Velocity Bike Park at Felton Meadow – A Look Back

Posted by & filed under Building Projects, Velocity.

It’s hard to believe but the dream for Velocity Bike Park began in 2011 when the County of Santa Cruz approached Mount Hermon to see if we were interested in purchasing the 15 acre Felton Meadow property.

Mount Hermon wasn’t looking to acquire any additional property, but we recognized the significance of this opportunity and how it would allow us to work even more closely with our community. The County of Santa Cruz helped us broker a deal with the previous owners, South County Housing, and we took possession in May of 2012. Shortly after taking possession we began a major clean-up and security effort on the property. We removed (figure of tons) tons of accumulated garbage and debris from the property and installed a perimeter fence to limit the amount of undesirable activity on the property. We also developed a pedestrian walkway to allow neighbors and residents to still access Zayante road and the Felton Faire Shopping Center. Working with CAL Fire and Felton Fire we also reduced the amount of “fuel” on the property and invasive species.

 

 

Along with improving the property we hosted a series of meetings with community members, neighbors and residents to begin planning property improvements. Through our conversations a set of guiding principles emerged that would guide our thought process:

  • • maintain greenspace on the property
  • • employ the most current sustainable development practices
  • • consider programs and amenities that would bless the local community
  • • design programs that would not compete with already established businesses or facilities, but enhance them
  • • create programs that promote healthy families and inter-generational participation

Our guiding principles helped us sort through the myriad options and settle on a few key programs and facilities:

  • • a mountain bike facility
  • • a community garden
  • • a community day-camp and after-school care facility
  • • an aerial adventure courses
  • • recreation spaces for day-campers
  • • connectivity to our existing properties

The Design Phase:

After our initial clean up, community input and discussion phases we began the design phase. We knew that we wanted to enlist the help of the best people in many disciplines to help us develop a world-class plan. After carefully considering many firms we chose Verde Designs to be the lead design firm and then began enlisting the help of experts in many disciplines including Alpine Bike Parks for the bike park design. This is also when we began working formally with the County of Santa Cruz Planning Department on developing the initial plan design.
Thinking that the design and approval phase would take approximately two years we developed and launched the “Velocity Bike Park” identity and started to promote the bike park and bike school at local events like the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival and bigger events like the Sea Otter Classic, even partnering with GoPro to provide the AcroBag aerial trick bag! It was an exciting time and cemented many great relationships that are carried on today.

 

First Hearing:

After several years of design, survey and studies the Santa Cruz Planning Department recommended our project to the Planning Commission in October of 2015. At the hearing many people voiced support for the project and urged the commission to approve the project. After the hearing the planning commission required the completion of an Environmental Impact Report. The Planning Department spent several months choosing an EIR consultant agency and we began working with them in early 2016 to complete the EIR process.

Environmental Impact Report:

For the past year we’ve worked with the EIR consulting agency to complete all the required surveys, studies and reports to ensure the best sustainable project possible. We’re proud of all the work that has been done and looking forward to moving forward with the project.

Velocity Programs:

While we continue to wait for the Velocity Bike Park / Felton Meadow project to be approved we have begun offering mountain bike skills development programs at our Mount Hermon property as well at locations throughout the county. Velocity Bike School offers progressive mountain bike programs with talented and experienced coaches certified by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA). Our unique and personalized approach combines core skill development and on-trail riding to help you take your riding to the next level! Programs are available this spring and summer – join us!

 

What’s next:

The draft EIR is anticipated to publish within the next few weeks which will kick off an official 60 day public comment period. Now is the time to share your voice with local officials to let them know you support the Felton Meadow project and Velocity Bike Park. You can send in a letter directly from our website at either feltonmeadow.org or velocitybikeparks.org.

There will also be two public meetings during the 60 day public comment period where we need you to show up and voice your support. We’ll announce the date, time and location of those meetings as soon as we have them.

Thanks again for your supporting the project and for supporting healthy, growing communities!


Homeschooled Students Get Career Help

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Susan K. Beatty

photo of kara swansonAre you a Christian homeschooled teen or young adult who dreams of writing as a career? Do you wonder what it would be like to meet best-selling authors, agents, and publishers in person?

I’d like to introduce you to Kara Swanson, a recent homeschool graduate who saw that dream fulfilled. Kara attended the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference twice. She was the 2015 winner of the conference’s Most Promising Teen Award.

Let’s find out more about Kara and how the writers’ conference changed her life.

Q: Hello, Kara. Tell us about yourself–background, education, age (if you don’t mind).

A: I am 20 years old, and I graduated from high school last year. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, and I think my childhood as the daughter of missionaries, growing up in a remote tribe in the middle of the jungle, greatly influenced my love of fantasy and science fiction. I could relate to characters finding themselves in a strange world. I’ve been published in multiple magazines. At seventeen, I independently published a fantasy novel called Pearl of Merlydia, which I coauthored with my friend Charis Smith. Since then I have attended several writers’ conferences and garnered interest in my novels from both agents and publishers.

Q: When did you attend Mount Hermon’s Christian Writers Conference and how did you hear about it?

A: The first time I attended Mount Hermon was in 2015. I’d heard about it from my grandmother, who attended in 2014, and my mentor, Joanne Bischof, who has been on faculty several times.

Q: What attracted you specifically to Mount Hermon’s conference? And what made you decide to attend?

A: Mount Hermon is one of those rare conferences that is just as much about relationships as knowledge. The beautiful facility, nestled in the redwoods of Northern California, is a wonderful place to gain wisdom from many industry professionals.

As a teen writer who had never been to a writers’ conference before, I was a little nervous that I’d be overwhelmed. But the faculty members were all friendly and willing to answer my questions—in and out of sessions—so it soon felt like a home away from home. Beyond the comfort of spending a week among writers who all were all putting their soul-stories out there, and penning novels with the intent to change lives, there were sessions on every imaginable aspect of writing. And the vast host of faculty was amazing.

A: What were your expectations? Were they met, and, if so, how?

A: I didn’t really go in with too many expectations. Both times I attended, I brought manuscripts to pitch and showed my work to agents and editors. The first time I went, there were very few faculty who were interested in the genres I write (mostly Young Adult Speculative Fiction). So I spent that week learning as much as I could from the workshops and sessions. I was in a Morning Mentoring Track with Bill Myers, and it was a wonderful experience! Bill had so much knowledge and skill and humor that it was definitely a highlight.

The second year I went, I prayed a lot. There were ten industry professionals who were interested in the genres I had, but I didn’t want that to be my focus. I brought proposals, but I wanted to take the time to make lasting friendships and glean as much as I could from the faculty. Many amazing authors and editors, including Francine Rivers and Mick Silva, encouraged me in my writing journey.

That first night, I sat in the back row of the auditorium. As the keynote speaker began, I bowed my head and prayed, giving my stories to God once again—they were only ever his to begin with. I prayed that he would bring along the right publishing houses and agents for my novels. I also told him that even if no one cared about these stories that were a piece of my heart, I’d still praise him. I’d still write for his glory. Because his approval mattered most.

With that attitude, I went into the rest of the conference and approached agents and editors confidently—but also humbly. I let the stories he’d given me speak for themselves. I had an amazing amount of interest from nearly everyone I approached. The only rejections I got came from agents and houses that weren’t looking for young adult in the first place. God definitely went before me in the whole process!

