Posts Categorized: Stories of Ministry

Blessings for Military Families

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry.

One of the biggest blessings of my job is working with the many military families who come to Family Camp. You may not know that we have a campership program that brings military families to a week of Family Camp free of charge. Each year I marvel at how the Lord uses a week of camp to heal these families who have sacrificed so much, and to reconnect with each other and Jesus.

Several years ago I received an e-mail from DeeDee. Her husband Spencer, who was not a believer, had just received an honorable discharge from the Marines after serving 14 months in Iraq but having a physical disability that didn’t allow him to continue to serve. They had a special family circumstance. Their eleven-year-old daughter, Kayla, had a number of major medical issues. They had traveled the country looking for help but found few answers, while spending tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for medical bills. DeeDee knew Kayla would need some special accommodations to be able to be at camp for a whole week, and we were happy to help!

So DeeDee, Spencer, Kayla, and two younger daughters came for a week of Family Camp, and had the most amazing time! The next year they returned for another week of camp, and DeeDee and Spencer even came to a Couple’s Retreat. Mount Hermon had become a sacred place for their family, providing time together and beautiful memories.

I am devastated to say that last year Kayla’s battle ended and she went to be with the Lord. This past summer was the family’s first time back to camp without her. DeeDee’s parents, neither or whom were walking with the Lord, joined them for support.

DeeDee and Spencer approached me on Tuesday of that week, and told me, “One of Kayla’s dreams was that her dad would come to know the Lord,” and Spencer did! DeeDee asked me, “would you baptize both Spence and our 7 year old daughter Kadence this week?” I was overwhelmed, and we made plans to baptize them in the swimming pool. It was a special and holy moment as we were surrounded by family and close friends.

Several months after camp I received a phone call from DeeDee’s father. He excitedly informed me that he and his wife had rededicated their lives to the Lord at Mount Hermon and were now attending a local church in Southern California, and he stated, “we are both getting baptized this weekend!”

This military family has experienced both tragedy and blessing. DeeDee sent a note to me with these words: “To say that Mount Hermon has saved our family unit would be one of the greatest understatements we can make. Mount Hermon not only has saved our family unit multiple times, the Lord has used it to secure our salvation.”

We miss Kayla dearly, but are so comforted and encouraged by the knowledge that now her entire family will one day see her again when they join her in eternity with Jesus.

Lives Transformed
Dave Burns

Keeping Youth Connected to Jesus

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry, Youth.

How can we help young people from falling away from their faith?

Not every young person who starts out knowing Jesus remains connected to him. Many Christians between the ages of 18 and 23 are falling away from Church and their relationship with Jesus. A recent study by Fuller Seminary looked at why young people fall away from their faith and they determined the most important factor in whether young people leave the church or remain is their ability to explore doubts and concerns about their faith before leaving home. Camp is a safe place for students to truly be themselves and ask difficult questions of the loving college-aged staff. Our Ponderosa Lodge summer programs for middle and high school students are all based on a solid biblical worldview, one that teaches:

· Absolute truth exists
· The Bible is true
· Jesus lived a sinless life on earth
· A person can’t earn their way into heaven
· God created everything and reigns over the universe

Summer camp experiences reinforce what young people learn in their homes and at Church. Recently, a returning Ponderosa Lodge camper shared the life-changing impact of attending camp. This is her letter to the staff of Summer 2018.

“Dear Pondy Staff,

With this being my last year here as a camper, I felt like filling out an eval wouldn’t sufficiently express my gratitude. Plain and simple, Pondy has been life-changing for me, and it wasn’t just because of this place, for I know that as I leave the mountain, God is still with me. However, when I first came here seven years ago, I had no idea how big a role Mount Hermon would play in my faith. I thought camp was fun, yeah, but as a seventh grader, I didn’t think much about actively pursuing my faith. Through the actions and words of the counselors and staff here, both past and present, I have seen what it looks like to be on fire for Jesus and what it means to be seeking God’s WILD love. God working through you all is SO evident and I pray that you continue to let His marvelous light shine through you. Thank you for providing me a safe and supportive space to learn more about Jesus and for equipping me with the tools to be able to pursue my faith in everyday life. Consider this not just one step, but a life transformed.

Keep on doing an amazing job— you’re all rockstars.”

A summer camp experience at Mount Hermon is a safe place where youth can ask important questions and receive loving answers from college aged staff who are rooted in their faith and just a little further along in their journey. Teenagers should be able to leave home without falling away from their faith and a camp experience can be a powerful tool to help them pursue their faith in everyday life. Mount Hermon is honored to be a part of every guests faith journey and we’re thankful to hear stories like this of youth making lasting connections with Jesus.

