A Dream Comes to Fruition: Redwood Pavilion

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are so grateful for the Samuelson family and for the hundreds of others who helped make this project possible!
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Lisa Olson: A New Journey

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

In spring of 2006 Mount Hermon welcomed a new staff member, Lisa Olson. Little did I realize how my life would be impacted as a result of knowing Lisa. I didn’t know she would become one of my dearest friends and be a catalyst in helping advance my faith and spiritual growth into a new place.

I’m not the only one impacted by Lisa. In fact, you may be one of them. Her vast knowledge of the world of Christian camping along with her decades of experience has changed the face of Mount Hermon programming and marketing in many ways—great ways.

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Lisa’s is uniquely wired. She can’t help herself from thinking of the most powerful ways to impact campers with the reality of Jesus’ love. Lisa is constantly evaluating how Mount Hermon can be relevant and in tune with our culture—how do we reach the world with the truth of God’s word? She is definitely not “camp as usual,” and Mount Hermon is a better place because of it.

We have been blessed to have had Lisa at the helm of programming and marketing for over a decade, but sadly, we’ve had to say “Happy Trails” to her. She is now headed into a new adventure in Christian camping in Texas.

Carolina Creek Christian Camp is blessed to have Lisa as their new Executive Director. Carolina Creek was founded in 2002 and is situated on 440 acres of waterfront property, 90 miles northwest of Houston. There are three camps on the property, serving all ages. With over two miles of water frontage, water sports are very popular at camp. They are enjoying their fifteenth summer of ministry this year.

Lisa loaded up and headed out on Sunday, June 19, and she arrived right in the throes of summer camp. For those of us who know Lisa, she stepped right into her element. There is no doubt that Lisa will bless the campers and impact the ministry under her new watch, the very way she blessed and impacted us at Mount Hermon.

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As Lisa began her transitions, true to her nature she did an exceptional job setting up and preparing her team for her departure, for the summer, and for their futures as strong contributors to Mount Hermon. Members of the Program Team are primed and ready to uphold and develop Mount Hermon’s outstanding program to impact campers with the reality of Jesus’s love and encouraging all to take one step closer to being more like Jesus. Jeremy Bentley, who joined our staff in July as the new Vice President of Program, now leads this amazing group of talented professionals into the future.

Although Lisa is dearly missed here, we know without a doubt the Lord is and will use her in a powerful way at Carolina Creek. Her fingerprints are all over Mount Hermon and she has been a significant contributor to our passion for “lives transformed” over the past decade. Thank you Lisa. We send you with love!

Please pray for Lisa and her family as they adjust to this era in their lives and specifically for Lisa as she leads this camp and acclimates to very new surroundings!

If you’d like to know more about Carolina Creek Christian Camp, go to carolinacreek.org


Mount Hermon Annual Fund & The Difference

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

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Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different.
C.S. Lewis.

No truer words than these describe Mount Hermon and the impact Mount Hermon Associates have had over the last twenty-plus years.

God has grown Mount Hermon’s reach in amazing ways. When I arrived in 1998, we ministered to less than 50,000 people per year; today it exceeds 70,000.  Our year-round staff of 123 in 1998 has grown to 295 today.  In 1995 we launched our Outdoor Science School, which now ministers to over 4,000 children each year, and includes a strategic ministry partnership in mainland China.  In 2003 and 2004 the Lord gave us Whisper Canyon and Kidder Creek Camps.

In 2006 our McAfee Fieldhouse opened, which changed everything in terms of year-round ministry options.  In a similar way, our reach and program options grew exponentially in 2008 when the Redwood Canopy Tour and Sequoia Adventure Course opened.  We had sixty cabins in 1996 and today the Lord has blessed us with eighty cabins.

In 2012 we purchased the Felton Meadow.  As we wait on God’s timing regarding the development of this new property, we’re creating unique new programs for this zone that will minister to tens of thousands more in the years to come!

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In 1998 our young Associates program had 98 members.  Today (as of 2015) Mount Hermon Associates number over 900—PTL!  Our Associates are not only part of our culture they’re woven into the fabric of our lives.  God has blessed this ministry in unimaginable ways and we can’t imagine life without you, our faithful, loving and supportive Associates—THANK YOU!