I’m still continuing to walk through the doors God provided at Mount Hermon, and I expect that every year from here on will hold things I cannot imagine.

Q: Congratulations for winning the 2015 Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer Award. Tell us about that.

A: Thank you! It was one of the most amazing and affirming moments of my life. Not something I had expected, considering that I’d only been to the conference once and never before dared show my writing to anyone outside of close friends and family. Not only was it special to be recognized in such a way, it was also a moment I’ve looked back on as a reminder that yes, this is what God wants me to do.

Q: Tell us what you are doing today. How are you using your writing, and what did you learn at Mount Hermon that is helping you?

A: Oh, fun question! I’m blogging on several venues—The Fandom Studio, Christian Teen Writers, and my own blog, Read Write Soar (which is soon to be switched over to karaswanson.com).

I am currently working as a virtual assistant to Kathy Ide—writer, editor, and director of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. That was totally a God-thing because with Lyme disease I’m not able to hold most jobs. It helps me stay abreast of the publishing industry, and I’m learning so much.

In addition, I’m the marketing coordinator for the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference, which Kathy Ide also directs. I have a freelance editing service (most of which is me trading critiques/edits with authors who will do the same for me). Right now, I’m working on a sci-fi/urban fantasy novella and overhauling my full-length novel Skyridge, which is about a girl with wings whose father is a fallen angel, and it’s set during the end times.

Each of these parts of my life has been impacted by Mount Hermon in one way or another. My stories are better because of feedback I received there. I met Kathy Ide there. I started blogging seriously after receiving input there. The two times I attended the conference have resulted in countless long-term blessings!

Q: What would you say about attending Mount Hermon to a teen or young adult who likes to write?

A: Go! Mount Hermon is the perfect place to sharpen your craft, learn about the industry, and decide what your next steps are. Whether you are a bit of an over-achiever like me, ready to dive headfirst into this whole publishing business, or you want to get your feet wet and learn what it takes to write full time, Mount Hermon is the place to do it. The atmosphere is perfect for newcomers and for advanced writers. I’d love to see you there!

Q: Writers’ conferences can be a little pricey, particularly for a homeschooled teen. How would you rate the cost versus the value? And did you do anything special to pay the conference fees?

A: I received a scholarship based on three criteria: 1) My family are missionaries, 2) I have Lyme disease and am therefore unable to hold a steady job, and 3) I’m homeschooled. I saved all year to cover the conference costs that weren’t covered by the scholarship, taking any odd jobs I could. For my birthday and Christmas, I asked for funds to go toward the conference instead of gifts. And my grandmother graciously helped me with the rest.

The price does seem steep, but it’s understandable. Mount Hermon is nearly a week-long conference with an impressive staff of industry professionals. You can meet best-selling authors and representatives from the large publishing houses. There is a wealth of knowledge to be found in the sessions, the critique team, one-on-one mentoring, and appointments with editors and agents. Writers at any stage can hone their craft and progress on their writing journey. All that plus gorgeous lodging, delicious catered meals, and fun activities like a ropes course and kayaking!

All things considered, the price is definitely worth the value of attending the conference. This is an experience that will forever change your writing career!

Thank you, Kara, for your inspiring story.

If you’d like to explore the idea of writing as a career, bring your writing to the next level, and hang out with agents, publishers, and other writers, register now for the 2017 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Homeschooled teens and young adults receive a 30% discount. (Young people under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, who may pay full price and attend as a conferee or solely be the teen’s chaperone and take $500 off–basically only paying for lodging and meals.)

Learn more about Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

photo of Susan BeattySusan K. Beatty is the author of An Introduction to Home Education manual. She and her husband, Larry, began homeschooling their three children in 1982, graduated all three children from their home school, and is the cofounder of one of the oldest and largest statewide homeschooling organizations in the United States, Christian Home Educators Association (CHEA) of California.  She recently retired as the member of the Board of Directors and is soon to be retired as general manager and events manager. She is a professional writer/journalist with a BA degree in journalism from Cal State University Los Angeles.


Velocity Bike Parks / Felton Meadow Project Draft EIR Publishing Soon!

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

This week we’re celebrating a huge milestone–
and reaching out to you for help.

Over the past 14 months we’ve been working with the County of Santa Cruz planning department and environmental consultants to complete an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Felton Meadow project, which includes Velocity Bike Park. The EIR is a long and detailed process that looks at all aspects of our proposed plan – the level of detail required to complete the EIR ensures that the project meets and in many cases exceeds required development criteria.The Santa Cruz Planning Department will soon be publishing what is called the Draft EIR for public comment. While it is called a “draft” it is the complete document which is finalized after the public comment period. The official public comment period is scheduled to last for 60 days and is your opportunity to submit letters of support.

What we need from you

This is your opportunity to support Velocity Bike Park – by writing a letter to the Santa Cruz Planning Department. It is critical that the planners and County Supervisors see that the support for this project is deep and wide.

Sign the Petition

What happens next

Once the 45 day public comment period closes we are required to respond to all the comments – which is part of the EIR process. Depending on the volume and complexity of the comments we receive this could take a few months. Once all comments have been responded to we’ll be added to the list of projects waiting for a hearing before the Planning Commission – who will vote and have the final say on the project. We’ll need your help at this point by coming to the official hearing where you’ll again have the opportunity to support the project with your presence. The timeline will look something like this:

Public Comment
60 days

Comment Response
30-90 days

Waiting for a hearing
30 days

Public Hearing
August or September

Please help us now by writing your letter of support, and thank you for your support up to this point. It’s been a long road but we’re almost there!


man reading story outdoors

Writing a Captivating True Story

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Jan Kern

What draws you into a nonfiction book or article and keeps you captivated? Many readers find  themselves drawn in through story.

Why Story?

A few years ago, Diane Turbide, an editor at Penguin Publishing, said:

People nowadays are assailed on all fronts. They’re busy, they’re overwhelmed by the pace of life, by information. They can’t make out the shape, or the path, or the arc of their own life. Everything is a blur. . . . People are looking for some kind of narrative thread, some kind of plot that makes sense that doesn’t feel so formless. (Penguin Publishing, December 2011)

In our busy culture, readers are looking for connection and grounding through a narrative thread that helps them build a framework to discover meaning for their lives. A well-told true story is one way to effectively create space for that discovery and connection.

The Craft of Storytelling

Lynn Vincent, a master in the craft of narrative nonfiction, naturally creates this space for discovery and connection for her readers. In Same Kind of Different as Me, she does this in part by capturing the nuances of the voice and personality of the two main characters, Denver and Ron. As readers, we get to know these men at first through their independent stories, and then as their paths cross and a connection is formed. We gain not only an expanding view of their lives but also of our own. That’s masterful storytelling.

When I mentor writers, I often use this book as one example of strong narrative writing. I believe great fiction can be researched so well that you believe it must be true, and nonfiction can tell a true story with such excellent use of fiction techniques you have to take a second look to confirm that you’re not reading a novel.

Of course, the scaffolding of the nonfiction story must be research, facts, and reality. That’s a given. But couch this with creative, well-told narrative, and you amp up reader connection several notches. It’s more likely your readers will remember your key message when they put down your article or close the cover of your book.

What’s Next, Storyteller?

