Camp Staff Perspective | Week 01

The first week of Whisper Mountain Camp from a counselor’s perspective. All camper names used in this article are false names, to preserve anonymity for the kids.  

Last Thursday night, Whisper Mountain’s executive director, Marty Paul, preached to a group of 11 kids about the importance of placing their focus on God. “You have to live your life focused on the cross… That will sustain you,” Paul said. There was time after the message for the campers to pray silently. Counselors stood on the edges of the room, and campers were invited to ask counselors to pray with them. I sat on the right side of the stage, unsure if any campers would come to me. This was my first week counseling at Whisper Mountain; I had no idea what to expect. As I waited, I prayed, asking God to use me. “Let me minister to these campers, Oh Lord,” I prayed, “That you would make your abundant, awe-inspiring love known through me.” Little did I know that the campers would be ministering to me, instead.

One of the girls from my cabin came up to sit by me on the stage; nine-year-old Sadie. I asked her what I could be praying about for her. She asked me to pray for her family and for the bullying she endures at school to stop. She moved closer to me and laid her head on my shoulder while I prayed for her. We were in the “Axis” building: the chapel, at camp. Instrumental worship music played softly on the speakers. Most of the lights were off, and a weight lingered in the air. The weight pressed upon my thoughts, like humility pressing against pride, stifling any distractions that kept me from begging God, with all that I am, that He would keep this girl from her painful struggles and that she would seek to know Him more. 

I opened my eyes after praying with her to see three more girls from my cabin around us; all sisters. I asked what I could also be praying about for them. “We just want to pray for Sadie,” Zulu said. The three girls laid their hands on Sadie’s back as I continued to pray for her. When I finished praying a second time, I told Sadie that she is loved: By God, by me, and by the three other girls around her. She gave me a hug and a smile, and we silently recognized together that the Holy Spirit was among us, drawing our hearts closer to God and to each other. 

Campers have been encouraged to fix their eyes on Jesus; focusing on Him amidst trials in this life. They are given a four day devotional plan, centered around the week’s theme. After having scheduled time to be alone with Scripture and the devotional plan, the campers gather together with their cabins to discuss what they learned. 

“Before I came to camp, I hated reading my Bible,” Colin, a fifth-grader said. “It felt like a chore to me. Now, I’m going to do it every single day.” 

Campers this week have learned to delight in reading the Bible through the times they have spent alone in Scripture, in counselor-led devotional discussions, and in intentional prayer times. 

There was a 14-year-old girl in my cabin, Gloria, who showed leadership qualities right away during cabin times. “I want to be so infused with the Word of God, that all I do is part of Him,” she said. She would talk fast and excitedly about the Gospel during cabin times; truly on fire for the Gospel. Gloria told me that she prays for God to use her as an example for her younger siblings, that they would come to have a stronger relationship with Jesus by seeing her leadership. She felt the burden to represent Christ to her family. Last week, campers at Whisper Mountain were taught that believers in Christ are called to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. We are adopted as sons and daughters of the living God; thus, we are no longer citizens of the world, but we belong to a home grander than we could ever imagine. Gloria felt the weight of this, and she recognized the godly influence she has on her family as she fixes her gaze upon Jesus Christ, representing Him in this world. 

The camper I prayed with on Thursday night, Sadie, said she learned the importance of spending time reading her Bible rather than being distracted by her phone. 

“Usually I’m always on my phone and I never read my Bible,” Sadie said. “Now, I really want to read my Bible because Jesus is really important to me.

I have been humbled to see the affect of this camp in the lives of the campers this first week. As they connect spiritual applications to activities like paintball and dropping in a 30-foot-tall swing on a high ropes course, the campers begin to see a need for Jesus Christ all around them; not just at church on Sundays. In having focused time reading the Bible by themselves each morning, the campers realize they have a crucial need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Hebrews 4:12 says, 

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The campers experience this truth at Whisper Mountain; they not only learn the importance of reading the Bible on their own, but they see how it impacts their lives and their friend’s lives. The four girls I prayed with last Thursday night knew the impact of prayer, as we grouped around Sadie, pleading to God on her behalf. The girls could only do that because they had a knowledge of Jesus Christ from Scripture. He is powerful. He is kind. He is good. He loves us and He listens to us. 

Tim Keller wrote, “God sees us as we are, loves us as we are, and accepts us as we are. But by His grace, He does not leave us where we are.” My prayer as this summer continues is that more campers would be moved by the power of Scripture, and by the person of Jesus Christ; that the campers would recognize that once we fix our gaze and set our lives on Jesus, He will not leave us as we are. He is in the process of making all things new, drawing us closer to Himself as His returning comes nearer at each moment.


