Posts Categorized: Stories of Ministry

Blended Couples Retreat a Success

Posted by & filed under LOG, Stories of Ministry.

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

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

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

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

Attendee comments:

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

Please continue this conference!!

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

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

Kidder Creek Prepares for the Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More about Kidder Creek

Kidder Creek Loves to Serve Groups!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn More about Group Services

A Simple Click

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the Mount Hermon Videos

Staff Impact Camps Beyond Mount Hermon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Purpose Behind the Fun

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

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

#1: One Main Scriptural Truth

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

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

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

#3: Daily Objectives Further Explaining the One Main Truth

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

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#4: Story Flow and Small Group Questions

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

#5: The Schedule

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

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

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One-Hunder-Ten: 2015 Annual Ministry Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To God Be the Glory!

Posted by & filed under LOG, Stories of Ministry.

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

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

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

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Mike Romberger
President/CEO

They Serve… Because They Believe

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

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

67 / 282 / 264 / 613

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

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

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

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

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

Apply for Summer Staff at Mount Hermon!

Ron Demolar– Pancake King and So Much More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apply for Summer Staff at Mount Hermon!

Getting to Know the Mount Hermon Annual Fund

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More About Giving

Even Small Donors Make a Difference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invest in Mount Hermon

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

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.

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By Lee Martin

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

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

Continued from Newsletter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outdoor Science School expands to China

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.

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By Todd Clark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revamping Parent Child Retreats in 2016

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.

Moms & Sons Photo

By Kara “Quack” Podesta

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

Continued from Newsletter

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

Dads & Sons Video

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

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

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

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

Redwood Camp Samuelson Pavilion Update

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

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Redwood Camp is where it all started—Mount Hermon’s birthplace in 1906. Things have come a long way since then and we are thrilled to be unveiling one of the most anticipated additions Redwood Camp has experienced.

It began in May of 2001, when the current master development plan for the Conference Center and Redwood Camp was approved by Santa Cruz County. There are many wonderful and exciting projects associated with our master plan, and each one, when completed, will be used to support the mission of Mount Hermon—lives transformed. The new pavilion at Mount Hermon’s Redwood Camp definitely fits into that category.

The Samuelson Pavilion is an open–air structure that will set nestled back towards Bean Creek, preceded by a sprawling grass meadow. The pavilion will be the new hub of activity, offering shade in the summer, and protection from the rain in the winter months.

The project started September 15, 2015 with strategic removal of trees and mass grading of the site. We were under the gun to get rough grading completed in less than thirty days. We pressed on and were able to complete the work by October 14. What an answer to prayer!

Since then, it has been full speed ahead with a six–inch water line to the fire sprinkler system, concrete foundation, heavy timber framing, and roof structure all completed. Our original date of completion was March 7, which included twenty days for rain delay. Even though we’ve had more than 20 days of rain, we are still on track to finish well ahead of the start of summer youth camps.

Someday we believe it will be hard to imagine life without the Samuelson Pavilion and its ministry impact. We feel confident, that day is not far away.

Read more about the Samuelson Pavilion

Meet Laura Messerly, Adventure Girl

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

Laura-racing-croppedOne of our brightest and most shining faces in the world of Adventure and Recreation belongs to Laura Messerly. If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Laura and you’ve seen her smile, you know what I mean.

Laura is our Adventure Operations Director. She interacts with our wonderful adventure staff (ranging in number from 50–150 depending on the time of year). I’d love for you to get to know Laura a bit better. I know you too will be blessed by her beautiful, optimistic spirit.

Tell us how the Lord brought you to Mount Hermon?

I found out about Mount Hermon through a professor while in grad school. I found myself moving to California in early September 2011 to begin as an Adventure and Recreation intern. Even though I left after my internship year ended, the Lord had other plans for me.

I moved back home to the East Coast. The next eight months following the internship could best be summarized as “soul searching,” all the while never quite being able to shake off the fact that Mount Hermon had won me over. A week into my first full–time job in North Carolina, I learned of a new full–time position open with Mount Hermon Adventures. After quite a bit of internal struggle and prayer, and lots of frustrating silence from God, I decided not to pursue that position. Despite my decision, a little piece of my heart was undeniably still at Mount Hermon and that little piece did not seem to be shrinking. Instead, it was making it increasingly difficult to be present and effective in my current role. After two long, challenging, extremely powerful months of relying on God, on a whim, I checked the Mount Hermon jobs site. I was unexpectedly flooded with emotions (and tears) to see a full–time position for Adventure Operations Coordinator sitting there on the list. I knew it was the perfect fit! I returned in April of 2013 to begin serving in this role.

