Posts Categorized: Youth

Year After Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Adventure?

Posted by & filed under Adventures, General, Kidder Creek, Youth.

Why Adventure?  Better yet, why not adventure?   Through adventures we develop and grow into the person that God made us to be.  He invites us into His adventure, to join Him in doing His work.


At Kidder Creek we have ample opportunities to join in on great adventures.  When a child rides a horse for the first time they will carry that with them the rest of their life.   When someone faces their fears and steps off the zipline platform to soar through the trees they embrace life’s adventure.  Mountain biking, rafting or backpacking to a mountain lake with nothing but the necessities of life on your back, one realizes how big this world really is  and the intricacy and beauty that abounds in it!

These adventures teach, allowing us to grow in our faith and discover who we are and what we are made of.   Think about your own life, the times you remember are the times you stepped out of your comfort zone and into your adventure zone.  Growth happens in the adventure zone.  Growth that develops leadership and teamwork. 

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

Teddy got it right.  He understood that a life of adventure is a life worth living.  Dare to do mighty things at Kidder this summer and grow!  

Learn to work together with your team while rafting on the mighty Klamath.  







Take a leap and find out what you are made of.  









Learn to stand when everything in you says you should sit.







Develop grit while climbing to new heights.







Get some dirt on your face while riding with your friends.  







Spend time in creation and connect to the creator.  







Register today for an adventure experience and grow.  Live the Adventure!

A Glimpse at the 2018 Kidder Creek Summer Staff

Posted by & filed under Adventures, General, Kidder Creek, Youth.

2018 Kidder Creek Summer Staff Highlight

Spring is in full swing and we are well on our way to being fully staffed for the summer!  Meet a few of the awesome staff we have hired so far!

Abi A.

Abi is returning for a second summer at Kidder Creek as one of our Adventure Trip Leads!  Last year she brought so much light, joy and energy to every week’s cabin that she counseled and we are thrilled to have her serving alongside the rest of our staff next summer.  Abi originally came to us from Southern California where she attended Cal Baptist University and played for their water polo team.  After last summer, she proved to be a great example to us all as she followed the call from Jesus and accepted the challenge of moving to a new town and stepping into the unknown.  We are so glad she’ll be back to share her heart, joy and zeal for the Love of God with everyone who comes to camp!


I’m excited to share the love of Jesus with kids through the outdoors and be a positive role model in their lives. The outdoors is often where I connect with God the most and kids need to know that He is not found solely within the walls of a church. 


Maddie grew up coming to ranch camp as a camper and now, full circle, we are excited to have here on our Lifeguard and Health Aid team!  From Maddie: “Hey guys! I’m so excited to be working at Kidder Creek this summer because God works in amazing ways and I can’t wait to see how He takes ordinary people and circumstances and turns them into extraordinary situations. He’s taught me so much these past several months and I’m excited to put what I learned to use and have Christ work in and through me as much as possible. I’ve always wanted to work here because I grew up going to Ranch Camp so, I’m excited!!” 



Fischer is making his debut this summer at Kidder Creek as our videographer!!  He felt the call of God to move west and we couldn’t be more thrilled! From Fischer: “This summer, I am beyond stoked to dive in to camp life and document all of the joy and Jesus present. It will be my second summer working as a camera guy at camp, and I aim to continue investing myself in telling stories that matter, as well as honing my abilities as a videographer. Through capturing God’s work and presence at Kidder, I can use my talents to further His Kingdom, and that’s pretty cool!”


Paige is returning another year as one of our wranglers!  Paige says: “I look forward to teaching kids how to ride horses and conquer fears throughout their week with us. I’m super excited to help them see God in everything they do. I’m hoping to help them realize that they are loved and important and that there’s a Creator that loves them for who they are. I can’t wait to meet these kids and help them to be a light of the world.”


With staff like these, I am sure it will be a great summer!

This summer we will hire 65 summer staff.  Know someone who might be a good fit for Kidder Creek Summer Staff? Send them to our application page where they can find out more about having the best summer of their lives serving Jesus in a rad place as part of a great community.

Brand New Parent Child Camps For This Year!

Posted by & filed under Adventures, Building Projects, General, Kidder Creek, Youth.

There are so many things happening at Kidder Creek Camp as we prepare for yet another summer of adventures in creation with kids, youth and families!  There are some really great New Things that I am especially excited about.

