Posts Tagged: Youth

Redwood Summer Staff Highlight: Nathan Higuera

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

Nathan Higuera Photo

Nathan Higuera (Sharkie) is a valued summer staff counselor who has been a huge blessing to so many kids at Redwood Camp. We wanted to stop and introduce you to Nathan and a brief snippet of how he feels about camp:

What is your past experience at the Herm? How did you hear about us? What inspired you to come and work on staff?

My past experience at Mount Hermon has been being a counselor at Redwood. I heard about Mount Hermon through my best friend and a desire to be around kids and learn more about myself, as well as learn more about God motivated me to work on staff.

  • Nathan Higuera Photo
  • Nathan Higuera Photo

A lot of staffers mention that it’s the “people” that make camp as special as it is. In your experience, what about the people make camp so impactful?  Do you have any short anecdotes about specific campers or staff members you would like to share?

The people totally make camp special! Sure, I have good memories with campers; however, my favorite memories involve my fellow staff members. It is an AMAZING community that is there for you at every high and more importantly every low. You literally don’t have to go through anything alone, the vulnerability is contagious. I had the opportunity to bond with so many amazing people over fun, difficult, and hilarious memories. I had the opportunities to share parts of my life I had never before and learned new things about myself. There is nothing like a camp setting. Being a camp counselor is not always easy, but being surrounded by so many amazing people makes it 110% worth it.

One week during the summer I heavily emphasized the feeling God gives us. My campers didn’t quite understand what I meant by this until the last night. One of my campers told me he was able to feel God in a way he had never experienced before and what I had been talking about all week long now made sense. I still get chills reflecting on that story.

If you could encourage anyone to join our staff, what would you tell them?
Nathan Higuera Photo

COME TO MOUNT HERMON, specifically Redwood (I might be a bit biased). You will literally, and I mean literally, have the best summer of your life, and you will grow in so many different ways. God is present here, and it can be felt. You will feel so loved, and so special. The friendships you develop with your fellow staff members are totally unique, and cannot be put into words; you will just have to experience it all for yourself to fully understand.

Has your time on summer staff provided you with any tools (professionally or personally) that have been applicable post camp life?

Summer staff taught me the importance of vulnerability. It was something that I had always had trouble with, and now I understand why it is so important. The opportunity to be vulnerable with people in my life arises very frequently and without my summer at Mount Hermon I would still shy away from it. Spending a summer at Mount Hermon has taught me how to love people better and what it means to be loved by God.

Apply for Summer Staff

Integrated Theming

Posted by & filed under LOG, Youth.

Integrated-Theming-1

 

When I was a student in southern California, and made countless drives up and down highway 5, I was always perplexed when I passed the exits for Disneyland. Seeing the top of the Matterhorn mountain or Hotel Tower of Terror, I’d think if it weren’t for the signage, most people would drive by the “Happiest Place on Earth.” They would miss the experience of being transported to another time and place. The sites, sounds, smells, the people you encounter and the overall experience lead you to believe you have been moved into another world.

It is that experience, the transportation into a world unlike your own, that the youth team at Mount Hermon strives to replicate any time a student or parent walks on these grounds.

Our vision is to lead students one step closer to Jesus

In preparing for any youth program, our vision is to lead students one step closer to Jesus; creating a holistic experience in which everything ties seamlessly together is part of that aim. We never want there to be a distinction between the “spiritual theme” and the “fun theme,” but rather that all components of the program-whether activities, free time, time alone devotions, or skits-point back to creating an experience where students are taking one step closer to Jesus.

From the moment guests step on our grounds, we want to hook them into the theme and experience. The parking lot decorations and playlist are just-as-intentionally planned out as the main lodge areas. As they walk in to camp and cross the threshold, we strive for their senses to be overwhelmed just enough that they feel transported, and yet remain curious enough that they want to learn more. No space or area of camp should be left unturned, but everything is transformed. (Here’s a hint: the sign of a truly integrated theme is when even the bathrooms are decorated!)