Share some of you passions outside of Mount Hermon.

I have always loved the ocean and about a year ago decided it was time to learn how to surf! There were many, many months of falling down and getting back on the board, and falling down and getting back up . . . but I am now standing up consistently and having a lot of fun out there in the waves!

My sister now works at Mount Hermon up at Outdoor Science School so I enjoy spending time with her! And my awesome roommates!

What’s new on the horizon for you in your area of ministry this year?

We always seem to be growing and changing at Mount Hermon Adventures, thanks to our fearless leader, Nate! We have recently added two new levels to our Sequoia Adventure Course, (now called the Sequoia Aerial Adventure), and are excited about our Grand Opening in March. We have been going through the various preparations; exploring the course, training our staff, discussing how it will operate, creating new staffing models, marketing and hiring more staff.

How can we pray for you?

More staff! More housing for our existing and future staff. We are hoping to hire 38 staff this spring (not counting summer staff) to run our programs and courses at full capacity! Housing is a huge, tricky and very expensive factor here in Santa Cruz for all of our staff.

Next time you are in the Adventure Recreation neighborhood make sure to stop by and say “hi” to Laura, our Adventure Girl!

Explore the Mount Hermon Adventures site

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Summer Staff Lives Transformed

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

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“Having not come from a Christian family or strong Christian community of friends, KC provided me with an opportunity to work alongside fellow believers. Going through the summer by solely relying on God for His strength and guidance allowed me to take one step closer to Jesus in my day-to-day life now that I am back at school. Prayer, acts of selfless love and engaging conversation about the Lord with other staff members encouraged me to continue to pursue God’s best in my life.” – 2015 River Team Staff Member

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It’s not only the campers who have their lives transformed each summer at Kidder Creek but it’s the staff as well. This summer we will hire 58 summer staff to join us in our mission of helping campers meet Jesus through a super fun-filled and adventurous week of camp. Those staff that join us in that mission will also leave transformed as they take one step closer to Jesus by relying on God for strength and His work in their own lives as they strive to serve and love the campers God brings to camp.

Previous staff consistently point to two things that they love about working at Kidder Creek and that lead to them having a life transforming time at camp. The first is the community:  being a part of a team of peers who have come together to do God’s work, to encourage and build each other up in that ministry, and to have supervisors who care about you, pray for you and want to see you grow in the Lord. The second is the ministry: laying it all on the line, setting aside your needs so you can meet someone else’s, to be completely empty of your own strength and to have to rely on the Lord’s strength to keep loving the campers.

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“I learned to better rely on Him for strength when I was weak, I learned to better see and love others the way that He does, I learned to trust Him to speak through me when I was unsure of what to say and He gave me the words I needed to say.”  – 2015 Ranch Camp Staff Member

God uses our summer staff to impact the hundreds of campers that attend camp each summer, and God is using their time at camp to draw them to Himself, to serve Him in the present as well as to prepare them for future ministry.

Apply for Summer Staff!

Craig Thompson Moving On But Not Away

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

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We are sorry to see Craig go! 

Craig Thompson first came to Kidder Creek in the 6th grade and spent the next six summers coming to camp. Craig remembers his counselor, Jon Vengley, from that first summer and how he one day wanted to be just like Jon. Craig’s life was transformed that first summer when he put his faith in Jesus.

Craig realized his dream of being like his counselor Jon and came on summer staff for the first time in 2003. Craig has spent 10 summers serving the Lord at camp in various roles.

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This will be Craig’s last summer as the Associate Director as he is going back to farming and  ministry full time at Rockside Ranch. Rockside is an organic working ranch just down the road that offers apprenticeships to young men overcoming adversity. We will miss Craig’s smile, his great storytelling and the hard work that he has given to this ministry. Thankfully he is not going far and he plans to to spend time volunteering at camp.

Thanks, Craig, for all  you have done and will do to pour into camp and create opportunities for campers to have incredible adventures, meet Jesus and have their lives transformed.

Rooted

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

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There are so many messages coming at us in today’s world.  It can be easy to feel blown around by the winds of pop culture.