Which story will you tell? Here are ten tips as you begin to write your story:

  • Look for life-changing moments: a triumph or a failure, a poignant discovery or monumental decision, or the intersections of conflict.
  • Tell the human story: the real, the authentic, and the fallible.
  • Watch for unique or inspiring angles that will connect well with your reader.
  • Have in mind a key focus question that your story will explore.
  • Decide how much of the story is emotionally appropriate for the purpose of your project and especially in caring for your reader.
  • Consider which POV (point of view) would present the strongest story.
  • If the story is lengthy, consider layering in dialogue and setting, and develop it through a story arc.
  • Watch chronology. Make sure your reader can follow the unfolding of events.
  • Plan the conclusion of your story with a strong takeaway for your reader.

So go ahead, begin. And then bring your story—your own or someone else’s—to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference and share it.

photo of Jan KernAs an author, speaker, and life coach, Jan Kern is passionate about story—both how we live it with hope and intentionality and how we write it with craft and finesse. Her nonfiction series for teens/young adults garnered ECPA Gold Medallion and Retailers Choice finalist awards. Currently she is enjoying new ministry and writing opportunities for women. When Jan isn’t writing or coaching, she serves alongside her husband, Tom, at a residential ministry for at-risk teens. Jan will be mentoring the nonfiction clinic at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

 


british coins

Four Ways Money Can Add Depth to Your World

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Chris Morris

Many novels hardly even mention currency in the story. And most characters never run out of money or supplies … unless it’s a convenient plot point.

But a creative author can use money as a way to introduce the intricacies of the world that is created. Currency can shine light on the motives of a character. In fantasy, the currency is often based on one or more types of metal. Classic science fiction fare typically has paperless credits or universal currency. So long as authors stick to the mantra of “show, don’t tell,” economies can serve as much more than background.

  1. Political unrest

Imagine a world where a usurper just commandeered control of the kingdom where your story takes place. As an indication of his newly established dominion, he mints new currency with his face on the coins and issues an edict that all commerce must be conducted with his coins only.

Those who support the usurper will gladly comply, while those merchants with less-than-loving feelings toward him will be inclined to continue to accept the “old money.”

Placing your protagonist in the midst of this political intrigue opens a variety of options that will enhance your story.

  1. Bartering with a twist

Picture a universe where a horse with a lame leg has more value to a merchant than a healthy horse. There are  myriad reasons this could be the case, each giving you the chance to expand your world.

Perhaps the sacred texts of your world include this proverb: “The favor of the gods will shine upon the man who cares for a lame animal, for his heart is pure and worthy of reward.”

This uncommon bartering system would create some particularly memorable scenes in a time-travel plot line like Outlander, where the protagonist is not familiar with the world. Your readers would then be able to experience confusion with your main character, which creates further connection with your story.

  1. Black market

It would be easy to “play the religion card” in this scenario. To use an example that could potentially occur in our actual world, consider what the market for hamburgers in India might look like if India were a militant Hindu nation.

But religion is not the only reason a black market might exist. There are many creative concepts that could be applied here. The monarch of a kingdom could be deathly allergic to nuts, so they are banished. But there are certain indigenous tribesmen who still rely upon the sale of Brazil nuts. Welcome to the Brazil nut black market.

Your protagonist can enter this black market for a variety of reasons, ranging from an insatiable desire for Brazil nuts to a need for extra income.

  1. Money exchangers can provide insight into the prejudices among the races.

Consider for a moment what it would be like for a Romulan in the twenty-fourth century to work at a currency exchange for a Klingon world? Try as he might, his strong prejudice against Klingons would come out. This can be brought into the narrative using a short dialogue scene like this:

“We don’t want to exchange our money until Sbardi is working. Like all Romulans, he hates Klingons and gives a better exchange rate.”

In two sentences, the readers are clued into racial tension and see how it impacts the protagonist. The possibilities are endless when you introduce money exchange as a component of your universe.

I am a CPA, but I realize that most people would not want to read a treatise on the economic conditions of Diagon Alley. I’m not suggesting the focus of your stories be on the intricacies of how goods are bought and sold. Instead, I’m pointing out the opportunities that exist in the context of money exchanging hands. Rather than quickly moving over these exchanges, and treating money as a non-entity in the stories you craft, you can add depth and vibrancy to your world.

What other ways could you see currency being used to open up your world to your readers?

Chris is presenting financial workshops for creative people at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference April 7-11, 2017.

photo of chris morrisChris Morris is the founder and managing partner for Chris Morris CPA, LLC, an accounting firm focused on meeting the tax and accounting needs of creative entrepreneurs. He has the privilege of counting editors, digital designers, magazine publishers, authors, photographers, online marketing firms, and book illustrators among his clients. He is the author of the book I’m Making Money, Now What? A Creative Entrepreneur’s Guide to Managing Taxes & Accounting for a Growing Business.

 


the text of psalm 23

The Psalmist Had a Day Job

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Cynthia Ruchti

For every writer who slogged through a day where interruptions outnumbered hours spent writing…

For every novelist who left a hero in deep distress because the family car needed its oil changed or the substitute teacher position turned into a financially helpful but creatively draining three-month maternity leave sub…

For every memoirist at the edge of a breakthrough in a gripping opening line, called away by a spreadsheet due on a client’s desk…

I offer hope.

King David managed roles as writer, worshiper, and warrior, among other things. He had a day job—king. But what he wrote in pensive, reflective, or desperate hours while listening to, praising, or arguing with God formed among the most frequently visited pages of history’s all-time best seller: the Bible. King and lyricist. King and musician. King and warrior and worshiper and writer.

Aspiring writers might be surprised at the number of veteran authors who—despite multiple books to their credit—have day jobs in addition to their writing careers. They teach fitness classes, work for non-profit ministries, hold down part-time jobs at coffee shops or dental clinics. Among many prolific authors are those who offer home daycare, run ranches, sit in uninspiring cubicles working on uninspiring projects until the end of the workday when their paycheck will provide more printer ink for their heart’s true passion: writing.

You mean I can have it all? I can have a prolific writing career while single-handedly managing a national or international ministry and teaching weekly cooking classes and traveling more than I’m home at my desk and raising organic goats and getting my doctorate in advanced nuclear physics and refinishing museum-quality fifteenth-century furniture and caring for my elderly parents?

No. Key words from that paragraph tell the story:

  • All. The only “alls” we can successfully handle are all God has for us and all God wants us to be.
  • Single-handedly. If the “all” God is asking of us can’t be listed in one breath, we’ll need help: His, obviously, and the help of others who can assist or, better yet, take over responsibilities we thought were ours to manage.
  • Weekly. The writer who is serious about using the gift of words, story, and language for holy, God-directed purposes will have few additional weekly, regular, time-consuming commitments. We’re not told that King David had time for a golf league or that he played the lyre in nursing homes every weekend.
  • Goats. David may have insisted on organic goat’s milk on his breakfast table, but he left his animal-herding days behind when God called him away from tending livestock. The committed writer soon learns that some activities become archives and memories in order to create time for writing.
  • Caring. God too may have glanced over all the other words in that paragraph of piled on responsibilities and landed on this one. Caring is dear to His heart. If what we abandon in our pursuit of a writing career is the caring part—caring for our families, about our relationship with the God for whom we write, about our readers, caring for those entrusted to us—the words we write will ring hollow in His ears and hollow to those who know and love us.

King David was writer, worshiper, and warrior. How did he juggle those interconnected but distinct roles? And what core principles guided all three careers?

