The Talent Show of 2023

While we were down in Florida last month, a group of people who believe in the work we do at camp, held a fundraiser for us. They are the same people who have held massive yard sale after yard sale, after yard sale, after yard sale, and then also those super fun flamingo flockings to help support us through the years.

[SIDE BAR: Let me insert a quick backstory of explanation. If you don’t know, many camps are financially backed by denominations or by having hundreds and hundreds of campers each week of camp. Here at Whisper Mountain we chose not to go either of those routes, but to believe God to provide through individual people. While not everyone is comfortable walking in this sort of faith, this is the way God leads us to do ministry. We are continually amazed at God’s provision, orchestration of people, and faithfulness to the very details of all we do.]

The Dave Kreller Life Group (of McGregor Baptist Church) worked tirelessly to plan, recruit, and bring about a wildly successful Talent Show Fundraiser. The event space was beautifully prepared; the desserts were decadent (and coffee so good); the people who willingly stood on that stage to showcase a talent were brave and talented (and not all pictured here). We were amazed by the whole effort and at the amount of people who were willing to give up their night to come and be a part. They had to keep adding tables to accommodate everyone and there were still so many standing against the back wall. Amazing!

Everyone knew this was a fundraiser coming into it, but if there’s one thing about Marty — he avoids asking for money at all cost. He’d rather pray it in! But they made him do it! We made a video to tell our story (see video), we had past summer staff stand on the stage and share how their lives were transformed by God while at camp, and then Marty stood on that stage in front of more than 300 hundred people and shared about how we could use their help coming alongside us to keep proclaiming Christ to teens.

The night was beautiful as we connected with all kinds of people we used to do life with a lifetime ago, strangers we were just introduced to, and those who’ve been faithfully standing with us all these years. If there was ever a night we felt (appropriately) small and God felt (appropriately) big, it was this night.

Here’s a short little video to show what the event was like (did we mention we got to see so many past/future summer staff?).

On this one evening, with over 300 people gathered together to hear what God is doing through one small ministry in the backwoods of North Carolina, more than $22,000 was raised to further the work of Whisper Mountain Camp! We are astounded and grateful and charged up to keep going forward!

Thank you to all those who set up, prepared, came, participated, and gave. May the harvest be plentiful as we continue to work the fields. To God be the Glory!

Author | Cassi Werner
Photography | Tricia Coggins

Work Trip to Florida | GIC Conference 2023

Earlier this month our staff went down to Fort Myers, Florida for the mission conference held at McGregor Baptist Church. Each year, this church hosts all the missionaries (both domestic and international) they support for a weekend of refreshment and encouragement (more than 30 attended this year). Different Life Groups (think Sunday School classes if unfamiliar with that term) in the church “sponsor” each missionary and give them the opportunity to share about what God is doing in their ministry and ways that Life Group can be involved. To be a missionary on the receiving end of this is such a gift and is most encouraging.

Fort Myers was home to Marty and Patti for more than two decades and McGregor the launching church to send them off to begin Whisper Mountain Camp. When you return to what was once home, the number of people you want to see and reconnect with gets lengthy. But these connections do the heart good. So we booked our days full to see the most number of people possible in between the conference events.

Something we always come away with is the beauty of God’s orchestration of people throughout our whole lives for specific reasons. Friendships, supporters, volunteers, staff, prayer warriors, co-laborers. The Church as a whole is a beautiful thing when we function as we were intended to function. We saw many, many people see the work God is doing in teen’s lives at camp and get excited and desire to be a part in some way. That’s what makes our ministry so special: all the people who join the efforts to proclaim Christ.

We created this reel on Instagram if you’d like to take a quick peek at the conference!

We are thankful to each person who made time to stop by our booth to hug us and visit with us or learn about us; for each person who made time to open their homes to us or made time to connect with us at coffee shops or restaurants. We are thankful for the Kreller Life Group who hosted us, listened to our presentation, opened their hearts and were overall super hospitable to encourage and provide for us. We are thankful for McGregor welcoming us to the conference and continuing their support of Whisper Mountain Camp.

If you are reading this, you are probably among those we consider part of the Whisper Mountain Family. Thank you for whatever way God has prompted you to be involved. We are glad you are here. We pray God blesses you immensely as you see Him through His work at Whisper Mountain Camp. We hope to see you soon!

