Posts Categorized: Stories of Ministry

“… Change My Life Forever”

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



I sat around the campfire on that summer night; I was 12 years old and moved by the message and the truth that God loved me, that He was real and present in my life. That powerful moment at camp is one I will always remember. My life was immeasurably blessed by having gone to summer camp, and I will always remember the powerful impact it had on my walk with Jesus.

Each summer at Mount Hermon thousands of kids share the same experience, and you are part of making that happen! Here is a letter we received from Zach, a camper at Ponderosa this past summer:

“Dear Ponderosa,

Thank you a lot for giving me the scholarship to go to camp. It was the best week ever for me. I had Alex as my counselor and he was great. I really felt God connecting to me that week. Just seeing how He works and how amazing His love is.  I thank you so much for helping me to go to the best week that will change my life forever. From, Zach”

Zach is not the only grateful member of this family. In the same letter Zach’s mom writes:

“Dear Mount Hermon,

I want to thank you so much for giving my son a scholarship to help get him to camp at Ponderosa this summer. He was able to go with one of his best friends. Zach said it was, “the most awesome week of his life!” He got so much closer to God and his faith has really blossomed. His counselor, Alex, was incredible and a great mentor for Zach. Thank you so much for helping us to afford to get Zachary to camp—your ministry is awesome. Quite a legacy since I went to Ponderosa—so great to share that bond and memory with my son! Thank you, Heidi

Is there any greater gift we can give than sharing the love of Jesus with someone?  That gift is realized when a young person experiences camp, whether it’s Ponderosa Lodge, Redwood Camp, Kidder Creek or family camp. Your generous gifts to our campership fund made this experience possible—Thank you!

The faces and seasons change but the timeless truth of Jesus’ love never changes. Thank you for being part of giving Zach a “…week that will change my life forever.”


What would you give to have your masculine heart come fully alive?

Posted by & filed under General, Stories of Ministry.

Men's Boot Camp

In order for a man to get his heart back, he’s got to take a journey. One that involves risk, danger, and a point of no return. The Mount Hermon Wild at Heart Boot Camp, is based upon the lifestyle described in the book Wild at Heart, by John Eldridge. A Boot Camp Weekend at Mount Hermon is a quest into the recovery of the masculine soul. It is an honest, no holding back trek into the deep passions and desires of a man’s heart, into the healing of the wounds he’s taken in life, into the realm of fatherhood, sex, marriage and God—life as it was meant to be lived by a man.

We can tell you lots of things about this weekend, but what’s more powerful are some of the testimonies we received after our Boot Camp last fall:

You do not know how life changing this weekend was for me! Thank you! I came to this retreat by God’s grace alone. I grew up in the church. I started attending church regularly during fourth grade was baptized in grade school, not much of a story. I have been to several Men’s Retreats/Conferences and never felt God like I did this weekend. Saturday night wrecked me. Saturday night: The call to confession. I don’t usually get out of my seat to come to the front when called. I always figured I can talk to God at my seat. This time, I got up. I got to share my baggage with Adam (one of the team leaders).

Another God thing, as Adam is my son’s name. I opened up my bag and shared all my wounds and my sin with my son who came with me to the retreat. I spoke the words after 30 or more years of keeping that bag shut from everyone. Opening that bag and unpacking it, bringing it into the light, generated a wave of freedom and feeling the presence of God, really for the first time I can remember. There was FREEDOM! I felt chains release. Tears flowing down my face. I have not cried like that since I was a teen. God was there healing me and beginning to restore me. Please thank the men who spoke at this conference. Their authenticity and ability to share their stories and failures was incredible and helped me to risk opening up about my struggles.

On the way home from the conference, I was able to share everything about my past with my son. I was able to be transparent with him, so he knows who his father is. Tears and emotions were released again during this time. I apologized for the wounds I inflicted on him growing up and he forgave me. Now the hard part: When I got home and told my wife about this weekend I could not stop crying. I had buried my emotions for so long and locked them away, she has never seen emotion like that from me in the 22 years we have been married.

