Summer Staff Testimony: Justin Whelpley

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

  

Hi my name is Justin Whelpley and this summer I had the amazing privilege of working at Mount Hermon Kidder Creek as a Timberline Counselor/River Guide.

This summer was by far the best I have had in years. With the many adventures I embarked on with my campers and staff and just how God was able to show himself to me every single day and week was phenomenal. It was truly something special and it was every prayer I had for this summer answered and then some.

Now this summer wasn’t always perfect. Like any summer position you feel drained and feel like you are not doing enough. You sometimes feel and begin to question your purpose at camp and why you are in the position in you are in. I remember I found myself in these shoes towards the middle end of summer. It was a classic week at Kidder, meaning we had younger kids in our cabins ranging from 9-11. So as you can imagine it is a lot of work tangling 8 kids on your own who all come from different places and have an extreme amount of energy. You gotta be on your A game on those weeks. Now it was about on a Wednesday on this week and I had just about it with my kids. They refused to listen to me and I was always having to tell them to come back to me or to listen up or there will be consequences, Usually resulting  in limited pond time. However they ended up listening and getting the lost time back. However I was just exhausted and I personally felt as if I was not teaching them anything about God or that they even liked me. I was just so negative and very hard on myself and I remember asking God: Why me? Why am I here this summer and am I even fit for this position?

So on this Wednesday during my one hour break I went into the staff house where we hang out, eat, etc. I decided to check my mail box and see if I got mail, in my mind I had doubts of receiving anything but still it wouldn’t hurt. So as I looked I had three letters and they were from previous campers I had that summer earlier in the weeks. Shocked I opened up the letters and they were filled with encouragement and words of gratitude. They wrote about how first amazing Kidder was and how much it was missed and also how I was a great counselor and taught them so much that they wanted to come back in the summer of 2018. These letters changed my entire view of myself but not only that God was showing me that I am at Kidder for a reason and that I am doing a great job and he has me there because he wants me to be there. It was the most humbling experience but also the most meaningful all summer because everyday from then on I knew no matter what I did or said was because God placed me at Kidder in that position for a reason.

That moment this summer taught me that when you are at camp or anywhere just remember God has blessed you to be there so be present in those moments and do not doubt what you are doing or saying because regardless God is at work. I will always carry that moment with me forever.

Summer Staff 2018 Positions


Summer Staff Testimony: Abi Auer

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

JOY. That is what God showed me this summer at Mount Hermon’s Kidder Creek.

I grew up in the church and knew who God was but nothing compared to how I know him now. Kidder brought me close to God in ways I didn’t even know were possible! Getting to connect with campers and other staff members and have real meaningful conversations about life and how we see God moving is something I had always craved but never knew.

Through those conversations and prayers, I soon realized camp ministry was something I wanted to pursue. The only thing standing in my way was the fact that I was already going to school and studying something else. With the help and prayer from mentors and friends at camp I decided to take some time off of school and move out to Bend Oregon where I am now a part of an amazing church and work community. God is even opening doors for me to go study outdoor leadership at a school in Colorado. So who knows, maybe my adventure will continue!

I left something so normal and comfortable back at home and my old school. It hasn’t been the easiest transition but knowing that God is with me everywhere I go makes anything worth it! I have given my life to him and I cannot wait to see where he takes me!

Summer Staff 2018 Positions


Summer Staff Testimony: Sydney Sheppard

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

Week 7 at Redwood Camp this last summer, I had my first cabin of 6th graders.

I was excited to see how the Lord would work through them since they were at a more mature age than the 4th graders that I normally had. I couldn’t wait to have my one-on-ones and hear more in depth about their lives and their relationships with Jesus.

I had one camper named Alexa, and she was so smart and mature for only being 11 years old. During our one-on-one, she told me about how her and her family had been searching for a new church for the past few years, and because they didn’t have a home church, it caused her to fall away from the Lord. She told me that during this week at camp, she wanted to work her way back to God’s side. She asked me countless questions about what it meant and what it looked like to follow Jesus, and how to pray to Him. She told me that she loved Huddles (our cabin Bible study time), and that they just got better and better each day. Hearing her say that lifted my spirits, because I knew God was at work inside of her.

On Friday night, the last night of camp, we have something called Luminaria, where we all worship together, and then break out into our cabins across the meadow with just a candle in a jar in the middle of our circle. Alexa and a few of my other girls were crying. I could tell it was a good cry, but I wanted to hear from them what this night and week meant to them, so I asked them. Alexa couldn’t stop smiling through the midst of her tears as she explained how God had truly revealed Himself to her throughout the week. She said again how she came to camp to get closer to the Lord, and said how that happened. [She] and my other girls couldn’t stop smiling and crying and saying how God blessed them with each other as friends, as well as showed them how much He loves them each that week.

Week 7 was a special week to me. The Lord clearly showed me that He was at work in my campers this summer. Sometimes it’s can be hard to truly know how much of an impact you had on them, but this week, God reminded me that I was doing His work and that there was an impact being made. The day after they left, the mother of another girl in my cabin, Colette, contacted me to tell me how much of an impact the week of Redwood Camp had on her daughter. While God worked through these sweet girls, He also was reminding me that He was working through me to help lead them to Him, and that it was in fact working.