Author | Katie Fogarty Photography | Adrienne Cicero + Cassi Werner
Group | Community Bible Church of Highlands

Meet Summer Staff 2021

When God assembles a team for the work He desires, His purposes are deeper than we can fathom! Who He assembles may surprise us, but we are delighted as we begin to see glimpses of the why tagging along with each one.

The Summer 2021 Staff Team feels a little unexpected this summer, but exactly right for such a time as this. The “big” personalities that normally make a home on our team are absent this summer. When we consider what teens are coming out of (Covid, isolation, etc) to come to camp this summer, it feels appropriate and good. Our staff is fun and full of personality, but not too much for those who may still be warming up to socializing! God is thoughtful and caring and good. We would have never known to account for that! Doesn’t He just blow you away?

We are always so grateful for each staff member who chooses to give up something to come and serve alongside us. Each one comes with open arms and hearts tender for the things of God. Each one comes to use his/her own gifts and talents to Proclaim Christ to teens. The full time staff always look forward to see how God surprises them with His work in their own lives while they serve. There’s nothing quite like God’s economy!

So here they are — the chosen ones for our summer staff team. Each story divinely intertwining with purpose in our camp family and with those coming to camp this summer. God’s orchestration is beautiful, don’t you think? Stay tuned as we share more about each individual throughout the summer! For now, pray for these to be vessels of God’s glory as they work their little tail ends off!

HERE WE GO…


Author + Photography | Cassi Werner

Make a Difference | Adopt-A-Staff

We can never underestimate the power of encouragement. Whether it’s a simple text, a note in the mail, a care package with some favorite things, or just knowing we are being prayed for, being uplifted, encouraged, boosted to keep going literally changes everything.

We want to invite you to change one life this summer through your encouragement. Will you Adopt-A-Staff? Will you encourage one summer staff as they run hard and give all they’ve got to Proclaim Christ to teens?


We wanted to share Megan’s Experience with you:

“As a lover of all things snail mail related, Adopt-A-Staff is one of my favorite ways to serve Whisper Mountain and was a huge encouragement to me when I was on staff. Adopt-A-Staff, for those who don’t know, is when someone not at Whisper Mountain agrees to come along side one summer staff to encourage and support them through prayer and mailings for the summer.

Whisper Mountain does a fabulous job passing along info to you on your staff member. They provide info on what the staff needs prayer for and things like favorite candy, color and beverage, what they like to do with their free time, what gift cards might be helpful and so on. It really helps you get to know them even if you’ve never met them. It also helps give you ideas for things you could mail them in a care package.

Now this may be where some of you jump ship, but please hear me out. A care package can be super clever, funny, themed and over the top but it can also be just as encouraging if it’s not. Also every time you send something it doesn’t have to be a full care package (but please do send at least one during the summer).

Something as simple as a card saying “I’m praying for you” or a card with an encouraging verse can be just what we need to pick us up and push us through the week. Heck, sometimes just being handed mail puts a smile on our face before we even open it. The idea that someone cares, someone is thinking and praying for you , someone took the time to do something for you means more than you can imagine when you are pouring yourself out all week. It really changes things. 

Personally, I love sending an over the top themed care package. It’s just in me to be creative. If you decide to Adopt-A-Staff and want to do an over the top package, but you aren’t the creative type, you can search google – the ideas are endless. If over the top isn’t in your wheel house please, please, please still adopt.

During my summer of being adopted, one of the most meaningful and encouraging things I received was a card with a short note reminding me they were praying for me and a little business size Bible verse card. It really helped me refocus and push me through a hard week.

When you Adopt-A-Staff, God sized things happen, I promise! You think, “Oh, I’ll just send this,” and God says, “Oh, I’ll deliver that at just the right moment.” You think, “Oh, this candy isn’t much,” but then a camper sees our favorite candy you sent and it’s their favorite candy and it helps us make a connection. Something so simple that you forget the moment you sent it may be something we hold on to for months or years.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here are a few things other summer staff have said they found encouraging:

“… just knowing they were praying for me was huge.” 

“…the fact that they checked in via text and asked what I needed prayer for.”

“…just a little something (whether it be stickers, snacks or whatever) and a note can make your day receiving something in the mail.”

“… when my adopt-a-staff got me gifts that were not on my questionnaire. It showed a ton of effort and love.”

