2020 | Creekside Basketball Retreat

Right after Estero Study Retreat, we welcomed a middle school girls basketball team from Georgia to Whisper Mountain for a weekend retreat!

Creekside Basketball Girls Title at Whisper Mountain 2020

Kaleigh has a heart to help her team get away together so they can work on their team unity and experience reflection and encouragement from God’s Word and each other!

We were thankful for Maggie and Brinley (some local friends) who were willing to come lead worship one night and loved when the team themselves led worship! Such talent! Their leaders challenged and encouraged them throughout the weekend! These girls have some amazing people leading them!

Creekside Basketball Fire Pit Chats at Whisper Mountain Camp 2020Creekside Basketball Opening Letters at Whisper Mountain 2020Creekside Basketball open Letters 2 at Whisper Mountain Camp 2020

They fought rain most of the weekend, but on the last day the sun came out and the group ended with shoutouts and letters Kaleigh asked parents or caregivers to write for their girls! Coupled with a gift basket, they received love, affirmation and encouragement in just the way they needed most! The special touches are everything!

Creekside Basketball Group at Whisper Mountain

We so much enjoyed getting to be part of your season this year! Thanks for spending the weekend with us — may you remember all God whispered to your hearts while you were with us!

PS: They ended their season as Champs!!!

Creekside Champs 2020


Author | Cassi     Photography | Cassi + Shaun + Kaleigh

2020 | Estero Study Retreat

Estero Study Retreat Title

We jumped into the new year with two groups right out of the gate! The first of which was First Baptist Estero’s Salt ‘n Light Teens! Twenty people hopped in vans and drove up from sunny, warm Florida into the cold and leafless forest of the backwoods of Appalachia! I think we’d all agree, we are so glad they did!

Estero Study Retreat Pastor Weston

Pastor Weston is a guy with a heart for his teens to youth group armed with a passion for God’s Word so they stay near to God as they leave the nest! One way he tries to prepare them for walking life with God is through what we call a Study Retreat. It blows my mind, but these middle and high school teens spend 4 days intensely digging into God’s Word. I  N  T  E  N  S  E  L  Y. We are talking hours at a time.

Estero Study Retreat Tablescapes

They learned how to read in context, how to use other resources to gain deeper understanding, how to practically apply what they read. They discussed what they gleaned and asked questions when they didn’t understand.

Estero Study Retreat Tablescapes 2Estero Study Retreat Praying Man

They may not realize it yet, but these teens were given a treasure as they learned to study God’s Word. Because being in God’s Word changes us and shapes us and leads us in powerful ways. We simply aren’t the same after encountering God’s truth. To be given to tools to break down God’s Word so it’s no longer daunting but actually understandable is a fantastic gift to receive. And Whisper Mountain is grateful for the opportunity to be part of that!

Estero Study Retreat Outdoor Fun

Of course there was fun to be had as well! We got a skiff of snow but to Floridians it might as well have been a blizzard!! They LOVED it! They also enjoyed tomahawk throwing and the simple pleasure of hanging together!

A couple of them were willing to share their experience with you on camera (SO BRAVE!) so follow the link below to catch a glimpse into their time with us!

Study Retreat Video Still

If you are a youth pastor wanting something unique for your teens, a way to help arm them for life, carrying the Word of God with them rather than abandoning it as so many are doing, then reach out to us so we can schedule your weekend!

Estero Group Study Retreat at Whisper Mountain Camp

Thank you, Estero, for hiking all the way up to us so you can encounter the Whisper of God in deep and personal ways! May you find His light for your path to be enough!


Author | Cassi     Photography | Susanna Eckert, Marty Paul, Cassi

Sam, Soccer, Worship?

Staying Encouraged with WM Staff

by Sam Wammock 

Worship? Outside of Sundays?

 

Sam Soccer Team CIU.jpg
I grew up thinking worship was something that happened before the pastor would get up and preach. I had no idea how wrong this is. I finally became aware of how worship can happen as we do anything in our lives. I learned how to worship while I play soccer and how to worship as I am going throughout my day. It has been a really cool experience to learn how to take a bunch of things that I love to do and use them as an act of worship.

Sam Wammock Kicking Soccer

 
There are two things that helped me get to a better place of understanding when it comes to worship.