Ah! That’s the stuff of which workshops are made.

Cynthia will be mentoring nonfiction writers in inspirational and personal-experience stories at the 2017 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Cynthia Ruchti headshotAuthor and speaker Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope. Her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction have been recognized by a number of significant industry awards. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren. Her prayer is that those who finish reading one of her books or attending an event where she’s speaking will gain the confidence to say, “I can’t unravel. I’m hemmed in hope.”


historical book, glasses, clock

17 Questions to Ask When Researching for Your Novel

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Sarah Sundin

When I started writing my first World War II novel, I thought I just needed to read a history book, find some cute outfits for my heroine, and have her hum a popular tune.

You may now stop laughing.

Those initial research questions ended up raising more questions. I fell in love with the era and longed to bring it alive with thorough research.

Here are seventeen questions to ask when conducting research for historical fiction. Many are also useful for contemporary novels and when building a story world for fantasy or science fiction. You will not need deep research in every area, but you should be aware of them.

  1. Historical events
    You need to know the events occurring in your era. Even if your character isn’t directly involved, she will be affected by them. Be familiar with the preceding era too.
  2. Setting in historical context
    You may know your setting now—but what was it like then? Towns grow and shrink, businesses and streets change, ethnic groups come and go.
  3. Schooling
    What was the literacy level? Who went to school and for how long? What did they study? If your character breaks the mold (the peasant who reads), how did this happen?
  4. Occupation
    Although I’m a pharmacist, writing about a pharmacist in WWII required research. How much training was required? What were the daily routines, tools, and terminology used, outfits worn? How was the occupation perceived by others?
  5. Community Life
    What clubs and volunteer organizations were popular? What were race relations like? Class relations?
  6. Religious Life
    How did religion affect personal lives and the community? What denominations were in the region? What was the culture in the church—dress, order of service, behavior? Watch out for modern views here.
  7. Names
    Research common names in that era and region. If you must use something uncommon, justify it—and have other characters react appropriately. Also research customs of address (“Mrs. Smith” or “Mary”). In many cultures, only intimate friends used your first name.
  8. Housing
    What were homes like? Floor plans, heating, lighting, plumbing? What were the standards of cleanliness? What about wall coverings and furniture? What colors, prints, and styles were popular?
  9. Home Life
    What were the roles of men, women, and children? What were the rites of courtship and marriage? Views on child rearing? How about routines for cleaning and laundry?
  10. Food
    What recipes and ingredients were used? How was food prepared? Where and when were meals eaten and how (manners, dishes)?
  11. Transportation
    How did people travel? Look into the specifics on wagons, carriages, trains, automobiles, planes. What was the route, how long did it take, and what was the travel experience like?
  12. Fashion
    Most historical writers adore this area. What were the distinctions between day and evening clothing, formal and informal? How about shoes, hats, gloves, jewelry, hairstyles, makeup? Don’t forget to clothe the men and children too!
  13. Communication
    How did people communicate over long distances? How long did letters take and how were they delivered? Did they have telegrams or telephones—if so, how were they used?
  14. Media
    How was news received? By couriers, newspapers, radio, movie newsreels, TV? How long did it take for people to learn about an event?
  15. Entertainment
    How did they spend free time? Music, books, magazines, plays, sports, dancing, games? Did people enjoy certain forms of entertainment—or shun others?
  16. Health Care
    Your characters get sick and injured, don’t they? Good. How will you treat them? Who will treat them and where? What were common diseases? Did they understand the relationship between germs and disease?
  17. Justice
    Laws change, so be familiar with laws concerning crimes committed by or against your characters. Also understand the law enforcement, court, and prison systems.

Don’t get overwhelmed or buried in research. Remember, story rules. Let the story guide your research, and let research enrich your story. Your readers will love it.

Originally published by FaithWriters, October 8, 2012, http://faithwriters.com/blog/2012/10/08/historical-research-seventeen-questions/.

photo of sarah sundlinSarah Sundin will be teaching a Fiction Morning Mentoring Clinic and a workshop on “Historical Research without the Headaches.” She is the author of nine historical novels, including Anchor in the Storm and When Tides Turn (March 2017). Her novel Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award, won the INSPY Award, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sarah lives in California. www.sarahsundin.com.

Click here for more information about the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.


Harnessing the Magic of “After-Writing”

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Joseph Bentz

I would like to declare a new stage of the writing process. I call it “after-writing.” Even though I never see it discussed in books or articles about writing, for me it has been a crucial stage in the writing of my books.

I teach writing in a variety of venues, from freshman courses at Azusa Pacific University to professional conferences like the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, where I will be leading a Morning Mentoring Clinic on writing nonfiction books this year. In textbooks, writing experts often identify and describe the various stages of the writing process as pre-writing, drafting, revision, editing, and proofreading. The “after-writing” stage that I am proposing is not represented by any of those steps. By overlooking it, writers may be losing an opportunity to harness much more of their creative energy.

creative child in afterglow of sunset Here is how after-writing works for me. I sit down for my scheduled daily writing session on the book I am working on. Let’s say I have three hours for that session. At the end of that time, I will have to set the book aside, move on to other things, and come back the next day to pick up where I left off. By the time the writing session is over, my ideas are usually flowing pretty well, I have an idea where I am headed next, and I look forward to getting back to it the following session.

As you may have experienced, what often happens the next day is that as I glance over what I wrote the day before, my sense of momentum that had felt so strong the previous day has now shut down. I often think, Now, where was I headed with this? What was I planning to write next? I can spend much of the current day’s writing time trying to reconstruct that mind-set of the previous day and re-enter that creative flow.

“After-writing” helps prevent that dilemma. Now, instead of merely stopping at the end of a writing session, I make sure to leave a little time—maybe ten or fifteen minutes—at the end of a session to jot down a note to myself about what I would have written next if I had been able to continue. This “after-writing” note is usually rough. I don’t worry about getting the wording just right or tracking down the documentation of a source or even writing in complete thoughts. What I’m after is a road map for the next day. I need notes that capture my thinking of that moment so that when I read them the next day, those thoughts will come alive inside me again, and I won’t have to waste time recreating my earlier mind-set. The notes might be so rough that they would make sense to no one but me, but I am the only one who will read them anyway.

“After-writing” has another benefit. I have noticed that when I am in my more formal writing stage, I am sometimes a little tense as I try to get the sentences and paragraphs just right. But once I enter the “after-writing” stage and the pressure is off, sometimes that unleashes a whole new burst of creativity. Even though I might have felt worn out from writing, I suddenly have a new gush of words that I can barely type fast enough to get on the screen. That second wind sometimes leads me to postpone my stopping time and keep going awhile longer.

I have discovered one final advantage of the after-writing stage. After many years as a writer, I noticed that once I have stopped writing for the day and my mind has let go of that disciplined way of thinking, I often have another rush of ideas about an hour later. I used to ignore that or even squelch it, thinking that I had already done my work for the day and should relax and return to it tomorrow. But now I prepare myself for that little “brainstorm” and take advantage of it by jotting down whatever comes during that time. Then I can go back to whatever else I was doing.

For me, writing a book includes many moments of joy, insight, and satisfaction, but it is also a long, hard slog. Good ideas are precious commodities in that process, and I want to do everything I can to capture the ones that show up. “After-writing” is one of the best techniques I have found to accomplish that.