“…receiving a written out prayer. It took it a step beyond just saying they are praying for me.”

Alright, that’s all I have for you! Thanks for reading. Now please, go be an encourager and ADOPT!!

All Tied Up | Ladies Craftivities 2021

We had a crowd of women who were craving some white space come to camp last weekend for our annual Craftivities Weekend!

One mom who came said she’d been pushing through something hard knowing this weekend was on the other side of it! And she was so glad she came!

We learned how to Macrame, taught by the ever lovely Brooke Haney. She walked us through three different projects. Some found it harder than they thought. Others found their new thing. Everyone left with something beautiful for their homes!

We also had sweet moments of encouragement by Nancy Clayton. She maneuvered us through all sorts of knots life tends to wind us up in, then graciously led us through what it might look like to unravel them and and the anxiety and fear that comes with them. They were such peace-giving and hopeful moments I think we all needed so we can keep carrying on.

Of course we enjoy blessing our guests with all the special, little touches. Creating an atmosphere that is both calm and beautiful helps people feel relax, and that’s one of our main goals! Deep breaths and white space. And of course the yummy food and boojee water because lavishing people is our jam!

We so much enjoyed each person who joined us. We absolutely love putting this weekend together. Thank you to each of you who came. We pray you continue to walk in the peace of Christ. Let us know in the comments what this weekend meant to you or tag us on instagram #whispermtncraftivities when you hang your pieces in your home!

For everyone who wants to come next time, open your reminders app and be looking forward to our next event in March 2022! Until then, keep finding white space in your life to create and be refreshed!

If you’d like to see more of Brooke’s art or contact her for a project you’d like her to create, head to Instagram @wondricately_woven to reach out to her!

A Simple Way a Crowd is Making a Difference

A whole crowd of people gathered the cast off things, piled them on the lawn and welcomed the masses! Some call it crazy. We call it amazing! Welcome to a glimpse of the Yard Sale Fundraiser in Fort Myers, Florida.

Several years ago one adult group of people began to bless Whisper Mountain by selling a few things. The one simple idea has since exploded into four storage containers getting filled all throughout the year until the first weekend of March rolls around. Then all the willing and able come set up, run and clean up from the yard sale. IN THE FLORIDA HUMIDITY. (mind-blowing)

This year the sale ended early due to rain, but the volunteers stuck it out with a smile! So amazing! Although cut short, the success of this sale still managed to bring in thousands of dollars to support Whisper Mountain Camp. Seriously, do you understand how huge this is to us?

Even though we are sort of in the routine of them doing this work (and our guys going down to help out each year), we are still continually blown away by so many people willing to give so much of their time, energy and treasure. We know it’s a sacrifice, which makes receiving the blessing so entirely humbling. And encouraging, but so humbling.

While providing financially for the camp, they also give in other HUGE ways too! You may not know it, but ministry can be lonely and discouraging work at times. The job requires grit, resolve and perseverance. When people sacrifice even a little to be a part of the mission — there’s just no words. The overwhelm of support and encouragement helps to renew our resolve and grit to help us keep on keeping on. We feel stood with and if you’ve ever felt that, you know what we mean!

Whether friends of the ministry stopped in to say hello or volunteers came to do the work or shoppers came to shop: thank you to each of you who were a part of this Yard Sale in whatever way you were able to be a part! God sees and knows and we trust Him to bless you in ways we never will be able to. Thank you for standing with us and helping Whisper Mountain in the work of proclaiming Christ to teens!

To God be the glory!

The Weight of a Concrete Pour

Our “off season” is code for less people on site, but a ton of work still to be done! One project we recently completed involves loads and loads of concrete.

To many of you, the following pictures may just look like a few good men breaking their backs to pour concrete on a cold, winter’s day. They hauled and poured and scraped until their arms burned. But what we see in these pictures is so much more.

We see a way through a COVID entangled forest. We see getting to say yes to groups wanting to schedule for summer. We see teens filling those weeks. Teens who can leave their reclusive habits and all the screaming voices from their screens, or the deafening silence from their solitude, to get away to a peaceful place.

A place filled with people waiting to engage them, intentionally connect with them, and love them for a string of days in the summer. A place they can breathe the fresh, clean, mountain air and experience the life-giving atmosphere of the great outdoors.

We see a space being repurposed to contain conversations over a meal and the plating up of time and attention to lead them to a greater hunger for the things of God. A space where friends can look into each other’s eyes to feel seen and connected with.