Yet, through it all, the Associates program has remained the same while everything else dramatically changed: staff growth, facility growth, program growth and the constantly increasing expenses to operate this ministry with excellence.  Twenty years ago, a dozen eggs could be purchased for around a dollar; today it’s not unusual to pay four.  Today a gallon of milk pushes five dollars, while twenty years ago it cost around three.  This one really impacts us:  the minimum wage was four dollars and change twenty years ago; today its ten dollars per hour, and soon it will increase to fifteen, which will have enormous financial impact.

So after much prayer and processing, along with input from many of you encouraging us to reconsider the financial threshold for Associates, we are announcing an update.  With the approval or our Board of Directors, the financial threshold for NEW Associates will now be $1,000 per year.  We want to provide plenty of lead time, so this change will not take effect until January 2017.

Praise The Lord that today over half of our Associates are already giving $1,000 or more each year.  We’re also aware that many others give quite sacrificially to reach the $500 level.  Please know that we are deeply grateful for every dollar given!  Nothing is changing for you unless you want it to.  Only NEW Associates will be tied to the $1,000/year giving threshold. Associates as of December 31, 2016 will remain at the current $500 per year.

Each and every Associate is a blessing!  We literally could not operate Mount Hermon without you—Thank You!  As we all move towards the future reaching even more people with the Good News of Jesus Christ, we want you to be crystal clear regarding this change.  Please don’t hesitate to contact Kerry Phibbs or me if you have any questions.


Learning Lessons the Hard Way

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

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As life-long Christians, we knew the answer to the ultimate eternal question: “What happens after death?” But we didn’t know about the temporal, financial, and family trauma questions when it came to our adult daughter with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening and rare genetic disease of the lungs and digestive systems.

Shannon had been in and out of hospitals for years, usually for 30 days at a time, and although treatments were successful, we knew sudden death was possible. At 36 years of age, she was on a list for a lung transplant. We were in Southern California when friends called who had arranged a MediVac flight for Shannon’s transport again to Stanford University Hospital. This time, however, we had 36 hours’ notice that her conditions appeared irreversible.

A friend asked if Shannon had a will, and knowing of none, we had a power of attorney prepared, but too late. Shannon was unable to sign the document, and she died without a valid will or power of attorney.

After the funeral, we discovered that with no co-signers, her bank accounts were frozen, and she had nobody involved with her financial savings or other assets. Armed with a sufficient number of death certificates, and with a significant amount of worry and effort, we finally were able to close the estate and have the assets transferred to us.

Learning of Shannon’s lack of preparation was a painful lesson for us, as well. We should have been prepared with safeguards for our own estate. It led us to establish our own trust document that identifies our assets, names the trustees and successor trustees, designates the distribution of assets upon death, and provides for updating as time and life changes occur. This has given us a great peace of mind that upon our decease, our estate will go where we want it to go, rather than leaving it to the hands of a lengthy state probate system.

This is valuable to us as senior citizens, but we are concerned for the younger generation coming along, who need to protect issues of what would happen to their children, should they be suddenly orphaned, as well as the distribution of financial assets. It’s alarming that over 55% of Americans do not have a proper will or trust agreement. They are relatively easy to set up, and they assure that your wishes will be followed. We heartily recommend it as an obvious exercise of Christian stewardship.
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We’re grateful Mount Hermon has encouraged proper planning, and can refer anyone to a qualified attorney who can help with the process.

Shannon has now been gone for 20 years. The hard lessons learned from her untimely death have been God’s gracious gift to us.

Paul and Jo Ann Phibbs are long-time friends and supporters of Mount Hermon. They live in Oklahoma, and are also the parents of Kerry Phibbs, Mount Hermon’s Associate Director of Advancement.


The Claussens—Volunteering is a Family Affair

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

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Volunteers—what would we do without them? At Mount Hermon our volunteers make an extraordinary difference in the day-to-day, season-to-season rhythm of life here. The gift from a financial viewpoint is beyond measure. Their service creates not only financial blessing, but the manpower needed to complete so many jobs at Mount Hermon.

One of the unexpected benefits of serving is when the servers experience abundant blessing in return—that is priceless. They know they are making a difference, but most importantly they are modeling the qualities of Jesus—our Savior.Such is the case with the Claussen family. Mark and Angel, along with four of their kids, Katie (17), Ruthie (14), John (11), Lorelei (7)

I asked Angel to share some of their story with me.

What started the Mount Hermon story for the Claussen family?

