Posts Categorized: Stories of Ministry

A Story of Service

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

What would we do without Volunteers? The gift of service from these incredibly faithful friends makes a significant difference at Mount Hermon. I have had the joy of knowing Bob and Peggy Mapes for 20 years. They are everywhere—faithful friends, Associates and longtime volunteers.

What brought you to Mount Hermon?

As newlyweds in 1957, we journeyed from Iowa to Sacramento. We learned of Mount Hermon through Sunday School at Arcade Baptist and we began attending Couples Conferences. Then we moved to San Jose and brought our children to Family Camps. After purchasing a cabin in 1978 our participation and love of Mount Hermon grew rapidly.

You are such faithful volunteers. How did that begin?

Bob was involved in repair jobs through the years, but our major volunteering began 12 years ago in Auditorium hosting. That led to dining room hosting, table setting and many others. We have grown to love our volunteering friends. We pray for each other, for Mount Hermon’s ministry and for its staff. A love of the Lord, Mount Hermon and people = a JOY-filled volunteer.

What does being a volunteer and an Associate mean to you?

You take ownership of the ministry when you get involved in serving and giving. It has caused us to want to be part of meeting needs in tangible ways and to pray for the staff and the ministry. It has been a blessing getting to know the staff. This a special place in our hearts.

The Mapes are truly wonderful folks. We love all our volunteers and couldn’t do what we do here without them! Next time you’re here, hug a volunteer!

Incredible Generosity

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


For Bill Ives, nothing was more important than family. He was the proud father of three children and eight grandchildren, and his favorite thing to do was spend time with them. Bill’s Mount Hermon story started like so many others: an invitation from a family member. His daughter Cathy and her husband Gary began coming to Family Camp around 15 years ago. After telling their family about the incredible experience they had, everyone decided to join in.

Since Bill knew this would mean a week of dedicated time with his kids and grandkids, he was excited to come!

For the last decade, Mount Hermon served as their family gathering place, where Bill’s son from Colorado and his daughters from Atlanta and Piedmont gathered each year with their whole families. Bill was not a church-goer and didn’t talk a lot about God. Cathy remembers the ten years they came to family camp vividly, noting that Dad loved coming to Mount Hermon and spending time with his family. He was at every session, engaged and excited to be there. Some of his favorite times were meeting up with the men in the family for early morning coffee on the Dining Hall porch, riding the train to the beach, and relaxing on the meadow.

A couple of years ago, Bill’s health began to deteriorate, and his children encouraged him to re-evaluate his estate plans. At that time he made the decision to include Mount Hermon. Bill’s daughter Stephanie shared this about her father:

“Dad modeled incredible generosity. The kind of generosity that didn’t seek to attract attention or get credit. He delighted in giving generously. He didn’t talk about it, he didn’t lecture us about it. He just modeled unselfish generosity. He had the perfect combination of contentment and generosity. Can you imagine what the world might be if everyone was like that?” Sadly, Bill graduated to be with Jesus in February. Stephanie also shared this precious memory from Bill’s final days: Dad didn’t talk about it much, but he believed in God. He spent his last days on a ventilator in Intensive Care going in and out of consciousness. After five days when the ventilator came off, we all crowded around as he seemed eager to tell us something. His voice was weak, he could only say a couple words at a time, but he said, “Jesus said I got you.” And then “Jesus loves us. Jesus loves all of us.” Dad knew where he was going and we had the incredible blessing of having him tell us that because of Jesus we get to go too.

We are incredibly grateful for Bill’s life and love for his family and Mount Hermon. The legacy he left Mount Hermon will minister to campers for decades to come. Bill’s gift comes at a pivotal time, as we are in need of funds to begin the Redwood Camp renewal. Because of Bill, thousands of kids who come to Redwood Camp in the days to come will encounter Jesus and experience His transformational love. Thank you, Bill!