Nate Pfefferkorn
Vice President of Strategy

Family Camp Victory

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry.

Every week of Family Camp, we gather together on Friday evening around an old-fashioned campfire in the redwoods we call Victory Circle. We pass the mic and allow guests like you to share victories that God has accomplished in the short course of a week. It’s always incredible to see how personally God connects with the lives of each person and family who attend. Here’s a story that lovingly reminded us of how God uses camp ministry to share his love with us.

Hi. We’re from Campbell, California and this is our first year at Family Camp (although the rest of our family have come here for the past three years). My husband and I have two kids with special needs… They are both on the spectrum, high functioning, but they have their struggles.

We came into this week really praying a lot that our kids, especially our son who is five (but is developmentally four years old), would be able to get on the train. Because of the loud noises, he wouldn’t go near the small scale train in Vasona Park. He would just freak out. We had wonderful one-on-ones with our kids all week— and down at the train too. Because of that, we’ve seen HUGE victory with our kids this week. Our son got on the train and he loved it! He couldn’t wait. When they were shouting, “whoo-whoo” he was joining in!

To see our children grow in the Lord this week has been a huge blessing to us. We’ve seen God in every single staff person we’ve encountered. Our daughter is gluten allergic and we asked the dining staff if they had anything— and they always brought something special out for her. When you come in as an exhausted Mommy and Daddy and you see the theme is “He restores my soul” you don’t think at a Family Camp that will really happen. But, because of the people that have come alongside our children, we have found refreshment for our soul. We have seen huge steps taken in the lives of our children. We’ll be back next year, hopefully being able to do the Canopy Tour.

We’re so thankful for this story of God’s goodness and the way He uses camp to show His love for us. This family is a great example that when we step out in faith, especially with our concerns, that God is faithful to restore our souls. We pray your next camp experience is just as surprising and refreshing.

Story by Topher Matson, Director of Strategic Funding

A Life Transformed at Kidder Creek

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

by Andy Warken, Director of Kidder Creek

Almost 1,500 campers joined one of our camps or came as part of a guest group in 2018 and another 1,200 visited and volunteered during Fall Festival.  Campers came to raft, ride, and hike, and God used these outdoor adventures to help them grow personally, in community and in their faith. Nearly 200 said they made a first time decisions to follow Jesus!

When asked how they grew closer to Jesus campers said:
“By learning how much God loves me”
 “That God knows me and made me and that He has given me purpose.”
“By praying, reading the Bible, through worship, hearing the counselor testimonies and through campfire talks.”

The following is a story that was given to me, by a camper after summer, about a Thursday night Chapel Hill Campfire during Week Two Ranch Camp last summer.  

A Campfire Miracle 

“Around a campfire on the top of Chapel Hill a miracle happened. Maddie, a spunky hilarious Ranch Camper, sang the words of Reckless Love. Her heart was beating faster than usual and for some reason tears were rising in her eyes. As the last words of ‘Reckless Love’ were sung, Christina, the Ranch Camp lead, got up and shared her testimony of how God had changed her life. Maddie listened intently as Christina told her story. Something was different about tonight. As Christina finished her story Maddie blinked away tears. A cabin mate sitting beside her, asked, ‘Are you okay, Maddie?’  ‘I don’t know, I feel something in here,” Maddie muttered and pointed to her chest.  ‘Hmm, I don’t know what that means. I think you should go talk to a counselor,’ the other girl whispered.  Maddie agreed, got up, and went to speak with her counselor who was able to help her understand the gospel and lead her to Jesus.”

Maddie was one of eight girls that gave their lives to Jesus that night. Under the stars and amidst the smoke the Lord touched their hearts. The Lord performs miraculous things like this all the time at Kidder.


We saw many miracles, large and small, happen in 2018, we look forward to many more stories of lives transformed in 2019! 


Andy Warken, Director of Kidder Creek

God Knew All Along!

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

Have you ever had a moment where you realized God had been working “behind-the-scenes” for years without you even knowing it? I certainly have, and last fall at Mount Hermon we experienced one of those God moments that only He could have orchestrated. 

Last summer a couple came to us expressing interest in purchasing two homes for Mount Hermon. It was their desire that we would use these homes for staff housing. We were overwhelmed and so thankful. We identified two perfect houses close to the Conference Center, but there was a slight problem: the homes needed some work, and one of them needed a lot of work. 

After a careful walk-through by our maintenance department, we determined that the needed work would come to about $150,000. That’s a lot of money, and we didn’t quite know where it was going to come from. But God knew all along. 