Joseph Bentz has published four novels and five nonfiction books. His most recent book, Nothing Is Wasted, was published in 2016 by Beacon Hill Press. He is a blogger and currently at work on a book about passages of Scripture that have changed the world. He is a professor of English at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California, where he teaches courses in writing and American literature.

Joseph will be a nonfiction mentor and also presenting workshops at the Mount Hermon Writers Conference. Click here for more information.


Update from the Advancement Team!

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

Karen CristWe’d like you to meet Karen Crist, the newest member of the Mount Hermon Advancement Team.

Karen officially joined the team on December 13, filling a key position previously held for a decade by Debbie Franck, whose last day
was October 29.

Karen has an energetic, joyful personality and a deep love for the Lord, with the critical skills needed to step into her new position.

“The profound sense of gratitude came over me the first time I came on site to meet J.R.  God’s power was instantly felt as I pulled onto the property. I don’t even know how to describe the level of excitement I have meeting the valuable individuals who collectively work towards the mission of Lives Transformed at Mount Hermon.”
Next time you’re at Mount Hermon make sure to stop by and meet Karen, introduce yourself and welcome her to the team. We know you’re going to enjoy her!


One-One-One: 2016 was quite a year.

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

By Mike Romberger, CEO/President Mount Hermon

It was a Leap Year, Pokemon Go entered our existence, the Rio Olympics were a surprise success, and the Cubs won the World Series. No really, they did!

You never know what a year is  going to bring, and as we have now entered 2017 we aren’t sure of what all is ahead for us, but we are confident of Who goes before us, which gives us great hope as we forge ahead.

In the midst of all the craziness in our world that surrounds us we are enjoying year 111  (One-One-One) of Mount Hermon’s faithful existence— faithful to a faithful God, faithful to His Word, and faithful to depend upon His  transforming work in people’s lives.

One-One-One (111).  That’s a lot of years of God’s faithfulness in one place!

You are a key reason why God continues to place His faithful hand of blessing upon Mount Hermon. Your prayers, your encouragement, your generosity, your involvement are all used by God as He works in this place. Lives continue to be refreshed, renewed and transformed by the various ministries and locations under the umbrella known as Mount Hermon. This is God’s place, and He continues to work.

Thank you for your partnership. We are a team, and we couldn’t do this without you. 

 


Volunteers: Paul Schneider Redirected, not Retired

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

By Kerry Phibbs, Associate Director of Advancement

One of our many joys is introducing you to some of the gracious volunteers who make such an impact in the ministry of Mount Hermon. They are unsung heroes that bless us beyond imagination. One such volunteer is Paul Schneider.

Paul and his wife Virginia’s connection with Mount Hermon began in 1972. A family from their church invited them to Family Camp. So they came with their three small children, and now, forty-four years later Mount Hermon is still an important part of their lives, three generations deep. They’ve experienced many years of family camps and conferences, concerts, and eventually giving back through volunteering.

At the end of 2005, Paul retired from the electrical construction industry in the Santa Clara Valley.  In 2006, he and Virginia began volunteering at Mount Hermon. They also volunteered on trips with Mobile Missionary Assistance Program (MMAP), but in 2008 they made the decision to stay closer to home and volunteer at Mount Hermon.  Eventually, they met Bob and Barbara Parmenter at church.  Bob was also a retired electrician and needed a place to use his experience and expertise, so they have been coming to Mount Hermon together since August 2011. Paul and Bob are a regular duo around here serving across the Santa Cruz property.

What Paul and Bob share is invaluable to this ministry as voiced by our facilities engineer, Dale Pollock. “Paul and Bob are a tremendous help to the maintenance crew. Mount Hermon has been without a certified electrician for many years now, and since then, these two have filled a big hole.  From rewiring cabins during a remodel, to troubleshooting electrical fixtures and fixing outdoor lighting, they continue to keep Mount Hermon energized.”

Volunteering isn’t their only gift. The Schneider’s bless us generously as long-time Mount Hermon Associates.

“Our support of Mount Hermon’s ministry is just a natural outgrowth of what we have received; support for us as a couple, a family, and individuals. As well as for our children and grandchildren. As we partner with Mount Hermon, we get to be a part of a greater ministry than we could do alone. For forty-four years we have seen this ministry grow and remain faithful to the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ, and we are so greatly blessed with our association with Mount Hermon.”

Paul continued, “As ‘redirected not retired,’ older folks, we know God is not through with us yet. For me, Mount Hermon has become an opportunity to give back from the experience I gained through all the years working in the electrical industry. It is a special blessing to be able to give my time and talent to a ministry that has blessed so many people, including our family, for so many decades.”

If you too would like to give to Mount Hermon through your time and talent, there are many areas of need and many ways to serve. To find out how, simply contact Michelle Marty at 831.430.1375 or volunteers@mounthermon.org and we thank you in advance.


Gwinn Lodge is Finished!

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

By J.R. Loofbourrow, Vice President of Advancement

It is finished! After months of praying, weeks of careful preparation, and six days of non-stop work, we can now say that every room in Gwinn Lodge has been completely remodeled and is ready for your next visit!

Many of you have heard about our efforts to finish the remodel of Gwinn Lodge, a project we have been working on for several years. That dream became a reality the week after Thanksgiving when a crew of twenty workers came up from Southern California and made VERY quick work of the remaining eight rooms.

All week long we marveled at Mount Hermon’s version of an “extreme makeover,” one staff member even started crying! A crew member asked, “Why is that woman crying, is everything ok?” We explained, “Yes, she’s ok, she’s just really happy!”

Perhaps the best part of the whole project was watching the construction crew’s joy while working together. After long work days, the crew spent time playing basketball in the McAfee Fieldhouse, playing soccer, and eating ice cream together in the fountain—just as many of you have done while at Mount Hermon. Most of the crew spoke Spanish, which gave Andrew Summers the opportunity to be a communication lead and share with them in Spanish about the ministry of Mount Hermon and why the work they were doing was so important. You should have seen the smiles on their faces as they came to realize that this wasn’t just any construction job, they were a part of something much bigger!

The best part of all?  The entire crew that was here will be coming back to Mount Hermon in August to attend Hispanic Family Camp with their families! Just imagine what God will do through that! We are so grateful for their hard work and are already dreaming about the
next big project.

We want to extend a special THANK YOU to each of you who’ve prayed and given financially to this project. We could not have done it without you!

As we plan the next renovation project, we need your help and ask you to prayerfully consider joining us as a ministry partner through a financial gift. This is a unique opportunity where your gift will be leveraged for incredible impact restoring vital Mount Hermon lodge rooms while also sowing seeds of love, hope, and salvation to the crew who will do the work! Thank you so very much for your consideration.

If you have any questions about the project or would like to make a gift, please feel free to contact J.R., Kerry, or Andrew at 831.430.1244


The Williams: A Mount Hermon Couple

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

By Kerry Phibbs, Associate Director of Advancement

Dan and Linda Williams have blessed and impacted this ministry and our guests, day-in and day-out, since 1990.

Shortly after getting married in 1981, they joined Campus Crusade for Christ in San Bernardino. Dan served in the tech services department as the manager of the carpenters and painters. Linda worked in various departments until their first child was born in 1986.  After their second child was born, Linda was getting used to the idea of staying, but Dan sensed that they needed to seek God’s guidance for another direction, so they did.