I’m looking for a band of brothers now at my church because I don’t want to go back to where I was. If there is not a group I can join, I will start one. I don’t ever want to go back. I plan on attending the next Men’s Boot Camp, hopefully with my son again. I want to encourage you to keep doing this. It was amazing. I told myself this was going to be a good weekend for my son and I would support him by showing up. God decided it was going to be a weekend to heal my brokenness and draw closer to Him. Thank you!!

Here’s another:

Boot Camp was a GIANT success for myself and the small group I brought there. I am certain that the lives and marriages of these men were changed. In fact, I have already had some communication with 2 of the wives, and they have great praises, (trying to thank me) but it’s not me that can change lives, it’s only Jesus. He did a marvelous work in me by letting me experience homelessness. Many nights I would stay awake and just wonder if there was ANY hope for me. My wife never became that discouraged, her faith kept me alive! But through Boot camp I became aware that there was actually hope. Boot camp put this train back onto the tracks after a serious derailment. It was the tool that God used to free me from my self afflicted despair.

Through you, this experience, I became the man God wanted me to be for so many years. My self denial, posing and accepting the wounds as all my fault, I created my own prison and felt secure within that prison. I can not repay what Christ did for me, nor can I repay what your efforts resulted in. But I can only carry the torch a short distance, and I aspire to be as tough as you. My small group of men is growing. Their wives are beginning to see changes in them, their children also see changes. I, a former homeless man have gained respect and acceptance in this church, simply because I am no longer phoney, I simply tell the truth. My wife has seen such a change in me she is blown away! our relationship is totally different, we fell in love again!

The Son is shining and the flowers begin to bloom. Don’t give up the fight. We are with you all the way!

This weekend experience could be the perfect experience for you or your men’s group. Sign up for Boot Camp at Mount Hermon, today!

Volunteer at Your Own Risk!

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

volunteer at your own risk


Mount Hermon is a special place where God dramatically interacts with people and draws them closer to Himself. Many of you know this, and continually thank the Lord for His grace poured into you through your seasons at Mount Hermon.

Many also express your gratitude to God through vol unteering selflessly as partners who are essential to keeping this ministry humming so effectively. It is impossible to consider operating at such an edifying level without their investment.

One volunteer’s Mount Hermon history spans over 60 years. As a young girl, Nelda Olson roller skated INSIDE the WWII-vintage water tank, then being installed up on Madrone Ave. With her family she enjoyed many conferences and camps, and still stays in the “family cabin” while serving as one of our many outstanding volunteers.

This summer Nelda did a “risky” thing. Though 50 years separate their ages, Nelda joined with the Amata Girls, mentoring, encouraging and modeling for them a spirit-led, Christ-dependent, and humble servant life. Face-painted and unselfconscious, Nelda won their trust and hearts, joyfully and tangibly demonstrating the love of Christ to these young girls. The goal of our Amata Program–the very heart of the Lord for them–is that they know they are indeed “beloved” of God. Nelda said, “These girls are so precious. I am having the time of my life!”

Nelda embodies the intentionality of all of our volunteers, to “find a need and fill it,” making the gospel both heard and seen in every area of Mount Hermon. Now it’s your turn. Take a risk and become a volunteer too!

Thankful for Second Chances

Posted by & filed under General, Stories of Ministry.

Bean Creek. Redwood Camp.

Photo By: Paul Alkhato, Redwood Camp Staff 2013

This is a story about Janice.* She came to Family Camp at Mount Hermon this year and took away a lot more than she expected. She shared what she was taking home at Victory Circle at the end of the week.

“I’m thankful for second chances,” Janice told her new friends. “I’m forty-two years old, so I figure I should have about thirty years to make up for my mistakes. I can’t wait to get home and start making memories for my children.”

What was Janice’s great regret? She had neglected her three children. Oh, they had plenty of food and lovely clothes, but Janice had turned their upbringing over to nannies. We have all heard about the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, but in Joshua 3 we read about another miracle—crossing the flooded Jordan River. The Bible says that when the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant into the river, the water “stood up in a heap.”