When Mark was 12 years old he came to Redwood Camp at Mount Hermon for the first time. He had attended another camp the previous year which had not been a good experience. His mother convinced him that he only had to go to Redwood Camp one time, and if he did not like it, he never had to go to another Christian camp again. Well, his counselor was Ken Harrower, and Mark can tell you something from every day that week. He loved it!

Now our kids have grown up attending Mount Hermon Family camps. We look forward to it all year long.

So what took you to Kidder Creek?

Our oldest son Markey, went to Kidder Creek horse camp in 1990. Katie and Ruthie started going in 2009 and they all loved it! When we came to see the “Showdeo,” we met a family that was volunteering at Kidder and so the idea began to grow.

In 2014, Mark retired and we all could spend a large part of the summer together at Kidder Creek, serving as a family.

What do you do when you are at camp?

We help wherever we are needed, mostly with the horse camp. Maintenance, repairs, cleaning, kitchen help, rounding up horses, helping the wranglers, helping Amy with the horses, and trail rides, teaching horse science when needed, making kids feel welcome, lifeguarding—a little bit of everything.

Often we help the kids from Camp Hope (a camp for children who come from domestic violence). Even Lorelei, our youngest, was able to just be with them and help them feel safe and loved.

What’s been the impact on your family?

We love the relationships we have formed with the year-round and summer staffs. What a blessing for us!

We came to Kidder Creek to help, support, and bless the campers and staff, but in reality we are the ones that have been blessed by the wonderful people we have met and served.

Kidder Creek is a place to meet Jesus and where He shows what He is capable of….

We asked the kids what they like most about Kidder Creek and they said, “But Mom, it is our second home! God is sooo present there and we love all the people!”

The Claussens are a special part of our Mount Hermon Volunteer Partners, along with many others. If you’d like to share the gift of service, please contact Don Broesamle at don.broesamle@mounthermon.org.


Reporting Back Dishwasher Appeal

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

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If you’ve ever eaten in the dining hall, you know it is a special place at Mount Hermon. Not only a place where we enjoy delicious meals, but also rich conversation, experience heart felt laughter, create wonderful memories and just share life.

At Mount Hermon we take the act of service and guest care seriously, so we thank you for being part of a very important mission—replacing a well-used, well-worn dishwasher!

Last spring many of you watched a video in which JR implored you, “Please help us, help Mike not have to wash dishes.” Well, we asked and you responded—in fact, over 200 generous friends stepped up to make this very significant project a reality.

dishwasher-guy-1200x800The response to helping us meet our goal for the dishwasher was remarkable. Truthfully, we were just amazed at how many of you responded with such generosity. As a result of the abundant provision given, we are well on our way to meeting the goal of the $189,000 needed to complete the entire project.

We trust the Lord’s provision for the remaining funds so we can begin the project early this fall. If all goes well, we will have the entire project completed prior to the holidays.

So remember, each time you eat off of a clean plate, drink out of a sparkling glass or stir your beverage with a shiny spoon, you’ll know you had a hand in making that happen!

Thanks a million, or at least $189,000!

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Doc: The Man on Fire

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

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

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

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

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

Are you one of our Staff Alumni who have served on Summer Staff? Let us know! Contact Andrew at andrew.summers@mounthermon.org

 


Transforming Summer Staff

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

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This summer, Kidder Creek will hire nearly sixty young adults to live and serve at the camp all summer long.

For the staff, the summer is just as transformational as it is for the campers.

God uses their relationships, hard work, dedication and perseverance to deepen their faith and help them grow closer to Jesus. If you’ve ever been on a mission trip, you’ve likely come away from your time of service feeling like you were the beneficiary. The same is true of summer staff at camp. All summer long, our dedicated staff continue to give their best even when they are worn out and God is faithful to use each moment to  transform lives in powerful ways as only He can do.

Serving on summer staff is a thrilling experience and one that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Kidder Creek is still looking to hire a handful of remaining positions for the 2016 summer.

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the life transformational work of summer camp, please invite them to visit whyiworkatcamp.com. The power of camp is available to camper and staff alike.

Come join us this summer!    


Volunteers Help Make Camp Happen!

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

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As summer approaches, there is much to be done to prepare for the arrival of summer staff and campers. Our site requires hours of cleanup from the harsh fall and winter weather and each year we focus on several large facility projects to continue maintaining and improving our structures and site.