That’s why it is so important to invite kids into the hope of the eternal truth of God’s Word. In Colossians 2:7, Paul gives the instruction to “Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

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

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

Read More about Kidder Creek

Appreciation Banquet – March 12th

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

KC-AppreciationBanquet

We are excited for the upcoming Kidder Creek Appreciation Banquet on March 12th in Yreka. The banquet will be a time to say thank you to the many volunteers, donors and friends of Kidder Creek Camp, to thank them for the investment of time, talent and treasure to this ministry affecting the lives of hundreds of campers each summer. Kidder Creek would not have the impact it is having locally and regionally if it were not for these generous supporters that have joined in the mission of seeing lives transformed as kids come to Kidder Creek and meet Jesus.

In 2015 we had over 100 different donors give more than $85,000 in general or campership giving.

We had over 100 different volunteers help in all areas of camp from kitchen to program to maintenance and what a turn out to help with the Fall Festival!  Wow!

We praise God for the many supporters of Kidder Creek that have joined us in various ways to help us reach our vision of seeing campers take one step closer to Jesus. We are grateful for the opportunity to say THANK YOU to our friends on March 12th at the Kidder Creek Appreciation Banquet.

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

Always Abounding in the Work of the Lord

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

While recently sitting around a table flanked by Mount Hermon’s Trustees I was impacted by a man who was stepping down after over sixty faithful years as a key leader of Mount Hermon. I’m referring to 91–year–old John Jenks. John has been both on the Board of Directors and a Trustee for over half of Mount Hermon’s 110 year existence! He has helped shape this transformational ministry in ways that only God fully knows.

5DMKII_CC_201305300062In John’s parting words to the Trustees (Trustees are those who oversee the spiritual protection and nurture of Mount Hermon), he quoted this verse:

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain”

(1 Corinthians 15:58).

Think of these words from the Apostle Paul:

STEADFAST: Fixed in direction

IMMOVABLE: Incapable of being moved

ABOUNDING: Rich and well supplied

As John spoke I welled up with gratitude to the Lord as Mount Hermon has remained STEADFAST, IMMOVABLE, ABOUNDING in the work of the Lord for 110 years. This labor is not in vain as God is working! Through the touch of the Holy Spirit lives are being eternally transformed, marriages restored, tired and discouraged people refreshed and renewed, and God glorified. Praise be to God!

As a faithful Associate you are a key part in our abounding in the work of the Lord. Your generosity and sacrifice are having an impact on literally tens–of–thousands
of lives each year.

Thank you!

Volunteers Play Vital Role in Lives Transformed

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

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Lives Transformed. We see it happening over and over at Mount Hermon through many different avenues. Two of those avenues, investing in the youth of local churches and investing in volunteering, are merging together in a new program that has Bill Fernald sending off sparks of enthusiasm as he shares the “whys” and the “hows” of this exciting new ministry.

“Great leaders are shaped out of service; they learn how to serve and care for the needs of others.” —Bill Fernald

“Great leaders are shaped out of service; they learn how to serve and care for the needs of others”, Bill said recently as he explained the vision behind the Mount Hermon Youth Work Crews program. This new avenue is designed to be a precursor to the popular and impactful Mount Hermon Youth Intensives: CILTs, Echo, Amata, and the newest intensive, Band of Brothers, which got off to a great start last summer.

Youth Work Crews are designed to give youth pastors a place to bring their student leaders to learn the power and value of service and to experience the impact of service on building group unity and community. Not to mention the fun that’s to be had in serving together! There’s something profound that can happen when kids work hard together toward a common purpose and goal. To help someone else out can bring a boost to the individual and give a touch of the Kingdom of God.

So what are Youth Work Crews and what do they entail?

Youth pastors from local churches put together teams of students to come to Mount Hermon for work retreat weekends held during the fall, winter, or spring. There is no cost for this working weekend. Leaders and students work side by side three to six hours each day, assisting the kitchen staff with meal preparation and clean up. The staff provides all the training and a safe service environment for the group.

The work is easy to learn and fun to do as a group. It provides an essential service to enhance the ministry to the hundreds of guests who come to Mount Hermon with the opportunity of growing one step closer to Jesus.

Once students get a taste of the personal value of service and experience the unity and team building that can result from serving together, the next natural step is to return in the summer for participation in either the Echo or Band of Brothers youth intensives. Those students who complete one or more full service weekends are eligible for up to a 25% scholarship for their intensive program.

What a win–win! Students grow in their experience and understanding of servant leadership while connecting in a very literal way with the truth that living out your faith means living into service. The staff benefits from a wonderful assist that allows an enhanced dining experience for our conference guests. Mount Hermon is supported by the local church as the local church is supported by Mount Hermon. And, once again, lives are transformed.