Continued from Newsletter

What a sight that must have been! After all the people had crossed over and stepped onto the banks of the Promised Land, God commanded Joshua to have one person from each tribe get a boulder from the river bed, and pile them up on the shore. Those were to be their Stones of Remembrance. Joshua told the people, “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them how the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the Ark of the Covenant.” (Joshua 4: 6-7)

It was those words from Joshua that so moved Janice. She said, “I’ve been too busy doing things elsewhere. I need to minister to my own children. That’s where I’m going to make a lasting influence.” She’s right. “Oh!” Janice added with a smile. “I will be back to see you next year—without regrets!”

*Name has been changed.

A Gold-Mining Extravaganza!

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry.

Junior Getway


Last month nearly 200 students came to Mount Hermon over two weekends for a fun-filled time of song, dance, games, and gold mining! This year’s Junior Getaway transported kids back to the old west as they learned how to “Dig into the Bible.”

Once again, the famous Mr. J joined us for the weekends to lead the kids in music and teaching. “Deputy J” focused on teaching kids the importance of reading the Bible, emphasizing that the Bible is “pure gold” and “kid possible.”

 [continued from Alumni Newsletter]

It was truly awesome to see students engage on such a deep level with the teaching and activities. Mr. J is a master at weaving together original songs with drama to create a seamless programmatic experience where the themes are reinforced at every step. Here are some of the things that students told us at the end of the weekend:

“My favorite part of the weekend was getting to be closer to my friends and God.”

“I learned that God will always be there for me and that he died for me.”

“I learned that God loves us no matter what we do.”

Wow! Such great things for kids to be learning at such a young age. Will you join us in continuing to pray for the students that were here last month? Thank you!

Echo: A Transformational Experience

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry, Youth.


By Jenn Smith, Echo Coordinator

Why is camp so awesome? I mean, come on…camp is the best place on Earth. But, what really makes camp so amazing? There has to be a formula or checklist to determine why camp is so great. Maybe it’s the fun games, the crazy activities and the loud energetic worship. While all those things are great, those characteristics are not what make a great camp experience. When you boil it down, what makes the camp experience so great is the fact that one encounters Jesus.

Continued from Youth Newsletter

Echo is an example of a different kind of camp experience. Community, discipleship, simplicity, and service transform student’s lives in Echo every summer. Echo is an intentional small community experience where students are challenged to live out what they are learning. Service is a big part of the Echo experience, but it is always coupled with the understanding of God’s presence. Echo may not look the way that you expect camp to look like; Echo is another opportunity to take one step closer to Jesus.

Hear what one of our campers, Rob Limkeman, has to say about Echo:


 “There is no doubt in my mind that Echo has dramatically shaped my life and its course. The loving, spirit-nurturing and challenging community provided me a place for personal growth that I had not anticipated. It provided me a place to say, “Not my will, but Thy will” with the truth that we sharpened each other with. It provided me a place with mature leaders that I could learn from and be inspired by. However, I am not convinced that it was the well-crafted program and planning, nor am I convinced that it was the dynamic and engaging nature of the leaders that made such an impact on me.

While I think these factors play crucial roles in Echo’s value, I am convinced that this program’s beauty blossoms because God is at the very center of it. Everything is grounded in Him, and everything is pointed back to Him. The key? I think it’s because the programs and planning are soaked in prayer. The leaders are soaked in prayer. The Echo-goers are soaked in prayer…This was evident in the amazing ways God’s grace showed up in those two short weeks and how it has spilled over throughout the last 2 and a half years in my life and the lives of the others. The bonds we formed, the battles we fought and the questions we wrestled with have pressed us into Christ in the most life-giving ways.

We can look back on Echo and be reminded of God’s faithfulness and unrelenting grace that we witnessed first-hand in Christian community. Echo is a faith anchoring experience. E cho provided for me a picture that I put on my desk reminding me not just of God and that awesome time in community, but also of my continuing commitment established in that holy place to live a life fully abiding in Jesus.”

Echo is for 9th-12th graders and takes place at both Kidder Creek at the Santa Cruz Mountains. Join us this summer! Check it out here.

Ransomed Heart Hosts Conference at Mount Hermon

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.