The first thing is Romans 12:1, which says,

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

I began to think that if Jesus could offer his body as THE living sacrifice that offered me eternity with him, then I should be able to live my life in such a way that is for the Lord. The biggest misconception I had when I started learning this is that I cannot do anything that I enjoy (soccer, biking, hanging out with friends) because I needed to live a life that is holy and acceptable to God. How silly of me to think God would give me passions in life that I could not do because it was not holy or pleasing to him. So I learned how to instead use the things that I love to honor and glorify him as an act of worship.

Sam Kicking CIU.jpg
The second thing that helped me understand worship better is realizing I can choose to worship God or his creation/people in His creation. We were made to worship something, so if I choose to not use my life to worship the Lord, I will find something else to worship. I think this was a hard pill to swallow because it reminded me of Romans 1:18-25 which says,

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

This is a bit more extreme than what is going on in my life, but the concept remains from Exodus 20:

“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

I want to make sure that I am always worshipping the Creator and not allowing myself to worship any other gods in my life.

Sam Soccer Big Bad Wolf.jpg

Worshipping is something that is so important and I want to make sure that I am aware of how easy it is to worship anyone or anything. I want to stay constant in offering my body as a living sacrifice to the Lord of what is holy and pleasing to be my act of worship to the Lord.

What’s something in your daily life you can turn into an act of worship?


Author | Sam  (Photos provided by Sam)
FUN FACT: Sam played 4 years of collegiate soccer at Columbia International University. She was named Female Student Athlete of the Year and All-Tournament at Nationals for 2 years!

A Secret Ingredient of the Christian

Staying Encouraged with WM Staff

by Cassi Werner

If you’ve been in the Church or a follower of Jesus for any period of time, you understand prayer to be a vital part of your walk with Jesus! But WHY should we pray?

Personal Prayer at Whisper MOuntain Camp.jpg

>> Fellowship: In its most basic form, prayer is connecting with the God of the Universe, which is a grace we tend to take far too lightly.

Sitting with or abiding with God changes us, shapes us, focuses us on God and eternity. Talking to Him wherever, whenever about whatever keeps us moving toward Him. We gain a greater understanding of Him, see more of Him, are led by Him as we spend time in prayer. Praising Him, calling out to Him and interacting with Him: there is nothing quite as amazing as prayer. If we were honest, this is something we know, but might not tend to practice. At least the without ceasing part!

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6

Teens Praying Together at Whisper Mountain Camp

>> Intercession: Big word for praying on behalf of others!

All throughout the Bible we see how God has involved people through prayer to accomplish things on earth. Some examples of intercession were when Moses stood in the gap for God’s grumbling people and God heard his prayer. There were prayers for healing, protection from destructionobtaining favor, restoring the sick and so much more. As the body of Christ, we can seriously support each other by consistently praying for each other. Praying for those outside of the body of Christ maybe even more so.

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men.

I Timothy 2:1

Intercessory Prayer at Whisper Mountain Camp

>> Spiritual Warfare: We have an enemy prowling around seeking to destroy and devour, which should motivate us to be fervently and continually praying! We are up against unseen powers and yet we “seldom consider the nature of our opponent, and that is to his advantage.” (Elisabeth Eliot)

A few places in the Bible where prayer brought about deliverance from spiritual attack are when Jesus Himself prayed against Satan for Peter; some demons could only be cast out through prayer. Peter was released from prison because of prayer. The early church knew the power of prayer and they were always found devoting themselves to prayer. Prayer is vital in our battle against the forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving

Colossians 4:2

Parallax - Drone Mountains

Prayer flexes our faith in a way that activates the power of God in unexplainable ways in our lives. Not because He needs us or there’s something special about us, but because He desires us and a relationship is a living, active, responsive thing.

What’s crazy is we are busy wandering around inside our days doing what we call living, often without so much as a nod toward the One who knows our name and created us to do all of our moving inside of Him. We get the chance to connect with THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE, but often we exchange that connection for lesser things. I’m so guilty of this. You to?

Let’s become fervent and intentional and committed to prayer! Our walk with Him depends on it!