They visited Mount Hermon for the first time, just after the 1989 earthquake. There were no jobs at the time, but five months later, the phone rang, and the rest is history.

Dan and Linda both serve in their sweet spots. They are so good at what they do! Dan is our maintenance manager, overseeing the maintenance team and keeping roads, water, and over 100 buildings up and running.

Dan was given some godly counsel from a Campus Crusade mentor many years ago, to learn from the most experienced men on the crew. He’s combined that advice, along with his natural ability, to build and develop and lead his team. He enjoys bringing together the different personalities, skills, and passions of the men on the maintenance crew to serve the Lord, the guests, and fellow staff here at Mount Hermon.

Linda’s love of the outdoors and her heart for inviting others into God’s creation led her to Mount Hermon’s Adventure/Recreation ministry. Whether it’s leading a canopy tour, doing team building, or being a guide on mountain bike rides, she enjoys the opportunity to see others challenged and overcome obstacles that open them up to see God in different ways. Her gift for coordinating projects involving multiple departments creates a win-win for everyone.

Outside of Mount Hermon, Linda loves adventuring on her bike and gardening. She enjoys feeding
and identifying birds—she’s a bit
of an ornithologist!

Dan enjoys remodeling their Mount Hermon home and also volunteers
with Santa Cruz County Search
and Rescue team.

They have four adult children: Rachel 30, Eric 28, Annie 26, and Jordan 18. All of the Williams’ kids have served on staff in some capacity. God has blessed Dan and Linda with two beautiful grandchildren, whom they love to visit.

What’s new on the horizon for Dan and Linda?

Linda is being trained as a bike mechanic so she can help maintain the bike fleet for our Adventure/Recreation program. She’s continuing to develop her coaching skills as a Redwood Canopy Tour trainer and mountain bike coach.

Dan is in the process of rebuilding parts of the maintenance crew, as several positions are available for hire.  They would appreciate your prayers for each of them in their professional roles, plus insight as they continue to learn the “art of parenting adult children.”

We are truly blessed to have Dan and Linda as a part of our Mount Hermon staff. They have generous hearts for this ministry and are also a long-time part of our Associates family!


My Favorite Place in the World!

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

By Tyler Kovacs, Guest Contributor

My Aunt and Uncle work full time at Mount Hermon and were always trying to get me and the rest of the Texas cousins to fly out for camp. The summer of 2005, my 8th-grade year, my parents relented and I went to Redwood camp with my brother and cousin.

I went to Ponderosa each of the next five summers and began to slowly get to know Jesus one week at a time over several years. Camp was my favorite place in the world as a student. The week I spent at Pondy was my Disneyland, Super Bowl, and Christmas all rolled together, only better! The campers and counselors were more genuine, loving, and free than anyone I had ever met. God used seemingly normal interactions with these people to bring me to Himself.

Andrew, my counselor for three summers, had the greatest influence on me. He saw me differently, he spoke to me differently, and I genuinely wanted to see the world the way he did. Through Andrew and other staff members, I experienced the love that the speakers at camp were always talking about. The summer before my sophomore year of high school a gospel message delivered in the forum cut me to the core, and I gave my life to Christ later that night on the rec field looking up at the stars.

I met Jesus as a camper, but it was as a summer staffer that I got to know Him deeply, wrestle with Him, rely on Him, and see Him change my heart week after week. Those years I needed my fellow counselors to sustain me more than I needed anyone ever in my life. There I met many of my closest friends and learned what having true brothers and sisters in Christ could do for my faith.

After camp, I never settled for shallow friendships ever again. Throughout my summer staff experience, God taught me about the power of vulnerability, humility, trust, love, and freedom.

My experiences at camp propelled me into youth ministry throughout college and helped me realize my passion and desire to work in full-time youth ministry. In the summer of 2015, my staff counselor from my first two summers at Redwood offered me my first full-time job at Canyon Creek Church. I accepted knowing that I wanted to spend my life providing support and direction to students while pointing them to Jesus.

Now that I am a full-time youth pastor; I love bringing my students to Ponderosa Lodge for summer camp and Fall Frenzies. Bringing students to camp is a surreal experience for me. Every tree and trail I see when I am at Mount Hermon ties to a memory of Jesus revealing Himself to me. Offering the same opportunity to the students I love, gives me chills. My camp experience has come full circle, and I am so thankful that God has woven my faith journey with the roots of those redwoods.


Meet Bruni Wald

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

Pictured left to right: Vera Neumann, Bruni Wald, Wolf Neumann

By Kerry Phibbs, Associate Director of Advancement

Sharing the gift of Mount Hermon with family and friends is a natural occurrence among those of us whose lives have been impacted here. Well, that is exactly how Brunhilda “Bruni” Wald learned of this safe-haven in the redwoods, from her friends, Wolf and Vera Neumann, long-time Associates, Redwood Society members and Mount Hermon champions.

Wolf shares how it came about–

“We met Bruni and her husband, Helmut at our church. When Helmut fell ill, she took care of his needs but eventually admitted him to a home where she visited him daily. We prayed with both of them and visited several times, which formed the friendship.

After his passing, we wondered how Bruni would manage all by herself. But God gave her the strength and necessary health. We simply include her into our ‘outings to Mount Hermon,’ – something all three of us look forward to and enjoy! For us Bruni is family! Seeing how much she enjoys the concerts and various activities has been a tremendous blessing to us. You just can’t out-give the Lord.”

Bruni first came to Mount Hermon in 2012 and soon after became an Associate, then part of the Redwood Society, and now she is a regular in these redwoods. She sent a note to me recently and I asked for permission to share a little with you.

“…My special love is Mount Hermon and I’m so thankful to Wolf and Vera for taking me along. The Lord is in Mount Hermon. For me, it’s a special place. I am thinking of you and praying for you. Love, B”

It’s people like Bruni, Wolf, Vera and you that make our Associates family so special. Thank You for standing alongside us on this journey as we see lives transformed at Mount Hermon.

Learn more about the Mount Hermon Associates! Contact:
Kerry Phibbs at 831.430.1237 or kerry.phibbs@mounthermon.org


Conference Connections

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

people connectionAre you attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference for the first time? Returning after a long break? Perhaps you’ve attended before but are submitting to editors and agents for the first time. Conference Connections is for you!

Before the Conference

Download the First-Timer’s Packet, which is filled with helpful tips and information.

Look for our weekly Pre-Conference Preparation Tips on Facebook, starting the first week in February.

At the Conference

On Friday after lunch, be sure to attend the First-Timer’s Orientation, where you will receive valuable information on how to get the most out of this wonderful conference.

Keep an eye out for people who have hearts on their name tags. These conference veterans enjoy connecting with first-timers and those who feel like newbies. If you have a question, can’t decide which workshop to take, need help finding a room, are having a difficult day, or want to share exciting news, flag down one of these kind, encouraging registrants or faculty members. They will be happy to help, listen, or pray with you. Be sure to introduce yourself to at least one of them so they get a chance to meet you.

If you walk into lunch or dinner feeling tired, discouraged, or like you need a break from trying to impress editors, join us at the table designated as a No-Pressure Zone. There you can relax, connect with others, and get the lift you need to go into the rest of your day.

Still have questions? Contact Jeanette Hanscome and she will be happy to help you.