Mens Retreat

By Hannah Wilson, Conference Services Intern

In February, 550 men gathered at Mount Hermon from 43 states and 9 different countries to seek God’s heart for their lives. Spearheaded by Ransomed Heart’s visionary, John Eldredge, this multi-generational group included professional surfers and athletes, writers, pastors, and more. Ransomed Heart’s primary desire is that Christians would understand their authority to live free lives as sons of God’s kingdom.

Through a series of profound sessions John and the Ransomed Heart team walked our guests through the process of fighting for the abundant life promised in Christ.

Continued from staff Alumni Newsletter

The conference encouraged men to confront their wounds and seek healing. Through movie clips, scripture, and testimonies, the sessions explored the unique ways Christ has wired the core desires of a man’s heart. Ransomed Heart used characters like William Wallace from the film Braveheart and James Braddock from Cinderella Man to illuminate the reality of spiritual warfare. Eldredge challenged the men that passive faith permits agreements with the enemy that can claim areas of their lives completely.

This retreat was marked by a deep sense of solidarity, as men congregated on our grounds at all hours of the day to talk and pray. One of our staff recalls a man admitting that for years, “he thought he was the only one.” Another man confessed that he felt filled with shame for the ways he’d allowed his painful past to manifest in harsh words towards his wife and children. Our staff encouraged him that the prime emphasis of a conference like this was to remind men that it is never too late.

Mount Hermon considered it an enormous privilege to partner with Ransomed Heart Ministries. Witnessing the direct impact Jesus had on the lives of these men was a powerful reminder of the awesome work that God does at camp all year long.

Love in Action: Give Camp 331

Posted by & filed under Giving, Stories of Ministry.

By JR Loofborrow

I’d like you to meet Gordon and Jan Kvamme—long-time Mount Hermon friends, faithful, committed members of our volunteer team, and part of our Associates family.

Last summer they were deeply impacted by an experience their grandson had here at camp. We were very excited they shared it with us, and they’ve allowed us to pass it on to you. We know this will touch your soul just as deeply as it did ours.

The Kvammes wrote us,

“…Last summer we sent our grandson to Ponderosa Lodge. His friend was able to join him thanks to help from your Campership Fund—thank you for making that possible!  At the end of the week, when we picked them up the first thing they asked was, ‘will we be able to come back NEXT year?’ You can easily imagine the joy—theirs and ours!

Jan and I would like to make that same experience possible for twenty-five other campers in 2012. Twenty-five times three hundred thirty-one equals eight thousand two hundred and seventy-five dollars. May God use these camperships to bless and reach many people for His Kingdom…”

Through the Kvammes, twenty-five additional young people have now experienced the love of Jesus in community at Mount Hermon this past summer. Whether at Ponderosa Lodge, in Redwood Camp or up at Kidder Creek, we know Jesus met them.

With Gordon and Jan, you too can “give” Christ’s love to other campers. We prayerfully ask for your support of “Give Camp 331,” which will ensure someone else will encounter the love of Jesus here at Mount Hermon.

Amazed, but not surprised!

Posted by & filed under Press Release, Stories of Ministry.

By Alden Johanson

Over the years, thousands of families and individuals have driven into Mount Hermon—on their way to a glorious week of Family Camp, to take their children to Redwood Camp or Ponderosa Lodge, or to join their own Guest Groups or Conferences for retreat and respite in the Redwoods. Most can envision passing Safeway and the CVS Pharmacy, turning at the Mount Hermon sign, and taking the grade up and into the beauty along Conference Drive.

Next to the shopping center, and extending to Conference Drive and Zayante Road, is a large, tree-studded, pastoral parcel of undeveloped land. You’ve probably noticed this property and wondered about its future. For many years the Mount Hermon staff have dreamed of owning these 15 pristine acres of mostly flat land— the last such undeveloped parcel in the San Lorenzo Valley. Back in 2006 that dream almost vanished entirely when a local non-profit, South County Housing (SCH), bought the land intending to build 55 affordable housing units there. Mount Hermon could in no way afford their purchase price, but by God’s grace that wasn’t to be the end of the story.