Integrated Theming 2

For example, this summer at Ponderosa Lodge, we specifically wanted there to be an intentional separation between the two worlds we were thematically presenting. We created an entrance gate, which on one side was reflective of the dark, lifeless Shadowlands. As soon as guests passed under the archway, they were met with the color and life of the Upside Down world, and greeted by welcoming staff who immediately made them feel at home. A 20-foot clock tower stood in the middle of Ponderosa that students walked through to the cabin areas multiple times a day. As they passed through, the theme’s tagline, “live like you belong to another world,” was stated over the archway, reminding them of the Biblical truth they were studying and being challenged with during the week. It was key pieces like these that tied everything together into one grand experience.

Parents often ask staff as they’re on their way out of camp, “where do I sign up?” That wish of wanting to stay and not leave, is exactly what we’re striving for. They’ve stepped in to a world unlike their own for a brief period of time. It is our vision and prayer that they leave changed and continuing to take one step closer to Jesus.

Kelsey Paterson is the Program Administrator for Youth and Young Adults. She served two years as an intern, and now serves full time, designing programs that make a lasting impression and impact on students. 

A Private Faith is A Deficient Faith

Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

In a little over a month, I will head back out to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for the second residency of the Doctor of Ministry program where I am studying “Ministry to Emerging Generations.” Recently, we have been studying God and culture and it has been enlightening!

I have always been aware of the powerful influence of culture but I never realized the extent of our culture’s power in shaping our worldviews. Leslie Newbigin, in his book “Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture” opened my eyes to a worldview that many Christians embrace without question–the separation of the public and private faith of Christians. This isn’t about the separation of church and state; this is about the separation of a “private” faith from our public lives.

For the most part, our American culture is OK with those who have faith in Jesus as long as that faith doesn’t stray from our private lives. In this worldview, it is OK for God to be acknowledged behind closed doors, but once we bring Jesus into our public lives, we cross the line of what is acceptable and we are seen as violating the freedom and rights of others. As a result, many of us shrink back in fear and silence and then desperately fight to restrain God to our private lives. The problem is that God will not be restrained.

In this light, it becomes evident that a private faith is a deficient faith. Our faith cannot be limited to our private worlds. It must extend to our public lives if it is to be true faith. In fact, this faith must be extended to the whole of human history because the same Lord of our lives is the King over human history. It is possible for us to live, and speak, publicly as Christians but who also honor the freedom of religion that America grants its’ people.  If the youth of today are going to lead the church, this worldview embracing the division of the public and the private must be cast aside.

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.

5 Lessons I Learned from Recess

Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

Two weekends ago, Mount Hermon hosted a weekend gathering for youth workers called “Recess.”  Youth workers came together from the Bay Area and the Central Valley to play, rest, connect and learn.  I love learning and this weekend did not disappoint.  Here are 5 simple lessons I learned from Recess:

  1. Youth workers are some of the most amazing people in the world--Youth workers give up their time, energy & resources to hang out with students who don’t often thank them or even realize the sacrifice that’s being made.  Regardless, youth workers continue to be present with these students while modeling the love and grace of Jesus.  Not only that, but each youth worker who attended Recess gave up a weekend of their free time to learn how to be a more effective minister of the gospel.
  2. We need each other–I have a tendency to think that I can do things on my own.  Sometimes I am even so arrogant to think that I know better than any one else.  The older I get, the more I realize how stupid that kind of thinking is.  I was encouraged by spending the weekend with like-minded people who have similar passions and who are reaching and discipling youth with creativity.
  3. We all need seasoned mentors speaking into our lives and ministries--Our Recess speakers this year were Brian Berry and Duffy Robbins.  For me, it was a blessing just to spend time with men who have been doing youth ministry for years and who have learned from their failures and successes.  I could’ve spent many more hours with both of these guys just asking questions.
  4. You can never have too much training–The longer I am involved in youth ministry, the more I’m tempted to think that I’ve learned everything I need to learn.  Yet, I always learn something new when I read, go to conferences or spend time with mentors and other youth workers.  The old saying, “leaders are learners” is true.  I want to continue to learn as long as I’m alive.
  5. Volunteer youth workers are my heroes–I get paid to do youth ministry; it’s my full-time job and that job pays my bills.  Volunteer youth workers, on the other hand, have full-time jobs (or they are full-time students) yet they spend their precious free time ministering to students because they believe that they can make a difference for Jesus.  That blows my mind!