Our facilities manager, Tim Lloyd, does an incredible job coordinating these projects and ensuring that the camp looks better than ever on day one of the summer. We are tremendously grateful for the groups of volunteers who come and give hundreds of hours to help us prepare for the summer.

Recently, we have had volunteers from Rolling Hills Covenant Church in Southern California, Servants on Wheels Ever Ready (SOWERs), and the Mobile Missionary Assistance Program (MMAP) helping with projects ranging from slash clearing to window and siding installation. As we get closer to summer, Heavenly wheels from Redding, Calvary Bible Church from Grass Valley, and Flood Student Ministry from Colorado will come to volunteer their time and talent to make Kidder Creek better than ever.

In addition to these groups, a number of faithful volunteers from the Scott Valley help with site maintenance throughout the year. We are beyond grateful to them all!


If you would like to know more about ways you could get involved in supporting the ministry of Kidder Creek as a donor or volunteer please contact us at office@kiddercreek.org.


Welcome Drew Otto!

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

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Kidder Creek Camp is excited to welcome Drew Otto back to its staff as our incoming Associate Director!

From 2007–2013 Drew spent most of his summers at Kidder Creek as a counselor, men’s staff counselor and head river guide. The other 3 seasons at Mount Hermon he spent working as a naturalist, principal and developer in the Outdoor Science Program at Mount Hermon.

“I’m excited to be vocationally working for the kingdom and to see God move and reveal himself to our campers AND to our staff. It’s an exciting honor to be a part of what’s happening at Kidder Creek.”

KC-Otto'sFamilyPic-600x432Drew is joined by his wife Charlene and daughter Ellie. Charlene is  pregnant with their second daughter and due in August.

Everyone who knows Drew and Char is so excited to welcome them back to Kidder Creek as part of the full time staff. Together they bring a passion to invest into our staff and to see campers’ lives transformed as they meet Jesus here at camp through our staff and adventure experiences.

Please welcome Drew and Char to our team!   


Lives Transformed – Summer is Coming!

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

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Camp is abuzz with excitement and energy as we are preparing for the upcoming summer.

April has started with the Rolling Hills Covenant Church youth group doing projects all over camp like raking, cleaning out the pond and building some new fencing. Curly, our contractor, is here building stairs and moving dirt to revamp the water slide/ropes course areas, the SOWERS and MMAP’s groups are here working on the Timberline Dining Room, horses are coming back to the pasture and UPS is making more regular visits. Our office staff is busy answering phones and taking registrations, the kitchens are getting cleaned and the last few summer staff are being hired.

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The energy is so exciting as we anticipate our summer staff and campers that will be joining us in a few weeks for Summer 2016.

Kids at camp means lives transformed as they have incredible adventures where they meet Jesus and grow in their faith.

All of this work has me pondering the amount of work and energy that it takes to get ready for camp each year. I’ve been thinking a lot about the verse in
I Peter 4:10 where it says,

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others.”

Getting ready for camp each summer is a huge undertaking and it requires many people investing time, energy and resources to be prepared for the ministry at hand. I get so excited thinking about each person involved using the gifts that God has given them to serve the campers that will join us this summer.

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The people involved does not include just those who are here getting their hands dirty. It also includes our donors who are giving to camperships and general giving, it includes our prayer warriors praying over the work that God will do in the lives of campers and it includes all of our previous campers who are out talking to their friends and inviting them to camp this summer.

God has great things in store for the campers and staff that will be with us this summer. Thank you to all of you who are a part of using your gifts to serve others at Kidder Creek Camp and are helping get camp ready for Summer 2016. It’s going to be a great summer as we see Lives Transformed!   

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Project Sanctuary– Where Military Families Thrive

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

 militaryFamily1000Mount Hermon ministers to thousands of people each year by linking arms with established organizations, supporting them as they seek to accomplish kingdom work. Each year we also intentionally partner with a few organizations whose mission and values align with our own. Referred through our Military Campership Program, Project Sanctuary’s goal is to assess the needs of military families, reconnect them through therapeutic retreats, and ultimately help them make the transition to thriving into the future. We’ve hosted four of the 90+ reconnecting retreats, with a fifth scheduled this fall.

The retreats are free to guests, funded by Project Sanctuary’s private donors who wish to honor military families by providing therapeutic recreation, education, and counseling for the entire family. The Colorado-based nonprofit has served over 465 families, and is excited to report that 90% of these families are still intact with ZERO suicides.