Together, our well-known local environmental concerns and the 2008-2009 housing crisis conspired to unravel their best-laid plans, and SCH advised County officials they would be selling. So about a year ago the County asked Mount Hermon if we’d be interested in purchasing this property from South County Housing. Thus began a lengthy and complex negotiation involving Santa Cruz County officials, with SCH and their lender. All three groups had held a financial stake in the housing project, and political pressures threatened to derail our negotiations.

With diligence we carefully moved ahead, praying for the Lord to lead and honor our efforts, and at every stage God showed up! He even used people He’d “planted” within these organizations to keep our negotiations on track. Then on May 18 all the pieces finally coalesced, and Mount Hermon became the new owner of this beautiful property—at a cost a fraction of the original SCH purchase price!

In miraculous ways God has surely provided this land to us, to serve His Kingdom purposes. We are not surprised, but we ARE amazed! We’re now developing plans for its best use, with several exciting ideas in mind. Our aim is to keep the area scenic and “green,” with minimal structures, to use it primarily for children and recreation.

Our desire is to enhance the experience for our guests while blessing our community at the same time. Please pray for a smooth planning, zoning and permitting process, allowing us, as soon as possible, to put this treasure to use for God’s glory

Staff Alumni Newsletter: December 2011

Posted by & filed under Alumni, Stories of Ministry.

Dave & Leslie Burns
Dave & Leslie Burns

It’s a time of transition at Mount Hermon as Ron Demolar, who has impacted countless lives over four decades at Mount Hermon, has retired. Sort of. He has now accepted a position on Mount Hermon’s board of trustees which is an appointment for life.

Ron asked if Leslie and I would take over as the coordinators for alumni and we agreed.

In our first letter to all of you, this is what came to mind.

Lives Transformed

“Lives Transformed” –  it’s the statement found on all Mount Hermon literature.

It is always an indication of a story. Mount Hermon holds a special place in the lives of so many including my own, that have been impacted by the ministry here, through the teaching of the Word, worship, fellowship and for many such as you, serving here for a season.

After being widowed for a year and coming back to MH to co-lead a conference in 2005, my children introduced me to (they set us up) Leslie Cooper, a former staffer who oversaw childcare and day camp for nearly 10 years and worked with many of you. It wasn’t my script but God’s using my kids and former Day Camp staff to put us together. It worked! Leslie Cooper has been Leslie Burns for over five years now and we live  in Mount Hermon where I minister as the Director of Adult Ministries.

So many of you have stories to tell of the impact Mount Hermon has had in your lives. How many of you met your future spouse at Mount Hermon as we did? How often have we heard the story: “as a summer staffer in such and such a year I worked with this girl and now we’re married with children of our own.”

Leslie and I are interested in hearing your story. Would you send us an email telling us the impact Mount Hermon has had on your lives? We’d love to create a collection of those stories.

And stay tuned! We want to coordinate an alumni reunion at a Mount Hermon Conference next year!

Have a blessed Christmas and New Year

Dave and Leslie Burns

CILT :: A Student’s Perspective

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

This is a guest post by Sydney Boral, a senior in high school who has attended numerous youth camps at Mount Hermon.

Mount Hermon will always be near and dear to my heart because it is where Christ pursued me to be His disciple. This past summer, I experienced Ponderosa Lodge from an entirely new perspective; I was a CILT.  CILT, or Campers in Leadership Training, is a two week program in which high school students are trained to share the love of God with junior highers. As amazing as being a leader for younger girls was for me, CILT also provided me with the opportunity to dive deeper into my own faith, and to create bonds with other Christians in high school who truly love Jesus. When you’re a CILT, the entire Ponderosa staff pours their love into you constantly. Then, you are blessed with the chance to pour your own love into campers. CILT taught me a lot about what it looks like to not just be a follower, but a disciple. Serving God and others is so fulfilling, and at the same time you’re having so much FUN!