A few years back we started our Mother Daughter Ranch Camp.  It has been so fun seeing moms and daughters playing, riding horses and worshiping together.  In fact it’s been so great that we have decided to expand the options to Fathers and Sons and also to any combination of Parent and Child for mt bike camps in 2018.  Come and enjoy time together and in creation making memories that will last a lifetime.

MD Ranch 18 - Mom & 2 Daughters

Register for Mother Daughter Ranch Camp

Brand new Parent Child camps for this year!

Father Son Adventure Camp  – At this new camp Dads and Sons will worship around the fire, eat meat, laugh, shoot arrows, ride horses, tell stories, talk to God, make friends, get wet cliff jumping and whitewater rafting. Father’s and Sons create memories of a lifetime at this three day adventure camp.  

Timb HA 18 - Rafting

Register for Father Son Adventure Camp

Parent Child Mt Bike Camps  – Shred the amazing trails of Northern California with your son or daughter.  Learn more about God and what it means to ride for Him. We’ll provide ride shuttles, food, recreation, and counselor guides that will push your riding and relationship to new levels.  

MB18 - Blue Shirt Man (M)

Register for Parent Child Mt Bike Camps

Katie Keil: Staff Alumni and Associate

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

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

Meet Katie, her story may be your story…

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

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

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

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

One of her favorite Mount Hermon memories-

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

Ron Demolar is a big fan!

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

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

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

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

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

Ponderosa Summer Staff Highlight: Matthew Doherty

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

Matt Doherty photo

Meet Matthew Doherty– a Ponderosa Pro. He has spent two summers counseling, last summer as Pondy’s Program Lead, and this summer– Men’s Staff Counselor! We asked him a few questions about his time on the mountain. This is what he said:

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

I was inspired to work on staff at Mount Hermon by my own experience as a camper. I remember a counselor I had at Redwood Camp in 3rd grade, named Pumba. He was the first person to ever have a one-on-one conversation with me about Jesus. Even though I had known about God, and considered myself a believer, being that young I had never encountered the relationship aspect of following Jesus. Pumba inspired me to begin my journey of living a Christian life, and it was his example that I wanted to follow.

I continued going to camp at Redwood and Ponderosa Lodge, and knew that one day I would have my own opportunity to be someone’s Pumba. Each and every summer I met so many people who’s lives looked different, who lived being full of the love of God. I wanted nothing more than to be that type of person, and to live like those people did. By the time I was finally on staff however, I discovered something I never expected. In reality, as is true for most, I didn’t have it all together. And yet, simply by being there to love students, I felt like an instrument in God’s hand. It didn’t matter to God how put together I was, and it surely didn’t matter to the students. All they needed was someone to be there for them, to love them, and to support them, and God was able to use me to be just that.

  • Matthew Doherty photo
  • Matthew Doherty photo

A lot of counselors 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?

Everyone the Mount Hermon brings together has their own gifts and talents, all of which become vital in meeting different guests where they are at. Whether it is a quirky, exuberant personality, or a more relaxed, reserved one, each person provides their unique strengths to the staff. I love these differences in people because they make coming together and spending a summer serving so much more exciting. Not everyone is like me, and that’s a good thing. Through a staff’s diversity, people need to work harder at living and loving together; it is in these situations where God begins to create a picture of the body of Christ.

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

Joining the Mount Hermon staff is all about joining hand in hand with the work God is already doing in the world, and camp is a special place where God likes to show up. I believe that any apprehension over working with a small group of people for an entire summer gets resolved in the joint vision of Mount Hermon—to lead students one step closer to Jesus. This vision isn’t a pressure put on each individual staff member, it is a calling that one is welcomed into with open arms. Each staff member has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and yet at the same time, they are able to lift each other up based on those qualities.

Mount Hermon is a place like no other, where you will feel supported, encouraged, and challenged to join in with God’s work already being done in the hearts of each guest. If you are looking for a place where God evidently transforms hearts, look no further than Mount Hermon; but be careful—God might just choose to transform you in the process!

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

Working on summer staff has empowered me in my relationships with others. I have become more confident in myself and my abilities, and have become willing to reach out of my comfort zone. I was challenged in upbuilding ways to love better, work harder, and see value in each interaction. You never know what a guest will remember from their time at camp, which means even a smile can change their next year.