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

Jude 1:20-21


Author & Photography | Cassi

Shoot Straight 2019

Shoot Straight at Whisper Mountain Camp 2019

A month ago now, we hosted a crowd of men for our annual Shoot Straight Retreat! Kids 8+ came to our woods to relax, throw knives (mhm, that’s right!), shoot some arrows, eat good food and be encouraged!

Shoot Straight at Whisper Mountain Camp Mountain RangeShoot Straight at Whisper Mountain Hatchet ThrowShoot Straight at Whisper Mountain Boys Club

The worship and encouragement throughout the weekend (from Rich!) helped center the time on Christ and uplift in those most personal spaces of the heart. The older men praying over the younger men was a highlight to see and a powerful time for both the younger and wiser among us!

Shoot Straight at Whisper Mountain WorshipShoot Straight at Whisper Mountain Prayer 1Shoot Straight at Whisper Mountain Prayer 2.jpg

All of Saturday was spent outdoors, first practicing with the bows and arrows and then the actual 3D tournament in the afternoon! The time shooting arrows ends with a long shot, which is a fun challenge for all! (No worries, guys, we did find most of the stray arrows 😉 !)

Shoot Straight at Whisper Mountain Archery PracticeShoot Straight at Whisper Mountain Archery Groups 1Shoot Straight at Whisper Mountain Archery Groups 2Shoot Straight at Whisper Mountain Camp Group

Of course, one of the favorite parts of the weekend is getting to draw for allllllll the raffle prizes! This year, we even had a fancy spinning machine to select the ticket from! They say it’s all in the details, right?!

Shoot Straight at Whisper Mountain Camp Door PrizesShoot Straight at Whisper Mountain Big Raffle Winners

After all the tournament scores are collected and counted, of course we have a trophy ceremony, because if you didn’t get a trophy, did you really win?!!

Shoot Straight at Whisper Mountain Winners

We hear such good things about this time away in the woods! The encouragement, the fun, the refreshment! Thank you to all who came this year! We hope you’ll gather again with us next year! Keep October 2-4, 2020 blocked out on your calendar!

Shoot Straight Retreat at Whisper Mountain Camp 2019

Now, go be those men God’s called you to be! And help raise up some younger men to follow behind! To God be the glory!


Author & Photography | Cassi

The Balancing Act

Staying Encouraged with WM Staff

by Marty Paul

Balance. There has to be balance.

Keeping Balance at Whisper Mountain Camp.jpg

I have lived long enough to know life can get really busy with lots of things taking every minute of my day. Early in my marriage with a young family, I was teaching school and coaching basketball. My kids were gym rats because I was always gone and they were usually with me. If I wasn’t planning my work, I was serving at church in student ministries or raising my family and taking time with my wife. When all this is going on, it’s easy to think I can get by with a few minutes of quiet time with God. It’s always easy to put God on the back burner because, hey, I was doing life!

Losing Balance at Whisper Mountain Camp

In Galatians 5:13-17, Paul tells us not to turn our freedom into an opportunity for the flesh. He doesn’t want us to fall back into sin and worldliness. Paul goes on to tell us to walk by the Spirit and we won’t carry out the desires of the flesh. The flesh sets us against the Spirit because they are in opposition to one another. There is nothing wrong in living your Christian life like I was, but when it leads to less time with God and more time with works, there becomes an imbalance.

Struggle to Balance at Whisper Mountain Camp.jpg

Life will become hard to navigate as more struggles come into our lives. By spending time each day in God’s Word, we will be able to pursue the life of sanctification, of being made holy, like Jesus. Can I ask: Are you putting in the time…the required quietness so God can speak into your life each day?

Solo Time at Whisper Mountain Camp.adrienne.jpg

Let me encourage you today to walk by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives within you to empower you to walk in this struggle called life. We always make time for what we want to do. I hope you are making time for Jesus.

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ…”

Romans 13:14

Author | Marty Paul     Photography | Adrienne & Cassi

Life | When God Feels Absent

Staying Encouraged with WM Staff

by Selah Werner

Hey guys!
So today I want to share something that has been popping up a lot lately, and something I personally need reminding of myself.

Fall Split Path at Whisper Mountain Camp

I have reached the point in my life where I am faced with the “what’s next” question. I need to decide where I want to go and what I want to do after I graduate high school. This feels so daunting and overwhelming. I sometimes feel like I’m walking in the dark or in fog and I can’t really see what’s in front of me. I’ve been reminded recently that the waiting is an important part of the process and can actually sometimes feel exciting!