Because Recess was such an amazing weekend, Mount Hermon will be hosting it again in 2012 on September 28-30.  Mark your calendars and stay tuned for details!

 

Safety @ Ponderosa Lodge

Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

We have received a number of calls from parents asking “How safe is my student at Ponderosa?”  Safety is one of our number one concerns at Mount Hermon.  Here is a look at some of the basic safety precautions we take at Ponderosa Lodge:

Counselors

  • We get hundreds of applicants each year at Mount Hermon.  Applicants go through a rigorous application and screening process that includes interviewing, reference checks and background checks.  Counselors then go through 11 days of training at the beginning of the summer.  Additionally, each counselor is monitored throughout the summer by our leadership to ensure they are doing their jobs correctly and keeping students safe.  Each counselor also takes part in official evaluations with their supervisor two times during the summer.  Our number 1 concern is camper safety and we go to great lengths to protect the campers parents entrust to us.

    Camp Activities

    • We have so many great activities at Ponderosa–surfing, skating, kayaking, climbing tower, mountain biking, mountain scootering, zipline and swimming are just a few examples.  Our staff are trained extensively to oversee each of these activities.  Additionally, Ponderosa is staffed with 5 lifeguard/health aids and a nurse who are available to help out when needed.  We want students to have fun and be safe while doing it!

    Bullying

    • Ponderosa has a zero-tolerance policy on bullying.  We make this very clear to both staff and campers.  Counselors are specifically trained in how to watch for and respond to students who are bullying other students.  In the event that a student is being bullied, he or she can tell their counselor or a leadership team member and it will be addressed immediately.

    Camp Schedule

    • Every time block that we schedule has a purpose behind it.   We realize that 4 hours of free time a day for junior high school students is both overwhelming and can open the door to unnecessary trouble.  At Ponderosa, junior high school students spend the majority of the afternoons with their cabin groups and their counselors.  The goal of this is to provide structured “free” time.  During this time, students get to choose many of their activities but they are with a small group of students (6-8) and their counselor.  This provides more oversight and therefore more safety. It also gives our counselors intentional time with students to talk about issues of life and faith.  High school camps have an hour or two more of free time each day but even then it is intentional time where counselors are connecting with students at a deeper level.  During any and all free time, we have staff that are patrolling camp to ensure the safety of all students.

    If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

     

    Boyz II Men

    Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

    In the past few decades, the time period for adolescence has grown.  In the early 20th century, adolescence generally lasted 18 months and was defined as “being responsible for oneself.”  Mark Ostreicher, in his book “Middle School Ministry,” reports that sociologists and psychologists now believe that adolescence can, and often does, last 15-20 years (from age 11 to age 30).  Additionally, they have boiled it down to three main questions an adolescent must answer to become an adult.

    1. “Who am I?” (identity)
    2. “What power do I have?” (autonomy)
    3. “Where and to whom do I belong?” (affinity)

    When these tasks are “accomplished” and the questions are answered (on one level or another), one has crossed the threshold from adolescence into adulthood.  I believe this is also true when it comes to our faith.

    This summer Mount Hermon is doing a trial run of a program that will help 16-18 year old boys begin crossing the threshold from adolescence into adulthood in both life and faith.  In this two-week program, we will point guys to Scripture to find answers to these questions as they strive to become men who seek after the heart of God.  This program will be much more than a Bible study.  For two weeks, these guys will live together in Biblical community, they will encourage and challenge one another, they will be real with each other, they will grow together and they will leave knowing how to live as men of great character and integrity.  During this camp experience they will begin the process of answering the questions of identity, autonomy and affinity.  Steve Gerali, a veteran youth worker, speaker and author will be coordinating this trial run.  Feel free to check out his new book “The Crest” which is what this camp experience is based on.

    We are accepting ten 16-18 year old guys into our two-week trial run on July 3rd-16th.  The cost has yet to be set, but because it is a trial run it will be lower than our other camps.  If you are interested, please email me by clicking here.  Spaces are limited and they are expected to fill quickly.

