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.

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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


Staff Impact Camps Beyond Mount Hermon

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

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On a rainy November evening in 1949, thirteen men from eight West Coast camps met at Mount Hermon. They came together intending to address their current needs, and to encourage each other in their ministry callings.

However, no one imagined that this gathering would birth both the Christian Camp and Conference Association and Christian Camping International – Worldwide, two organizations that now represent over 1,000 camps and conferences around the globe. In serving member camps and conference centers, these organizations work to maximize our ministries, equipping and enabling us to help our guests grow closer to Jesus. Over the years many on our staff have participated on the national board of directors, as faculty at national conferences and in many other ways.

The Sierra-Pacific Section of CCCA includes Northern California, Nevada, and Hawaii. Three members of our Mount Hermon staff currently serve on the Sierra-Pacific section board:  Terra Edwards (Reservations and Event Services Coordinator), Josh Edwards (Recreation Manager), and Dave Peterson (IT/AV Manager).

We’ve asked Terra and Josh to share with us about their involvement.

Q. What does the CCCA Section Board do and who is involved?

Terra: We organize the annual three-day sectional conference for our regional member camps, where we gather together for fellowship and worship. We provide instruction and certification pertaining to specific camp roles, and also offer various training days throughout the year. Our board includes 14 members from several camps of varying size and scope.

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Q. How did you become involved with CCCA and their board?

Terra: My parents served at a camp, so my Christian Camping experience began at age five. As a freshman in college I was asked by the Section Board President to take the notes at their meetings. It was a huge honor to serve alongside directors who had been in camp ministry for 20+ years.  They were giants in my eyes, still they were so intentional in getting to know me, encouraging me and praying for me. After college I came to serve as Mount Hermon’s Family Camp Registrar. I soon was asked to join the Sierra Pacific Board, and was appointed their Secretary. I’ve had the joy of serving in this capacity for four years!

Josh: I’ve been involved with the board for over 3 years now, introduced to CCCA by my wife, Terra. My role in serving as marketing coordinator has been a great experience. I’ve enjoyed my time with the board, which has allowed me to see the impact Christian camping has on both the local and the national level.

Q. What is your favorite part of serving on the board?

Terra: Planning an event for those serving on the ministry front lines is an honor. Camps face significant challenges – financial stresses, never-ending maintenance issues, concerns about ministry effectiveness. But while together at a sectional, camp staff can see they are not alone “in the trenches,” and they find support and encouragement. It is amazing to watch people connect, be encouraged, and return to camp with renewed spirits and energy for serving the Lord. Being a small part of helping to facilitate much of this is incredibly humbling.

Josh: In serving on the board I love being able to encourage others in camping ministry. Often times serving in ministry can be a thankless job. Planning a conference centered around loving, encouraging and equipping people in Christian camping is a true joy!


The Purpose Behind the Fun

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

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People often ask how we create such powerful programs for students at Mount Hermon. The first step is having a creative team of gifted people. God has blessed Mount Hermon Youth with an incredible team of people. This team follows a template for creating themed programs. The process starts with the Bible.

#1: One Main Scriptural Truth

All Mount Hermon Youth programs start and end with the Bible. Not only do we want students in their Bibles, we want them to walk away with one main truth out of the Bible and we want them to know that truth inside and out. Recently, Ponderosa Lodge did a theme built upon the truth of Matthew 13:44. That truth was simple: following Jesus is worth more than anything this world can offer.

#2: An Analogous Theme that Clearly Teaches the One Main Truth

This analogous theme is a way of communicating that one main truth clearly, concisely and in a way students can understand. This theme is ultimately the analogy, or metaphor we use to teach the truth. It determines the look and design of print material, videos, costumes and the entire camp. The theme for Matthew 13:44 was a pirate-based theme titled “Epic: Leave all Else Behind.”

#3: Daily Objectives Further Explaining the One Main Truth

Our programs have a daily objective that points back to and further explains the one main truth. These objectives are essentially answers to questions which one would ask about the one main truth, such as “How?” “What?” and “Why?” While we want students to walk away with one main truth, every day we want them to dig deeper into that truth. Some of the objectives for “Epic” were answers to questions such as “Why is Jesus worth leaving all else behind?” and “What does it look like to leave all else behind to follow Jesus?”