A female veteran, single mother of five told us,

“Project Sanctuary is not just a foundation. They are a ministry! … My family never knew what family love felt like until we encountered this retreat and the people who help make it possible. I thank God over and over again for Heather [group leader] giving me the opportunity to see myself in the light and NOT in the dark.”

We are overjoyed to be part of the transformational work that God is doing in the lives of each one who will spend six days on our grounds, being loved and cared for by our staff and the leadership from Project Sanctuary.militaryFather1000


We Planned For the Future, But…

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

LisaOlsonFamily1000In The LOG we always like good Redwood Society stories – about people so touched by God at Mount Hermon that they’ve chosen to extend their legacy here with an estate gift. It is humbling to discover how some bequests arrive at an “appointed” time and in the exact amount needed for a crucial ministry opportunity. God delights in making this happen.

My own journey with my will and estate offers a word of warning. My husband, Mark, and I created a simple will when our first daughter was born. (Young parents, be sure you do that! Select a guardian yourself, not a court-assigned judge.) We also purchased ‘income replacement’ life insurance policies, with face values of ten times our salaries. By investing the proceeds at current interest rates the survivor could replace the income of the one who’d died. We were advised that would sufficiently sustain our lifestyle.

Then as many young couples do, we filed it, and never thought about it again … until. Twelve years later Mark was diagnosed with acute leukemia that took his life after a fierce nine-month battle. When serious illness is diagnosed, it is too late to revise your plan; you have to live – and sometimes die – with it.

Mark and I were both sobered to realize that, now as a ministry leader, his income had more than doubled in those twelve years. Also, we’d underestimated our income when we purchased our life insurance, as more than a third of our compensation was in tax-free housing, utilities and perks. Our premiums were low, but so would be the proceeds.

Plus, our family had grown! We now had four children, ages 6, 8, 10 and 12, one with autism, one with epilepsy. I worked part-time to help with speech therapy and medical expenses, and was consumed with being a mom.

There was nothing we could change, so we focused on fighting the cancer. It weighed heavily on Mark that I would immediately need to work full-time, since our meager life insurance proceeds would not begin to cover his income portion.

And that’s what I did. Within two weeks of Mark’s home-going I was working full-time so we could keep our medical benefits, and I cut our budget to fit within my salary alone. God has faithfully enabled me to provide for my kids, and the insurance was enough for a down payment on a house. In that way, Mark was able to provide that first home for us, for which I have been extremely grateful.

Even with few assets, our will still had a charitable clause: if our entire family suffered a catastrophic event, our estate would pass a substantial portion to our ministry as secondary beneficiaries of our life insurance policies. That would have represented a significant gift, marking our legacy there for generations to come.

Though we had an ‘estate plan’ – a will and life insurance – we did not review it annually as our family grew and needs changed. If you are without an estate plan that covers current needs, please address that today. Many free online tools can help you prepare a simple plan. Then revisit it annually! And don’t forget to include Mount Hermon in your will or as a beneficiary to an insurance policy, HSA or retirement plan, leaving a legacy for those who will follow you here in the redwoods.


Literally…Life Transforming

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

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Experiencing the truth of Jesus’ love in a camp environment is not to be underestimated. I’ve known it personally in my own life, I’ve see it in the life of my son and I’ve watched it all around me at Mount Hermon for over 18 years. This reality and truth comes in many forms: a powerful message spoken to us through a speaker, the open heart and listening ear of a counselor toward a tender, restless youth, the “respite” for parents as their child with special needs is lovingly cared for, allowing them to reconnect as a couple, or to quietly walk through Gtod’s majestic creation.

The impact is life-transforming, literally.

For generations Mount Hermon has provided a loving hand to those who need a little help to get here. Generous donors have opened their hearts to make this possible. In 2015 over $440,000 in camperships were granted. Some give because they’ve experienced Jesus’ love here and want others to do the same. During a leaner season of life others have had the blessing of receiving a campership so they or someone they love could come to camp. Many times we see this latter group “return the gift” through their support of the Campership Fund—to pass their blessing on.

Below is a note we received by just such a person.

“When my daughter was struggling in her faith as a teenager she attended camp at Ponderosa Lodge. Her interaction there with Christ and her counselors sustained her during a dry season. As a single mom with limited resources I could not have made that experience a reality without the support of a donor who sowed into her, never seeing her face or knowing her name. I am sowing this gift to do the same for another—may the Shalom of God be with the child and parent. Thank you!”