Distorted Tree View at Whisper Mountain Camp

Waiting is not my most favorite thing to do. In fact, I can be quite impatient in life. There’s a big part of me that wants the frustrating things fixed, the questions answered, the chaotic things quieted. But really, what’s the fun in just arriving at something without the journey? The adventure is where it’s at, so I’m told 😂.

Pathways at Whisper Mountain Camp

I think God likes the adventure part because it stretches and pushes us to trust Him like never before. The adventure tends to pull us in close to Him and allows us to see Him work. Where will He take us next?

Roadway Up to Hub at Whisper Mountain Camp

I love when people tell their stories of life. Taking a look back at our story helps us see a little better just what God was doing, how He perfectly timed everything and arranged things better than we could have ever done ourselves. During the waiting process, God can feel absent. It’s hard connecting with him during this time, but I wonder if by trusting that He’s present when He doesn’t feel like it causes us to actually exercise our faith in the best of ways. I know He really is there and has control of all the things. Sometimes we just need reminded.

Foggy Roadway at Whisper Mountain Camp

Psalm 62 demonstrates this well. Verse one and verse 5 are similar:

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. (v1)

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.” (v5)

Roadway to the Hub at WhisperMountain Camp

Isn’t it interesting how verse one says, “My soul waits in silence”, while verse five says, “Oh my soul, wait in silence”? It’s that reminding of, “Okay, Self, keep waiting because God really is my hope and salvation.” Just as David reminds us all throughout the Psalms, we can have peace knowing “that the power belongs to God (v11).” We can overflow with peace and find patience to wait in silence when we remember who He is. (see also Job 40) The scary trek in the dark then becomes a hope-filled adventure!


Author | Selah Werner    Photography | Cassi

Living In Tents can be Intense!

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.”
Shaun in tents tee at Whisper Mountain Camp
I don’t know if you’ve heard me say it or not, but one of the phrases I like to use at camp is “Camp is intense! We sleep in cabins, but camp is in-tents!” This play on words, among many others, is one of my favorites. So much so, that my lovely wife made a shirt several years ago that expressed this saying.
Army Tent at Whisper Mountain Camp
We also used this idea of camp and life being intense for our summer camp theme — were you here that year? Based out of 2 Corinthians 5:1-2, we talked about how our bodies are earthly tents and we have an eternal home in heaven.
In Tents at Whisper Mountain Camp
Remembering this earth is not our home, this life is temporary, we are just passing through offers hope in times of trouble and encourages us to not invest in things that are fading away.
I Peter 2:11 also encourages us to abstain from worldly desires because we are sojourners or temporary residents. Our perspective, or rather God’s perspective from His Word, helps us to stay on track as we seek to follow Him. God’s Word encourages and calls us to this higher road of living for what we cannot see, to walk in this faith that stretches beyond our right now.
Shaun Passing Through at Whisper Mountain Camp
I don’t know about you, but what’s happening around me seems to distract me from this big picture living more than I want it to. My focus gets so easily pulled from the eternal things and placed on things that, in the end of all things, really don’t matter at all.
So I leave you with this encouragement: stay in the Word daily so God’s perspective becomes ours and can rightly be placed on the eternal things. Let’s keep stepping toward abstaining from the “worldly desires” today so we can be in pursuit of those eternal desires as we keep passing through to our eternal home! Keep walking, Young People!

Photography | Cassi Werner

Being a Foodie is Super Spiritual

Staying Encouraged with WM Staff

Written by Patti Paul

Patti and Ms Bay in the Kitchen at Whisper Mountain Camp

Food. I must confess, I think about food much more than I’d prefer. Being the WM Head Cook is honestly not my favorite WM task, however, I recognize the importance of food for our guests as it provides daily nourishment and represents friendship, community and welcome.  If you’ve been to Whisper Mountain maybe you’ve experienced the “voted #1 favorite meal” – Poppyseed Chicken.  However you may prefer the Grilled Pork Chops or the fun Fiesta Bowl! Yum! So, tell me, what is your favorite food at WM, or anywhere?

