor, via e-mail

A letter from a Redwood Camp students parent

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry.

Dear Redwood Camp Staff,
Twelve-year-old Nicoli was greatly encouraged by camp and especially by  his counselor. He was even in tears over the great experience! He said camp was “awesome.”   He has continued to ask his mom about going to “Pondy” next summer.  He told her, “Mom, I’m going to church every week because I believe in Jesus.”  He hopes to attend Boys’ Brigade at church each week too!  
Thank you for your love for Nicoli at camp.  He is the only believer in his Russian family. Your continued prayers are so important.
We see Jesus continuing the good work He has started in Nicoli, and we are blessed.

Larry and Martha

Testimony From a Military Family

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry.

We received this report from a military family attending one of Mount Hermon’s Family Camps. Many donors and churches have made it possible for Mount Hermon to offer an ‘all expenses paid’ week of family camp to several military families. Here is this family’s grateful response:


L. and I are back at home now, and want to say how sincerely thankful we are for our week at Mount Hermon. It was a tremendous blessing to our family, as the Lord fed our souls as well as our bodies, and we bonded as a family. The week of family camp is precisely what I believe redeployers and their families need, in order to reconnect following our extended separation. Our current deployment cycles really place unbelievable strains on our military families. Although the military acknowledges this strain and does what it can to support deployed personnel and their families, they can’t do it alone. I really appreciate all that Mount Hermon is doing to facilitate that.

The staff there at Mount Hermon were excellent. No matter where they worked – the Fountain, Dining Hall or Book Shop – they were all very friendly and eager to serve. Your Day Camp staff stole the hearts of my two younger kids, and even my 14 year-old made positive comments about those leading in the HS group (it’s hard to get him to comment at all at times!).

The scholarship was a tremendous blessing to us, Dave. L. commented that when we get “free” offers, usually that means we get the “economy” version of whatever’s offered. Not so at Mount Hermon! The accommodations were excellent! We were overwhelmed with gratefulness!

If we could write a personal, handwritten note to those who contributed on behalf of military families, we’d do it. They have given sacrificially to support the families of our men and women in service to our country, and should know what a blessing they are to us. I know they don’t give to be thanked (we don’t serve our country SO THAT we get thanked, either), but they are priceless.

Thanks again, brother!

In Him,


God at work at Ponderosa Lodge – Week 3

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry.

Testimonies compiled by Scotty Gullick


A fifth-year “super senior” camper at Ponderosa Lodge, Stacy shared during the regular Friday night sharing time about how God met her during her week of camp. In tears she recalled her years here, and described Ponderosa as a “true home.”

Coming from Japan for a week at Ponderosa Lodge, Mia loved sharing a cabin with students she could relate with, who understood her hurts (some even spoke her same language). During camp, Mia realized Jesus wants “all of me; that God doesn’t want me to go home unchanged,” and she surrendered her life to God.

Steven lost his mom to cancer two years ago and stopped going to church because he was mad at God. Wanting to be strong for his family, he hadn’t yet cried about it. But the tears came during Thursday night’s worship, as he was convinced of the presence of God. Steven is now back in his church, pursing his relationship with the Lord.”

At Ponderosa Lodge, Alissa sought out and really grasped what a relationship with Jesus means, and gratefully gave her life to Christ. Talking with Brooke, her counselor, Alissa realized that back at home she’d have no help to grow, and asked Brooke to purposely check in with her!

Youth Groups:

Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church
Walnut Creek Pres. youth leaders Brendan, Risa and Brian block-registered their students and joined them in cabins for the first time for a Ponderosa Lodge week. Giving camp a shot, Brendan, the Sr. High pastor, was surprised at “how well Pondy did summer camp!” His time with his students has encouraged Brendan to sign up even more next summer. Brian, their summer intern, said being at camp with his guys built strong relational foundations for reaching out to them the rest of the summer.

Santa Rosa Bible Church
Doug and Sandy Cavalier came as youth pastors for Ponderosa Lodge’s week three. They both had good times with their students, and Sandy had nine girls in her cabin! Many of the girls didn’t know each other well before the week, and Pondy was a great place to see the smaller groups bond into a larger church community.