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#4: Story Flow and Small Group Questions

For many of our themed programs, we write a story that places the one truth and its objectives into the context of the adolescents’ daily experience. These stories are written as scripts with relatable characters, and presented as skits performed immediately before students meet in small groups. After the scripts are finished, small group questions are written. We use the story to help students dive deeper into Scripture. The goal is for each student to see how this story connects to Scripture, so that ultimately they see how their story connects to Scripture. The story-line for “Epic” centered around a pirate and his best friend who were looking for an epic treasure and encountered obstacles along the way.

#5: The Schedule

The daily schedule is done last because we don’t want the schedule to drive our programs, we want the Bible to drive our programs. Putting the schedule together involves creating and planning all the games that will be played, all the teaching moments that will happen and all of the fun that will be had. The ultimate goal is that everything in the schedule points back to the one main truth. The schedule for “Epic” involved many pirate-themed activities, discussions and games.

The ultimate goal of this process is to create a memorable, impactful and transformational camp experience where students are led one step closer to Jesus.

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Welcome Drew Otto!

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

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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.”

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Drew 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!   


One-Hunder-Ten: 2015 Annual Ministry Report

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

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As I wind down year number one as a staff member at Mount Hermon, I have enjoyed experiencing Family Camps, guest groups, marriage retreats, men’s and women’s gatherings, teen weekend camps, and so much more. But that is nothing compared to God completing one-hundred-ten years of impactful ministry at this special place. Think of that, 110 years of God’s hand upon this place!

Mount Hermon has experienced 110 years of staying on track biblically, 110 years of consistent faith and prayer, 110 years of God’s bountiful provision, 110 years of people choosing eternity, 110 years of marriages strengthened, 110 years of children and youth having the time of their lives, 110 years of godly leadership and staff, 110 years of people being refreshed and renewed, 110 years of families being together, 110 years of strong biblical teaching, 110 years of s’mores (not sure about the accuracy on this one), and 110 years of God’s hand working, moving, and blessing. 110 years. Wow!

Before we move forward I want to look back on what God has done at Mount Hermon this past “one” year. We will never know all the lives that were touched and transformed by the Lord, but we continue to be amazed at how many people God brings to Mount Hermon to be renewed, refreshed and transformed by Him. Each number I share represents people, lives that our Lord loves.

Last summer we served approximately 19,500 people in various ways and forms, from Kidder Creek to Ponderosa Lodge to Redwood Camp to Family Camp to Saturday night concerts to our zip line canopy tours. That’s just the summer. In the fall we saw over 700 Jr. High and High School students attend our “Fall Frenzy” weekend camps. This past year we had a combination of over 1,900 attend Mount Hermon sponsored women’s and men’s retreats, and more than 200 people at our couple’s retreats. On top of all this were thousands of people that enjoyed our grounds in guest group settings throughout the year. Overall Mount Hermon touches some 70,000 people in “one” year.

My favorite number that stands out from this past year is what God did at Ponderosa  Lodge last summer. Only God knows the true number, but 258 Jr. High and High School students indicated that they made first-time decisions for Jesus Christ. Praise God! Look at what a few Ponderosa students said about their summer experience:

“Mount Hermon was one of the best weeks of my life. I was able to connect with God on a deeper level and I love how close I got to my cabin. It was my first time at camp so everything was

new and absolutely fantastic. I will 100% be returning next summer.”

“My week at Mount Hermon was really incredible and life changing. I really learned a lot more about God and it’s just an amazing feeling. Mount Hermon is really the best.”

“This was both a time to have fun and be myself, and a time to accept God and worship Him. This week, I first accepted the Spirit, and it has been one of the best weeks of my life.”

This is why Mount Hermon has been standing for 110 years. This is God’s place, and His hand continues to move in lives as He refreshes, renews and transforms.

One-hundred-ten with one outcome – glory to God!


To God Be the Glory!

Posted by & filed under LOG, Stories of Ministry.