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This story is very close to my heart because that girl is my niece, Jordan, and that note is from my sister, Vana. Jordan is now 27 and still powerfully recalls the summers she spent at Ponderosa Lodge. Jordan says:

“Attending Ponderosa was a gift that gave me a reprieve from the onslaught of the world at a pivotal age. It showed me a world where people my age were striving hard to live for something bigger and better than just themselves. The camps, and later working on summer staff, have helped to strengthen my bedrock with the Lord and grow me into the woman I am today. I am forever blessed and grateful for the effect Mount Hermon has had on me and my walk of faith.”

You may have a similar story because someone opened their heart to make the way for you! We are immeasurably grateful to you who choose to give the gift of camp to another. Vana and I will never be able to thank the person who paved the way for Jordan, but we campers are going to have some beautiful stories to share around the campfire in heaven.

The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:40 (NIV)


Family Camp Summer Theme: Settlers of Hermon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ponderosa Summer Theme: Through the Woods

Posted by & filed under General, Stories of Ministry.

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Last summer as I read through all the student evals, I was struck by the reoccurring statement that I saw students write: that they “learned that they could become more like Jesus no matter what they struggled with or did in their past.” As we grow closer to Jesus, we learn that He loves us and His love covers our sin and struggles. And yet how often do we still fear that there is something that will keep us from being able to truly experience His love? These students’ statements made realize that we needed to camp out right there, in the middle of all the things that we think could separate us from God’s love. And to shine the light of the Gospel truth that nothing can separate us from God’s love.

The theme this summer at Ponderosa is “Through the Woods.” “The Woods” is the place in each our lives where we hide our secrets, sin and shame. It’s in this darkness where we hide from God, convinced that if He saw what we hide or do in darkness, there’s no way He would still love us. And yet the truth we’re declaring to students, as Paul writes in Romans 8, is that not even the Woods can separate us from God’s love. His love is the light that shines in the darkest parts of our lives, and calls us to journey through the Woods and live with Him. Romans 8 is the central truth to this theme and how Paul drives it home in verses 38-39 in which he declares “For I am convinced that neither death nor life…nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Please pray for the students and staff who will embark on this journey this summer, that they would be led one step closer to Jesus and know the truth about God’s incredible love for them.

Through the Woods


Kidder Creek Summer Theme: Rooted

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

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There are so many messages coming at us in today’s world.  It can be easy to feel blown around by the winds of pop culture. That’s why it is so important to invite kids into the hope of the eternal truth of God’s Word. In Colossians 2:7, Paul gives the instruction to “Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

Our theme for summer 2016 is “Rooted.” We each have roots and we each have to choose where we allow our roots to grow. Do we allow them to grow down into our personal talents, our outward appearance, our social status? These options are temporary and unsteady. Instead we’ll be challenging campers to allow their roots to grow down into God’s eternal love for them. Once firmly rooted, they will be prepared to navigate the joys and difficulties that they face every day.

Please join us in prayer as we unfold this theme in the coming months. Our desire is that campers would leave Kidder Creek with a better understanding of how to grow in their faith in Christ.


Redwood Summer Theme: Port Redwood

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

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

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


Camp Sabbath Rest

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

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No Summer Sunday Morning Services

Summer at Mount Hermon is amazing, and I can’t wait for June 2016 to come. My favorite moment of the week is when families show up for Family Camp on Sunday afternoon as the energy and anticipation vibrates throughout the mountain! For three months we have the privilege of enjoying group after group, week after week. Additionally, placed between weekly Family Camps, we have offered Saturday night dinners and concerts, stay-overs, and Sunday morning worship services and meals. This place never slows down. Never.

After experiencing one summer at Mount Hermon I became quite concerned about our staff’s need for a “Sabbath rest,” and so we began to do some research. We learned that most other camps have built rest into their summer schedule between Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, allowing their staff the ability to catch their breath and get ready for the next week of high energy activity.

Therefore, after months of prayer, discussion and input, we made the decision to no longer provide summer Sunday morning worship services at Mount Hermon. The two main reasons are …

  • To provide our staff weekly refreshment, both physically and spiritually
  • To allow our staff to attend their own local church and not miss that for an entire season of the year.