Author & iPhonography | Cassi

The Story of the Three Goats

Maybe it’s our sign at the entrance that makes people feel like we are a good place to offload their unwanted animals, but since our first summer sixteen years ago, we’ve had people drop baby kittens, dogs, and more on our bridge to wander on up our road looking for food, care and comfort. Though their conscience has been cleared, our time and energy to handle their situation becomes our burden.

Mostly, this is on Marty, but last month, we all got the experience we weren’t hoping for when a trio of goats showed up on the camp property! Whether they were dropped to us or wandered their way over the mountain on their own is unknown, but there they were.

Apparently goats aren’t a fan of rain so they found shelter underneath our hub porch. In the winter, we store our utility carts under there, and we also happened to have massive bags of (expensive) Bentonite Clay stored there too. Those goats…they had torn open the fine powdery clay and mixed together their own concoction with their excrements and muddy hooves. The hub smelled like a barnyard. To really make this exciting, we had an interested youth pastor coming to tour the camp for their group to possibly come to camp this summer!

We’ll spare the details, but after a long and dramatic experience, we captured and lost, and finally (a couple weeks later) re-captured all three of the goats. Maple became an amazing goat herder and Marty was quick to make use of whatever cables, racket straps or ropes he could find in a split second. The entire full time staff pulled together to get this area of camp clean, aka muck the stall. We scooped sludge, pressure-washed, scrubbed tables, swings, the grill, rugs and so much more. Some things just got tossed out because…ewwww. We got it all fresh and new in time for the tour for the visiting youth pastor (who loved it and is coming, btw!)!

There’s never a dull moment around these parts. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s both! We had put this saga on our instagram stories while it was happening and many thought it a fine idea to turn them into goat burgers, which Marty was very close to doing! But you’ll be happy to know, all three goats are happily living their best lives on a goat farm of some local friends of ours!

Moral of the story: Never slip knot a rope around a goat’s neck (even if that’s all you can manage in the moment) or it will try to hang itself.

The End.

Author | Cassi
iPhone Images | Marty & Cassi

When Retreating Is A Good Thing

For the past seventeen years, our full time staff has been passionate and faithful to create a culture and preach a vital message to those who would listen: Escape the Noise. Encounter the Whisper.® We have given our blood, sweat and tears to ensure this opportunity for many, many people. And yet, to our fault, in all those years, we have only practiced what we preached a handful of times. We sympathize with those of you who feel it is too overwhelming to pause the demands and schedules of normal life to get away for a few days. Getting away feels hard. Sometimes that’s just a lie. Sometimes that’s a legit thing. Wherever we live, whatever our vocation, we each have noise trying to deafen us and distract us from sitting with God. Retreating is vital to our walk with God and to sustaining us along the way: refocusing, renewing, and realigning us with Him and His call on our lives.

This fall our staff made the choice to retreat. We’d been running and working with no pausing for too long. We knew we needed to pull out so we could keep pouring in. We knew we needed to reset our focus before running toward the goal. We knew we needed to unify as a team before spreading out in the field. We packed our bags (and the dog!) and headed to an Airbnb a couple hours up the road.

A new location always gives life fresh perspective. The weekend was great because we were able to talk through many things that have been sitting on the back burner. We were able to cast vision for where we are going from here. We were able to inquire of the Lord and seek His face together for all things Whisper Mountain Camp. We had a great time relaxing together, laughing together, and sharing our hearts together.

Maybe right now isn’t the right time to pull out of your everyday to find some rest and perspective, but with a new year coming, when can you make the time for it? You don’t have to travel far or spend a lot of money, you just need to step back and breathe, refocus so you can return with fresh energy and heart. Retreating is the greatest gift — like a pit stop in a long race fueling you and resetting you to keep on going! Nevermind, the beautiful communion with your God! Start now to make plans to retreat. You won’t regret it!

SIDE NOTE | If you wanna come to Whisper Mountain for a retreat, you just shoot us an email and let us know. We’d love to be part of your journey and serve you while you’re here!

Author & Photography | Cassi

End of an Era | Meadow Haven

The end of an era has come here at camp. For the OG staff, it seems unbelievable that it can actually be so, but alas…things are changing around here. And it is good.

There is a side of camp most people never see. The side where we’ve always envisioned full time staff housing would be built. We currently have our garden and bees over there, and a small single wide trailer we affectionately call Meadow Haven that has housed volunteers, summer staff, and full time staff through the years.