I also learned the importance of teamwork, and what it means to work together towards a common goal. Mount Hermon taught me to work with others who’s personalities aren’t like mine, and that a true team is one where each person’s particularity is equally valued. God calls each person individually to use their gifts they have been given to work for the kingdom, and no where was that more apparent than camp.

Apply for Summer Staff

Kidder Creek Summer Theme: Rooted

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


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.

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.


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.”
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.




Band of Brothers: Leading Young Men One Step Closer to Christ

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

Band of Brothers Header

Leading students one step closer to Jesus: this is the vision that drives all of Mount Hermon Youth and Young Adult programs. This is true regardless of whether the programs are at the Conference Center or Ponderosa Lodge and regardless of whether the programs last a weekend, a week, or two weeks.

This summer we started a new two–week intensive program for guys in high school (juniors, seniors and graduated seniors) called Band of Brothers. Band of Brothers was created to lead young men one step closer to Jesus by teaching them what it means to be a man after God’s own heart. During the two weeks they spent together, these guys were immersed in Scripture as they learned four main character traits of a godly man: humility, love, wisdom and freedom. They lived together, ate together and went on adventures together, they prayed together and studied the Bible together, all with the goal of integrating these character traits in their lives. Furthermore, Band of Brothers taught these young men that they can’t walk this journey alone. They left the program knowing the importance of having the influence of other godly men
in their lives.

Here’s what a few students had to say about their experience this summer:

Alex said,

“You really get to know the people in the house and you really bond. You see that there are other boys your age that are struggling with their faith and struggling with what it means to be a man in today’s society. You really learn how to be a Christian man.”

Noah was initially skeptical about the program.

 “I’m not going to lie. I really tried to hate it in the beginning… but this program was anything but negative. Every aspect had some form of character and made me feel a lot better as a person. When I stepped into it there was no aspect that I didn’t like from the very beginning.”

Lastly, Caleb was asked if he would recommend this camp to other guys and he said,

 “For sure! If you are a young man seeking to be a wise man, a free man, a loving man and a humble man, you should certainly do Band of Brothers.”

BandofBrothers_insert2015 was the first summer of what will be many summers helping young men cross the threshold from adolescence into manhood. If you know of any students who will be juniors, seniors or graduated seniors in high school, let them know about this program. Spaces for 2016 are going to fill up fast!




Learn more about Band of Brothers

Summer Themes Revealed!

Posted by & filed under General, Youth.


It’s no doubt one of the questions we get asked the most: What the theme this summer? Well, we are excited to announce all of the themes for the different camp centers!

Kidder Creek:
The theme for campers at Kidder Creek is “Masterpiece Restored.” Campers will learn that they are uniquely created by God with His perfect intention. The theme verse for Kidder is: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Redwood Camp:
Campers will enter the Headquarters of Paradox and through “time travel” will learn spiritual truths that Jesus is God and that He is with us and for us. Throughout the week, campers at Redwood Camp will look at Jesus is God.

Ponderosa Lodge:
“Mutation” is the concept for Ponderosa Lodge this summer. The definition of mutation is “a change in form and nature.” The focus will be choosing to live by the power of the Designer. The question will be asked of the students: “Who are you becoming?” All of us are undergoing transformation and have a choice to become more like the world or more like Jesus. This summer’s theme verse for Pondy will be: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2).

Watch the Ponderosa Theme Trailer

Family Camp:
The Conference Center will be transformed into Mount Hermalot with a medieval theme. You’ll see Lords, Ladies and Knights roaming the grounds. There are even plans for a castle with a drawbridge. The theme verse is: “The Lord is near to all who call on Him.” (Psalm 145:18)

We are looking forward to an amazing summer of ministry!

Integrated Theming

Posted by & filed under LOG, Youth.



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. 

“… 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.”


A Day in the Life of the Youth Team

Posted by & filed under Youth.

Written By: Kelsey Paterson

Youth Team Christmas
Many people ask what a typical day at work looks like for the Youth Team at Mount Hermon. To be honest, there are no “typical” days for the Youth Team. Our vision behind everything we do is to “lead students one step closer to Jesus.” We keep this vision in mind throughout the whole year, as we continually implement or plan programs intentionally designed for junior high and high school students.