Summer Staff 2018 Positions


“I Don’t Know Much About Jesus”

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

In 2014, Mount Hermon had a unique opportunity to partner with Camp Hope. Camp Hope’s core is to minister and love on kids who are victims and witnesses to domestic violence. “Partnering” with Camp Hope is the key word here. Did you know that Mount Hermon writes the curriculum that Camp Hope uses for their nationwide camps? When Camp Hope comes to Kidder Creek, did you know that it is our staff that leads the cabins and their small group discussions? This partnership is more than a group renting out a facility. This is a true partnership with the goal of seeing Lives Transformed. This summer we were witness to just one of the fruits of this partnership.

Hector came to Kidder Creek with Camp Hope – San Diego. Right before he left home, his mom said to him, “Just because you go to this camp doesn’t mean you are going to change, you are just like us, and you will never amount to anything.”

Indeed, Hector had an amazing week at camp and became upset and teary as the buses were loading to go back to San Diego. Casey Gwinn (Founder of Camp Hope America and son of former Mount Hermon Executive Director, Bill Gwinn) saw Hector’s reaction and approached him.

“I don’t want to go home,” cried Hector. “I want to live here. I want to work here.”

“Hector, what do you believe about God?”

“I believe in God.”

“What do you believe about Jesus?”

“I don’t know much about Jesus.”

“Would you like to go to a wilderness camp this summer where you can learn more about Jesus?”

“YES!”

In Mount Hermon’s partnership with Camp Hope, our counselors get to “be” Jesus to kids whose world doesn’t contain unconditional love, peace, or hope. Once trust is carefully built, we invite them back to a Kidder Creek experience where we can dive even deeper exploring the love of the Father for His children, regardless of how bad or good they are, whether or not they think they are worthy of love, or regardless of their home life.

Hector got it.

“This week I learned that Jesus is good. I asked Him into my life to keep me going on the right path. He loves me the way I am.”

Hector’s experience gave him an eternal hope that cannot be taken away from him no matter what. He learned that God loves him for who he is. Hector plans to return to camp each year and hopes to one day be on staff at Kidder Creek. He can’t wait to help spread the Hope that he now has with others.


encouragement is optimism in action

Say Something Nice

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Large writers’ conferences can be encouraging and discouraging at the same time. For some writers, disappointment comes during a much-anticipated appointment or not getting the most desired appointment or a manuscript critique. Keynote speaker, Liz Curtis Higgs, gives us advice to encourage others from her book It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba.

It’s Good to Encourage Others

When I’m asked, “What do you like to do for fun?” my standard answer is read long novels, travel to new places, and watch old movies. But my favorite thing to do is encourage people. Just the best.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3 (and free).

  1. Keep an eye out for people who need a little boost (we all do).
  2. Ask the Lord for the right thing to say that will lift their spirits.
  3. Share that encouraging thought for His glory and their pleasure.

Ta-da!

So simple, yet what a profound difference a few kind words can make.

  • For a young mother who’s fretful about her energetic kids giggling and wriggling in their seats at church, in a restaurant, at the movies:
    “Your children are so happy. You must be a terrific mom!”
  • For a woman whose downcast expression says she’s having a hard day at work:
    In case no one has mentioned this, you’re doing a great job.”
  • For a teenager who has that “I’m so ugly” look on her face:
    “Cute top! And the color matches your eyes perfectly.”

Look, this isn’t rocket science. Just say something nice. It costs nothing, yet might be worth everything to the other person, whether friend or stranger.

Check out the queen of Sheba—a true encourager in action.

How happy your people must be!
How happy your officials,
who continually stand before you
and hear your wisdom!
1 Kings 10:8

Love all the exclamation points! This is one enthusiastic woman here. “O the happiness of thy men” (YLT) and “How blessed are your staff!” (ISV).

She could have praised Solomon directly, privately. By praising him and his followers openly, she made lots of people happy, rather than just one. Smart.

For two months or more, Sheba had listened to Solomon’s powerful, God-soaked wisdom. We’re seeing the fruit of it in this verse: honest praise, genuine encouragement.

The Lord calls, equips, and empowers us to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Though it might be easier to say nothing, how much better to say something. To get our focus off ourselves and on others. To look for ways to lift up rather than tear down. To whisper words from God and bring refreshment to a parched soul.

I see you, nodding your head. You get this. You do this. God bless you for sharing your gift!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for pouring out words of encouragement through Your children to bless others. Help us never hold back, worrying about what people will think or how they’ll react. Give us the courage to take the risk and speak up. May it never be about making us look good, but about making Your goodness shine in a world full of darkness and discouragement. Remind us everywhere we go, everyone needs a word from You.

Liz Curtis Higgs

Keynote speaker Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of 37 books with 4.6 million copies in print, including her nonfiction bestsellers, Bad Girls of the Bible, The Girl’s Still Got It, and The Women of Christmas, and her Scottish historical novels, Here Burns My Candle and Mine Is the Night, a New York Times bestseller. Liz has also spoken at more than 1,700 Christian conferences in all 50 United States and 15 foreign countries. Follow her monthly Bible study at LizCurtisHiggs.com/blog.


A Lasting, Global Impact

Posted by & filed under General, Guest Groups, Stories of Ministry.

The relationships that build between organizations and Mount Hermon go beyond their event at Mount Hermon. The partnerships that develop are deep and extend over years.

Chinese Families for Christ has been coming for the last nine years bringing over 600 people each time. Their goal is to invite non-Christians to a camp that focuses on marriages and family relationships within the context of what it means to love how Jesus loves.