Universal Love of Food at Whisper Mountain Camp

In the Gospels, food is mentioned about 90 times. Luke’s gospel is full of stories of Jesus eating with people. When God created humans He articulated the human body to require the need of food for energy,  growth, repair, and warmth.  Lack of proper daily nutrients will cause malnutrition and will lead to a variety of health problems and ultimate death.

peppers in the kitchen at Whisper Mountain Camp

cupcakes at Whisper Mountain Camp

The love of food is universal!  In fact, did you know that Americans spend more than $60 billion annually on nutrition and weight loss products? In the past 12 years, over 5,000 publishers produced 200,000 cookbooks. There’s also a plethora of food information available on social media and tv chefs. The human race seems obsessed with food and over indulging in it.  In the end, most nutritionists agree that eating a daily, balanced diet of small portions of healthy food will provide ample energy, keep off those extra pounds, and prevent many lifelong diseases.

Fellowship around the Table Outdoors

On occasion, Marty and I have the privilege of traveling on behalf of camp ministry.  We have found it to be true, that whenever we meet up with friends of the ministry, both new or old, our time is automatically planned around a table surrounded by delicious food, snacks, or dessert. Very sweet fellowship is automatically produced in this setting. Valued time spent together with others deepens our relationships together and gives us the encouragement we need as well.

Dining with Friends at Whisper Mountain Cmap

Food connects people together with traditions, memorable moments of celebration, gatherings of family and friends, and turns strangers into friends all while sharing a meal and conversation. Knowing food was a daily requirement for man, Jesus used meals in his earthly ministry as an expression of grace, community, and His mission. He sought to save the lost and carry on a personal relationship with all, and He still does.

2019 Study Retreat Teen in The Word

God’s Word feeds us spiritually, encourages, convicts, directs, and helps us grow to be more like Him. I truly believe that nourishing my spiritual health must be given even more importance than my daily food. Without Him I will be spiritually deprived, dried up and useless in the life He’s given me. I’m sure you relate. Many times busy life and interruptions can shortchange my daily quiet time with Him.   Growing in my spiritual relationship requires:

  • regular scripture study
  • communication with Him throughout my day
  • keeping a short list of forgiveness of my faults
  • and listening & looking for Him to reveal Himself to me in big and small ways.

I can tell the difference in the days I devote quality time of building my relationship with Him by my personal attitude, reactions to those I am in contact with and in my general well being.

God's Word and Food at Whisper Mountain Camp

Can I ask, how are you doing at making Him a priority in your daily walk? Here’s a couple places the Word uses food figuratively and practically:

  • “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good, Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”  Psalm 34:8
  • “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” 3 John 1:2
  • “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matt 5:6
  • “And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42

I sincerely hope you will practice enjoying God’s Word as much or more than the good food enjoyed in your daily living! Think of the satisfaction and joy you’ll experience if you do!


Photography | Cassi Werner

Hitting A Wall + Pressing On

Staying Encouraged with WM Staff

written by Sam Wammock

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of being in the Word. I’ve never done a great job at it. In fact, I would do some reading and then forget for long periods of time and then start that process over. I don’t think that I have the greatest discipline when it comes to this at all. But as I start in this new time in my life without having chapel 3 days a week or working in the church or being at home where I have my youth group and family to hold me accountable, I hit a hard wall. I realized it is time for me to take responsibility for learning more about Jesus and not just being fed.

Solo Time Calvary by Adrienne

I think about Hebrews 5:11-14:

“About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

The writer is giving these warnings against how dangerous it is to just sit and allow ourselves to become complacent and content with being immature in our walk with God. But that isn’t what I am called to. It isn’t what any of us are called to. The writer says “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

Wall at Whisper Mountain by Adrienne

I think it is important to spend time in the Word so that we can discern and distinguish good from evil. I don’t want this passage to be able to apply to me because I didn’t do my part and I forgot the basics. I want to move on and press forward to know more about the Lord by staying consistent in His Word.

If you can relate, can I encourage you to keep making time to get in God’s Word? Keep seeking to know the Lord in your daily life! The basics are everything — let’s keep pressing on!

I’d love to know what God’s been showing you in His Word. Use the comments to share or email me!


Photography | Adrienne Brand