We are grateful to have some locals come and help us clean our volunteer cabin (aka Creekside Cottage) and Meadow Haven after we have people stay in them. One day this fall while cleaning Meadow Haven, our friends asked if we’d ever be willing to sell the trailer. We knew at some point we’d want to, but this was always down the road in our minds. However, we knew their need and it seemed the opportunity was nudging us in the direction we knew we needed to go. The deal was done!

The sale was the easy part — moving the trailer was a whole other thing. The buyers had to work hard to find a trailer mover who could work in their timeline and budget. Once they made this happen, we then had to work with them on actually removing the trailer from the property. Our entrance doesn’t allow for a lot of wiggle room, what with the bridge on either side and then a mountain straight out front. The movers ended up having to actually remove one side of the bridge so the trailer could make the turn and clear the sign. Naturally, rain came about the same time they were supposed to move. They waited that out and gave a day to allow a little drying out, then finally they began the move. After a few ditches in the landscape and a bridge reassembly later, the trailer happily drove away to its new land where a young couple could settle in and make a home. We were thankful all went well for them.

Now we are able to begin clearing the space over on this side of the property and begin praying for God’s provision for staff housing for the future full time staff we are also praying for. We never know how God is going to move, but we rest assured He will — in His timing and in His way. We look forward to getting to share what His provision looks like in the months ahead!

Until then, may we all take a moment of silence to remember the legacy of….Meadow Haven. For those of you mourning this loss, just know, the memories will remain with you forever.

Photography | iPhone pictures by Shaun and Marty
Author | Cassi

2022 | Men’s Shoot Straight Retreat

We kicked October off with men gathering for our annual 3D archery tournament and retreat! With Hurricane Ian threatening to share its rage, some men opted out of joining us, but the 90% chance of rain predicted turned into barely a mist throughout the whole weekend! For this, we are thankful.

A range of boys through older men enjoyed the weekend filled with slingshots, hatchet throwing, and of course archery. Dumping tickets into door prize buckets, hearing encouragement from the Word, warming around the fire: all these contribute to a weekend that feels laid back, good, and worth it. 

Jim Hughes from Peregrine Ministries very intentionally and engagingly shared throughout the weekend about Biblical manhood, encouraging the men to “reject passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously and invest eternally to pass on a life-giving legacy.” Jim connected in a way that made this all feel possible and left the men feeling encouraged and challenged.

The woods were chilly and overcast, but quite perfect the day of the tournament. With twenty 3D forest animal targets, the clusters of men rotate the woodland course, trying to accumulate the most points and be the best in their category. Of course, some wish they could create their own category — not all are experts! But all enjoy the good time of getting out doors with people important to them, walking through the woods and engaging with others in good ole outdoor fun!

We have many people who continually return, saying it’s their favorite event of the year. And we have new folks coming along as well, enjoying all the weekend offers!

Here is a video giving you a little idea of what it’s all about and allowing you to hear from a few of the men willing to step in front of the camera and share their experience!

Thank you to all who were able to come! For those wanting to give it a try — put the first weekend of October on your calendar from 2023 – Jesus Returns! We look forward to having you!

Author & Photography | Cassi

The Fab Five Bridge the Gap

If you’ve been around camp at all you know Shaun always starts his riddles with “So there’s this guy… .” There’s a reason for that, but today I start our post with:

There were these guys!

They came from Florida and North Carolina in the early spring to build a bridge. They worked tirelessly for days to get the job done. Why in the world would they do such a thing?

Turns out the answer isn’t as much a brain teaser as it is a heart posture. The Fab Five had energy, skills and time, but it was their love for God and the belief in the work being done here at Whisper Mountain Camp that pushed them into action!

One of these guys, who has faithfully served the church for so long, has never been on any sort of mission trip before. How inspiring — it’s never to late to go; now is the time to say yes!

This project was very long overdue. Being the first impression driving through our gates, an important project indeed! We are thankful for their hard work!

The Fab Five were so fab they finished the bridge and moved right into installing new windows and stripping off the old siding on part of our Hub! The only downer to this project is that the snow moved in on them and they didn’t get to finish siding it all, which was actually very hard for them. But they pushed hard to complete so much of it — in.the.freezing.cold.

These guys…they came in humbly, willing, and with lines of faithfulness creasing their hands. When they drove away, the mark of Jesus was left in this place. This, friends, is the greatest blessing!

Thank you for coming and serving, Fab Five! Thank you for the heart posture you inspire us with. (I bet Florida’s heat has you wishing it were snowing😂!!)