One of the most noticeable characteristics about being in a leadership role is the challenges you face. I’ve been a camper for seven summers now, and have always been terrified of the leap of faith. One day when I was with my campers at the ropes course, one asked me to be her partner for the jump, and without hesitation I accepted. I’m not sure why her request was so easy to answer, but I know that God was working through me. God really gave me countless ways to be a leader during CILT, and every boundary I grew past brought me closer to being a true disciple.

Another challenge brought on by CILT was knocking down your walls. The entire first week of CILT is spent training to be a leader, and bonding with your fellow CILTs because they are your family. We all had to open up about the tough stuff, but being able to admit your struggles brings you so much closer to God and shows you how much your “family” cares about you.

CILT was undoubtedly the best adventure I’ve ever experienced.

Summer Camp Through the Eyes of a Student

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

Ponderosa Lodge CILT Campers 2012


This is a guest post written by Evan, a high school student who attended Mount Hermon’s CILT camp this past summer.  CILT is a 2-week program for juniors, seniors and graduated seniors that focuses on leadership development.



Whenever I am asked to put my experience of CILT in a few words I honestly don’t know how to do it. But in general CILT did the unimaginable for me and my walk with Christ. A quick way I’ve been able to explain the experience for others back home is telling them how, for basically forever, I have had NO idea what I wanted to become or do with my life after high school; what college I wanted, what job, any of it. No clue. But I can honestly and full heartedly say, after the blessing of the two weeks at Mount Hermon’s CILT, it was the very first time something felt RIGHT. It felt like it was exactly where I needed to be.

I have been going to Mt.Hermon since primary week at Redwood Camp, and that place has been like a second home to me. Something that I realized is that I have always been provided FOR there. And the most beautifully amazing thing CILT gave me was the opportunity to provide for others and not myself…and honestly, building people up in Christ is the most beautiful and incredible thing to ever be apart of, at least to me. And I got to do that for TWO WEEKS!!!

I became so vulnerable and open with people I had only known for 3 days and then God stepped right in and made those into friendships that I’m still in touch with literally everyday to this day and I still care for them SO much.  I’ve seen God work through that in such ridiculous ways by bringing us together and it has been so so extremely cool. What was all the more rad was then going our separate ways into cabins of our own but still having each other as we put all our effort and strength pouring into these kids to bring them one step closer to Jesus.

Meanwhile, God himself was bringing us so much closer to him as well whether we knew it then or not. It’s that indescribable!

An Open Letter to Our Youth Summer Staff

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

Dear Mount Hermon Youth Summer Staff,

We continue to spend our days praying and preparing for all that is to come.  The closer we get, the more sobered I am by the reality of what God is entrusting us with as we minister to students, their families and their churches.  I can’t wait for this summer but I am really glad that we have a little bit more time to prepare and pray.  I am really looking forward to meeting each of you face to face next month!

As you are praying for this summer, there are 2 main things I ask you to be persistent in praying for.  First, please pray that we (the summer staff) would be united in love through serving one another.  The summer is amazing yet it can be long and arduous at times.  We are going to need God’s power to serve Him, each other and students with hearts that are unified.  “We are here to serve” is something we will hear throughout the entire summer!  Second, I ask that you pray that students would be led 1 step closer to Jesus.  It can be so easy for a student to come to youth group or a camp and leave having had a lot of fun without experiencing the transformative power of God.  It is our desire that students leave their week at Ponderosa having taken 1 step closer to Jesus.  It could be that they came as someone not interested in Him and now they are seeking Him.  Maybe they came not being a follower of Jesus and they left a follower.  It might even be that they came as a Christ follower with an area of their life not surrendered to Jesus and they left with it surrendered to Him.  Whatever it is, our calling before God is to help them take 1 step closer to Jesus as God’s Spirit moves in their hearts.

If you have yet to become a fan of Mount Hermon Youth on facebook, please do so by clicking here.  We are really going to push for this to be a place for staff and students to interact before and after the summer.  It is our hope to get students connected not only to camp but also to have great follow up with them after the summer to make sure that their week at camp was more than just a mountaintop experience.  If you can, please take a moment to answer the question for summer staffers by clicking here.  The more you interact, the more students will be drawn here!