Associates in the Making: Abbie and Sonja

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

 

There are two little ladies that have come on the Mount Hermon scene recently that are truly champions of this wonderful ministry. They love each other and everything Mount Hermon! Abbie (9) and Sonja (10) have been attending the same week of Family Camp for several years but according to them, it was the first day of Family Camp 2017 where their “Best Friend” status was sealed. Abbie’s mom Kelly shared with me,

“Abbie loves the swings at Day Camp and that’s the place at camp where the two girls talked and decided to become best friends. After that was Redwood Camp and the Associates in Ministry Celebration. Not only do these two girls just happen to have families that go to Week 2 of Family Camp, but our families live 20 minutes away from each other back home!” I chatted with Sonja and Abbie to hear more of their story.

What do you remember about the first time you met?

Sonja: “I had a lot of friends and family at Family Camp but when I met Abbie, I knew she would be my best friend!” Abbie said the same thing about Sonja.

What’s your favorite memory at Mount Hermon?

Abbie: “Last year when Sonja and I walked to the playground and became best friends.” Sonja: “When we were at Redwood Camp last year I didn’t want to go on the Geronimo swing but Abbie encouraged me, so I did it and really liked it.”

How would you describe each other?

Abbie: “Sonja is energetic!”

Sonja: “Abbie always acts like herself.”

How would you describe Mount Hermon?

Abbie: “Coolest place on earth!”

Sonja: “I wouldn’t be the person I am today at 10 if I hadn’t gone to Mount Hermon.”

What are your future plans?

“We want to go to Family Camp every year and Redwood then Ponderosa and then go on Summer Staff, hopefully at Day Camp or Redwood Camp. We already have our camp names: Flip (Abbie) & Flop (Sonja). Then we want to live together at Mount Hermon with our husbands and our ICE CREAM!”

Kelly also shared with me, “I’m so grateful to God for this Mount Hermon friendship, and the best part of this friendship is that Abbie’s friend Sonja comes as a package. Sonja comes with an amazing family. A family that sets a Godly example of love and grace towards our family. This story of friendship between two little girls represents Mount Hermon to a tee!”

It just so happens that both Abbie and Sonja’s parents are Mount Hermon Associates. A love for Jesus and a heart for Mount Hermon runs deep in both of these sweet girls’ families. This story is unique to Sonja and Abbie but not unique in the story of Mount Hermon. Many lifelong relationships have started here, from husbands and wives, to best friends, to most importantly finding a Savior who will walk us into eternity. Thank you for being part of what keeps this ministry moving forward. We are very grateful.

Year After Year

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

There are few things in the world as impactful as a week at Ponderosa Lodge.

When I was in high school I spent five summers coming to Ponderosa, and my life was transformed because of it. I was also lucky enough to spend three summers as a counselor. One of the best parts of counseling is seeing campers come year after year. I love seeing how God in His sovereignty chooses to work in campers’ lives. Sometimes it really is a
multi-year process!

I would love to share a story with you about a camper who came to Ponderosa in June. This was his second year at camp and, as his counselor tells, this was the year that God truly transformed his life:

I remember Travis from last year, he was the “cool kid.” He was too cool for everything: Bible study, activities, even too cool for girls! He made it very clear that even though he was at a Christian camp, he was only there to have fun. Throughout the week he didn’t contribute during small group time at all. By Saturday, though, I could tell it had been a good week, and the whole cabin, including Travis, said they hoped they could all come back next year and be together in the same cabin again. 

This year, Travis was back. At the beginning of the week he again made it clear that he had no interest in any of the spiritual parts of camp, but at least he was having fun with the games and activities. As the week progressed, I could tell he was becoming more engaged and was listening to the speaker. He started asking questions in small group time. At first he was asking with a challenging and defensive attitude, but that soon changed.

On Thursday he pulled me aside, and said, “All this stuff about God’s love you’re talking about, I see it in the people around me, but I don’t really understand it.” That opened up an opportunity for us to talk about God’s love, and how God uses others to show us His love. That was the moment when I really noticed things had changed. Travis became excited to worship and listen to the speaker! At the end of the week, he told me that he had made a decision to follow Jesus, and was talking about how excited he was to get involved at church back at home!

Wow! Now that is a life transformed! We are so grateful that Travis was able to have this experience at camp, and we are thankful to you for your support of this ministry. You help make these stories possible! Please join us in praying for Travis, and for the hundreds of other campers who have come to Ponderosa Lodge this summer as they transition back to home and school life this fall.

Yay God!