We move in seasons where pace, project priority and location are always shifting. There is no “down time” and we do not function in a 9am-5pm schedule. We work incredibly hard, but all the while loving what we do and who we are working with, keeping our vision of leading students one step closer to Jesus at the forefront of our minds.
Youth Team Van
At any given time during the year, we’re pushing up to three youth programs forward, all in different stages of development. While brainstorming Fall Frenzy themes and big ideas, we’re balancing building sets for Ponderosa’s summer program and writing small group questions for CC Youth. When traveling on the road to recruit summer staff for the 90+ youth and young adult positions, we’re brainstorming future theme ideas. In the course of an afternoon, we’ll research the elements for a great all-camp game for Ponderosa, plan the CC Youth decorations, and then finish painting a set piece. Every day, and every season is different. Which is all the more reason why we keep coming back to our central vision: leading students one step closer to Jesus. It is the stories of transformation in the lives of campers and staff that keep us motivated. And it is for this reason why the “typical day” in the life of the Youth Team is so rewarding.


Posted by & filed under Interns, Youth.

An Inside Look at the Mount Hermon Intern Program

One of the many experiences that Mount Hermon has to offer young adults is our intern program.  Brad Orender has been an intern at Mount Hermon for the past 2 years and recently has moved into the role of Food Retail Manager.  Ben Wulbern, one of our Youth and Young Adult Specialists, sat down with him and asked a few questions regarding his experience throughout the intern program.


Ben:  Why did you choose to do an internship at Mount Hermon?

Brad:  It all started by being on Summer staff for a number of Summers. During that time I noticed how much intentionality Mount Hermon put into hiring their full time and part time staff.  The community grabbed my attention and had me leaving each Summer wanting more. I thought that if they put that much effort into hiring each of those staff members, they must put a lot of thought and consideration into the intern program.


Ben:  What has challenged you most in the internship?

Brad: Being in the guest services department there is a lot interdepartmental communication that happens.  This has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and learn how to communicate well with those departments.  As an intern at Mount Hermon you don’t just make copies and get your boss coffee like the intern stereotype says.  There is a lot of responsibility that each intern takes in their respective departments.  In regards to the intern community, it can be amazing; however, at times and can be wearing, but in working through situations of conflict in a healthy manner I experienced an immense amount of growth.


Ben: What was the biggest reward of the internship?

Brad: Real world experience that translates into the work field you’re heading towards is a huge benefit.  There are 2 people at Mount Hermon that I consider mentors, and then there are a lot of others that I consider “friend-tors”, these people in my life that consistently pour into me have been a huge reward.  The last big reward I would say I was blessed by was my supervisor, she was a SUPERvisor!


2013 Summer Staff Vision

Posted by & filed under Youth.

Summer Staff May Newsletter
18 years ago, I was on Mount Hermon’s summer staff at Ponderosa Lodge. It was my first official paid ministry job and it was amazing! I still remember what God did in, and through, me that summer. At times, I felt overwhelmed because of my responsibilities. Oftentimes, I didn’t feel think I could be, and do, all that was expected of me. When I began working at Mount Hermon, I was concerned that our summer staff might feel the same way. This is why we now cast a specific vision for all of our summer staff.

This vision is a reminder of what is most important. When we feel tired and overwhelmed by the demands of our jobs, this vision is the home base to which we return. Our vision this summer is simple, yet the truth it represents is powerful.

[Continued from Youth Newsletter]

The following is our summer staff vision for 2013:

A Great Call…A Greater God

“God calls us to be partners with Him in His great work of leading people one step closer to Jesus and loving each another without condition. Yet, we do not find joy in our calling but rather the God who calls us. We have a great call, but we are called by a greater God.”

Please pray with us that our staff will embrace the truth found in Romans 11:33-36 where Paul writes, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

CILT: Campers in Leadership Training, A Student’s Story

Posted by & filed under Youth.

CILT: Campers in Leadership Training

Maybe you’ve seen CILT in the Mount Hermon Brochure, or heard someone at Mount Hermon talk about this amazing program where Juniors and Seniors get a chance to take their camp experience to another level. We asked Matt to tell you what CILT is like in his own words.

By Matt, CILT Camper, 2011

Early in the year 2011 I had the opportunity to apply for a position at camp that in hindsight changed my life forever. I heard about the CILT program through my past experiences, and since I grew up always wanting to be a counselor, CILT gave me the opportunity to do that. I spent one week training to be a counselor, and another actually getting the chance to counsel and lead a small group of middle schoolers. I’m serious when I say that the two weeks I spent at camp were the best in my whole life. I grew so close to the whole staff and they were all so close to God. Through these two weeks, I reoriented my life and aimed it towards God which has led me to where I am at today. I learned to be myself and not be ashamed of who I was and who I wanted to be. I learned to pursue God with reckless abandon and to never be afraid of where he takes me in life.  I think everyone should take the opportunity to do CILT. A goal of Mount Hermon is to have people leave with “Lives Transformed,” and I can tell you, CILT is a life transforming experience.