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Spring. It’s the season that closes out winter and ushers in the summer, the season of beautiful blossoms, lush green grass, and water rushing from the mountain snow melt. I must admit – having moved here last May from Colorado – that it has been strange seeing trees in bloom, no snow on the ground and warmer temperatures – in early February! It’s a reminder that every place is unique and has its own timing; God’s timing.

That is also true for Mount Hermon. We are in a season of spring as we look back on God’s faithfulness these past months of life-transforming ministry, while eagerly anticipating a summer where God will touch the lives of thousands of people. What a great privilege it is to be part of this place, God’s place. There is no doubt that God is at work through the ministry of Mount Hermon. I see it all the time in the lives of others who come to our camps, and I see it in my own life, and I am grateful.

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In this edition of The LOG you will have the opportunity to review how God worked at Mount Hermon in 2015. It was a year of leadership transition, yet the same faithful God was at the helm, moving and molding, renewing, refreshing and transforming people of all ages and stages of life. Wow! To God be the glory, great things He has done.

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Mike Romberger
President/CEO


They Serve… Because They Believe

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

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I want to share with you some numbers that I thought you might find interesting:

67 / 282 / 264 / 613

What do these numbers mean?
Each number represents a group of incredible Mount Hermon staff members!

67 full-time year round
282 part-time year round and seasonal
264 summer staff
= 613 total Mount Hermon staff

Each Mount Hermon staff member plays an important role, roles that include clearing trails, washing dishes, harnessing adventurers, overseeing technology, receiving reservations, planning conferences, cleaning toilets, raising money, loving children, fixing repairs, cooking meals, creating brochures, selling books, assisting pastors, impacting teenagers, teaching science, holding babies, making beds, managing finances, painting fences, making videos, cutting grass, serving food, changing light bulbs, and oh so much more!

We are blessed with a great staff, and God has impressed deep upon my heart the need for us to celebrate, appreciate, care for and adequately provide for our staff. They work long hours, sacrifice, care, and love this ministry as they give tirelessly of themselves without high pay or great benefits. They serve because they believe in this special place where God regularly touches lives.

Please join me in praying for our staff, that God would protect them, supply all their needs, and truly bless their lives. Pray for unity, joy, and effectiveness as our staff minister to over 70,000 people each year. And when you get a chance, please look them in the eyes and say, “thank you!”

Apply for Summer Staff at Mount Hermon!


Ron Demolar– Pancake King and So Much More

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

demolarSummer staff, intern, year–round staff, Ponderosa Lodge Director, Advancement Staff member, tour director, president of the Trustees, part of the Redwood Society; there’s hardly a category of involvement at Mount Hermon that doesn’t fit Ron Demolar, and it goes back 55 years!

Ron first came on the Redwood Camp Summer Staff in 1961, and returned in 1962 and 1963. On the car trip in 1962, he met Jacquie Dangers, who had grown up in Zaire (now Congo), and was attending Westmont College. After serving together at Redwood and dating, they were married in 1964.

From 1964–67, they came up to host college conferences at Mount Hermon. In 1967, he was named Mount Hermon’s first intern, working at Redwood Camp under Dick Dosker. Together, they put the finished touches on program planning for the new high school camp at Ponderosa Lodge, and Ron became director there in 1969.

Jacquie worked as a registrar in 1967, raised two daughters, and later was full–time in the HR office, in charge of hiring hundreds of summer staffers. This last year she has fought a battle with cancer, and has now finished her final round of chemotherapy. She loves visiting their two grandsons in Colorado and granddaughter in Texas.

Ron led Ponderosa Lodge from its beginning in 1969, and became Program Director of Mount Hermon in 1983. In 2000 he moved to the Advancement Office, and in 2011 he stepped aside when he was named to the Mount Hermon Trustees, which he still chairs.

Because he has influenced thousands of young people who have now moved into responsible Christian ministries world–wide, Ron is considered the “go–to” person when our staff needs information on someone. “He knows everyone, it seems,” says his former Advancement boss, J. R. Loofbourrow.