The completion of this project means we can now have larger groups fed at a time while following the social distancing requirements of our state. Sure concrete work costs a pretty penny, but the return on the investment is eternally priceless. Thank you to McGregor Baptist Church for the funds to complete this project and to Eagle Concrete for the hard work, craftsmanship and commitment to doing things well!

We’ve put a short video together of the whole process, including a little drone footage!
(Please be kind about drone footage: we are still getting to know each other 😉)


When you give to Whisper Mountain Camp, you are helping us proclaim Christ to teens! Will you join the work of reaching teens by giving today?

Thanks for being here and taking interest in the work of Whisper Mountain Camp!
Best to you,
Cassi

2020 | Fall Retreats

We have had a swelling retreat season this fall! We usually have a decently full fall, but 2020 was different – people needed to get out of isolation and into community in the great outdoors!

Some groups requested we didn’t post their group while at camp and we also desired to protect people from seeing an image and misunderstanding how we were following the proper protocols, so we didn’t share very many pictures of our fall retreats on social media. These times are crazy, aren’t they? So much fear has been instilled in us during this COVID time that we don’t always see clearly.

All that aside, we have felt privileged to serve the people who have come our way. We shared about our Men’s Retreat here (click that!). Below are a few pictures we felt were okay to share of some of the groups we welcomed (following all the proper protocols!!).

God pulled people from isolation and brought them into the mountains this fall where they could be with people who encouraged them, spoke truth from His Word and provided the face to face community all of humanity was meant to have!

How are you handling these times? Hope may be harder to find in these times, but the God of hope is able to “fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Keep believing!

Shoot Straight Men’s Retreat| 2020

We promoted this year’s men’s retreat as something they really needed. Of all the years we’ve been doing Shoot Straight, this year’s deep breath in the woods seemed more necessary than others. Thanks Covid, election year, civil unrest, among so many other personal stresses.

The weekend’s weather couldn’t have been any more beautiful and served as the perfect backdrop to all the outdoor activities. Whether standing around laughing or talking, throwing hatchets or darts, shooting sling shots or walking the woods for the 3D Archery Tournament, men and kids alike seemed to soak up their time outdoors.

We were entirely thankful for Brian Solomon’s charge to the men to rise up in these days by becoming men of prayer, of the Word and of following God’s lead as we navigate our times. He shared of his work with Capitol Ministries and challenged the men to take on a mindset of praying for God’s work to take place in government.

Of course the raffles are always loved! As usual, some were more lucky than others! One mom posted on facebook how she couldn’t believe how much her son came home with! That’s right! We like to spoil our guests!

While the tournament is fun and the food is raved about and the accommodations are praised for their cleanliness, it’s the getting away that really matters. Hearing the Word be preached feeds the weary soul, but the time away to refresh mind, body and soul makes the guys look forward to next year’s event! Will you be joining us?

Mark your calendar now for October 1-3, 2021. We would love to have you get away to find such refreshment and fun with some of your favorite guys!

Thanks for coming this year, guys! We sure loved having you, Covid rules and all! See you next time!

Dave + Nancy Houchin | Whisper Mountain Stories

You may have heard us say it a million times through the years, but we are always in awe of how God orchestrates people’s lives. He’s always moving pieces together to bring about the most glory for Himself and the most good for those involved!

As you know, we said goodbye to Sam a couple months back. And soon after, we said goodbye to Selah as she left for college. She was such a big help with office work. While we were excited for both of them to continue the path God had called them to, they both left voids in the load we carry at Whisper Mountain!

But God knew all about it and met our need above and beyond, per His usual! Watch this video to see just how He provided!

We are pretty thrilled with God’s provision. And continue to give Him the glory for all He is doing in and through Whisper Mountain Camp!

Thanks, Dave and Nancy! You inspire and relieve! We are thankful for your friendship and service. May God heap blessing on you both as you continue to follow Him!


Author + Photographer | Cassi Werner

Sam’s Journey at Whisper Mountain Camp | 2020

We first got to know Sam Wammock when she was a camper in 2011 and then as she returned for years until joining our Summer Staff team in 2016. (see these posts: 2016, 2017) Her story continued as she joined Full Time Staff last year (2019).

Today she is sharing with you how her story continues! Watch the video to see a quick peek of her through the years and hear what she has to say!

We love Sam’s heart for the Lord, how well she leads, her strong work ethic and her fun-lovin’ ways!

She tends to leave a mark wherever she goes. We know she will continue to do so as the Lord continues to lead and make Himself known through her.

We love you Sam! Thank you for your years spent Proclaiming Christ with us!

Until next time,
your Robbinsville family