     

    Ready or Not, Here We Go

    Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

    Ponderosa's 2010 Derosa Characters

    We are so thankful for what God did in 2010 in our Youth Programs at Mount Hermon.  We witnessed students’ lives change as they encountered Jesus.  We were blessed with new church partnerships.  We continue to hear stories of God moving in students lives and families.  We were blessed with resources to raise our programming to the next level.  We were encouraged by students who committed to read their Bibles after camp in “the 21 Day Challenge.”  It was a great year.

    We are hoping and praying that 2011 will be even greater!  We just finished setting our 2011 goals and we are excited to both share them with you and get your insights, thoughts, wisdom and advice as we move forward into the future God is calling us to.  Here is a quick overview of our 2 primary goals for 2011:

    1. We will increase the number of students we impact :: we have so many great youth programs at Mount Hermon (Ponderosa, Conference Center youth, Amata, Echo, CILT) that we don’t want to be content with our past successes.  This isn’t just about having more students come to quality and effective programs.  That’s only a portion of it.  We also want to set students up to have “more than just a mountain top experience” by helping them plug into the Word of God and the people of God when they leave camp.

    2. We will increase the number of churches we serve while improving our level of service to current churches :: I truly believe that the church is the vehicle through which God is going to bring about His Kingdom.  This means that Mount Hermon youth programs exist to serve the church.  This isn’t just about expecting churches to come to our programs.  This is about us conversing with churches, seeing what the needs are and working to serve them in those needs if it is at all possible.

    This is just a quick overview.  If you have a moment, we would love to hear your thoughts and we would value your prayers.

    Here’s to a God-glorifying, Kingdom-advancing, life-changing 2011!

    Top 10 Programming Lessons Learned at Disneyland (part 2)

    Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

    Charlie & Abbie on California Screamin

    In an effort to continue to increase the quality of our programming at our youth camps, the Mount Hermon Youth Team took a trip to Disneyland to learn more about excellent programming.  Many critics poked fun at our “field trip” but it ended up being an amazing experience.  After our day at Disneyland, we spent some time debriefing and we came up with the top 10 lessons we learned from our visit to Disneyland.  This is the second installment of those lessons.

    6. Darkness (and purposeful lighting) allows you to control where people look
    We noticed that almost every ride was inside so that the lighting was under full control.  Disney determines where you look with lighting.  It could be colored lights, spot lights or even black lights but they had full control over the focus of each ride.  The only inside ride we noticed that wasn’t dark was It’s a Small World which is so visually overwhelming that you don’t have time to look at anything else.

    7. Waiting in line is an opportunity to build anticipation
    In many amusement parks, waiting in line is a necessary evil that has to be tolerated.  At Disneyland, waiting in line is part of the experience.  Disney goes to great lengths to build anticipation for the experience to come as you wait in line.  They do this by capitalizing on all 5 human senses.  They are drawing you in and preparing you for the experience as you wait in line.

    8. Getting into the park is 1 transaction
    Disney makes it easy to get into the park.  You may have to wait in line but it only takes 1 main transaction to get into the park.  And once you are in, you are welcomed by bright colors, sounds (in our case it was a marching band) and smells.  You really do feel like you have walked into a different world when you walk through the gates.

    9. Transitions are important
    There are so many transitions at Disneyland and I never really noticed this until I was intentionally looking.  When you transition between lands/regions, you are very aware of it.  You walk through something (like a castle) and enter into a region that is themed differently.  This very clearly communicates that you are leaving one land and entering another.  On rides, movable walls were often used to transition from one section to another.

    10. If you can fool the senses, you can fool the mind
    I didn’t realize the extent to which Disney capitalizes on the 5 human senses.  There were recorded sounds such as jungle noises, fake radio broadcasts and thunder that added to the experience.  Music tone and volume were also used to control the mood.  The textures of the walls waiting in line for Indiana Jones made you feel like you were in a cave.  Lighting, or lack there of it, was used to control mood.  These are just a few of the numerous examples of this.  Disney drew us into each experience by capitalizing on the 5 senses.

