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!
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
Welp, our summer staffers have arrived. All ten of ’em got here last Monday June 30th. As we waited (a little impatiently on my part), our first staff Noah Brown gassed it up our treacherously bumpy hill, he made it and was received with a warm embrace. The other eight made there way to us, and we proceeded to all wait for that very last one. The group began to mingle with everyone learning names and faces, where they had traveled from, and little tid bits from their lives. I found it so interesting that there was no awkwardness present, everyone was welcoming and interested in their newly met friends. About an hour passed from the first arriving to the very last, Maddie Wheeler (a.k.a. wheels). She completed the group adding up to the total ten.
Noah Brown– A second year returning staff came all the way from Fort Myers where he as has lived for his entire life. He is most excited to be “meeting and building relationships with new campers, and getting to see the ones I met last year”. His hobbies are “hammocking” (that’s how he spelled it lol), long boarding and music. His favorite food is “Mac n’ Cheese” with a bear being his favorite animal. Last but not least his favorite verse is 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.
Alex Davis – A third year returning staff, has lived in Bluffton, SC for the past 7 years. She is thrilled to “build relationships with the campers and to grow closer to God”. Her hobbies consist of drawing, reading and hanging with friends. She loves sky Blue and chicken alfredo. She also loves bears like Noah. Her favorite verse is Philippians 2:5 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”.
Mady Faulkner – (a.k.a. Mad Dog, I will explain why later on)- You see Mad Dog was recruited by Alex whom she went to college with. She has lived in Fort Lawn, South Carolina for the past 7 years. She is most excited “to be able to connect with many campers and be able to share the gospel.” She is also excited to spend the summer with other college students who are passionate about Christ.” Touching in my opinion. Her favorite color is, and I quote, “sunshine yellow” (but also teal, we mustn’t forget teal). She loves to go horseback riding and reading, and her favorite verse is Psalms 96:3-4: “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods”.
Lukas Richardson – Another one of our wonderful staff is also from Fort Myers, FL (hmmm) he has lived there for is entire life. He is excited about cabin time, which is where some of the best talks happen. A place where you can be vulnerable and let down the walls you have so carefully created. It’s a judgement free space. His favorite color is purple, and his fav food is chicken parmesan, he also loves golf and gaming. His favorite verse is Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ”.
Brad Mitchell – Ol’e Brad has lived in Fort Myers for 5 years (interesting). He is thrilled to meet and make “connections with the new campers.” His hobbies are Baseball, Pickle Ball (whatever the heck that is), and of course Wii sports (the forever timeless video game). He loves the color red, pizza and penguins.
Halle Nygaard – Miss Halle is the most chill person you will ever meet. She has lived in Fort Myers (what is it with these people and Fort Myers?) for the past 11 years. She is most excited “to spend time with campers and hear the Spirit speak; she is also pumped to “be unplugged” (amen, sis). Her hobbies are singing, which she loves, as well as dance. She also has “recently gotten into pickle-ball (again, what the heck is that?). She added another hobby “oh and volley ball”. Her favorite color is “pastel yellow,” she loves sushi (same), and dolphins but also dogs (my inner cat person has passed away). Favorite verse is John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”.
Marcus Kester – Is the oldest of “the ten” coming in at a whopping 23. He is from Winter Park, FL “well, 10 minutes from there”, he clarifies. Kester is most excited “to bring campers an awesome camp experience and help them draw closer to God.” His hobbies are piano and singing and soccer. His favorite food is steak and his fav animal is a polar bear. Philippians 4:4-7, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near; do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Faith Dingle – This girlie lives in Waxhaw/Charlotte, NC; she has been there for about 10 years. Faith is most excited about “finding kids that are overlooked or talked over so I can minister to them and show them how loved they are.” (well put) Her hobbies are crochet (I have always wanted to play that), baking, painting, and knitting (would love a scarf, ma’am). Her fav color is yellow (seems to be a popular color), she likes lasagna (and that is pronounced Lah-Zag-Nah, have fun trying to say it correctly now). She loves cats and big birds (natural enemies). Matthew 10:34 is her favorite verse: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Carli Bell – Bells lives in (wait for it) Fort Myers (I can’t); she has lived there for ten years. She is most excited “to go from being a camper to a GIT [Guide In Training], and seeing how God uses me to make disciples.” Her hobbies are painting and spending time with friends. She loves the color blue, tacos, and sloths. Her verse is Psalm 118:5-7, “When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies”.
Maddie Wheeler (a.k.a. Wheels, we had to give her and “Mad Dog” a nickname for the obvious reason). Wheels has lived in Charlotte, NC for 5 years (I was fixing to lose it if she said from Fort Myers, haha). She wants to “grow relationships with us (staff) and the campers, meeting them where they are, and coming along side them,” (what a beautiful thing to say). Her hobbies are hiking and camping (she lucked out with this opportunity), she likes kayaking (she can paddle me around on lake day 😉 ), and musical theater. She likes the color Aquamarine, a dish called Kabsa, and horses. Her favorite verse is Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
These are “the ten.” I ask you to pray that God reaches so many young people in these upcoming months, by using each and every one of our summer staff. Pray they have the wisdom, the strength, the stamina and the energy to continue the Lord’s work, not just for the summer, but for their whole lives… Thanks for reading, God bless.