A number of years ago, Betty Joseph and her husband Bill made the decision to include Mount Hermon in their will.

They were members of the Mount Hermon Redwood Society. Although I never knew Betty and Bill, I know that they must have loved Mount Hermon deeply.

Bill went home to be with the Lord a number of years ago and Betty graduated to be with the Lord in April of 2015. We received notice of a gift from their estate last fall and I remember the day we received the gift. In the midst of this exciting time when we needed about $150,000, guess how much Betty and Bill blessed Mount Hermon with through their stewardship? $145,000! 

Do you think God knew those many years ago that through Bill and Betty’s careful estate planning He would provide for this specific need at this specific time? I absolutely do, because our God is a BIG GOD!

I am so grateful for each and every ministry friend who has included Mount Hermon in their wills.

Bill and Betty’s story is just one of the many examples of how God uses these gifts to meet very specific and significant ministry needs. 

Have you and your family been blessed by the ministry of Mount Hermon? I encourage you to prayerfully consider putting Mount Hermon in your estate plan. I believe the Lord already knows how He will use your gift to bless so many. 

The Redwood Society exists to thank those who have included Mount Hermon in their will or estate plans. For more information, please contact me at 831.430.1243 or jr.loofbourrow@mounthermon.org.

By J.R. Loofbourrow
Vice President of Advancement

Come and See God’s Great Love!

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

You may think that when our busy summer season finishes, it’s time for a break. No way! Our program team is already planning for our busy season of fall youth retreats. This past fall more than 800 students attended one of our five Fall Frenzy weekends, uniquely designed to give Jr. High and High School students all the fun of a week of camp in three short days!

The theme was Wonder: Come and See God’s Great Love! Our theme verse was 1 John 3:1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” Focusing on the story of Zacchaeus, students examined the amazing truth that God loves us and calls us his children. 

This all took place at the Mount Hermon Boardwalk, an amusement park theme we created full of child-like wonder!

There is something special that happens when students attend a Fall Frenzy with their youth group and leaders from their church.

Having quality time together at camp often cements relationships for years to come. It builds trust and openness, and campers get to continue their growth with God throughout the year alongside the people they began it with. This was certainly the case with Courtney, who attended Fall Frenzy for the second time this past fall.

Back in the fall of 2017, Courtney came to youth group for the first time.

It was a Halloween event, and she had been invited by a friend. Courtney had never really been to church before, but began attending youth group regularly. Just two months later, she decided to come with the youth group to Fall Frenzy at Mount Hermon. That weekend changed everything!

After her time at Mount Hermon, she continued coming to youth group, and was noticeably more engaged. She began to open up more and build relationships with the leaders. Several months later she made the decision to place her trust in Jesus and get baptized! She now comes to youth group and church every week and is going on her church’s Mexico mission trip this year. On top of all that, she is already signed up to come to Mount Hermon’s Campers in Leadership Training program this summer! 

The best part of this story? This year, Courtney brought her friend, Amanda, to Fall Frenzy for the first time. We can’t wait to see the ripple effects of what God started in Courtney’s life at Fall Frenzy and how it will continue to spread to others. 

Please join us in praying for all of the students who attended Fall Frenzy, that they would continue to grow closer to God and more fully understand his wondrous love for us!

By Andrew Summers
Advancement Team

Securing Our Family

Posted by & filed under Kindling, Stories of Ministry.

One of the biggest blessings of my job is working with the many military families who come to Family Camp. Most of you know that we have a campership program that brings military families to a week of Family Camp free of charge. Each year I marvel at how the Lord uses a week of camp to heal these families who have sacrificed so much, and to draw them closer to each other and to Himself. 

Several years ago I received an email from DeeDee. Her husband Spencer, who was not a believer, had just received an honorable discharge from the Marines after serving 14 months in Iraq but having a physical disability that didn’t allow him to continue to serve. They had a special family circumstance. Their eleven-year-old daughter, Kayla, had a number of major medical issues. They had traveled the country seeking help and finding few answers, while spending tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for medical bills. DeeDee knew Kayla would need some special accommodations to be able to come to camp for a whole week, and we were happy to make them!

“To say that Mount Hermon has saved our family unit, would be one of the greatest understatements we can make. Mount Hermon not only has saved our family unit multiple times, it has secured our salvations.”
 —DeeDee

So DeeDee, Spencer, Kayla, and two younger daughters came for a week of Family Camp, and had the most amazing time! Two years later they returned for another week of camp, and DeeDee and Spencer even came to a Couple’s Retreat. Mount Hermon had become a sacred place for their family, providing time together and beautiful memories. 