The time is near—keep praying!  I look forward to seeing you soon.


Former Director, Bill Gwinn, Dies

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

We are saddened to report that former Mount Hermon Executive Director William D. (“Bill”) Gwinn died Friday afternoon, April 17, in Palm Springs, CA. He had a minor heart attack on Tuesday in Banning, and doctors thought he was getting better, but then he worsened and was moved to a larger hospital in Palm Springs. He was in ICU when he died, with his wife, Colette, at his side. He was 79.

Bill was here from 1957 to 1978, starting first as program director under a dual-management model, then a triple-management model, and was finally named executive director in 1963. He was responsible for the development of a family camp program, and greatly expanded Mount Hermon’s programs, facilities, and influence in the 21 years he served here.

He is survived by his sons Casey and Doug and his daughters Melissa and Jenny, and several grandchildren.

Memorial services have been set at Mount Hermon for Tuesday, May 12, at 2:00 p.m. in the main auditorium.  Dr. Charles Swindoll has confirmed as speaker, and Dr. Howard Stevenson, Roger Williams, and Dave Talbott will also participate in the service.  A reception will follow in the Dining Hall.

Roger has authorized a “friends and family” rate for anyone coming who needs to stay overnight in Mount Hermon hotel units.  If your family needs that, call the Registration Office and tell them it’s for the Bill Gwinn Memorial Service.

The family is selecting a specific project, probably related to our trail and/or bridge system, for gifts through the Mount Hermon Book of Remembrance.  Details will be announced soon.

A story of God’s perfect planning at Redwood Camp

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry.

I do not believe in coincidences.

When I was nine years old, I attended Redwood Camp for the first time. My parents were going through an extremely messy divorce. To help me escape and relax through this troubled time, my mom sent me to camp, where I bonded with an empathetic counselor, someone who patiently listened to the fears and challenges my friends at home could not always appreciate. This solace brought me back to Redwood year after year.

When I was too old to attend as a camper, I began volunteering in the Redwood Camp kitchen. And finally, during college, I returned as a counselor. Within my first week of counseling, I found myself sitting on a familiar bench one night beneath the stars, cradling a nine-year-old camper who wept over a broken relationship with her father. This experience repeated itself several times throughout the summer. It seemed my cabin was a magnet for such kids. My painful past, which at one time had been a source of shame, was transformed into a beautiful account of survival that I could use to encourage campers going through similar experiences. Was this a coincidence?

During and after my college years at UCLA, God provided me unique opportunities abroad. Not only did I get to study in France – I also got to spend some time working on a hospital ship in the African country of Liberia. Returning to Redwood Camp for the summers, I was able to minister to several French-speaking campers as well as to a Liberian refugee who had come to Redwood as a camper. I missed Africa dearly that summer, and this girl’s mannerisms, accent and smile eased my spirit. We ate fried plantains (a common Liberian snack) on corndog day, and I loaned her one of my vibrant pieces of Liberian clothing so we could dress alike for twin day. Of all the summers in the 100 years of Redwood’s existence, Vivian came the very summer after I returned from Liberia. Coincidence?

I do not believe in coincidences, because I believe God ordains that people will cross paths at specific places and times, plans for a heartache in one person to stir hope in another, and uses small children to teach adults. Although my time at Redwood has ended, the summers I spent there remind me to look for purpose in encounters and to expect meaning in every situation.

A note from a church pastor about Ponderosa Lodge

Posted by & filed under Stories of Ministry.

We appreciate all the work and effort you put into accommodating our church group into the community that you have created at Ponderosa. We know that we benefited from all the sowing you did before we arrived.

Our youth who attended camp at Ponderosa can’t stop testifying to the amazing time they had there. They have captivated their friends at Sunday school. We just sit and listen, and our hearts are overflowing.

One of our students has given a mini-sermon to her peers to “hunger and thirst for God, because He hungers and thirsts for you too!” Another student said that he especially enjoyed getting to know the guys in the surrounding cabins. That’s just a snippet.

Thanks again for including us. You guys are doing a great work!