For the last ten years, California State Youth Conference brings over 450 African American youth from all over the state of California to train to be leaders within their churches.

The Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society (JEMS) has held their family camp at Mount Hermon for the last 68 years.

Shiloh Baptist Church from Sacramento has been holding their women’s retreat at Mount Hermon for the last 45 years.

Groups of all kinds come to Mount Hermon and then go back into their communities, their cities, and even their countries refreshed, renewed and restored. Over the last several years, Mount Hermon has been partnering with the division leadership of World Vision. World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization who is assisting over 70 million people each year in its quest to end poverty, fight hunger, and transform lives.  Tracy Steuve shared at an Associates In Ministry event this year about the impact Mount Hermon has globally.

“What better place to focus on your spiritual life than in this beautiful venue? Just look at those trees, they’re hundreds of years old. Some of my people come here, and they’re broken because they work in really difficult places. They work in places like Congo, and Sudan, and Somalia, and Indonesia where they suffered from the tsunami years ago. They work in very challenging environments, and they come broken, but they come here and then walk away restored. That is really important and special to me.

“I was recently in South Africa, and one of the women told me, ‘I remember Mount Hermon, when can I go back? My soul was filled in that place! When are we going to have some of our other programs there?’

“I want to encourage you that what you are supporting here is touching the lives of people who come here as guest groups; they are part of a global outreach you have. You might not even know the fact that we have people from India, Mongolia, Latin America, the U.S., Kenya, Sudan, and Myanmar. These people come here, and they take Mount Hermon in their hearts. They remember not just the training they received, but the essence of this place and the fact that God is moving here. So I thank you for that. You’re supporting something that touches lives around the world in ways that I can’t fully explain.”


Using Summer to Serve

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

Lives Transformed is not just limited to guests and campers who come to these sacred grounds. Staff, particularly summer staff, experience ten weeks of their lives being transformed from biblical teaching, serving long and selfless hours and being in a community unlike any other. We’ve heard countless stories that serving at Mount Hermon for a summer helps set faith journeys in stone and sets a life-long trajectory of relentlessly pursuing Jesus.

Is it a sacrifice to give ten weeks of a coveted college summer? You bet. Worth it? Victoria Whitcomb, a counselor at Ponderosa Lodge this summer thought so.

Victoria was a familiar face to the staff at Ponderosa Lodge. As a long time camper and Super Senior, she was in love with camp and had a deep desire to one day work at Mount Hermon.

As a student at Southern Methodist University in Texas, she knew that taking a summer to serve at Mount Hermon would require a financial sacrifice. However, that did not deter her from making a childhood dream come true.

“Last summer God was calling me to serve at the place that had been so influential for my faith. Responding to that call required some planning, but I am so glad God provided a way for me to counsel at Ponderosa.”

In the summer of 2016, Victoria took a corporate job for one purpose: make enough money to cover her financial responsibilities so that she could serve in the summer of 2017 at Mount Hermon.

 

“This summer I walked away with a more tangible experience of what it’s like to serve. As a counselor, you are constantly serving. Reliance on God is essential, and when you realize that He is the one doing all the work, it is so freeing. Using my summer to serve and lead campers one step closer to Jesus made this past summer the best summer of my life!”

This summer had been a long-time coming for her; that she had been preparing and anticipating serving in this place one day, and took steps far in advance to be available for it.

So Victoria, was it all worth it? “Absolutely. It was an unforgettable experience that I will truly cherish forever.”

Summer Staff 2018 Positions


dining hall

Attendee Learns from Informal Conversations

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

“I sensed that God was telling me to write a book. I thought it was a crazy idea. I didn’t have anything to say, or so I thought. In retrospect, I realized that I wrote the book before I knew anything about the craft of writing. I wondered why God didn’t tell me to learn how to write before he told me to write a book. Surely that would have been more logical,” Susan Barnes, 2017 conference attendee, says about her work in progress.

She continues, “However, one day when I was rewriting, I realized that if I was to write that book now, I wouldn’t have been able to write some things, with the same intensity as I felt back then because God has brought so much healing into my life.”

Susan flew from Australia to attend the conference. When asked if this was her first trip to the United States, she said that in 1994 she and her husband visited friends, who had accepted a call to a church in Texas. Then in 2010, they attended the Doing Church as a Team Conference in Hawaii.

“For the last six years, there has been a Christian Writers’ Conference. For several years I was the coordinator. It’s run by Omega Writers and is a two-day conference held annually in October. There were about 100 delegates at this year’s conference. So, as you can gather, it isn’t a big conference and doesn’t have the depth and breadth of information that is available at a U.S. conference.”

In addition to those two trips, Susan attended the Glorietta Christian Writers’ Conference in New Mexico. “Australia is a big country with a small population (24 million). We only have eight major cities and some of those aren’t very major when you compare them to U.S. cities. Therefore, we cannot support a large publishing industry. Plus, Australia doesn’t have a strong Christian heritage. Rarely can you buy a Christian book anywhere apart from a Christian bookshop or online.

It was at Glorietta that Susan heard about the Mount Hermon Writers Conference. “It stayed in my mind because people kept telling me Mount Hermon was the best Christian Writers’ Conference in the US. It struck me as odd, why were they here if Mount Hermon was better?