Review of the Martin Fire in Bonny Doon

Posted by & filed under General.

Dear Mount Hermon Family,

Many of you have been following the Martin Fire (named for the road near where the fire originated) that was burning near Bonny Doon, six miles NW of Mount Hermon.  By tonight, June 16, it will be 100% contained.  Few homes in the area were burned, and no injuries were reported. We are profoundly grateful that the fire did not threaten us, as the winds blew it away from us and down a sparsely populated slope.  This was a mercy. 

Mercy is a mark of God’s character, a mark we as His people are to emulate and extend.  Last week we had the immeasurable blessing of showing this mercy to those putting themselves in harm’s way in fighting the Martin fire.

68 firefighters (65 men and 3 women) and 15 engines stayed here at Mount Hermon for a respite from the fire battle.  Coming from as far away as San Bernardino and San Francisco, they stayed from Thursday evening to Friday morning, and were back on the fire line by 6:00 am.

They loved Mount Hermon!  From their lodging (Pine and Fir), they had a sweet view of the Family Camp dry run for our opening program.  You could tell they were totally relaxed and in awe of Mount Hermon.  What fun!

These firefighters were very glad for the accommodations, that they didn’t have to sleep on the dirt!  Their budget even allowed them to pay a very reasonable price, and Cal Fire was grateful.

We had over 20 more with us Friday to Saturday, requiring our Housekeeping to come in early and turnover 20 rooms! In a three hour window our staff went from knowing nothing about this to clearing the parking lot for all the fire trucks, opening up the rooms, coordinating the housing, communicating with four different strike team leaders, throwing some extra food on the BBQs, and taking care of their payments.

From Registration, to Custodial, to Food Service, to Housekeeping, to Conference Services, to Program teams, it was an awesome display of the unity, servant hearts, and professionalism of our staff.  All of this in the midst of a very busy staff training and Family Camp prep week.  They are amazing! 

Bill Fernald,
Director of Guest Services

Summer Staff Begin Arriving for 2008

Posted by & filed under General.

It’s amazing how quickly summer seems to get here when you’re busy hiring nearly 200 staff!  Before you know it, they’ve already begun arriving to set up program details and complete the required training for their specialized positions before conference guests arrive.

Our summer staff is busy preparing Bible Studies that they will be teaching your children, setting up the Ropes Courses for our afternoon free-time, and working on all the other aspects that make your Mount Hermon experience unique!

Volunteering at Mount Hermon

Posted by & filed under Volunteer.

For those of you who have a heart to serve, we will be happy to host you
one day or several as you become a volunteer for “the King” here at
Mount Hermon.

If you as an individual or a group are interested
in volunteering your time and services, please contact Maribel Boyd,
831-430-1201 or by email at volunteer@mounthermon.org

Donated Van Meets Critical Need

Posted by & filed under Giving.

In early June, just before the busy summer season, one of Mount Hermon’s mini-vans was involved in an accident. Thankfully no one was injured in the collision, but the van was totaled. Losing one of our much needed vehicles could not have happened at a worse time.

Two days later a friend of Mount Hermon contacted us. They were in the process of getting a new car and expressed a desire to donate the mini-van they no longer needed. This vehicle was exactly what we needed and only had 40,000 miles! It could not have come at a better time. Praise the Lord! Friends of Mount Hermon provide us with volunteer help, financial support, and gifts—such as a mini-van—that enable ministry to continue.

Mount Hermon Launches Project R.E.P.A.I.R.

Posted by & filed under Building Projects.

Reaching Every Person Amid Infrastructure Restoration

Mount Hermon is a place where God speaks into the hearts and lives of people of all ages from all walks of life. As stewards of the Gospel, Mount Hermon is passionate about creating safe and secure arenas where God can transform lives as people personally encounter Jesus. In June Mount Hermon launched Project R.E.P.A.I.R., as a means of tending to current infrastructure needs without interrupting our quality ministry experiences.