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

 

We don’t always get to hear how God continues to work in campers’ lives after they leave camp, but sometimes we do and it is so encouraging to hear stories of the life transformation that starts at camp and continues throughout the year and for years to come.

Christina, one of our counselors from last summer, now our Ranch Camp lead, had the privilege of hearing first-hand how God was able to use her last summer in the life of a young camper.

“The day we had all been greatly anticipating had finally arrived. It was the first day of camp, and as parents and campers were settling in, a former camper, Katelynn, and her mom greeted me. Katelynn’s mom pulled me aside and told me that since her daughter was here last year, her life had not been the same. I asked how so, eager to hear what the Lord had done. She explained that my teachings as her daughter’s counselor were quite impactful. She told me how Katelynn had made the commitment to read her Bible every day since she left camp, and she had done just that. Even through the difficult chapters of the Bible, she broke it down into small pieces to study it better and has asked questions when she needed assistance. Because of Katelynn’s dedication to reading her Bible daily, her family has been greatly influenced.

Later that evening, as our campfire was ending I felt a small tap on my shoulder, and I turned to see that it was Katelynn. I made room for her on the wooden bench, and I listened intently as she told me how last summer changed her life. She thanked me for helping her set the goal of reading her Bible daily. I felt so privileged to hear firsthand that she was searching to be closer to God
and that God was meeting with her and moving many mountains in her young life.”

At Kidder Creek, when we hear a story of a life transformed we enthusiastically say “Yay God!!” Yay God that we are privileged to be a part of His work here at camp!

Thank You For Changing My Life!

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

 

For those who have spent a week at Redwood Camp, you know how thrilling the experience is!

This summer the theme at Redwood Camp is Inventor’s Workshop. Campers are invited into the laboratory of Dr. Zyrombergraham, a world-renowned inventor. Dr. Zyrombergraham has made a new robot, RC-06, who is a special type of invention. They become close friends and do everything together. Even when RC-06 goes rogue and runs away, the doctor welcomes her back with open arms, ready and eager to forgive her.

In Bible study times, campers are following the story of Peter. They spend the week looking at Peter’s life and relationship with Jesus, and how Jesus restores Peter even after he has denied Him. What a beautiful lesson for these young campers to learn. God created us to be in relationship with him, and no matter what we do, he is eager to take us back with open arms!

There are so many incredible stories from this summer of God working in camper’s lives. Here is one from a Redwood Camp counselor about a girl who came to camp earlier this summer:

Last week I had an amazing group of primary girls. Two of them came with Power House Ministries, an organization that helps children of incarcerated parents come to camp. This created an interesting cabin dynamic, and all week I had been struggling to help my campers relate to each other despite their diverse backgrounds.

On Wednesday I spent one-on-one time with Merri, one of the Power House girls. She had been really shy all week, but she opened up to me about her life during our time together. It was so beautiful to see how joyful she was despite the pain she had gone through, and how mature she was due to life circumstances outside of her control. Over the next few days, I saw her continue to open up, and it was amazing to see God using our relationship to make her feel more comfortable and loved.

At the end of the week at our luminaria time, we had a great discussion that lasted an hour-and-a-half. That’s a long time for second graders! At the end of luminaria I prayed for my whole cabin, and I began to cry. I have never felt God’s presence more in my entire life than I did at that moment. When I finished, Merri looked at me and said, “Thank you for changing my life.” At that point, the entire cabin began sobbing! God had unified this group of girls in a way that only He could, and had used Merri’s experience at camp to transform her life!

Please join us in praying for the hundreds of Redwood campers who have come to camp this summer. And please pray for the exciting Redwood Camp renewal that will begin this fall. We will begin the process of building five new cabins and adding a half-bath to each of the existing cabins, enhancing our ability to minister to campers like Merri for decades to come!

Laura Sampson: Mount Hermon Bookshop Manager

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

I have had the joy of attending Santa Cruz Bible Church with Laura and Paul Sampson (where Paul is the Worship Pastor) for over 25 years. However, for the last several years, I have also had the joy of serving with Laura at Mount Hermon. In case you haven’t met Laura I asked her to share a little of her story.

How did the Lord bring you to Mount Hermon?