See you in April!


shelves with children's books

The Challenge of Writing for Children

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Crystal Bowman

When people find out I write books for children, their response goes something like this: “Oh, how fun! I have always wanted to write a children’s book.” Writing for children is fun, but fun does not mean easy. That’s why I love teaching classes on writing for children. I enjoy helping writers learn the craft of this genre. But the more you learn, the harder it gets! Here are a few basic tips on how to get started:

  • Learn the genre and the sub-genres. The genre of children’s literature is very specific and writers need to learn how to write for children. Writing an engaging story with limited word count and limited vocabulary is difficult—even for seasoned writers. Then there are the sub-genres. From board books to early chapter books and everything in between, each sub-genre has its own specific requirements that writers need to know.
  • Understand the market. Before you invest your time and energy in writing a children’s book, research the market to find out what is already out there. If what you write is not better than or different from what is already being sold, your book stands little chance of being published.
  • Master writing techniques. Rhythm, rhyme, repetition, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and other forms of wordplay are effective tools for children’s stories. However, these writing techniques must be mastered if you want to add creative elements to your story. Misusing these techniques will send your manuscript on a fast track to the slush pile.
  • Have your story edited. Once you have learned the basics and begin writing your story, be sure to work with a children’s editor or writing coach. Your story needs to be professionally polished to catch the attention of a publisher. You must be willing to accept constructive criticism and revise your manuscript multiple times.
  • Don’t give up. There are no shortcuts or quick paths to the world of publishing. Writing for publication can take many years, and some writers give up along the way. If writing for children is truly your passion, learn everything you can about the process. Be persistent, patient, and prayerful. Learn. Learn. Learn. Revise. Revise. Revise.

 

I was thrilled to be invited back for a second year to lead sessions at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I will be teaching a Pre-Conference Next Level class and look forward to working with some talented writers. If your passion is writing for children, please sign up for this session. I can’t wait to meet you!

Crystal is the Children’s Books and Magazines mentor for the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic, April 5-7.

Click here for more information about the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, April 7-11.

Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman is a best-selling, award-winning author of more than 100 books for children, including The One Year Book of Devotions for Preschoolers, Our Daily Bread for Kids, and My Mama and Me. She has written many I Can Read! books, as well as stories for Clubhouse Jr. magazine and lyrics for children’s piano music.

 


Just Plain Obvious

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

My mother Tilli had a long history at Mount Hermon. My father Jack met his Savior down at Victory Circle. This soon led to his meeting and marrying Tilli in 1957. Mount Hermon was a favorite place for them as a couple, to come with their church family, and then eventually with their own family.

We attended Mount Hermon family camps for decades. Mom and Dad bought a cabin on Pine Ave. which allowed our family to stay for multiple weeks in the summer, enjoying the variety of summer conferences and concerts. All of their children, myself included, served on Summer Staff after graduating high school.

Mount Hermon was a lifetime place of refuge and renewal and was the spiritual foundation for my mother and her entire family. We all loved the walks in the woods, worship through hymns, and Biblical life-giving teaching. Mount Hermon gave us a firm love and vigorous passion for God’s word, to be studied and lived out in our lives every day. Mount Hermon was central to our family’s spiritual life.

It was just plain obvious for my mom to give a lifetime gift through the Redwood Society, to give back to a new set of generations the treasured gift mom had received for her family.

There are very few things worth spending resources on with a greater value than Mount Hermon.

We are grateful and humbled to have been included in Tilli’s estate plans. If your family has been impacted by the ministry of Mount Hermon and you’re thinking about leaving an estate gift, please contact: Dave Talbott at 831.430.1241 or dave.talbott@mounthermon.org


mason jar

The Power of a Mason Jar

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Marci Seither

“Are you going to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers conference this spring?” I asked Susan Gregory one day. I had volunteered to give her a ride to an event, and as we rode together we found out we shared a love of writing.

She told me it wasn’t in her budget but she hoped to attend one year. Despite having a book that she would love to see published, it seemed like her dream was beyond her reach.

I knew the feeling of having something you dream of doing, and even feel called to do, yet not seeing any way it could happen.

The first year I decided to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference I taught swim lessons and worked as a lifeguard all summer, putting the money I made into a mason jar designated for conference tuition. I knew it would take a lot of planning and sunscreen to pull it off.

My husband gave me money toward tuition in lieu of Christmas and birthday gifts, adding to my mason jar. I did a photo shoot for a friend, and in return, she surprised me by putting cash into my Mount Hermon fund. I managed to collect enough to attend the conference. I did the same thing for a few more years after that.

“Let your family and friends know you have a big dream,” I told Susan. “And start a conference fund for yourself.”

When we got to our destination, she handed me money for gas. I gave it back to her. “This is the first deposit in your conference fund.”

Eighteen months later, Susan’s face beamed as she walked down the redwood-lined path at Mount Hermon. “I made it!” she exclaimed. “I’m here because of the Conference Fund! It took a while, but the money you gave me became something that grew.”

cover of the book slender reedsI recently saw Susan’s newly published book, Slender Reeds, being shared on Facebook. It is beautiful. And it really was a dream come true.

I later heard about a young mom named Jenni who felt led to write but didn’t know where to start. Her friend encouraged her to set up a GoFundMe account in order to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A GoFundMe account is a way for people to tell others what they need funds for and why. Instead of giving gifts or stocking stuffers, people can add funds to that person’s project. Many of Jenni’s friends helped support her and her dream of reaching others through her writing.

I’m not saying that if you just set a mason jar on the counter all your dreams will come true. That’s not realistic. But sharing your goals with others allows them the opportunity to partner with you in something worthwhile.

Pride can make us dream hoarders. Humility allows us to be vulnerable and share our dreams with others.

Do you have a big dream? Are you among the 81 percent of Americans who would love to write a book but just need the courage, and maybe a nudge, to put action to that dream?

Why not set up a mason jar conference fund and see what happens?

For more information about the Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference, click here.

Marci SeitherMarci Seither has written hundreds of feature stories, op/editorials, and human-interest articles for local papers as well as contributing to national publications. She has been married to her husband almost 30 years and is mom to six amazingly rowdy kiddos who have provided her with volumes of great material, loads of laundry and symphonies of laughter. Marci encourages others with humor that packs a punch and entertains other moms with her Urban Retro style. She recently had two books published and knows how to make marshmallows from scratch. Marci is an airport shuttle assistant for Mount Hermon Writers Conference.


winners

First-Timers Contest: Winners Announced

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

We are excited to announce the winners of The First-Timers Contest. Congratulations to:

Ann Neumann

Erica Hale

Erin Kincaid

Karen DeBlieck

Karl Haffner

Laurel Burlew

Leah Hinton

Lisa Gefrides

Margery Warder

Robin Phillips

If you entered and were not one of the ten winners, we hope you will still consider spending an amazing and life-changing week in the California redwoods to experience this one-of-a-kind event. Find all the conference details at http://writers.mounthermon.org/.


First-Timers Contest For MH Writers Conference

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

pen, notebook, and coffee for writersWhen I attended my first writers’ conference years ago, I didn’t realize how dramatically it would change my life. I met so many professionals in the publishing industry and authors I admired (and came to admire later). And it really kicked off my own writing career!

Major writers’ conferences can be expensive. But they can be valuable investments in our future.

If you’ve always wanted to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, but never been able to afford it, I have exciting news for you.