“However, it planted the seed in my mind that I wanted to come. I had to wait eleven years. I had the opportunity this year when I unexpectedly inherited some money.”

Susan’s goal in coming to Mount Hermon was to find a publisher for her book. She has been writing devotions for twenty-five years. She tells us that she’s always enjoyed writing but didn’t have good grades for her essays in school. In 1988, her husband, Ross, was diagnosed with cancer and she needed a distraction. She began to take writing seriously and completed a couple of writing courses at the local community center.

A few years later, after his recovery, Ross went into pastoral ministry. One of the job requirements at their first church was to write a devotion for the church’s weekly newsletter. Ross told the leadership Susan was a better writer; he gave the job to her. She’s been writing devotions ever since.

“After some time, I sensed that God was telling me to write a book. As I said earlier, I thought it was a crazy idea. I didn’t have anything to say, or so I thought. I became aware that God wanted me to turn my devotions into a book, but not as a compilation,” Susan says.

She goes on, “I tend to write about particular themes in my devotions, such as God’s grace and his love. I felt God wanted me to write about these themes, using the ideas from my devotions. I wasn’t that excited.

“I told God, it was a crazy idea and how would I ever get it published anyway? Nevertheless, the idea wouldn’t go away. I wasn’t employed at the time and since I didn’t have much else to do, I wrote a book.”

Even though Susan has been to the United States before, she did have one fear about coming again. She tells, “One of my big fears about traveling to the conference was that I get lost easily. I tend to confuse my left and right. I’m the sort of person who can get lost in a shopping complex. For this reason, I planned to fly direct to the conference and back. However, my family persuaded me if I was going that far I should spend a few days sightseeing. So I flew to San Francisco five days prior to the conference.

“I managed to navigate my way around San Francisco fairly well until one day I caught the cable car to Lombard Street. Afterwards, my intention was to make my way back to the main shopping area. However, first I had to decide which direction I needed to go and then which side of the street to stand on to catch the cable car. In Australia, we drive on the left-hand side of the road. I crossed the intersection three times and ended up almost back where I started before I was confident I was in the right place!”

When asked about the highlight of her trip, Susan says, “The highlight of the conference and the trip was the opportunity to talk to publishers and editors informally over meals and at workshops. From these discussions, I learned a lot about what I need to do to get my work published.”

Get to know Susan at her website https://www.susanbarneswriter.com/

Do you want to have the opportunity to talk to publishers and editors informally over meals and around the conference grounds? Come to Mount Hermon Writers Conference. Register here.

And, don’t forget about the First-Timers Contest. Ten winners will receive a full scholarship. Deadline December 30, 2017.


Kidder Creek Year End Update

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

Kidder Creek programs are some of the most diverse programs in the camping world.

Campers have the opportunity to ride horseback in the wilderness, go whitewater rafting, climb the side of a mountain, and even go mountain biking! This year, we saw solid growth in the number of campers and guest groups at Kidder Creek. Being in the midst of God’s beautiful creation sets the stage for powerful conversations about how the same God that created all of this majesty took, even more, care and concern in creating each person.

387 Camp Hope Campers | 37 Kidder Creek Programmed Events530 Guest Group Campers2,193 Campers198 Campers Made a Faith Commitment

“Natasha got a lot more clarity on the gospel and what it means to be a Christian (even though she is in a church youth group.) When I got her from the bus, she was so excited! She had made so many friends and had such a good time. It truly does begin to reflect the body of Christ where there are no divisions of race and class. For someone with her background and home situation, camp is a confidence builder for her. It gives her experiences she would otherwise never have.”

1,240 Fall Festival Attendees | $5,043 Camperships Raised

“I had so, so, so much fun and got to try things I’ve never done before.  Every person I met at camp has made an impact on my thoughts, my personal life, my relationship with Jesus, and also the person I want to be. It’s definitely the best camp experience I have had so far and I’m going to miss the people just as much as the place.”

Learn More About Kidder Creek’s Year


Something New at the Writers Conference

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference has been a premiere conference for years. One of the reasons is the organizers constantly look for ways to meet the needs of the attendees. The 2018 conference is no different. The upcoming conference will introduce new Major Morning Tracks courses to help all writers.

Major Morning Tracks provide instructions and an opportunity to apply what is learned during the morning sessions. There’s an added bonus of working with an instructor and a published mentor. Here’s what’s new.

Career Growth Course

Whether you want to begin a career as a writer, blogger, editor, writing coach, or consultant, or take the next step toward that goal, you need to create a business strategy. This track is for you. Lead by Susy Flory and Laura Christianson.

Professional Writers Retreat Course

This session is designed for multi-published authors who understand the field of book publishing and realize the value of continued learning, encouragement, spiritual refreshment, and connecting with other professional writers. Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young lead this track. (See this page for criteria.)

Weekend Teen Course

Scheduled to run from Friday evening through Sunday, this track is for teens who are starting out or have been at it a while. The sessions will cover fiction basics like point of view, showing vs. telling, and plot structure. There will be brainstorming sessions to create plots, characters, and story worlds. This track is led by Jill Williamson, Shannon Dittemore, and Paul Regnier.

Of course, non-fiction, fiction, the spiritual life of a writer, editing, and memoir courses will be back.

In addition to the Major Morning Tracks, attendees can also choose Morning Mentoring Clinics or use the morning hours for a personal writing retreat.