A Fierce Fall Frenzy

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

fallfrenzyjackBy Zak Flowers

This year’s Fall Frenzies were a great success as well as a tremendous blessing to everyone involved: students, church leaders, volunteers and staff alike as all of us took one step closer to Jesus. This year’s Fall Frenzy was called Fierce: Fierce Love, Relentless Trust.

Continued from Newsletter

We were looking initially at Psalm 20:7, “…but we trust in the name of the Lord our God,” and then expanded off of it to focus on God’s fierce love for us and how that drives us to relentlessly trust in Him. Each day we looked at a different aspect of this in our objectives: God loves us with a fierce love, God’s fierce love calls us to ruthlessly abandon doubt and relentlessly trust Him, and we can stand firm in God’s fierce love no matter the circumstances we face.

With this idea of God’s fierce love and our relentless trust in mind, we decided to embody that in the style of Vikings! It is because of God’s fierce love that we are able to relentlessly trust him through the storms that we face. Who better to use to bring that to life than ferocious Vikings that constantly faced and persevered through storms by trusting in each other and most importantly their captain? Thus, we transformed Ponderosa Lodge into a Viking village filled with boulders, ropes, shields, furs, weapons, and even a Viking ship in the forum.

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The “Fierce” mentality did not just stop at the set and look of Ponderosa, no no no. It was in everything that we did, especially the games and activities we played. One of the most enjoyed games was our night game called Lost at Sea: Snorri’s Family Reunion which brought campers and church leaders into the world of the theme skit as they searched the lodge for items, corresponding to their own team’s role on the ship, that had been lost during a fierce storm. Whilst doing so, they had to avoid Snorri’s family (a main character in the skit who was a very boisterous operatic Viking) for when they saw campers they began singing loudly which attracted sea creatures that could affect their small group negatively.

These weekends were transformational. Time and time again we saw God’s faithfulness, the power of the gospel, and His fierce love in student’s reactions and the stories of students taking one step closer to Jesus. One junior high student wrote this on their evaluation of one thing they learned this weekend:

“This week, I learned that God loves me with an unmatched love and that In return, I need to learn how to trust in him relentlessly.”
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This is but one of the hundreds of stories of students taking one step closer to Jesus that God created over these weekends at our Fierce Fall Frenzies.

Zak Flowers is currently serving as one of our Youth and Young Adult Ministries Interns. He was worked several summers at Mount Hermon in Conference Center Youth and at Echo.

 

 

 

Life-Changing Seasons at Mount Hermon

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.

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By Chris Varela

Some of the most life-changing seasons of my life have happened while at Mount Hermon. After my first summer as a counselor at Redwood Camp, a passion for ministry was awakened in me as my eyes had been opened to what appeared to be a gift and enthusiasm God had given me for working with elementary-aged children. This call, though in its early stages at the time, was further confirmed as I spent the next several summers working in a camp-setting.

Continued from Newsletter

By the time I was 23, I had worked three summers at Redwood camp, one summer at a camp in Texas, and had done a 9-month stint with Mount Hermon’s Outdoor Science School. I thought my time pursuing kids and youth ministry as a full-time vocation had ended when I took a job in a non-related field doing marketing and project management, but it seemed as though God had a different plan.

1DMKII_RWC_20120731_0022-2-ChrisA year later, after a series of events that led me back into full-time vocational ministry, I found myself as the Director of a thriving Middle School and High School Ministry at a church. To this day I serve in this role and find myself praising God for the road He led me down to get me to there. Had it not been for the life changing, faith strengthening, passion awakening seasons of life that occurred at Mount Hermon, I would not be doing what I am doing in my current role.

These days, because of my own highly personal and intimate experiences at Mount Hermon throughout the years, I place a huge priority on getting my own students to a Mount Hermon camp. I want them to experience the same life-change that I did! To me, it’s an essential part of their spiritual growth to experience God in the unique retreat setting that Mount Hermon offers. Whether it’s the beautiful location in the forest, the intentional programming, the Christ-centered curriculum, or committed staff members, I have found that the truths my students discover at Mount Hermon to be an indispensable part of their faith, and our church’s ministry to middle schoolers and high schoolers.

Chris Varela serves as the Director of Student Ministries at Canyon Creek Presbyterian Church. He spent several summers working at Redwood Camp and then joined our year-round staff doing all kinds of awesomeness in our Creative Services department.