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Ron believes in “paying it forward,” and supporting those whose lives have intertwined with his. He serves on four boards. “Intensive Care” is involved in third–world teaching of pastors. “The Fellowship” in Santa Cruz, with former staffer Rich Price, is involved in discipleship. And he serves on the board of his brother–in–law’s orphanage in Africa, “New Hope Uganda”. Because he has received so much from his involvement with Mount Hermon and now the Trustees, he and Jacquie have also joined the Redwood Society, to pledge part of their estate to the ongoing ministry of Mount Hermon.

It wasn’t in his job description, but Ron is also known as the pancake king, having flipped pancakes two or three times a week every summer for over 45 years. And for years he drove the bus to the beach with eager loads of high schoolers. “At camp, you do a little bit of everything––whatever needs doing,” he reports. He has done it with modesty and willingness. That makes him a pretty popular guy with thousands of young people, now grown up, all over the world.

Apply for Summer Staff at Mount Hermon!


Getting to Know the Mount Hermon Annual Fund

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

  jr-loofbourrowIn Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 the Lord has given us a beautiful, poetic narrative about the seasons and cycles of our lives. I know you are familiar with it… “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven”(3:1).

We live the cycles and rhythms of life almost without thinking. Birthdays and anniversaries of things joyous and sad come every year. Holidays and Holy Days allow us to celebrate romance, patriotism, the Incarnation and Resurrection. Annual physicals, dues, performance reviews and taxes come as sure as the winter rains. The author of Ecclesiastes writes: “What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again” (3:15).

Mount Hermon is a seasonal ministry in many ways. Annually we see the return of summer when family camps and youth camps gear up to full–tilt, and thousands of people fill the air with laughter, the auditorium with songs of praise, and campfire circles with testimonies of God’s goodness. Fall brings church partners returning to Mount Hermon for a retreat in the redwoods. Christmas brings concerts, spring brings summer staff recruiting and students to Outdoor Science School. What is happening now has happened before and will happen again, and again.

Ecclesiastes acknowledges that the seasons bring their share of hard work, and the burdens of life on this earth as well. It’s no different at Mount Hermon. It shouldn’t surprise us that every year brings needs that must be met to keep this one–hundred–year–old facility ready to receive guests. Every year vehicles are retired and replaced. Every year computers run their course and are upgraded. Every year roofs leak, carpets become threadbare, pipes rust, potholes form, trails erode, harnesses and saddles wear out and even the curtains and bedspreads fade from sunlight.

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And every year there are opportunities! Families going through a rough patch due to unemployment or an unexpected health crisis need a little extra help paying for camp. Veterans come back from deployment in harm’s way seeking a haven where they can reconnect with their spouse or family. Kids growing up in unspeakable conditions marked by violence and abuse have a once–in–a lifetime opportunity to come be enveloped in the love of Christ for one whole week. Girls rescued from Human Trafficking get to rediscover worth and strength on an adventure course.

These annual needs and opportunities are generously covered by the gifts faithfully bestowed by Mount Hermon Associates. Over the last five years their contributions to the Mount Hermon Annual Fund have averaged over $2,000,000! While some might see these annual needs as non–glamorous or routine, they are the stuff of life for this ministry. The Annual Fund is what allows Mount Hermon to provide sacred spaces and experiences for God’s children.

The author says that God “… has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end” (3:11). Mount Hermon exists to water, nurture, and coax that seed to take hold in our hearts and bring forth new life in Him. If you want to play a part in this work of God, this season, consider a gift to the Mount Hermon Annual Fund. If you are already a beloved Associate, this is the time we say “thanks.” 

Read More About Giving


Even Small Donors Make a Difference

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

Rachel-and-Evan-Griffith

It’s an indisputable truth that Redwood Camp is and has been one of the happiest places on earth for so many. For a century now thousands of lives have been impacted as they have realized the love of Christ under the Redwoods. Uncountable decisions to follow Jesus have been made by the tender, vulnerable hearts of Redwood campers

I had the joy of opening a letter the other day from two of our littlest donors. It brought such joy to my heart and all those who read it that I simply had to share it with you.