We put together a video showing the work they accomplished while with us.
[SIDE NOTE: no campers were ever lost in the waiting of this rebuild of our bridge!]

We’d also like to give a ginormous shout out to Greg Hunt for creating and donating the post holders for this bridge build. The bridge pretty much wouldn’t be standing without them…which also quite nicely represents the sort of man Greg is in general! The quiet, steadying foundation holding things up, strengthening those around him. He’s the Silent Partner that really makes this post about the Fab Six!

Be sure to catch the video here.

Author & Photography | Cassi

Summer 2022 | Calvary Rd & The Orchard

A great part of camp ministry is seeing pieces of people’s process: the struggle, the resistance, the doubt; the freedom, the hope, the faith. Such a view only grows our adoration of God and His astounding grace and patience with us as people.

Last week, we had the privilege of welcoming two different churches. Each with leaders who have both been campers at Whisper Mountain Camp, who have both been part of our summer staff team, and who now both serve as youth pastors who bring teens to camp. I’m sorry, but that’s just beautiful, isn’t it? Walking with people through the long haul, through all the different growing seasons, brings such depth to life.

Serving these groups and their leaders (Hayden and Seth) was a privilege as we strive to build up the community of disciples they are growing.

Thank you Calvary and The Orchard for spending your camp week with us! Keep chasing the things of God. Keep impacting your community for God’s glory!

Author | Cassi
Photography | Koda Moody & Cassi
Groups | The Orchard Church & Calvary Road Baptist Church

Summer 2022 | Southbrook Church Week 2

We welcomed the second round of Southbrook Church last week, with much the same sort of experience (as their first week) of well-invested-in teens getting away to Whisper Mountain Camp to be challenged in deeper ways and to grow stronger within community.

We may not have seen all scores of teens coming to Jesus for the first time, but what we did see was scores of teens being confronted with the opportunity to leave their complacent, American Christianity behind to walk in a deep, intimate, counter-cultural relationship with Jesus that actually involves the power of God in their lives. We saw teens accept the challenge to cling to truth, abandon the ways of the world and go rogue in their faith.

This, friends, is the deep power of camp — when life change comes in many forms, but each time with an intimate encounter with Jesus.

Seeing teens come to Jesus in surrender, braving the telling of their stories, opening more to Him and in return to each other, praying for each other and encouraging one another — it brings a viewer to tears because that’s the power of God at camp.

Seeing Southbrook Church encounter God was beautiful. Seeing our staff pour out like a fragrant aroma through the intentional connections and leading with sensitivity was beautiful. God is doing a great work here at camp this summer and we are encouraged to keep going.

Southbrook, you are a church filled with passion, intention and humility. May Jesus continue to be glorified in your midst.

Author | Cassi
Photography | Koda Moody & Cassi

Summer 2022 | Southbrook Church Week 1

Last week we saw the first round of Southbrook Church from Charlotte. These teens are well poured into at their church and being discipled so well by Dan and the other leaders serving with him. When one camper says the highlight of her week was “definitely all the worship,” something good is happening. But when we had multiple teens saying the same thing…phew, a love of God is obviously being nurtured among this group. (Nevermind how humble and beautiful our worship team is!) One of their leaders said, ” I loved seeing the kids open up to the Lord in new ways.”

Continuing to pour into them throughout the camp week was a privilege for our staff. A camper said, “The staff here is unlike anywhere else. Everyone is so kind and in just five days I deeply connected with so many of them. I deeply appreciated all the opportunities to connect with people.” Having an encouraging atmosphere with intentional connections and using purposeful adventure to bring spiritual application to the fun activities helps to make their connections with each other and the Lord more impactful.

Each week, we take the teens to the lake for the pure enjoyment of the outdoors and fellowship with each other, but also for the occasional baptism. Does it not move you when you see teens praying over each other and celebrating someone choosing Jesus? Ah man, so moving. Perhaps one of the best experiences of the Spirit of God bringing about the bond of unity among the family of God.

Just in case you feel like the world is going to pot quicker than anything good can be done, let us be a voice of hope. We see teens coming to camp each week, experiencing God in powerful ways and reminding us God is still moving, working, and accomplishing His plan. He’s still the same powerful, all-knowing, good God He’s always been.

Southbrook Church, continue to walk-awake with Jesus. You are a light on a hill — Children of Light. You are a people set aside for His glory. Thanks for spending your camp week with us at Whisper Mountain Camp!

Author | Cassi
Photography | Koda Moody