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.
When it comes to campers, there’s one thing we’ve heard (in its various forms) repeatedly throughout all fourteen years of camp:
“We hate walking up the hill.” “Get rid of the hill and my week was perfect!” “Can you guys get a conveyer belt to pull us up the hill?” “My least favorite part of camp was having to walk up the hill!”
By “hill” they mean from the Field to the Hub or all the way to the cabins! Now, most teens aren’t used to hiking hills. So on the one hand, it’s good for them, right?! But on the other hand, when you have to do it multiple times in a day, by the end, you just really don’t want to do it one.more.time!
So Marty created a solution we were super excited to implement this summer! Only, as you know, summer didn’t happen! While the name is still being finalized (we had some good ideas from our instagram/facebook followers — thanks guys!), we’d like to introduce you to a new and we hope soon-to-be-a-favorite feature of the Whisper Mountain Experience — The Whatever It’s Going to Be Called Express! And by “Express” we mean a pleasant but slow climb up the hill!
We did have a small teen group come through this summer who got to be the first ones to give the Express a whirl! (Thanks guys for the sacrifice!) Smiles — everyone had smiles! For some reason it sorta makes ya giddy to climb aboard a trailer and have a tractor haul you around! Of course the driver’s joy might just be contagious (isn’t he cute?!!)!
So what do you guys think? Anyone excited to get to enjoy this feature at Whisper Mountain next time you come?!
Since the beginnings of Covid, I’ve sort of felt unsure about how and what to share with you guys about camp! As the communicator of this ministry, that’s just pretty unacceptable though right?! I’ve covered the big things, like the announcement we sent out about cancelling camp, and Sam shared her heart to you all, but beyond this, my words have been scarce! I’m sorry for the quiet, not that you’ve probably even noticed, but I’m starting to find my footing again! And it feels great!
I have much to catch you up on! I will take you back to the beginning, when quarantine was just being talked about and we were stunned with the crazy of what was really starting to happen! Meet me here tomorrow so you can start getting caught up on all things Whisper Mountain?!
Being able to build relationships with the leaders of groups is equally as important to us! So many times we encourage each other in ways we didn’t expect! Ministry can be hard and challenging, but investing in teens is worth the investment!
The teens last week were confronted with the holiness of God in some life-giving ways through the messages from God’s Word, through cabin time discussions, through solo times across the campus.
Of course nothing is wasted at Whisper Mountain as we use all the activities and adventures at camp to offer life application and spiritual parallel! God is always speaking, but are we always listening?!
We had a fantastic week getting to know these teens and their leaders and pouring into them the hope of Jesus! May His great work continue as they return home!
Thanks Berry’s Grove and Calvary Road for coming to Whisper Mountain Camp this summer! Keep chasing Him!
In camp ministry we have the amazing opportunity to come alongside youth pastors and churches as they strive to help teens find the hope of Jesus in this world! New City Church (formerly Church at Charlotte: here, here and here) and First Baptist Estero (here, here, here, here, and here) are two groups we’ve been blessed to walk with for several years now. These guys feel like family!
Having a place for teens to get away out of their ordinary, out of their bubbles, and find fresh mountain air (filled with gnats;)!!) and a slew of people whose job it is to hang out and encourage them makes for a week that can be quite life changing!
Escape the Noise. Encounter the Whisper.® It’s what we exist for. And no matter how many times they’ve been to Whisper Mountain before, there’s nothing quite like God’s personal whisper into messy and complicated lives, over and over again.
Trying new things on our own but surrounded by people who are cheering us on can be helpful in pushing us to hard things and knowing the victory of doing life with others!
Last week we saw six teens get baptized at our local lake. The joy they wear on their faces as they’ve publicly proclaimed to be a Jesus follower — nothing like it! So amazing the story God is writing in each of these lives. It’s beautiful to catch even a sliver of His work while they are with us.
The good ole fashioned fun squished in between all the other more intentional heart moments, Bible time and connecting really just rounds out the week in all the best and fullest of ways.
Thank you for choosing to come to Whisper Mountain Camp, New City and Salt and Light Youth! We love you and the opportunity to be a small part of the story God is writing in your life! See you next time, Lord willing!
In trying to catch us up on the groups that have come through, today we are talking about Southbrook Part 2! (Here’s Part 1) We are so thankful for larger groups being willing to split between two weeks so they can still experience Whisper Mountain Camp!
I was unfortunately home with a sick baby and missed most of the week, but here are some fantastic pictures to help tell some of the story. Pictures speak more than words!
What I do know is teens found a deeper relationship with teens, found a greater desire to pursue the holiness of God and had a great time with their friends in the great outdoors! Pretty great stuff right there!
Thanks for coming to camp at Whisper Mountain, Southbrookers! We really love the relationships we are building with you! You are a wonderful group of people! Keep chasing Jesus!