— From a church pastor, via e-mail

A letter from a Redwood Camp students parent

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Dear Redwood Camp Staff,
Twelve-year-old Nicoli was greatly encouraged by camp and especially by  his counselor. He was even in tears over the great experience! He said camp was “awesome.”   He has continued to ask his mom about going to “Pondy” next summer.  He told her, “Mom, I’m going to church every week because I believe in Jesus.”  He hopes to attend Boys’ Brigade at church each week too!  
Thank you for your love for Nicoli at camp.  He is the only believer in his Russian family. Your continued prayers are so important.
We see Jesus continuing the good work He has started in Nicoli, and we are blessed.

Larry and Martha

Testimony From a Military Family

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We received this report from a military family attending one of Mount Hermon’s Family Camps. Many donors and churches have made it possible for Mount Hermon to offer an ‘all expenses paid’ week of family camp to several military families. Here is this family’s grateful response:


L. and I are back at home now, and want to say how sincerely thankful we are for our week at Mount Hermon. It was a tremendous blessing to our family, as the Lord fed our souls as well as our bodies, and we bonded as a family. The week of family camp is precisely what I believe redeployers and their families need, in order to reconnect following our extended separation. Our current deployment cycles really place unbelievable strains on our military families. Although the military acknowledges this strain and does what it can to support deployed personnel and their families, they can’t do it alone. I really appreciate all that Mount Hermon is doing to facilitate that.

The staff there at Mount Hermon were excellent. No matter where they worked – the Fountain, Dining Hall or Book Shop – they were all very friendly and eager to serve. Your Day Camp staff stole the hearts of my two younger kids, and even my 14 year-old made positive comments about those leading in the HS group (it’s hard to get him to comment at all at times!).

The scholarship was a tremendous blessing to us, Dave. L. commented that when we get “free” offers, usually that means we get the “economy” version of whatever’s offered. Not so at Mount Hermon! The accommodations were excellent! We were overwhelmed with gratefulness!

If we could write a personal, handwritten note to those who contributed on behalf of military families, we’d do it. They have given sacrificially to support the families of our men and women in service to our country, and should know what a blessing they are to us. I know they don’t give to be thanked (we don’t serve our country SO THAT we get thanked, either), but they are priceless.

Thanks again, brother!

In Him,


God at work at Ponderosa Lodge – Week 3

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Testimonies compiled by Scotty Gullick


A fifth-year “super senior” camper at Ponderosa Lodge, Stacy shared during the regular Friday night sharing time about how God met her during her week of camp. In tears she recalled her years here, and described Ponderosa as a “true home.”

Coming from Japan for a week at Ponderosa Lodge, Mia loved sharing a cabin with students she could relate with, who understood her hurts (some even spoke her same language). During camp, Mia realized Jesus wants “all of me; that God doesn’t want me to go home unchanged,” and she surrendered her life to God.

Steven lost his mom to cancer two years ago and stopped going to church because he was mad at God. Wanting to be strong for his family, he hadn’t yet cried about it. But the tears came during Thursday night’s worship, as he was convinced of the presence of God. Steven is now back in his church, pursing his relationship with the Lord.”

At Ponderosa Lodge, Alissa sought out and really grasped what a relationship with Jesus means, and gratefully gave her life to Christ. Talking with Brooke, her counselor, Alissa realized that back at home she’d have no help to grow, and asked Brooke to purposely check in with her!

Youth Groups:

Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church
Walnut Creek Pres. youth leaders Brendan, Risa and Brian block-registered their students and joined them in cabins for the first time for a Ponderosa Lodge week. Giving camp a shot, Brendan, the Sr. High pastor, was surprised at “how well Pondy did summer camp!” His time with his students has encouraged Brendan to sign up even more next summer. Brian, their summer intern, said being at camp with his guys built strong relational foundations for reaching out to them the rest of the summer.

Santa Rosa Bible Church
Doug and Sandy Cavalier came as youth pastors for Ponderosa Lodge’s week three. They both had good times with their students, and Sandy had nine girls in her cabin! Many of the girls didn’t know each other well before the week, and Pondy was a great place to see the smaller groups bond into a larger church community.