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
Welp, with one week left I’m looking back at the lessons I have learned throughout the summer. One that slaps me in the face every day is we cannot go it alone. Before this job, I did not have a Christian community. I didn’t have a church family. I didn’t have those people my age I could really connect with over my faith. Now I do and will be eternally grateful. But the one person I had through all the “not having” was Jesus. He never left me through my times of struggle or sin. He was there. All I had to do was reach out and take his hand.
The most recent parallel I have is high ropes. An old family friend (Seth McClure) came with one of the groups this week. While taking pictures, I got the bright idea to attempt the “Dangling Duo” with him as my other half. We start on the bottom step of a ladder that gets farther and farther apart. I would get up to the next one while he helped me, then he would get up. Eventually, we got to the final step, and I just could not do it by myself. I had to put him up first in order for him to pull me. You see, it’s a great example for life. If you put God second things are going to be a lot harder, but if you put Him first life is so much easier. Not to say it still wasn’t difficult for me, because everyone goes through trials, yet when you have the strength of the Lord pulling you upward those trials become less scary.
The second example I have is about a young girl who came to camp this week. She went through the high ropes course and came to me afterwards saying, “I knew it (the tether) would catch me because I fell a million times and didn’t die.” Out of the mouths of children come the most beautiful messages. We fall “a million times” when trying to walk the Christian wire. It’s narrow and tough at times, but we can never fall out of His grace…
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.
In life we all have different strengths, it has been said 1000 times over. Yet, I think this saying is most present during Low Ropes. You combine about 25 young men and women and challenge them with the task of getting over a 10-foot wall. The best part is when they’re told that everyone must make it over. The short (but super smart) 12-year-old in the back sighs, thinking he will be useless in this situation, and the 6-foot senior knows he can climb up and not worry about anyone else. The thing is they are both wrong.
You see, everyone gets two “helps,” meaning they can help lift, pull, or push someone else two times. The guy in the back begins to count how many there are and starts to devise a strategy in his head, but is drowned out by the loud ones of the group. The tall one, in the chaos of everyone planning, runs on up saying, “I’ve got this,” not thinking about the rest of the team below.
Then it gets worse. Smaller groups begin to branch off and form their own plans (which is not how this exercise should work). They forget the rest of the team needs their “helps” to make sure everyone can get over. But wait, it gets even worse. About 15 people have gotten over the wall, but they didn’t help the 10 shorter folks at the bottom. And they don’t have the tools nor “helps” to get themselves over. So, the entire team has to restart.
Everyone is in despair, looking for a way to beat this. The smart guy in the back finally finds the courage to speak up; the loud one repeats it for him; and the entire team is then on board with his plan. The tall and stronger ones help those who cannot get up by themselves, and the girl that can jump super high gets up top to help pull. Eventually the team conquers the wall, but only by listening and utilizing one another’s strengths, while also being aware of their weaknesses.
The world is full of different people: leaders, listeners, planners; the strong, the smart, the fast. We need to realize as Christian community, as the body of Christ, that everyone plays a role and brings something to the table. If we were able to do things by ourselves, why did God send his Son to die? Why did he make Eve for Adam? Why did He create the concept of brother/sisterhood? Because we cannot go it alone. We need to have a team of others pushing or pulling us up to a Godlier place…
Author & Photographer | Koda Moody Group Pictured | Southbrook Church
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!
Noah Brown, a staff member of ours, was swimming in the lake recently. Seems uninteresting, right… wrong. Mr. Brown’s watch popped off his wrist and sank to the depths below. Panic set in as he began searching for the thing he lost. The parallels started to draw themselves. We, as Christians, can place distances between us and God, sometimes intentionally, other times accidentally. We lose our focus and allow our relationship with Jesus to fall away and sink beneath the sin.
However, the thing we forget is that He is still there, right beside us, still loving us even in our time of rebellion, waiting for us to dive a little deeper, to grasp on to His will once more. As others helped search for the watch in the shallower areas, it was Noah who had to take the plunge. He went deeper than anyone else around him and found the watch! He came back up to the surface, watch in hand and a joyful smile spread across his face.