God brought me back to Mount Hermon about ten years ago, after being away for several years. I spent much of my teenage years with Mount Hermon as my stomping ground, hanging out with local Mount Hermon kids, having all sorts of fun in this community. I worked on staff in high school and college. I made many great friendships here as well as getting to know my husband better (he served on staff during high school and college as well); this is where our romance started! After my daughters were more independent, I decided to go back to work. When I heard of the position in the Bookshop, I jumped on it.

How is the God using you and your gifts at Mount Hermon?

I am amazed at how God uses this ministry! It is honoring to be part of all the incredible things that go on here. It was exciting to be a part of the team that created and designed the new look and feel of the Bookshop a couple of years back. I have a heart for people to be in a place that is calm and peaceful, where they can be refreshed, but also where they are challenged in their faith. Taking something home that solidifies a decision or a commitment is key for some, and for others, their favorite Mount Hermon sweatshirt fits the bill.

What is your favorite part about working at Mount Hermon?

I love the people I get to work with, my Bookshop team and the entire Mount Hermon staff. I also love to see the impact of Mount Hermon’s reach locally and across the world, along with the stories of families who have been coming to Mount Hermon for years.

How can we pray for you?

Please pray for a strong, healthy staff. In addition, as we hire our summer staff, we ask God to bring the right people to fill the positions in the Bookshop.

Just like many of you, I love going over to our Bookshop, so next time you are at Mount Hermon, make sure to stop by and say “Hi” to Laura and the Bookshop team.

Shop the Mount Hermon Online Shop

Exciting Things Ahead!

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

I believe God has some unbelievable things in store for Mount Hermon in 2018.  This could even be our best year ever!  Thousands of kids will be coming to camp, along with a myriad of global ministry partners who will be holding retreats and equipping thousands more to better serve and share the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout this country and the world!

Two areas where God is clearly at work include phase two of our Lakeside Lodge remodel and some dramatic progress to improve Redwood Camp!

Do you remember how God enabled us to remodel all 20 rooms in our Lakeside Lodge 500 building last May? Thanks to the incredibly hard-working team from southern California led by Tommy Beadel, this building went from worn and dated to fresh, new, and transformed in just one week! Hundreds of families enjoyed these rooms throughout the summer and last fall. Soon Tommy and his crew plan to return, to complete the next phase of the remodel – WOW!

Why is this ministry project so important? Because these rooms are a vital link in God’s life transformation process for our guests and the construction crew. The Family Camp guests and Guest Groups that stay in these new Lakeside rooms are incredibly blessed. They experience a comfortable and distraction-free environment, providing rest and renewal as they absorb all that God has for them
during their conference or retreat.

Remember, it’s not just campers who are blessed. Just like last year, we are inviting Tommy’s entire construction crew and their families to return as our guests for Mount Hermon’s Hispanic Family Camp. Can you imagine how seeds planted last year will continue to grow when these families return to have fun, learn about the Savior and be enveloped with the love of Jesus, joined by a whole new group of their co-workers?

Redwood Camp is in the process of major transformation as well. The addition of the Samuelson Pavilion has been a game-changer for our children’s ministry, providing a dedicated, covered recreation space. PTL!

Up next: improvements to our Redwood Camp cabins. Plans are nearing completion to revitalize and connect every other cabin with a bathroom in between. Each bathroom will have a toilet and sink which will eliminate the long walk to the bathhouse with a counselor when the need arises in the middle of the night.

Each of my boys attended Redwood Camp and I saw firsthand the impact it had on their lives. Nearly 1,000 kids come to Redwood Camp each summer, and we know these cabin improvements will significantly enhance their experience as well as the experience of our hard-working counselors. Our Children’s Ministry Team does a phenomenal job creating a powerful program for these kids and these new bathrooms will go a long way in enhancing everyone’s overall experience.

We need your help with each of these vital ministry projects. They both require a lot of planning, prayer, and dollars to become a reality. Your prayers and support are needed to make these projects happen! Please feel free to contact me with any questions or requests for additional information. Remember, this could be our best year ever!

Support Mount Hermon

Staff Matters

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

Did you know that Mount Hermon …

  • …Employs over 300 staff members year-round, the majority of those being part-time?