Most of you know we are revealing a much anticipated feature at Redwood Camp this summer, the Samuelson Pavilion. We’re not the only ones excited about this wonderful new ministry arena; so are Evan and Rachel.

I asked their mom Stephanie how this all happened. She said…

Twin's-letter

“Redwood Camp is a very special place for our family. As a camper I made a commitment to Christ at Redwood Camp. My husband and I met as counselors at Redwood Camp. Now our children will be going to Redwood Camp for their 5th and final summer, before making the jump to Ponderosa. At last year’s Associates in Ministry Celebration we decided to help financially support the new Pavilion in the small way we could.

This decision got our children thinking. On their own they decided to save their allowance and find small ways to raise money for the Redwood Camp Pavilion. Redwood Camp is their favorite week of the summer (and maybe even their favorite week of the whole year!). To them it was a no–brainer to donate their money to such a special place.”

Years from now Rachel and Evan will look at the pavilion and know they were a part of that historic event in the life of Redwood Camp and all the lives that have been transformed there. The beautiful legacy of Redwood Camp and Mount Hermon flows from generation to generation, family to family. Thank you for being a part of Mount Hermon’s story.

Invest in Mount Hermon


A Reminder of God’s Grace: Redwood Camp Staff Reunion

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.

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By Lee Martin

Join us for this year’s Redwood Camp Reunion, July 30-31, 2016!

We are so excited about this summer’s Redwood Camp Reunion! My wife Susan and I (Bosco and Hondo) worked at Redwood summers of 1977 and 1978 as counselors, 1980 as assistant program director and program director and 1985 as staff counselors. Two of our children also worked as Redwood Camp counselors and one worked as a CILT.

Continued from Newsletter

The time working at Redwood was amazing for me in many ways. It was my first experience within a community of believers working for a common purpose: connecting kids with God’s love and grace through Jesus. Although we were imperfect in many ways during those summers, God’s purpose was fulfilled over and over again. I realized that God can use any of us at any time for any reason. That has stayed with me my whole life.

Lee-and-Susan-2 Recently I went to my high school reunion and was struck how different it was compared to the Redwood reunion we did a couple of years ago. At the high school reunion it was based more on superficial things in many cases (it was high school after all). But when we decided to help organize the Redwood reunion, we knew it was based on things that were more about the heart: about a unique intersection of time and place in our lives as well as campers lives that would never be replicated. And because it was about the dealings of the heart which are so rare in our daily lives, we knew the Redwood reunion would be a special time.

And it was. At the last reunion what struck me as one of the highlights was the sharing in Lakeside where about 70 of us got together. We had no agenda in particular but some music and then launched into sharing and stories that lasted about 2 hours. It spanned several decades of participation where staffers from the 21st century were hearing stories from the 20th. I remember hearing someone from the 40’s talk about the early beginnings for Redwood. I sat in awe. It was more like a family reunion, not a high school reunion. But that was because we were family.

In fact, a former Redwood counselor who had passed away shortly before was represented by her husband and her young children to come see and hear what had been so important about this place to her. Yes, there was not a dry eye in the room.
Lee-and-Susan
Another highlight was sitting at Victory Circle again with singing and sharing by Deacon Dick Dosker and Ron Taylor. Sitting in that backdrop, the two of them shared from their hearts what Redwood meant to them and historically to all of us. It was another reminder of God putting all of us together for a single purpose, in a unique community that could never be duplicated.

That’s was drives us about the Redwood reunion: to remind all of us that God’s grace works all the time in so many ways. I think we all need that reminder from time to time in our lives. And we know that He will be faithful in the future as new generations of Redwood counselors come to camp.

For more information about the Redwood Reunion or to register go to http://www.mounthermon.org/event/596


Outdoor Science School expands to China

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.

SingingDeer-1000
By Todd Clark

Question: What’s cooler that teaching kids about God through His amazing creation in the beautiful redwood forest of Mount Hermon? Answer: DOING IT IN CHINA!

Most people know that Mount Hermon has an Outdoor Science School that ministers to thousands of Bay-Area students every year at Ponderosa Lodge, but did you know that Mount Hermon now runs several weeks of OSS at a camp outside of Beijing every summer? Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.