Be assured that Mount Hermon will continue to provide a delicious Saturday banquet and outstanding concerts throughout the summer. Those who stay overnight on Saturday can attend one of the many good local churches in the area on Sunday.

We appreciate that not all will be pleased with our decision, but we do hope you understand why this decision was made. We thank God for the many decades this Sunday service has blessed lives, including mine. To God be the glory!


The Lasting Impact of Summer Staff

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

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

Q: How did serving at Mount Hermon impact you?

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

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Q: What was your career journey after that summer?

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

Q: What is your current role?

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

For information on these programs, see www.whitworth.edu/oce.

Read About Whitworth Programs


Felton Meadow Update

Posted by & filed under Building Projects, General, LOG.

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Mount Hermon’s Felton Meadow development project, which includes the Velocity Bike Park, is currently grinding its way through the Santa Cruz County planning and approval process. It’s been two years since the plans were first submitted to the County for review and subsequent discretionary approval, and you may be wondering what is taking so long.

In early 2015 the County determined that our project would require an environmental impact report (EIR). After lengthy preparations we officially entered into the EIR process in October 2015. So far so good. No red flags or issues that can’t be mitigated. You can be praying for a few areas of concern to our neighbors: traffic, biotic resources, and visual impact. These can be areas where the perceived impact overshadows actual.

We are hoping to have the draft EIR ready for public review early this summer, the final EIR completed by fall, and be back in front of the County Planning Commission before the end of the year. If all goes well, we could be moving dirt as soon as it is allowed in April, 2017.

feltonMeadow1000In January Mount Hermon hosted a “town hall” meeting for the local community. Colorful displays illustrated the site plan, environmental issues, building concepts and floor plans, and even general information about Mount Hermon. During the presentation our staff spoke about Mount Hermon’s long history in the area, how the community will be blessed through the programs and activities designed for them, and specifics associated with the actual construction, operation, and maintenance of the site.

The goal was to openly inform the public about what we want to do and why. More than 200 people attended including neighbors, business people and a local bike club of Junior High  students. We are encouraged by the swell of support we have since received. God is on the move!


Dale Pollock is the Facility Engineer for Mount Hermon. He brings 21 years of experience at Mount Hermon to his role as the Project Coordinator for the Felton Meadow development.

Read More About Felton Meadow


Blended Couples Retreat a Success

Posted by & filed under LOG, Stories of Ministry.

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What happens when you create a retreat for couples that are in a blended family relationship, navigating what it is to be a step-parent? What happens when you offer practical insight into new in-laws, ex-spouses, different parenting styles, finances and so much more…?

A whole bunch of people sign up! They came not knowing each other as couples and left as friends. Gil and Brenda Stuart, from Restored & Remarried, did a masterful job of teaching us, creating a safe environment for couples interaction and deep discussions that included laughter and tears. As a step-parent myself, to be part of this conference was both rich and encouraging.

It was interesting from my vantage point as the host to observe couples sitting down for the first session and it being very quiet in the room. By Saturday night we had to find ways to quiet them down!

This conference was born out of requests from couples saying they needed something to help them better understand step-parenting and all that goes with it. Either through divorce and remarriage or death of a spouse and remarriage, many find themselves in a position of his, hers, and now, ours. This retreat addressed those issues.

Attendee comments:

This is the best couple’s retreat we have experienced. It allowed us to fellowship with other couples facing similar situations.

Please continue this conference!!

We walked away with many new insights and techniques to parenting in a step-family. Thank you.

This was an incredible opportunity to communicate with like-minded people processing similar challenges in a safe, friendly and beautiful environment!


Kidder Creek Prepares for the Future

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

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We have recently heard back from the Siskiyou County Planning Department that we are nearing the end of our long journey in the process of approval to our Special Use Permit for the Kidder Creek Master Site Plan. Over the last seven years we have been working with Federal, State and County agencies to dot our i’s and cross our t’s to ensure that we have been diligent in preparing our environmental documents needed in order to proceed. We have most recently finished our traffic impact study and biological survey in the summer and fall of 2015.

Once we receive the application back our next step will be to review any mitigation required and then to submit our application to the planning commission. Prior to the hearing with the planning commission there will be a 30-day public comment phase, which will give our neighbors opportunity to voice any concerns. Please pray with us that God’s hand will be evident throughout the continuation of our process.

Until we hear back we plan to continue to be proactive in getting our plans out into the community by holding meetings and one-on-ones, where we will share the vision and answer questions and concerns that our neighbors may have.