Register today for the Mount Hermon Writers Conference.

The First-timers Contest is still open.


First-Timers Contest Open

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Susan K. Stewart

I pulled my suitcase from the carousel, turned, and looked for the sign to direct me to the shuttle. I may have looked like any other traveler. Or maybe I didn’t. I’m sure what I felt inside showed on my face. “I’m almost there!” A forty-five-minute drive is all that was left.

As others chatted in the van, I watched as the city started to give way to the lush hills. Soon the van left the freeway to start a curvy two-lane road up the California coastal mountains. Trees became the predominant scenery. I began to recognize landmarks along the way. As the van topped the summit, I was awed to see the restaurant we used to stop at when I was a child traveling the same route to Santa Cruz.

Finally, the turn to the conference center. Not far now. I made it. I finally made it.

Attending writers’ conferences is an annual event, sometimes twice a year, a local conference and a regional one. But THE conference for me was always Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. I stepped off the van, looked around. I’m here! My brain shouted.

Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference had long been a dream. Let’s face it, though. It is a pricey conference. I knew when God’s time was right, he would provide what was needed for me to attend. And he did. (Why are we often surprised when God does great things for us?)

If like me, you have prayed for the opportunity to attend this premiere conference, then the Mount Hermon First-Timers Contest may be it.

Ten winners will receive a full scholarship, including economy lodging and meals. The contest is open to unpublished and published writers who have never attended. There is no fee to enter. The deadline is December 30, 2017.

The entry can be an article, blog post, fiction or non-fiction book manuscript, or poetry. The piece does not need to be overtly Christian but must have a Judeo-Christian worldview. Complete entry submission details are at the Mount Hermon Christian Conference website, click here.

God wants to do great things for us. For many writers, a major conference, such as Mount Hermon may be that great thing. Prayerful consider entering the First-Timers Contest and you too can enjoy the excitement of that trip up the mountain.

Susan StewartWhen she’s not tending chickens, peacocks, and donkeys, Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Susan’s passion is to inspire readers with practical, real-world solutions. Her books include Science in the Kitchen and Preschool: At What Cost? plus the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers. You can learn more at her website www.practicalinspirations.com.


Christy Awards Gala Upcoming

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Upon hearing the news that her short novel Restoring Christmas is a 2017 Christy award finalist, Cynthia Ruchti raised her face to the sky, clasped her hands to her heart, and said, “I can explain hard work. I can explain that God gives the gift of storytelling. But I cannot…ever…explain the outrageous favor of God.”

Restoring Christmas is Cynthia’s second Christy finalist. Last year her novel As Waters Gone By was also a finalist.

Established in 1999, the Christy Awards have come to represent the best aspirations and accomplishments of authors who write from a perspective of faith. The award was named in honor of Catherine Marshall’s novel, Christy, published in 1967.

Christy has sold more than ten million copies since its first publication, earning the rank of national best seller in August 1968, a rare feat for a Christian novel.

Independent publisher Joanne Bischof was walking on her treadmill when she received the news that her novel, The Lady and The Lionheart, is a Christy finalist this year. She says “[I was] trying to shut it down and get off all at the same time as the news was being relayed to me so it took me a few moments for my brain to engage with what was happening!” Two previous books of Joanne’s were also finalists.

When asked about the Christy Awards and nomination, Cynthia Ruchti said, “It’s been an honor to have books recognized by industry awards. From the first one, I have placed my Bible over the physical award and prayed, ‘Jesus, help me always see this through Your Word.’ I have a Christy finalist medal from last year for As Waters Gone By. This year’s honor is at least as humbling. Maybe even more so. The legacy of the Christy Award program has had me applauding for other authors and publishers for years. I’m still applauding, including for the quality judges who invest their time and diligence in finding meaning in the pages.”

Both authors say it’s the story that matters. Joanne advises, “Write the best book you can.” Cynthia tell us, “A great story is not a writer’s solo effort. It is communication among the author, the characters, the reader, and the God of story, the Author of our faith.”

Joanne offers this advice to independently published authors: “Study the craft, read good fiction, and develop a writing style that is true to your heart and one that readers can engage with. Hone your marketing skills, put careful thought into a strong cover and polished product, learn who your audience is, and connect with them on a true and authentic level. Beyond that, I suggest trusting the process and embracing the unique role that books, and authors, serve in the Christian fiction market.”

Both authors remind us that it’s the grace and provision of God that allows them to write these award-nominated novels. “No matter where you land (and believe me, I have been rock bottom before with many, many rejections),” Joanne commented, “hold on to the hope that God doesn’t make mistakes, and the refining process is only going to equip you to be a better storyteller and a more tenderhearted author for your readers.”

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) acquired the Christy Awards in 2016. The program gives awards in nine categories plus naming one novel “Book of the Year.” Members of ECPA see value in this prestigious Christian fiction recognition program. The ECPA board and Christy Award advisory board have an aggressive plan to bring out the best of Christian fiction.

The award announcements will be made at The Art of Writing Conference  and Christy Award Celebration Gala on November 8 in Nashville. Registration for both events is open until November 8. Register for either event separately, or both for just $99.


Seven Months and Counting

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Only seven months. That’s right. Only seven months until 2018 Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. We’re busy getting ready for you.

The main conference will be March 23 through 27, 2018 with the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic, March 21 to 23.