Last summer eight of our Outdoor Science School team members spent the month of August at this camp, impacting children in a transformational way by teaching them about creation, and by living lives consecrated to Christ. Last year’s theme asked the question, “Where is your treasure?” This prompt provided ample opportunity for fun activities as well as deeper exploration for campers, Chinese volunteers, and our own team.

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Jared, one of our naturalists, watched as, after lavishly creating a treasure box, a sixth grade girl began her journal activity where she was prompted to examine what “treasure” was for her. The question had a deep impact as she realized her treasure wouldn’t fit in a box! Her treasure was her parents! In an eloquent speech at closing ceremony, she laid out her heart, asking to spend more time with her parents and inviting them to see her as treasure as well.

Stephanie, also a naturalist, led the first-grade campers on a night hike. Describing the solar system, Stephanie explained that if the earth was located even a few degrees closer to or further from the sun, it would either burn up or freeze. The kids were amazed at how the earth fit perfectly for life to thrive and wondered how that could happen. A little girl in the group spoke up and said, “It’s because of Jesus!” Stephanie encouraged her to say more. The child explained to her friends how a creator God made sure the earth was in the perfect spot.

china4I think Jesus said it best when he instructed his followers to put their treasures in heaven. Treasures can come un-expectantly, intentionally, and powerfully when we realize that all of life is a mission toward transformation. It is transformative to our life perspectives when we realize real treasures are the relationships that we have. This journey of discovery doesn’t end just because we are back in the States. It’s a never ending question we are still asking ourselves and each other, “Where are you finding your treasures?”

This summer we’ll be running programs again! Our naturalists will help students explore the theme: The LORD is My Strength and My Shield (Psalm 28:7). We’ll be sure to keep you updated with stories and pictures of what God is doing!


Revamping Parent Child Retreats in 2016

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.

Moms & Sons Photo

By Kara “Quack” Podesta

Since I began working in the Children’s Ministry department, one of the biggest joys of my job has been the Parent Child retreats! Three times a year we get to create a time for families to pack up a bag and escape from the responsibilities of life to come play with us in the mountains. Parent Child retreats are an incredible ministry that allow parents an opportunity to connect with their kids both intentionally and spiritually, while having the opportunity to play, dance, and be silly with their kids.

Continued from Newsletter

The start of 2016 has brought us two retreats back to back this February! Kicking off our revamped Dads & Sons retreat followed by our Moms & Sons retreat, has created a busy, yet incredible past few weeks.

Dads & Sons Video

Together as Dads & Sons we traveled back to ancient Athens and took a look together at what it means to be a well-rounded man of God. A man who does not simply pose physical strength, but who is intellectual and in pursuit of the Lord. We competed in our very own Olympic Games ensuring that our team’s torch was lit and illuminated proudly to those around us. Dads & Sons completed a Decathlon where they completed puzzles and riddles, created a map of the stars and dedicated a family crest.

Four days later 100 moms & sons dropped into camp for a jam packed weekend, where we prepared for our first launch as Paratroopers. Together we walked through the attributes of a paratrooper, learning what it means to be courageous, loyal, and steadfast, while forming an Unbreakable bond with each other and with Christ. We defied all obstacles against us to rescue stranded paratroopers, participated in target practice, and took the leap off the high dive and zip line.

These retreats continuously remind me of the beauty in the relationship between parent and child. No matter which retreat it is, I am left full of awe and joy. Throughout the Dads & Sons retreat, I was reminded of the lengths that a parent will go through for their child. Our night game required pairs to sneak around camp completing a series of tasks and collecting objects without being caught by the guards. One dad scarified comfort and speed for his son, completing the entire game crouched behind a chair with his son behind him. They went in and out of buildings and up and down stairs, completely hidden behind a small chair, but the joy on that son’s face is something I will never forget.

moms&sons1000Parent Child retreats have allowed me to form lasting relationships with parents who I keep in contact with and am ministered to by. The ministry of these retreats is one that will make an eternal impact in not only these kids lives, but in their relationships with their parents forever. Lives transformed is happening outside of summer, and it is happening here at these retreats.