God is doing great things in the lives of young people at Kidder Creek…

…and we look forward to the opportunity to increase that impact by having more campers here in the future. Thanks for your prayers and your support as we walk through this process of approval.

Read More about Kidder Creek


Kidder Creek Loves to Serve Groups!

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

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At Kidder Creek, Custom Group Adventures are one fun way we work with churches. We lead their activities, prepare their meals, and coordinate all the logistics, so each group’s leaders can focus all their attention on building relationships and fully sharing the camp experience with their students.

Peninsula Bible Church, Cupertino, has adventured with us for over ten summers. Shawn Reese of PBCC writes, “Our middle school summer program is built around our trips to Kidder Creek. In fact, most of our students say these trips are the highlight of their middle school years. And many high school students serve with us just so they can go BACK to Kidder Creek!”

We create Adventures uniquely tailored to serve each group. Shawn says,

“Kidder Creek is so accommodating, allowing us to shape our own trip, and tweak it to our liking. We bring our own staff who have relationships with the kids, and Kidder Creek’s guides provide for all the adventure stuff. Their staff love God and love our people, and they want to know our kids. The entire trip is God-centered.

Their model allows us to serve our students in a profound way, maximizing the impact of a multi-day epic adventure within the context of our year-round youth group. The results are incredible. Our trips to Kidder give us time to breathe and ample time in God’s good creation.

Many parents tell us that their 6th graders return home with new confidence gained on these trips. Some have never been away from their parents overnight, and many have never camped in the woods, so when they ‘conquer’ our River Camp experience, they know they’ve accomplished something!”

If you’re interested in a Custom Group Adventure for your church or other group, give us a call! 888.226.7386 We’d love to serve you this summer.

Learn More about Group Services


A Simple Click

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

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Two students sit on the benches outside of the Creative Services office wielding their phones and chatting about the upcoming summer. “Did you see the video? Here, let me show you.” Huddled around a phone and with a simple click, together they watch a sneak peak of the exciting things that will happen at Ponderosa Lodge this summer.

“I don’t know what the Sequoia Aerial Adventure is,” says one guest to another. “Here, watch this video. It’s awesome. We have to do this!”

Video is an anchor in communication of everything that we do at Mount Hermon. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, video is worth a million. But what has become the norm and can be accessed effortlessly actually represents hours of preparation, storyboarding, shooting, editing, color correcting, revisions and hard work.

Micah Smith, who leads our video production team, brings years of film experience from his time working in Los Angeles as a cinematographer and Digital Imaging Specialist, including his Emmy-winning work on the human trafficking documentary “The Pink Room.” Micah’s approach and professional insight have taken our ability to tell the story of Mount Hermon to a whole new level.

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“I think video at Mount Hermon is important because it can tell a side of the story that a photograph cannot. People connect with the humanity of people sharing their testimonies and how God has changed their lives for the better. To hear and see that transformation in the moving image connects powerfully with the viewer and allows them to identify with similar stories in their own lives as well.”

Making a video requires much more than just one’s skill behind the camera. The work to make a vision go from concept to final cut takes a team of people from several departments working and dreaming together to produce something truly spectacular. The shoot for Ponderosa Lodge’s summer theme-reveal involved not only members of the program and creative services teams, but coordination with guest services in finding a space to use as a set for several days, and the facilities team to rig our older buildings for the extra lights and power needed to create the desired effects.

With the launch of Sequoia Aerial Adventure this March, it was imperative to have a video to explain and show exactly what it is and invite viewers into the course. Micah led a crew of photographers, videographers, and talent out on the course for two days in order to capture this amazing new experience.

Our most recent production involved creating an overview of what it’s like to come to Mount Hermon with a guest group. Micah and his crew captured footage and interviews for months in order to convey to guest group leaders why Mount Hermon is a great place to bring their people for a life-transforming event. After long hours of gathering, shooting and editing, the video was revealed to the Guest Services Team. Bill Fernald, Director of Guest Services said, “This is it! This is the story I’ve always wanted to tell.” This is the moment a storyteller anticipates; capturing the heart of the story and finding a way to convey it to the viewer.

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To see the videos mentioned and many more check out our Vimeo channel at vimeo.com/mounthermon. You’ll be able to appreciate them even more knowing all that goes into a video behind a simple click.

Check out the Mount Hermon Videos