  • …Adds another 280 staff, predominately college students, that invade our camps
    each summer?

  • …Sees it as a privilege and sacred responsibility to grow and care
    for each staff member?

Staff care is a passion of mine, and I believe that one of my callings from God is to shepherd our staff. During our many years as attendees at Family Camp, Jane and I were tremendously blessed by the staff of Mount Hermon. The care and service they gave to us and our children were tangible expressions of God’s love to us, and we’ll be forever grateful.

Each staff member plays an important role to help us fulfill our mission of lives being refreshed, renewed, and transformed by God in this special place. If it’s clearing a dish from the Dining Hall or harnessing a guest for the ropes course, setting up a microphone in the auditorium or cleaning a room in Laurel, changing a baby’s diaper in Child Care or registering a guest at the Williams Welcome Center, every staff role and person matters.

There are many ways in which we show care for our staff, including providing training, health and retirement benefits, staff gatherings, and retreats. But what we find as our greatest staff challenge is housing. Santa Cruz is one of the least affordable places to live in America, and therefore it is important for us to be able to provide housing for as many staff as possible.

Our staff minister to literally some 85,000 campers and guests per year who come through Mount Hermon. Providing staff housing is a great way to show that we care for them and their needs. It is also essential to enabling them to continue serving long-term at Mount Hermon.

To help with these challenges we have recently taken nine guest cabins off-line and turned them into staff housing. Although this means having less cabins available for campers (and our campers love their cabins!), it is an essential component of maintaining a healthy and thriving staff that can continue loving and serving our campers. We are also working on upgrading our more “rustic” staff housing units over the next four years.

If I could dream for a moment … I would love for us to one day build a “staff village” that would provide adequate housing for all Mount Hermon staff that need it. Maybe someday God will allow that dream to become a reality. I’m hopeful and prayerful.

To sum it up I want to simply say, “STAFF MATTERS.” Indeed they do!

Summer Staff 2018 Positions

Testimony

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

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

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

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

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

Lakeside Project

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

As an Associate, Tommy Beadel invests in the ministry of Mount Hermon. Attending Mount Hermon since he was four, what God has done in his life has had significant impact on him, his family, and now his company.

As the owner of Thomas James Capital, the largest homebuilding company on the west side of Los Angeles, Tommy felt the call to do something more for a place that has meant so much to him. “I have a passion for Mount Hermon, and I saw a need here with the housing and the accommodations and their need for updating.”

Four years ago, he began conversations with Mount Hermon about how, with his skill set and resources, he could help improve a significant area of the experience—the lodging. For six years, Mount Hermon had been slowly renovating Gwinn Lodge, room by room. “We were able to do our first project in Gwinn Lodge last year,” said Tommy. “What took them 6 years to do—ten rooms, we did the last 10 rooms in 6 days.”

That got the wheels moving.

If you have ever stayed in a Lakeside Lodge room, you know that, well, they needed quite a bit of attention. When Lakeside Lodge was built in the 1980s, it was revolutionary. A hotel style accommodation that allowed families to room together in the middle of a gorgeous property without having to worry about cooking or cleaning for the week they were at camp. Over the years, as the needs changed and the people changed, the rooms did not. Fast forward to the next century, and the rooms began to show their wear and tear and just how dated Lakeside Lodge actually was.

Tommy knew that he could bring the skills to Mount Hermon to improve Lakeside. He could provide the crew, but we needed to provide the resources and the materials so that his guys could do what they do best. We sent out a call in the spring sharing the vision with those who love Mount Hermon (and have probably at one time or another, stayed in Lakeside) and you answered. Having the resources and materials in place, Tommy and his crew showed up, and the transformation of the rooms began.

“What we’ve been honored to do is be allowed to come up here and bring our expertise, and bring our guys and our crew up here to remodel the accommodations in an extreme home makeover kind of way. We’re doing all 20 rooms and all of the concrete work and fire pits.”

The transformation of the Lakeside rooms was just the beginning. “The thing that I get is to give my boys this experience and to show them it’s not just about them, it’s about serving others. So for me, I can make this impact on my boys and show them what hard work is and what it is to put in a long day and make a difference.”