    Top 10 Programming Lessons Learned at Disneyland (part 1)

    Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

    Shane, Abbie & Jenn in Toontown

    In an effort to continue to increase the quality of our programming at our youth camps, the Mount Hermon Youth Team took a trip to Disneyland to learn more about excellent programming.  Many critics poked fun at our “field trip” but it ended up being an amazing experience.  After our day at Disneyland, we spent some time debriefing and we came up with the top 10 lessons we learned from our visit to Disneyland.  This is the first installment of those lessons.  Even though I put all of this together, this research was a group effort!

    1. Employees are part of the Disney experience
    Employees are  not called employees; they are called “cast members.”  It doesn’t matter what your job is, you are a “cast member.”  Depending on what land/region you work in, your uniform is themed to fit the feel of that land.  On the Tower of Terror at California Adventure, cast members were not only dressed in character, but they acted in character.

    2. Everything is themed
    You would think this would be an exaggeration but it’s not.  Everything from the “cast members” uniforms to exit signs to trash cans are themed at Disneyland; and the theming is different for each land/region.

    3. Shooting things is fun
    This sounds seriously stupid but it’s true!  One of our favorite rides was Toy Story Mania at California Adventure.  On this ride, you aim and shoot at video targets with your shooter as you ride about in a double seated cart from video screen to video screen.  They even keep score.  Interactivity and competition are huge!  Their website says, “everyone’s a winner” but it’s not true.  Shane beat me…by over 50,000 points.

    4. Great scripting can redeem a low budget/outdated ride
    This is something our program consultant Murphy taught us.  The Jungle Cruise is a low-budget and outdated ride.  The tour guides make the experience!  Our tour guide spent the entire “cruise” making us laugh with cheesy puns and jokes that redeemed what would normally be a painfully boring ride.

    5. Branding is everywhere
    Regardless what you and I may think of this, Disney’s branding is everywhere.  And for the most part, it is tasteful.  After many of the rides, there are merch stores just waiting to capitalize on your experience.  After some rides, there are Disney-branded pictures you can by of yourself on that ride.  There is advertising all over the park (and outside of the park) for Disney-related movies, events and merchandise.  Even construction areas are marked off by walls that are tastefully branded so you can’t see the construction.

    Stay tuned for the final 5 program lessons we learned at Disneyland

    Mount Hermon Youth Summer Staff 2011

    Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

    Are you looking to do something big this summer?

    Check out this quick interview with Brian, one of our youth summer staffers last summer.  Let him convince you to apply for one of our many summer staff jobs at Mount Hermon!

    You can find more information and fill out an application by clicking here.

    Stories of Lives Transformed

    Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

    I have the best job in the world!   I get to work alongside college students and young adults who love Jesus and give up their summers and their lives to impact junior high and high school students with the gospel. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

    Our vision at Mount Hermon is “Lives Transformed.” For our youth camps, this means that we want students to have much more than just a mountain top experience. We don’t want them to have a great camp experience and then return to the same old life while making the same old decisions. We pray regularly that students return home changed for eternity after camp because they have encountered Jesus, the Living God.

    We have had the privilege of hearing countless stories of changed lives this past summer.

    One group of guy high school students committed to meeting each day for 21 days after camp to read the daily passage and share with one another what God is teaching them.

    One student left a week of Ponderosa wanting to go to church and to a youth group because of what God had done in her life. She desperately wanted more than a camp high.  Last we heard, both this student and her mom had become involved in a local church.

    Another student wrote the entire Ponderosa staff a letter saying,

    “Dear Ponderosa Staff, I became a Christian through Mount Hermon 5 summers ago.  You truly transformed my life and I love EVERYthing about camp…I adore Ponderosa more than any home or other activity.  You fulfill me and bring me consistently closer to the Father.”

    Yet another student told us his counselor taught him so much about God’s love and grace.  He went on to tell us that his counselor gave him a verse that crushed any doubts he ever had about God’s love–Romans 8:38-39.

    Lastly, a male high school student wrote this:

    “I have finally and truly connected and accepted Jesus in my life in one of the greatest experiences of my life Wednesday night.”

    These are just a few of hundreds of stories from this summer!

    I sit here in disbelief that I get paid to do this job.  What a gift from God!