I am devastated to say that last year Kayla’s battle with illness ended and she went to be with the Lord. This past summer was the family’s first time back to camp without her. DeeDee’s parents, neither of whom were walking with the Lord, joined them for support.

DeeDee and Spencer approached me on Tuesday of that week, and told me, “One of Kayla’s dreams was that her dad would come to know the Lord, and Spencer did!” DeeDee asked me, “Would you baptize both Spencer and our seven-year-old daughter Kadence this week?” I was overwhelmed, and we made plans to baptize them in the Mount Hermon swimming pool. Our worship leader that week, David Bardowell helped me, it was such a special and holy moment as we were surrounded by family and
close friends.

Several months after camp I received a phone call from DeeDee’s father. He excitedly informed me that he and his wife had rededicated their lives to the Lord at Mount Hermon and were now attending a local church in Southern California. I asked them which church and was amazed at the answer. “David Bardowell’s church! And we are both getting baptized this weekend!”

In the midst of tragedy comes the surprise of blessing. DeeDee sent a note to me with these words: “To say that Mount Hermon has saved our family unit, would be one of the greatest understatements we can make. Mount Hermon not only has saved our family unit multiple times, the Lord has used it to secure our salvation.”

We miss Kayla dearly, but are so comforted and encouraged by the knowledge that now her entire family will one day see her again when they join her in eternity with Jesus.  

By Dave Burns
Director of Adult Ministries

Redwood Camp Renewal

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

Have you heard? We are in the midst of renewing Redwood Camp!

There’s nothing quite like watching a camper’s journey throughout their week at Redwood Camp. Many come in shy and resistant, but by the end of the week they are expressive and open. Through the love of their counselor and the power of God, they not only encounter Jesus but they are able to experience real and lasting transformation, and we see it every day!

Many of the facilities, including the cabins, at Redwood Camp have been in service for over 60 years, and the time has come to renew Redwood Camp! We are in the process of building a number of new cabins (two of which will be ADA accessible), doing a floor-to-ceiling remodel of all the existing cabins, remodeling the bath houses, improving Victory Circle, and more! 

What we are most excited about in the project is the addition of a half bath to each existing cabin. This will eliminate the need for campers to wake their counselor to take them to the bathhouse in the middle of the night. This change alone will have a huge impact on the camper experience as well as a major reduction of fatigue for our counselors throughout the summer.

Why is this project important?

Did you know that over 60% of Christians in America accept Jesus as their Savior between the ages of 4 and 14? Redwood Camp ministers to kids right in that age window! The Lord works powerfully at Redwood Camp, and over the decades, thousands of kids have met Jesus and begun their journey with Him on that sacred ground. 

So where are we now? We have laid the new underground utilities, poured new foundations, and framed the new cabins. We are on track to finish Phase 1 (construction of new cabins and remodels of existing cabins) before camp starts in June.

Will you please be praying for the Redwood Camp renewal?

Pray that the weather will be favorable, that there will be continued unity among the contractor and sub-contractors, and that we will finish the project before the first campers arrive!

Thank you to the hundreds of families who have generously given to make this project possible. There is so much more to do at Redwood Camp so we still need your help!  

If you would like to be part of renewing Redwood Camp, you can go to http://www.mounthermon.org/renewredwood or contact JR Loofbourrow at jr.loofbourrow@mounthermon.org.

By Andrew Summers
Advancement team

A Special Adventure

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

Several months ago I was a guide on a Canopy Tour that I will never forget. Every tour has a unique feel depending on who is with us, but this tour was different. On this tour was Zach, a ten-year-old boy with autism and cerebral palsy. He was joined by his full-time one-on-one aid. 

When we get a call asking about accommodations for a guest with special needs, we do whatever we can to make sure that the experience will be awesome. For this tour, we scheduled three guides, rather than the normal two, so that I could zip tandem with Zach throughout the entire tour. Zach was completely non-verbal, but it was easy to see that he was having an amazing time. His aid told us that he loved adventure activities, he had even been white-water rafting!

As Zach and I zipped, his screams of excitement could be heard throughout the forest, he was having the time of his life! At each platform, his aid would take out his “yes/no” cards. She would ask, “Are you having fun?” He would eagerly and excitedly point to the “yes” card. 

When we finished the tour, his parents were so grateful that he had been able to have this experience. They thanked us profusely, and they even brought him back to do the Canopy Tour again a few months later! It is such a blessing to see first-hand how God is using our Adventure Ministries to touch lives in unique and special ways. 

By Michael Cahalan
Adventure Guide

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.