Summer Staff Testimony: Amy Kral

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

I learned so much this summer about what it means to walk daily with God…

As I spent time with Him I realized I could get everything I needed and more from Him, and that freed up my hands to be able to GIVE to people. To serve them and see them the way He does.

Camp wears you out, and you still experience hurt and grief and insecurity, but the Lord works best when we are at our weakest. The thing He told me over and over again was that I could boast in my weakness. I don’t have to have it all together! I don’t have to feel like it. But I get to call on Him.

He blessed me with a 4-year-old telling me she loved me or listening to a group of 30-something preschoolers shout, “MY HOPE IS IN JESUS.” Thank God that I don’t have to rely on my own strength to bring Him glory. My first summer in 2016 was just the beginning of discovering these beautiful truths about my Jesus, and this past summer was incredible. But He is not finished with me– and praise God for that.

Summer Staff 2018 Positions

Summer Staff Testimony: Justin Whelpley

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Staff 2018 Positions

Summer Staff Testimony: Abi Auer

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Staff 2018 Positions

Summer Staff Testimony: Sydney Sheppard

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Staff 2018 Positions

“I Don’t Know Much About Jesus”

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

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

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

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

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

“Hector, what do you believe about God?”

“I believe in God.”

“What do you believe about Jesus?”

“I don’t know much about Jesus.”

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

“YES!”

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

Hector got it.

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

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

A Lasting, Global Impact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Using Summer to Serve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Summer Staff 2018 Positions

Kidder Creek Year End Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn More About Kidder Creek’s Year

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

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

Danna Ayers

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

 

Danielle Smith

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

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

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

Summer Events at Kidder Creek

News from Santa Cruz

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

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

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

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

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

God is at work!

Summer Events in Santa Cruz

Illuminate the Darkness

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Events at Kidder Creek

Lives Transformed– From Camper to Summer Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Events at Kidder Creek

Katie Keil: Staff Alumni and Associate

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

Katie is one of those “Mount Hermon” people, maybe a lot like you! She came as a camper, she served on staff, and she’s chosen to support this ministry—she loves Mount Hermon!

Meet Katie, her story may be your story…

“I can’t remember a time when Mount Hermon wasn’t part of my life! I have been coming to Mount Hermon for our church retreat since I was a kid. I could not wait to be old enough to go to Ponderosa Lodge in high school and I started going the summer before my freshman year. I loved camp so much as a camper and had a family friend who served as a camp counselor, so I could not wait to be a counselor in college.

I ended up working as a counselor at Ponderosa in 2001 and 2002, but that wasn’t enough. I came back as a Staff Counselor in 2006 and then spent a summer as a Staff Pastor in 2008. After finishing camp in the summer of 2008, I started a job in Marketing at Clorox and have been there ever since.”

Clearly Mount Hermon was and is an important part of Katie’s story. Ponderosa Lodge is her Mount Hermon home.

“I always loved being at camp because it was a place I really came to understand God’s love for each of us. Between the Bible studies, speakers and worship time, I was challenged to think more about who God is and how His love for me should change the way I live and love others. I also made some of my best friends as a counselor.”

One of her favorite Mount Hermon memories-

“My favorite day at camp was Monday afternoons for field games! We played this crazy Jello slip-in-slide game and the counselor round always got very competitive. It was so fun and led to a lot of laughter every week. I cannot tell you how often campers used to say they loved watching the counselors because there was something different about the way we lived and loved each other.”

Ron Demolar is a big fan!

“I had the privilege of working with Katie at Mount Hermon several summers ago when she worked as a minister to the summer staff at the Conference Center. I appreciated Katie’s giftedness in administration, pastoring, and teaching at some of our summer staff meetings. She has a God given ability to build deep and lasting relationships with people. I am delighted she has gone on to serve God with these gifts of leadership in the business world.”
– Ron Demolar

Katie has turned her love for Mount Hermon into action through becoming an Associate over a decade ago.

“My time at camp and the life-long friends I made as a counselor have played such a formative role in who I am today. I loved my experience so much that I want to help others experience the same growth and
joy that I do every time I set foot
on the grounds.”

Katie is just one of thousands whose lives were transformed through the love of Jesus at Mount Hermon. Thank you for being part of her story through your support and prayers for Mount Hermon.