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…
Although everyone couldn’t come and not everyone even caught word about the gathering, we brought the family together for a little celebration! A FIFTEEN year staff reunion!
To have been here to see God cross so many paths over so many years all for the joint mission of helping teens find Jesus, or at the very least grow in their own walks with the Lord — there really aren’t any words to convey what it means to us full-timers.
We hung pictures all over the Axis walls from the beginning of Whisper Mountain’s summer staff through this past one…fifteen years later. What fun to watch all the reactions and hear all the memories being shared!
Meeting the kids of some of the staff was (crazy) exciting and fun. Knowing the younger version of their parents and seeing how they’ve grown into godly parents now adds depth almost like a parent watching their kids become parents. God’s faithfulness through the generations of our staff brings such hope, especially in these heavier times we live in.
Bazooka Ball was requested by quite a few, but more relaxed than when campers play! Pretty much, throw the rules out and just shoot whoever! Has it’s charm, until you’re the target! Good times, good times!
As is normal with all things surrounding Whisper Mountain, the time spent connecting with people was the highlight of our time together. People who wouldn’t otherwise have any reason to connect, people from all sorts of different backgrounds, experiences, denominations and walks of life have the mutual love of God and camp bringing them together. There’s just something entirely encouraging about this.
Ending our time together around the fire seemed just right. We got to hear testimony of how the effects of camp continue to impact their lives even now. The timing of their summer spent here, learning what discipleship looks like, understanding the importance of Christian community, finding clarity on soul-searching issues, how they are using what they learned in their living presently, and so much more was shared around that fire. Sometimes when we commit to something we don’t fully realize the impact it will have on us. Maybe something sounds fun, or distracting, or worthwhile, but we don’t always see the real work God was drawing us to until months or years later. Hearing testimony of this and recognizing God’s goodness all over again both astounds and encourages us.
Our time together went fast that day and we were missing quite a few, but how amazing to have gathered so many from year’s past. To share the memories, to celebrate God’s faithfulness and to recapture the vision of Whisper Mountain going forward was such a gift.
Thank you to all who made the effort to join us! Reconnecting was just what we needed! To those who couldn’t make it, your legacy lives on and we hope to see you at the 20th reunion!
Big shout out to Megan Hunt for making our amazing shirts.
She designed and screen printed them and we couldn’t love them more! Even the little ones were included with each one tailored to their parent as staff!
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.
Selah was our unofficial official GIT (Guide in Training!). She’s a unique situation, not having graduated high school yet, which is usually a requirement! But seeing as she’s also Full Time Staff and is around all summer anyways, we made the exception!
If we gave out awards, we just might give the Most Improved Player award to Selah. She has grown by leaps and bounds this summer, overcoming personal fears and struggles and coming into herself a little more confidently! It’s been wonderful to see!
Selah is willing to work hard, has a sure-thing attitude and offers sweet encouragement to those she’s around!
She seems to not take herself too seriously as much (ie: embrace the clumsy and awkward and work with it!!!) and she’s gotten to see that all leadership isn’t front and center!
She’s proven to be a great asset to our team this summer and we are thankful she was willing to serve in the many ways GITs do (ie: hello water coolers!)!
Thank you, Selah, for allowing God’s light to leave a trail wherever you go! We appreciate you spending your summer serving with us!
Jessie has got the sweetest nature about her! She’s never imposing and always sincere!
She’s got such a willing heart to do whatever needs to be done. Being on staff at Whisper Mountain is not for the faint of heart. The exhaustion is a real struggle. No joke! Jessie has been keeping up with all the things and smiling through it all!
Jessie has a great love for music! We’ve loved having her help lead worship with the teens each week.
Her humility, willingness to really listen to others and her love for Jesus have made her a great asset to our team this summer! She’s a friend to all on staff and we are stronger for that!
Thanks for all you’ve given up to come and serve with us this summer, Jessie! We’ve seen God use you and work in your life and we are grateful for your heart for Him!
The Italian you may mistaken for a 25 year old because he’s just that mature, but really he’s a GIT (guide in training)!! Welcome Carlo to the Awesomeness Takes the Stage today!
Whisper Mountain Camp has known Carlo as a camper for a few years now so we were excited when he showed interest in being part of our summer staff!