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.

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.

Interns Make an Impact

Posted by & filed under Interns, Youth.

Mount Hermon Interns 2013

Mount Hermon is known for creating amazing camp experiences.  What many people don’t know is that Mount Hermon also has an extraordinary intern program.  Every year, 13-15 post-college young adults are hired from all over the nation to work in 6 different departments at Mount Hermon.  Our interns have significant responsibility in the ministry that happens at Mount Hermon and the goal is to launch these young 20-somethings out of Mount Hermon and into the next phase of their lives and careers.

Continued from Youth Newsletter

The interns’ year at Mount Hermon is divided into four phases and each phase has a distinct goal.  The goal of phase one is to help the intern build his or her life on the foundation of God’s holy-love.  During this phase, interns read through the Heidelberg Catechism in addition to a few other books that delve deeper into the character and work of God.  The goal of the second phase is to help the intern discover how God has uniquely created him or her.  Interns take numerous assessments during this phase to learn more about personality, behaviors, strengths and interests.  These assessments include the DISC Assessment, the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator, Strengthsfinder and the Standout Assessment.  The goal of the third phase of the internship is to help the intern learn how to live and love in authentic Biblical community.  During this phase, the community of interns is intentionally challenged to grow in trust, forgiveness and love for one another.  The fourth and final phase of the intern program helps the intern obtain relevant skills for life, work and ministry.  This happens through both the intern’s summer role at Mount Hermon and the intentional preparation of the intern for his or her next step in life, work and ministry.

We are proud of our interns and our intern program.  You can learn more about Mount Hermon’s intern program at

2013 Ponderosa Summer Theme – Upside Down

Posted by & filed under Youth.

A summer theme always begins with an idea: a simple comment in a text, a conversation with a friend or even thinking through the work that God is doing in our lives.  After this, the praying, dreaming and planning begins!  It was a simple comment made by a co-worker that served as the spark to this summer’s theme at Ponderosa Lodge, and by the time June hits, it will be the message communicated for eight weeks to well over 1,500 students.

2013 Ponderosa Theme – Upside Down

Upside Down: Live like you belong to another world.

Continued from the Mount Hermon Youth Newsletter

“In Philippians 3:20-21, Paul exhorts the church in Philippi to embrace their citizenship in heaven. He writes, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” This truth wasn’t just for the Philippian Christians; this truth is for us too. We have been called to live as citizens of Jesus’ Kingdom, which is backwards and upside down compared to the world we inhabit. Though we are called to be ambassadors in this physical world, it is not the world we belong to. We’ve been called to something far greater!”

Join us this summer as we embrace our identity as citizens of Jesus’ Kingdom, and learn how to live like we belong to another world.

My Amata Experience

Posted by & filed under Youth.

Amata Girls Pushing a StrollerAmata is a two-week camp experience that can be summed up in two words: beloved & babysitting. Teen girls will have the experience of a lifetime living together in a cabin at Conference Center, being mentored by college-aged staff, and discovering what it means to be a woman of God.  Amata is for girls entering 8-10th grade. We recently caught up with Whitney Huff to hear about her Amata experience.

By Whitney Huff – 8th grade student

Throughout my entire life I have always known I was a Christian. I went to church, I went to camp, but it was more of a routine then a way of living. Amata opened my eyes to who God truly was and that he had a plan for my life. After Amata I lived with a heart that pursued God and I wanted to show that in the way that I lived. I didn’t know what to expect when I first got to the camp, but it was an experience that has changed my life forever. As we served the families at family camp by babysitting it has inspired me to serve and help people in my life and community.

Continued from the Mount Hermon Youth Newsletter

Through the scripture and discussions, we dove into something that hit me for the first time afresh. Even though we are broken, God will forever and always love us even when we make the worst mistakes. His love is everlasting and he pursues us even when we turn our backs to him. Living in the Amata house with the sixteen girls gave me friendships and bonds that were more meaningful than friends I had had since birth, and I saw how God had worked through each of their own lives. Amata was an experience that inspired me to live a life entirely for Christ.