Liz Curtis HiggsLiz Curtis Higgs is scheduled to be the keynote speaker. Liz is the author of thirty-six books with 4.6 million copies in print, including her nonfiction best sellers, Bad Girls of the Bible, The Girl’s Still Got It, and The Women of Easter, and her Scottish historical novels, Here Burns My Candle and Mine Is the Night. She has spoken for Women of Faith, Women of Joy, Extraordinary Women, and 1,700 other women’s conferences in all fifty United States and fifteen foreign countries, including South Africa, Thailand, and Indonesia. Her messages are biblical, encouraging, down-to-earth, and profoundly funny. She has one goal: to help Christians embrace the grace of God with joy and abandon.

In addition to workshops, night owl sessions, and editor and agent appointments, the Morning Mentoring Clinics and Manuscript Review will be available again.

Registration is now open. It only takes a small deposit to reserve your spot.

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We look forward to welcoming in 2018 to the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference.

Register Today


Meet the Newest Members of Our Year Round Kidder Creek Camp Team

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

Danna Ayers

What an amazing opportunity I’ve been given to work at Kidder Creek Camp! I was born and raised in Siskiyou County and our boys went to day camp at Kidder Creek. I’ve been married to Bob Ayers for 30 years and we have two adult boys, Chris & Caleb. The last 13 years I have studied Natural Horsemanship in addition to working 10 years at Jackson Street Middle school in Yreka. Now I will use my love for Jesus, kids and horses at Kidder Creek Camp. Somebody pinch me – I finally found my dream job!

 

Danielle Smith

Born in the bay area and raised in Tracy, I started my family in the Redding area. My work history includes everything from being a server to a stockbroker. I have learned demanding skills as well as life lessons along the way. I am excited to be the new office manager at Kidder Creek.

Keith is a wonderful father to my five children. Alexis 16, Joey 13, Trenten 12, Devin 10 and Elijah 8. They definitely keep me looking to the Lord for answers. We moved to Scott Valley, because we wanted to be closer to his family. While in Redding, we were a part of a large church community. With the move, we are looking forward to a smaller church family and home at Kidder Creek.

We have such an amazing team of people that serve year round preparing for camp and then overseeing our amazing summer staff during the summer! Welcome to the team, Danna and Danielle!

Summer Events at Kidder Creek


News from Santa Cruz

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

 One of the most fun things about the summer season is listening to all of the stories of how God is transforming lives through the ministries of Mount Hermon. Here are just a couple of stories of how God is at work in Santa Cruz:

“Mount Hermon is amazing. It’s a place where my family can come and be refreshed
and renewed.”

“Mount Hermon just strips away the distractions of the world, and I can really focus on who God is.”

“I really feel God’s presence here especially when we were singing and praying. Made me really happy. I smiled a couple times.”

God is at work!

Summer Events in Santa Cruz



Illuminate the Darkness

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

For a handful of years I taught Outdoor Education at Mount Hermon in Santa Cruz.  We would hike kids around outside, and stop to learn about nature.  The great thing about using an outdoor setting to teach is that it readily lends itself to turning those nature lessons into life lessons.  Jesus understood this: seeds on different soils was really about the condition of our hearts.

As part of our week with students, we would do a night hike.  The redwood forest is shaded and dark during the day due to the thick canopy, but at night, it is near pitch black.  For many students that came to us from larger cities, this was usually the deepest dark they have ever seen.  That plus being in the woods often made these hikes an exercise in trust (in me) and perseverance.

At one point in our night hike I would gather the kids into a circle and stand in the middle.  Then I would light a small candle and hold it above my head.  Every time (and still to this day) it would blow my mind just how much light that little candle would emit.  That tiny flame, barely an inch high, would cast a net of light 40 ft across!  After a half an hour of stumbling through the dark, you could feel the warmth and comfort that little light brought to our circle.

This summer at Kidder Creek we will be looking at the power of Jesus working through us to “Illuminate” the darkness around us.  The light of Jesus changes everything in our own lives, in our communities and in our world!

Summer Events at Kidder Creek


Lives Transformed– From Camper to Summer Staff

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

We are so excited to have many summer staff this year who started out as campers.

These staff share a common purpose in being on staff, they want to be a part of the place that played such a significant role in their lives and in their spiritual journey.  Their lives were transformed here at Kidder Creek as they took little and sometimes big steps towards Jesus each summer.  Here are some
of their answers to some questions we asked them about their time at Kidder Creek.

What is your favorite memory from when you were a camper?

  • Meeting my best friend Claire.
  • I can’t pick one favorite memory; I just loved that I could be free and myself at Mount Hermon.
  • Witnessing God’s handiwork flow through me and the other campers during our week in the wilderness.

What is one step that you took toward Jesus in your time at camp?

  • Regardless of my actions, God Always forgives.
  • I accepted Jesus in my second summer at Redwood Camp.
  • I was never able to attend church, coming to Kidder was my church.  The community and lessons brought me closer to Jesus.

Why did you want to be on KC staff
this summer?

  • Kidder felt like home last summer!
  • To be a part of the culture and presence that God has created here.
  • I knew since I was little that I wanted to work here one day.  Having fun with the kindest people in the most beautiful place, who wouldn’t want to work here?

What are your hopes for this summer while you are on staff?

  • I hope I can make the same impact on my campers as my past counselors did on me.
  • To take many steps closer to Jesus as I minister to children.
  • To become more confident in my identity in Jesus and to be humbly bold, while serving the other staff and campers.