Now this story could have had a completely different ending. Maybe yours did. Maybe you have it in your head that you have put too much distance between you and God. Maybe you think there is too much struggle to overcome. I’m here to tell you, NOTHING can separate you from the love God has for you (Romans 8:35-39). So, maybe there are some things you need to remove from your life; that’s everyone. We all can improve our relationships with the Almighty. Some things just take time, some more, others less. Yet, we all still must take that dive of faith, searching out and finding Him.
No matter what comes between you and Him, He is always there patiently waiting on you to just dive a little deeper…
Author & Photography | Koda Moody Groups Pictured | New City Middle School & Berry’s Grove
New City High Schoolers were eager to get off the bus and start their week of camp! Our staff met their energy and upped that ante to help make last week’s camp week completely wonderful in many ways. Those who didn’t want to come at the start told us they were so glad they had come by the end.
Many of last week’s campers have been coming since middle school began. Seeing these campers grow from year to year has been a privilege because we get to see glimpses of their process and God working throughout this vital season in their lives. Someone that may have been super difficult to work with has found their stride now and offers much to the community. Someone who may struggle with deep, dark things has taken baby steps forward and taken some new ground. Those with questions, wrestling with hard things, or floundering in their faith have discovered a newness in their walk with Christ. There’s something special about having intentional connections with those who come to us.
Here are a few things campers said about their week at Whisper Mountain Camp: “Staff is very encouraging , funny, supportive, good with all ages, and LOVE riddles. Each leader is an inspiration to someone at camp.“
“I feel incredibly loved when I’m here.“
“I have been struggling to pray and now I am again.“
“I felt very cared for and it was such a genuine environment.“
“The highlight of my week was community.”
Thanks for coming New City! We hope you continue to be children of light back home!
The first week of camp is a moment for reflection, at least in my opinion. We welcomed groups Berry’s Grove and New City’s Middle Schoolers on Monday, which is the day that is always interesting. You have these huge groups of kids come in that usually do not know the other group, they hardly know where they are, and they for sure don’t know who they are. So, as they settle in and familiarize with one another, they become more comfortable and vulnerable. They begin to trust one another in a short time while also begin to draw back the curtains of their lives, pain, and wounds. Yet their joy and passion shine through too.
What brought this to my attention was paintball. Of all things to inspire it had to be a game of war and battle. I watched kids duck and run for cover while they fired back at the opposing force. One by one they came out covered in dirt, sweat, and obviously paint. Some of the kids more roughed up than others, but each one was going through the struggle. It’s scary how much this relates to life. We go through life constantly running and jumping and trying not to get hit in the process from every angle. It’s not always possible to dodge the incoming heartache and we collect up wounds as we go. However, the worst part is when we then hide the damage behind walls we so carefully create.
Yet some wounds or scars (depending on how long ago the pain was) are just too big to hide. People can see or even feel them. They try to help but they only pick at self-healed edges, and it rips open all over again. The key term there is “self-healed” and they never fully close until you allow one individual to fully stitch you up. Jesus. You must let His love and His forgiveness flow through you freely. Trust him to erase the pain and be there for you if it ever comes back. From personal experience, you will heal if you take these actions. It is going to hurt and take time, but you will come out the other side a stronger, better person who can help others on their path to restoration. You can be the already vulnerable kid at the beginning of the week that helps your whole cabin get to the place you are…
Thanks for a great first week, Campers!
Author | Koda Moody Photography | Koda Moody and Cassi Groups | New City Middle School & Berry’s Grove Youth
On Tuesday night, I picked up a hiker’s backpack; heavy with stones. The stones had painted words: Gossip, lust, pride and murder… Other stones had social media apps painted on them; like Instagram, Snapchat and Tik-Tok. I took a shaky breath, and prepared for my last walk with these weights. It was hard picking up the backpack without making a noisy shuffle in the back of the camp’s chapel building: The Axis.