Carlo is a natural born leader who’s shown great humility while serving as a GIT and shadowing our Guides. It’s not always easy to let others lead when it’s in your DNA to do so, but we’ve seen him handle this with grace.
He’s the perfect blend of nerdy and cool — you can’t help but like the guy!
He has a way of questioning or pushing issues in a way that challenges or sort of wakes people up who’ve become comfortable or lackadaisical in certain things. Carlo cares about living sincerely and authentically and his willingness to help others around him do the same is appreciated — at least eventually!! (ha!)
Our team is definitely stronger with him on it! We are thankful for the way God has been shaping and leading Carlo and that we get to be a small part of that story!
Carlo, thank you for choosing to spend your summer at Whisper Mountain! We are thankful to have your Italian blood walking this property!!! No, really, we are so thankful for what you bring to the team!
It’s his birthday! It’s his birthday! Party on now! Party on now! HEYYYYYYY!!
How fun to have Ethan on our Awesomeness Takes the Stage on his birthday!
We think Ethan is worth celebrating for many reasons, but we just love that he is equal parts goofball and man of God! We loved having him on staff last year and are thankful to have him again this year as a Guide again!
We’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again! Getting to watch our summer staff grow through the years is one of the highlights of being in camp ministry! Ethan is no exception — we’ve really seen Ethan grow in his leadership while serving with us at camp!
Since we’ve known him, he’s always been a man of character, but we see him jumping to new heights as he strives to walk more and more closely to Jesus! He’s often caught helping out with forgotten or undesirable jobs, he’s quick to connect with campers that might be on the outskirts of the crowd, and he exudes hospitality by helping all the people feel right at home with him.
He is fantastic at making conversation with anyone, he makes amazing lattes and sincerely cares about the people he’s around!
Ethan, thank you for serving with us, for allowing God to have His way in your life and for helping add such strength to the team this year! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!
How about that man-bun, huh?! Might not be Shaun’s favorite style, but we will still keep this guy around!
After you get past the man-bun and his one thousand “Why’s”, you will find a great guy with a great heart who wants to love people and follow Jesus! His inquisitive nature is part of what makes him a thinker and a person of understanding. He has his own idea on things, but his thoughtfulness and care has been encouraging to more than a few people!
Jake is also an adventurer and outdoor lover! He pushes the limits but lives fully and freely! There’s great joy in that!
He has a soft heart for people and shows that in a million little ways at camp. Through his music, his athleticism, his drive in life, he is able to connect with campers in eternal ways.
Jake, thanks for using your leadership here at camp this summer. And thank you for allowing God to have His way in your life! We are grateful to serve with you!
The girl who is always smiling, always asking engaging questions, always there to lighten the atmosphere.
She delights in carrying other people’s loads, encouraging the struggler and being present with people in a way that makes them feel safe with her! You guys, people need this, am I right?!
I mean, look at the shenanigans she’s willing to get into to help her people!!!! 😂 (this was Ellie’s car — no one was breaking any laws here!!!)
People respond to life in all different ways. Alex has allowed God to heal and lead her through life in a way that makes her simply glow with joy for Him! She’s a delight and we are so thankful to have her serving with us this summer!
Alex, receive this — you are beautiful! Keep shining Jesus to all those around you! Whisper Mountain wouldn’t be the same this summer without you — we are so thankful for you and excited to continue to see God work in your life this summer!
She’s a delight. She’s fun. She’s got some moves. She’s in love with Jesus. She’s ELLIE! Welcome her to the Awesomeness Takes the Stage today, will you?!
We were so thankful when we heard Ellie wanted to come back as a Guide this summer! We loved having her last year! She’s got the sweetest demeanor about her. I haven’t met a person yet that doesn’t love her!
Her excitement to serve is contagious and she never displays an attitude other than, “I’d love to!” She bubbles with joy — she’s refreshing to all who are around her!
And she’s pretty great about making people feel at home that might not otherwise feel that! Which is perfect for campers getting to spend the week with her. Ellie makes people feel special because she has the filter of Christ for all things in life.
Ellie, thank you for coming back and for spending your life pointing people to Jesus! We are all encouraged by your living!