Maximizing the Impact of Camp Ministry In Youth Ministry

Posted by & filed under Alumni, General, Youth, Youth Pastors.

In a million years, I never thought I would be working at a Christian camp doing youth ministry.  Four years ago, I was convinced that Christian camps were dying.  I honestly thought Christian camp ministry was outdated, irrelevant and clueless.  I was sure that Christian camps didn’t understand their role in the big picture of youth ministry.  This is one of the many reasons I stopped taking my high school group to a Christian camp when I was a youth pastor.

Now I am the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at Mount Hermon, a Christian camp.  I love my job and I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of camp ministry in the lives of students.  In fact, it was Mount Hermon’s vision for three vital partnerships that enticed me into doing youth ministry in a camp setting.  I now believe, more than ever, that youth ministry needs camping ministry. However, youth ministry needs camping ministries that understand their role in the big picture of youth ministry.

For camp ministry to maximize it’s impact in the lives of students and fit into the big picture of youth ministry, it has to foster and build three main partnerships throughout the year:

  1. Parent partnerships--Camps must realize that parents have the primary responsibility for discipling students.  First and foremost, youth ministry is not a camp’s job and it’s not the church’s job, it’s the parent’s job.  This means that camping ministry has the privilege of figuring out creative ways to communicate and partner with parents both before and after a student attends camp.  The more parents know about their student’s camp experience, the better.
  2. Church partnerships–Christian youth camps must also realize that they exist to serve the church.  Youth workers in the local church are the ones who will see, and minister to, these students the other 357 days of the year.  That being said, we can’t expect that 1 week, or weekend, out of 51 is enough to sustain students in their faith.  Any decision made at camp needs to be reinforced and worked out in the community of the local church.  This has to be kept at the forefront of our minds as we plan out and execute camp programming.
  3. Student partnerships–It’s great for camps to follow up with students if they understand the importance of the first two partnerships.  However, all of our work with students should strive to connect them with two main things: the Word of God and the People of God.  For camp to be more than just a mountaintop experience for students, they must get connected to God’s Word and God’s people.  If we can help them take steps towards doing this, we can help them draw closer to the God who loves them more than we could ever imagine.


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.

Ponderosa Lodge :: A Student’s Story

Posted by & filed under Youth, Youth Pastors.

This is a guest post by Angela Mannino, a student who has attended numerous children and youth camps at Mount Hermon.

Christianity has been defined as many things. Some say hypocrites. Some say extremists. Some say goodie-two shoes. For me, Christianity has been defined as a relationship with the Creator of the universe and the God that “the waves and wind obey,” not a religion with a list of rules and regulations that I have to follow in order to please a deity that may or may not punish me.

It is because of Mount Hermon programs, mostly Ponderosa Lodge, that I have developed this definition. I have learned in my eleven years attending Mount Hermon camps that God is not about making us do things or punishing us when we are wrong—which is quite often. God is loving while powerful. God is compassionate while jealous. God is giving while just.

I wasn’t living a godly life. I didn’t really accept all the things that God commanded and said. I didn’t understand that the Bible is the Truth and that is final. There’s nothing I can do about that. Before last summer, I was much more liberal and less in tune with the Holy Spirit. I didn’t read the Bible very often (in fact, I resented the Bible), nor did I pray (at all, almost). I watched things I shouldn’t have watched and read things I shouldn’t have. I indulged in the devil’s delights more than I care to remember.

All the while, I was attending church, leading worship for elementary and high school-aged kids on Sundays and Wednesdays. I participated in church functions and invited people to youth group. I guess you could say I was a stereotypical Christian for a while; my hypocrisy and defiance was so insane, it’s scary just thinking about it.

This place is life-changing. I came to camp last year expecting to be let down by people and not be included, which is exactly what happened. I had thoughts that people didn’t want me around and were annoyed by me. I let that get the better of me and it showed. People avoided me because I was completely shut off and unwilling to be moved. It wasn’t until Wednesday night, D.O.S. night (discipline of silence) that things turned around. After ten years of lying and crying, complaining and hating, God washed over me in one small motion, but a huge movement occurred within me.

This place is safe. My heart is secure in the Lord because of the people He surrounded me with there. Those people have helped me keep my camp high moving and getting better. Through them, I see God’s grace and God’s love. Thank you, Ponderosa Lodge.