The stones I carried would act as talking points for a skit that night.
“Alright, time for my Life’s Journey!” I said, walking down the aisle of seats, with campers and staff on either side of me. My back was bent with the weight of the backpack. “I hope I packed enough. I think I have all the essentials!”
When I get to the stage, I meet one of the staff who plays the Guide for my Journey, Carlo Cicero. I tell him that I’ve packed everything I need for my journey; or at least I hope I did… The guide asks me to explain what I’ve packed. I take out a few items before the rocks come out, explaining why I need them.
“Well, you see, I’m the first starring female quarterback for my high school’s varsity football team… It’s kind of a big deal. I have to practice for at least three hours a day after school… I need to.”
I took out other objects, representing activities my character considered essential. Textbooks, signifying the need to please parents and the need to get into the best colleges there are. A dumbbell, representing the need to exercise and to maintain my appearance. A TV remote, signifying the need for Netflix binges. The rocks with social media apps painted on them, representing the need to keep up my internet presence.
Then, I took out heavier objects.
An empty beer bottle. An empty pill bottle. Rocks with sins painted on them: gossip, lust, pride…
I sought to portray the need for certain objects in my life that gave me a sense of identity. I needed to excel in so many things: football, drums, a social media presence, grades in school; so others would see me as excellent. My character carried these weights to maintain a sense of purpose.
Yet, it exasperated me. The backpack was heavy. I was weighted down. The weights ultimately couldn’t fulfill me.
The guide invited me to set it all aside. Let go of those things! They aren’t essential…
Another member on staff, Lucas Bloss, played a character who also embarked on his life’s journey; yet, his pack was different than mine.
He didn’t have one. Lucas walked to the stage with one thing: a singular loaf of bread. He started eating it, and explained that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
He didn’t carry any weights. He didn’t need a hiker’s pack like I did. The word of the Lord was enough for Lucas.
That was all he needed.
Since the beginning of the summer, I’ve been praying that if God could use me to point just one student closer to Himself, that would make a whole summer of camp work worth it.
A.W Tozer wrote:
I can no more do justice to that awesome and wonder-filled theme [of the love of God] than a child can grasp a star. Still, by reaching toward the star the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction one must look to see it. So, as I stretch my heart toward the high, shilling love of God, someone who has not before known about it may be encouraged to look up and have hope.
Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer
I don’t know the backgrounds of all of the students who come to Whisper Mountain; but what I do know is, they all need Jesus more than anything.
One camper who left a lasting impact on me struggled with identity issues. She found her identity in her looks; and when that couldn’t satisfy her, she turned to other things, such as extracurriculars and social status.
She felt empty and drained. I was able to sit with her after the skit a few weeks ago and ask her to read Psalm 139, which talks about how God has made her wonderfully made. He knows her, loves her, and has made her with purpose.
I told her that she can find confidence in her identity in Christ, by knowing who our God is and who He created her to be.
I got to pray with her and assure her that she is not here by accident, but by God’s plan. Freedom is found through the accomplishment of Jesus Christ and His love for her.
Jesus invites us to cast everything aside, to follow Him. We don’t need to carry any weights! Jesus takes it all, because He is enough.
Having conversations like that humbles and astonishes me. Why would God choose to use me, of all people, to share His goodness with others? Why would He use me to help build up His kingdom?
The apostle Paul writes:
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
I Timothy 1:15-16 NASB
Despite my own shortcomings, God still chose to use me, and my imperfect words.
He even chooses to use that little backpack skit to point campers to Himself. Through the work being done at Whisper Mountain, God has shown me new mercies every day that have come from choosing to serve Him.
Jesus died for me, so why should I not want to live for Him?
A few weeks ago, on a Wednesday night, there was an altar call after the evening service. Students from Southbrook Church in Charlotte, North Carolina were invited to sit at the foot of the cross and pray; asking God to help relieve them of any burdens, asking God to help them endure difficult situations, so they could be confident in resting their eyes upon Him. Nearly the entire camp, close to 60 students, responded and went to seek the Lord in prayer.