    Beyond the 21 Day Challenge :: September 1

    Posted by & filed under Youth Bible Plan.

    the Beyond the 21 Day Challenge passage for today is Psalm 119:1-56.  Click here to read it online.

    Don’t forget the 4 steps of journaling and processing God’s Word that we talked through this summer:

    1. READ :: Read through the entire passage for the day and pay attention to what moves you as you read.  Choose 1-3 verses that move you to focus on for the next step.
    2. WRITE :: Write those 1-3 verses out in a journal (either electronic or handwritten).  You can write the verse(s) in your own words or you can just write it out as it is written in your Bible.  The goal is to begin moving this passage from your head to your heart.
    3. PRAY :: In response to those 1-3 verses you have focused on, write out a short prayer to God.  It could be a prayer of praise, confession, thankfulness, repentance or even of frustration.  Just be honest before God.
    4. DO :: write out 1 action step that you are going to take today in response to what God has taught you in these 1-3 verses.

    Feel free to share what God is teaching you in the comment section on this blog each day!

    Achieving Greatness

    Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

    I had a crazy, God experience yesterday.  It wasn’t a Moses “burning bush” experience (see Exodus 3) or an Isaiah “I am ruined” experience (see Isaiah 6).  It was more like an Elijah “gentle whisper” encounter (see 1 Kings 19).

    I am a pretty driven guy.  I feed off of getting things done and I frequently get annoyed when things or people get in the way of MY plans.  God has recently given me two words that I am learning to live out at home: “gentle” and “present.”  In learning how to be consistently gentle and present with Nancy and my two sons, I often feel like I’m do something as simple, and as necessary, as learning to breathe.  It is so fundamental to how God has called me to live but it is so foreign to me because of how I have spent the past 40 years of my life.

    Yesterday I received an email at work that threw my plans for a loop.  My initial response was not gentle and present;  it was irritation and annoyance.  If my thought was put into words, it would’ve sounded something like this: “How dare this person derail MY plans with their agenda.  I have plans and these plans need to be set in stone so I can cross it off my list and move on to the next thing.  Surely God wants me to get this done!  In fact these aren’t just MY plans, these are GOD’S plans.”

    You get the idea…

    It was then that I had a thought that had to be God’s Spirit within me.  The reason I know it was God is that it was so foreign to me.  My brain could never have originated this thought because it was so different from my way of doing life.  I’m pretty sure this thought was worded as a question (I honestly don’t remember much except the truth that God was conveying to me).  In the midst of my internal, self-centered rant God asked, “Charlie, what if this interaction IS my plan for you?”  This question has been rattling around my soul for the past 24 hours.

    It’s crazy!  God isn’t so much concerned with my plans and all that I want to get accomplished.  He is far more concerned with the way I interact and relate to another human being that has been created in His image.  God is far more focused on what I learn as I live life in community and love the people He has graciously placed around me.  It is through this that God will accomplish His great purposes in me and through me.

    Summer at Mount Hermon is coming and I am excited to continue learning this truth.  As we live and serve students, families, churches and one another in community, our theme verse will be Jesus’ words in Matthew 20:25-28:

    You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

    I can’t wait to achieve greatness with all whom God has calls to serve at Mount Hermon this summer!

    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.

    Peace,
    Charlie

    Much More Than a Mountaintop Experience…

    Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

    As a former youth pastor, one of my biggest issues with camp ministry was the “mountaintop” experience that many students have at camp.  Students would go away for a week at camp and then come back on a camp high having made decisions to change their lives for Jesus.  However these same students returned home to the same problems, the same families and the same friends that they had before camp.  Ultimately many students would return from the amazing mountaintop high of camp to the difficult valley of their lives.  Camp decisions could be quickly forgotten and lives could easily fall back into old habits. For some students, camp didn’t contribute to change that lasted.