We have an incredible summer staff from all over the country, from Minnesota, Texas, Vermont and all up and down the west coast.  One thing is true for all of them: they are excited to be hanging out with kids, getting to know them, sharing adventures in God’s creation and modeling God’s love through their words and actions as they get to serve campers and see them become more like Jesus. 

Summer Events at Kidder Creek


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.


David Talbott 40 Years

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

How do you measure the impact of 40 years of ministry? You could count Hymn Sings, piano and organ concerts, conferences and retreats, or any number of other activities that Dave has spear-headed in his time at Mount Hermon.

For me, I measure it in lunch dates, Thursday morning breakfasts, weddings, and constant laughter in the hallway. I have had the privilege of knowing Dave for seven years (which compared to many makes me a new-comer)! When I became an intern in 2010, it didn’t take long for Dave to find me. I quickly learned that while he is a virtuoso pianist and experienced programmer, his real passion
is relationships.

For years, Dave’s “unofficial” role at Mount Hermon has been to mentor the young men on staff, and over the last seven years I have seen him invest in and mentor countless interns, summer staff, and full-time staff.

Within the first few weeks of becoming interns at Mount Hermon, Dave invited a group of us to a regular Thursday morning breakfast at his house. Imagine five recent college grads dragging themselves out of bed at 6:15am and stumbling over to the Talbott residence. Each week as we entered his house in a sleepy, zombie-like trance, we were greeted by Dave, who had awoken far earlier than any of us had, and prepared a delicious spread for us to enjoy. I will never forget those mornings filled with great food and great company, real life and sage advice, and above all: deep and lasting friendships.

Since that time Dave and Carla have been staples in my life and in the lives of my friends. Over the years, I have seen Dave officiate the weddings of three of my closest friends, the fruit of an investment of time and energy that takes great intentionality. Carla even helped throw the bridal shower for my fiancé last month! I will never forget the many memories of time spent together sharing some of life’s most precious moments.

I will also never forget the morning this spring when Dave told all of us on the Advancement Team that this summer would be his last, and that he would be retiring in September. We all wept together, and I’m crying now remembering that moment. It was a time of mixed emotion: sadness that I won’t see him in the office every day, excitement that he and Carla will have more time for family and travel, but mostly gratitude for the impact this man has had on me, my friends, dozens of staff members, and thousands of guests over the last 40 years.

As I think about the legacy that I want to leave, I think of Dave. I think of selfless service, relentless pursuit, wisdom that comes from being really old, and a lifetime of working to build the Kingdom.

Dave, I love you, and I will miss seeing you every day. I am comforted to know that you will still be living around the corner, and I look forward to many more breakfasts in the years to come!

2017 Summer Concerts


Count On Us

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

I love a good story, especially a great Mount Hermon story!  So when I received this encouraging note from a young Family Camp couple, I knew I wanted to share it with you:

“I grew up coming to Mount Hermon. The weeks I spent at camp in my teen years were without question the most formative weeks of my life. As a child of a single parent, we could not afford camp without help. Each year, I was the recipient of a campership, and I am forever grateful to those who gave to make that experience possible. 

Now that I am in my 30s and married, I love being able to give back to Mount Hermon. After our church, Mount Hermon is our first giving priority. My wife and I met here, and year after year, we see the impact this ministry has on thousands of lives. How could we not give? We trust the leadership, and know that God uses our donations to transform lives, the same way that my life was transformed thanks to the generosity of other people more than 20 years ago.

Several years ago, I remember my pastor sharing how online monthly giving was a huge blessing for our church. Knowing there was a consistent stream of support coming in month after month was so helpful for the church to be able to plan and budget. We know the same is true for any ministry, especially Mount Hermon.

My wife and I want Mount Hermon to know they can count on us month after month. We want them to be able to make plans and extend camperships to families and kids in need knowing there is a steady stream of donations coming.  We know many people are touched at Mount Hermon and we want that to continue. We plan to keep giving every month for the rest of our lives!”

I love this story because they are absolutely right! Online monthly giving is a significant blessing to Mount Hermon. We are grateful for every single gift no matter the size, and are uniquely grateful for our supporters who faithfully give month after month to ensure that our year-round programs can continue to thrive!

THANK YOU to each and every one of you who currently give monthly through Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or your credit card! If you have never thought about giving monthly online, I encourage you to prayerfully consider doing so. Whether it is ten dollars a month or a thousand, every gift is a blessing that impacts lives and grows the Kingdom.

You can set up online giving at mounthermon.org/give or by calling Karen Crist at 831.430.1244

Give Today


Redwood Society The Gift

Posted by & filed under Giving, Kindling, Redwood Society, Stories of Ministry.

On February 2, long-time Mount Hermon friend Paul Stephan went to be with the Lord. A few weeks later, we received word from his daughter Debbie that her parents had remembered Mount Hermon in their estate plans. Here’s what Debbie told us:

“My mom, Betty, started coming to Mount Hermon at a very young age. My father, Paul, accepted Christ at the age of 32 at First Baptist Church…and that is where my parents met. While dating, they spent many evenings at Mount Hermon attending various events. It was at Mount Hermon that my dad told my mom for the very first time that he loved her.