Mount Hermon is running a First-Timers Contest for the 2017 conference. Ten winners will each receive a full scholarship, including economy lodging and conference meals.

There is NO FEE to enter this contest. It is open to both published and unpublished writers.

Just send a five-page writing sample (fiction or nonfiction). In addition to writing quality, winners will be determined based on the answers to these questions:

  1. Why do you want to attend the Mount Hermon Writers Conference?
  2. Why have you never attended before?
  3. What do you hope to get out of attending in 2017?

Once submissions are narrowed down based on those factors, the final decision will be made based on prayerfully asking for the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Deadline to enter is December 30 at midnight Pacific Standard Time.

Go to http://writers.mounthermon.org/resources/first-timers-contest for details, guidelines, and submission instructions.

Please spread the word to anyone you know who might benefit from this amazing conference.

Kathy Ide, Director
Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference


Kidder Creek Summer Review

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

Rafting Photo

Summer 2016 was an incredible one at Kidder Creek because we got to serve over 1,600 campers (an almost 20% increase over 2015!) through outdoor adventures. We saw campers take one step closer to Jesus and have their lives forever transformed as they give their lives to Him. What an incredible opportunity!

Glory to God for the work that He is doing in the lives of campers that join us each summer at Kidder Creek, as they enjoy rafting, horseback riding, and daily adventures, they discover who God made them to be and learn how they fit in His plan to serve Him and others as they grow closer to Him.

  • Rock Climbing
  • Kidder Ride
  • Little Girl

Another highlight of this summer was adding Kidder Creek’s first-ever Mountain Bike Camp to the schedule. We filled the camp quickly and had a waiting list for this fun new camp. One camper said, “It was the best week of my life!”

Daily rides were the essence of the camp with rides at camp, the base of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Ashland. Summer 2017 will see a return of Mountain Bike Camp, with this upcoming year separating our Jr. High and High School Campers so that we can offer an even better experience. Many thanks to our volunteers who helped build trails, lead rides, drive the shuttle and do bike maintenance, we could not have done this camp without them.


“I found how God is showing us His love in great ways. I found myself doubting His existence but that completely changed. I am so non-doubting about my faith, and I am willing to give my life fully to Him and go serve the Lord in any way possible.”

BRANDEN, WILDERNESS ASCENT CAMPER


“If we marvel at creation we should marvel even more at the Creator.”

NICHOLAS, TIMBERLINE CAMPER

“I want to decide for myself that I believe in God.”

KELLY, TIMBERLINE CAMPER


“It has changed and probably saved my life.”

SAM, WIT CAMPER



The Samuelson Pavilion

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

Samuelson Pavilion Photo

On July 30, 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.

  • Samuelson Pavilion
  • Samuelson Pavilion

“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. 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.”


“I love to build. I love taking the plans and making them come to life. We listen to the Master Builder. He leads us to build places and spots to worship.”


The Samuelson Family and staff also attended the dedication. “I love to build. I love taking the plans and making them come to life,” said Jack Samuelson. “We listen to the Master Builder. He leads us to build places and spots to worship.”

Jack has a long history with Mount Hermon having been on the board of directors and attending Mount Hermon events. “He [Jack] feels loved here,” said Jack’s son Reid Samuelson. “We feel loved here, and I’m sure that everyone who passes through here gets the same feeling. So we’re very proud, very honored to be a part of this project.”

“We want our grandchildren and all young people to understand that living is about giving and not getting,” said Jack. “It is about concern for others and living in the warm glow of God’s eternal, loving care.”

There was also no better weekend to dedicate the pavilion than the same weekend as the Redwood Staff Reunion. Over 140 former Redwood Staff from the 40’s to the present came from far and wide to revisit and reconnect with such a unique and meaningful time in their lives.

Bill (Llama) Vezey reflects back on his experience as a summer staffer at Redwood in the 80’s. “Redwood Camp, in particular, was, no exaggeration, my salvation. I was headed down a dark and self-absorbed road. Living in a community, summer after summer, that required mutual reliance in a place of such explicit prayer and service turned my ship around. I am forever grateful to Dick and Barb Dosker who took a chance on me and let me come back a second summer. And a third. And so on.”

“We’ve all been part of this,” said Ron Taylor, former Redwood Camp Director (1998–2009) during the ceremony. “I believe that this building is in good hands because the people who are serving at Mount Hermon love God and dream big.”


The Transformed Lives of Three Marine Wives

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

Military Camperships have become one of the most heartfelt parts of our campership program. Giving the gift of a week at family camp for a military family is a joy we can’t measure. Families arrive in a variety of shapes and sizes usually excited, having different needs and hopes of their week at camp. This summer we had a unique, first-time “family” arrive.

Three young Marine wives whose husbands are all deployed heard about the campership opportunity at church then called to see if the three of them might come as a “family” to Family Camp. We were thrilled to extend the invitation!

Haley, Jaclyn, and Laura had no idea what family camp would look like for them or how Mount Hermon would transform their lives, but God certainly did.

marine-wives

JACLYN
“Our experience at Mount Hermon was truly incredible. As military spouses with deployed husbands, we weren’t sure what the week would hold, but through the sessions, encouragement, and support of both staff and other campers, the week really did strengthen our family, even though they couldn’t be physically present. As unconventional as it may have been for us, it was family camp in the truest sense. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity we had, everything we learned, and the lifelong friends we made. I can’t imagine life without Mount Hermon!”


LAURA
“I was so blessed to be able to come to family camp on a military campership. Something that many people don’t know about military life is that the homecoming joy and excitement is often a short-lived calm before an ugly storm season. There are living arrangements, family dynamics, financial situations, and life experiences that have all been flipped upside down, then adapted to, and must now be flipped back over.

The week before family camp, I was considering backing out to try and make sense of it all and begin batting down the hatches. My week at Mount Hermon was a life changer—more a heart/soul changer that has allowed me to live a changed life. I can now see life from God’s perspective. I am able to find true God intended joy in the chaos.

I am able to breathe peacefully in hope for the future rather than fear. I really hope I someday get a chance to thank the person who made it possible.”


HALEY

“The main impression God left on me during my stay at Mount Hermon was how significantly God wants us to experience joy and to delight in His creation of the earth daily. No matter how long a military spouse has to endure their significant other’s absence, whether that be a weekend training, month-long field exercise, or 6 to 12-month deployment, they are more than likely going to feel a separation that is deeper than they want to acknowledge. The spouse can have all the goals and aspirations that she wants to strive for while her man is away in order to mask the loneliness, but it ends up being impossible to ignore.

Every family and staff member that Laura, Jacyln, and I met not only made all three of us feel at home again by filling that hole our husbands have left, but they honestly expressed the love of God and the compassion of Christ in a way I have not been blessed by in a long time. Mount Hermon reminded me how God wants us to live in right relationship with Him, His children, and the world. He has renewed my sense of purpose and spirit using the compassionate staff at Mount Hermon and the beautiful land they take care of. It was a true joy to be reminded of the life God wants us to live again and be able to have some fun at camp!”


Three women who were touched and transformed by a beautiful God ordained place, by loving Christ filled people, and by the mighty power of the Trinity.

For those of you who have had a part in sending a military “family” to Mount Hermon, thank you! Laura, Jaclyn, and Haley are just one example of many lives that have been changed because of you generously gave to send them to camp.


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!