    What I am most excited about at Mount Hermon is the opportunity we have to create a camp experience that is much more than a mountaintop experience.  Our vision and our prayer at Mount Hermon is to see lives transformed.  Transformed lives don’t go back to old ways of living.  Transformed lives become more and more like Jesus and fall more and more in love with Jesus.  I see our role at Mount Hermon as that of being servants to the churches who are doing the hard work of consistent, daily ministry to students.  We want to partner with churches and serve churches so that students are set up to succeed in the decisions they make at camp after they return home.  We have some ideas of what this may look like but we are just starting this journey.  I am excited in these next few years to continue the dialogue with students, youthworkers, pastors and parents to figure out how we can better create camp experiences that are much more than a mountaintop experience.

    Lord help us to love you and love students and not be satisfied with camp highs and change that doesn’t last.  Give us a heart for students that desperately want to see transformed lives for your glory and your Kingdom.

    “Once Upon Derosa” Sneak Peak

    Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

    It’s finally here!  For all of you who have stayed awake at night tossing and turning and wondering about our summer theme at Ponderosa Lodge, all of your questions will be answered after you watch this sneak peak.  OK…maybe not all of your questions.  Ah, who are we kidding?  You will probably have more questions after you watch this video!  That was kind of our goal!!  Either way-sit back, relax and enjoy your sneak peak.  If you have yet to register for this summer you can call us or register online.

    We look forward to seeing you in a few months.  It is going to be absolutely life-changing!

    I almost forgot.

    Calling All Youth Pastors and Youth Directors

    Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

    Dear Youth Pastors and Youth Directors of the churches affiliated with Mount Hermon,

    I am the new Director of Youth and Young Adults at Mount Hermon and I am looking forward to serving you!  I can’t tell you how much I marvel at all that you do for the students in your youth group.  Having been a youth pastor, I know how difficult that job can be.

    We have an amazing opportunity coming up on Friday April 16th designed specifically for you.  Mount Hermon wants to give you and one of your associates some time away in the Santa Cruz mountains experiencing our Redwood Canopy Tour.  There is no experience in the world like it!  On this tour you will adventure through the forest high above the forest floor on a network of zip cables and sky bridges.  To sign up, just click here to email me.  Please let me know your church, your contact information and the best way to reach you.  I will call you to confirm your arrival time and get you the details.  There are no strings attached to join us for this adventure.  We simply want to meet you and give you some time away from what I believe is the most stressful job in the church.  We have limited spaces so sign up as soon as you can.

    To learn more about Mount Hermon’s Canopy Tour, click here.

    I look forward to seeing you on Friday, April 16th!

    Charlie Broxton

    The Unworthy Servant

    Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

    “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.”
    Luke 17:10

    Following Jesus is not easy and it is oftentimes unAmerican.  Luke poses this absurd question about a servant’s role in ancient times: “Does the master ever thank the servant because he did what was commanded?”  The answer is very cleary “No!”  Why?  Because that was what was expected of a servant.  A servant was EXPECTED to serve.  He wasn’t doing his master a favor; he was doing his job.  He was doing what was expected of him as a servant–an unworthy servant.

    I think about my life and the life of other western Christians around me.  We have rights!  We deserve to be treated a certain way!  We are owed happiness.  We expect the American dream–life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  And when we don’t get it, we think something is wrong because that’s what we were promised.

    I do this in so many ways.  I deserve a good job, a nice house, a fulfilling life, a great marriage, lifelong happiness, wonderfully obedient children, enough money to buy the toys I want and friends that are there for me.  More often than not, I expect these things.  And when I don’t get them, it is tempting to get frustrated and I believe it is my right to go somewhere else and find them!

    But Jesus’ response to this leaves no room for anything of the sort.  We are not owed anything.  We don’t deserve anything good.  In fact, if we got what we deserved we would be headed for eternal separation from God. Even as I read this, it sounds really harsh. To use Jesus’ words, we are unworthy servants.  Try that on for size.  I am an unworthy servant.  It is my duty to serve.  A life of being poured out in service to Jesus is what I can expect.  Everything else is a gift.

    The beauty is that I don’t even deserve to be a servant of the Living God.  His grace is evident even in the title “unworthy servant.”  The God of the Universe loves me, has saved me and allows me to be His servant.  When my perspective is right, this is far better than any job, home, relationship or toy I might buy.

    When I get this, truly get this, I can say with confidence: “My name is Charlie and I am an unworthy servant.  It is my duty to serve.”