I found it difficult not to weep as I stood in the back of the Axis building, looking at all of the students who responded to the Word spoken.
If all of these students chose to kneel and pray; if they were all committed to serving Jesus Christ by giving up their lives as a living sacrifice as Romans 12:1 says, there will be massive revival in the Church. If each of those students steps up to serve or lead in whatever capacity, I imagine a chain-reaction happening. Others will be pointed to the work and person of Jesus Christ, others will accept the Gospel and then more leaders will be created for the work the Lord has commanded His followers to.
Through the teachings at Whisper Mountain: through personal devotional times, small group Bible studies, sermons each night and spiritual parallels tied with other camp activities, campers have been challenged to apply action to their faith. They learn the importance of spending time in Scripture, prayer, worship, evangelism and discipleship.
Mere belief in Jesus Christ provides salvation, but Jesus Christ is not truly honored until His people pursue Him and seek Him diligently.
Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee.
Psalm 51:12-13 NASB
The Psalmist implores the Lord to help him to delight in the work God has done, and to help him to have the desire to serve the Lord. It is in the joy of salvation and the desire of believers to serve the Lord that others may come to know Jesus personally.
The love of God extends far more than I could ever imagine. This love is radical, transforming, and awe-inspiring. People crave love, and as many turn to the pleasures of sin in an effort to experience love and fulfillment; no one truly knows what it is to live fulfilled unless they understand the person and work of Jesus Christ, and confess their need for a Savior.
Jesus Christ lived the perfect life that we could not live, and He died the death that we deserved. The mission that God has called us to in Matthew 28:18-19; to make disciples and to proclaim His Gospel, has become more important to me than ever since serving at camp. I am on a mission to live for Him and to proclaim His works, as a soldier on duty (refer to 2 Timothy 2:3-4).
Whisper Mountain reflects and lives out this mission by its work centered on Christ. The camp is geared towards teaching upcoming generations about Him.
As I think back to all that the Lord has done this summer, I keep thinking about the skit and my heavy pack. I physically felt better once I set it down on the stage and let go of all that my character set her identity in; sports, school, people-pleasing… While I must strive to glorify and honor God in all that I do, I’ve learned the importance of letting go of the things that distract me from the mission the Lord has called me to: to worship Him and to tell others about what He has done for me.
Serving at Whisper Mountain taught me that God will use me if I let Him, but I must be willing and resolute in following Him in His mission to proclaim the Gospel.
If Jesus Christ endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:1-2), then I can find strength in looking unto Him in the work He has given me.
I can rest in the knowledge of who Jesus is; the author and perfecter of my faith, who saved me and who seeks to save the world.
Southbrook is a church we get to see twice in a summer because they are such a large group! WE LOVE THAT — but also, won’t it be great when our camper housing project gets completed and they can come all at one time?! Let it be so, Jesus!
Last week was the first week of Southbrook Church teens from Charlotte. It seems the best way to communicate the week is from the lips of the campers themselves, so here it is!
“I’ve known a lot of pain in my life, but this week I’ve seen that God will heal me in His time.”
I thought I knew God, but coming here I realize I know nothing. And meeting all of you, I realize I always have someone to talk to.
I had a lot of family issues I kept pushing away. Coming here and laying things at the cross helps me see how praying makes a difference. You guys have made it easy to find someone to trust.
All the activities, quiet alone with Jesus, Biblical teaching and intentional connections come together to create an experience that is entirely life-changing! This is the power of camp! We are so thankful for God’s faithfulness to continue to show us more of Himself! Last week a group a great, church-going people left camp and went home as Jesus followers. There’s simply nothing better in life than following Jesus! Thanks for escaping your noise at Whisper Mountain Camp! May you continue to find more of Him each day!
Author | Cassi Werner Photography | Adrienne Cicero + Cassi Werner