After they were married, Mom & Dad became extremely involved with Overseas Crusades mission, and as a family we attended EVERY annual OC Conference at Mount Hermon until it ended in 1983. Wonderful memories!!

We also loved attending many summer Sunday morning worship services through the decades, along with Saturday evening summer concerts, and Christmas concerts/dinners at Mount Hermon.


Mount Hermon is so special to us all because Christ is at the very center. Our family has always been at complete rest at Mount Hermon. To us, it is a foretaste of Heaven!


Mount Hermon truly puts Christ at the very center, and I feel confident that my parents’ gift will be used to both glorify God and to spread the Gospel. If other families and children can have even just a taste of what I’ve had at Mount Hermon, then that puts a smile on my face!”

We are thankful for the legacy Paul and Betty have left at Mount Hermon. Their gift is enabling life-transforming ministry to continue today and tomorrow!

If you have questions about estate planning or would like to learn more about the Redwood Society, please contact J.R. Loofbourrow at 831.430.1244

Learn About Redwood Society


Looking Back

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

62 years of Redwood Camp, summer staff, Board of Directors, the last 13 years on Mount Hermon’s staff, this is a place where God is at work, a place at the core of my life in Christ.

Linda and I are grateful that the Lord orchestrated it in such a manner! Yet, all good things must come to a … change point. I am retiring from Mount Hermon the end of September, and Linda and I will be moving to Sonora. We will focus our next ten years on ministry to couples in ministry. Oh! And our grandsons!

Linda’s and my Mount Hermon story is not unusual, it’s what God does so powerfully in those called “apart with Him.” Our story is writ sweetly, both among the Mount Hermon family, and among those who’ve made this place a part of their family. Relationships forged in unity in Christ never fade. Linda and I will see many of you when we visit our “Mount Hermon Home.”

My Mount Hermon journey began in 1955 at Redwood Camp. My three siblings and I received a “week” each summer as a birthday gift, in the hope we would have an eternal “birth day.” We carried the gospel home from camp each year, and seeds of life were sown. It is directly attributable to those years at Redwood Camp that in 1966 our entire family came to Christ! Thank you for your camperships!

I’m eternally grateful to have worked with Roger Williams, such a mentor and friend. By God’s grace he asked me to join the Mount Hermon team, allowing Linda and me to serve alongside some dear friends. We travel on by God’s calling, but our hearts remain. Ours are truly lives transformed.

Learn About Camperships


Reporting Back Lakeside Project

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

Have you heard? The Lakeside 500s have been completely remodeled, and they are beautiful!

This spring Tommy Beadel, a long-time family camper, brought a crew of 50 construction workers to demo the rooms and completely remodel them! In seven short days they had done about 80% of the work, leaving a few final finishing touches to be completed in the weeks before the start of Family Camp.

But here’s the best part: the whole construction crew has been invited to come back to Mount Hermon in August for Hispanic Family Camp as guests of Mount Hermon! From the start, Tommy and his wife Brandy’s desire has been for their workers, along with their families, to experience Mount Hermon just like they have, with their kids. We can’t wait to host them next month and see God work.

We are already beginning to plan the future remodel of the Lakeside 600s and 700s! Tommy is excited to introduce even more of his workers to Mount Hermon.

Thank you to all of you who supported this project financially, we couldn’t have done it without you! Please pray for the guests who are staying in the Lakeside 500s this summer, along with the crew that will be coming back for Hispanic Family Camp.

Hear Tommy talking about the project below. Be sure to grab a tissue or two…or ten!

If you would like to be part of the Lakeside 600s and 700s project,
contact J.R. Loofbourrow at 831.430.1244

Learn How To Give Support


Making It Amazing

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

It Works … So keep it going!

Recently I asked the Lord for a “vision” for Mount Hermon, the ability to dream big for the future. But, to be honest, I’ve never had God hand me a five or ten year plan for a ministry I’ve led. Instead I’ve learned to stay one step behind the Lord and one step ahead of those I lead, a space where God has revealed to me His plan time-and-again.

So what is God presently showing me with regards to Mount Hermon’s future? His message, if I’ve heard Him correctly is simply to …

Take what Mount Hermon already does well and make it amazing! And why? Because it works.

For over a century Mount Hermon has provided a place where people’s lives are transformed by God from the inside out. What is unique to Mount Hermon is that God impacts all ages and stages at one time, and in one place.

Where else can you go where a 7, 17, 37, 57, and 77 year-old person can all be effectively reached by God?

This is what Mount Hermon does best. It works, and we should know this to be true:

Passing on a godly legacy matters to God.

When the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River into the Promised Land, the leaders were told to build a monument of stones. Why?

“When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” (Joshua 4:6–7)

In Psalm 78 it says, “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; …” (Psalm 78:5–7).

I am a product of parents who passed on a godly legacy to me and my siblings, and Mount Hermon is a big part of that story. When I was six years old we began coming to Mount Hermon as a family of five, and we’ve been coming most every summer since. My parents found a way to pass on a spiritual legacy in a fun environment that all ages would enjoy. Currently there are twenty-eight from the Romberger clan spanning four generations who arrive each summer…Legacy.

We live in a culture that desperately needs such legacies as they are becoming all too rare. Mount Hermon is in the legacy building business. When you pray for and give financially to Mount Hermon you are investing in spiritual legacies that matter for eternity. This is our core, and this is our vision.

It works, so let’s keep it going… and make it amazing!

Learn How To Give Support