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.
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
Teens come to Whisper Mountain Camp, escaping their noise, but bringing all sorts of baggage with them. By the end of the week, as they experience the power of camp, they’ve encountered the personal God! Last week was an incredible week of seeing God move in the hearts of those who came!
There were two groups sharing the week and they meshed really well. They were all so uplifting and encouraging to one another. They became a safe place for those among them that really needed it! Which means all left encouraged and touched by God in some way! Three of them left as new believers! Here are a few testimonies we heard at the end of the week!
“When I came to camp, I thought you guys were crazy, but you’ve been the most accepting group. It’s felt like family. This whole experience has helped me. I grew up in a Christian family, but I never wanted it for myself. Last night, I accepted Christ into my heart. Thanks for helping me and praying with me.”
“I struggle with mental health things and people in my cabin listened to me, even though I talked about the same things over and over and over. It really helped me a lot.”
“It’s like I’ve been sitting on the edge of a lake dipping my toes in but not really going in. This week at camp, I’ve really come to the place where I want to just jump in. I’m so thankful for our time here.”
Conversations, extended prayer times, worship, hearing the Word, time alone in the Word, activities pushing them beyond their comfort levels — these all come together to bring an experience that awakens people to the power and presence of God in their lives. This is the power of camp.
We loved being a piece of your stories this summer, New City and Berry’s Grove! Thanks for coming and we hope to see you again soon!
When God assembles a team for the work He desires, His purposes are deeper than we can fathom! Who He assembles may surprise us, but we are delighted as we begin to see glimpses of the why tagging along with each one.
The Summer 2021 Staff Team feels a little unexpected this summer, but exactly right for such a time as this. The “big” personalities that normally make a home on our team are absent this summer. When we consider what teens are coming out of (Covid, isolation, etc) to come to camp this summer, it feels appropriate and good. Our staff is fun and full of personality, but not too much for those who may still be warming up to socializing! God is thoughtful and caring and good. We would have never known to account for that! Doesn’t He just blow you away?
We are always so grateful for each staff member who chooses to give up something to come and serve alongside us. Each one comes with open arms and hearts tender for the things of God. Each one comes to use his/her own gifts and talents to Proclaim Christ to teens. The full time staff always look forward to see how God surprises them with His work in their own lives while they serve. There’s nothing quite like God’s economy!
So here they are — the chosen ones for our summer staff team. Each story divinely intertwining with purpose in our camp family and with those coming to camp this summer. God’s orchestration is beautiful, don’t you think? Stay tuned as we share more about each individual throughout the summer! For now, pray for these to be vessels of God’s glory as they work their little tail ends off!
We can never underestimate the power of encouragement. Whether it’s a simple text, a note in the mail, a care package with some favorite things, or just knowing we are being prayed for, being uplifted, encouraged, boosted to keep going literally changes everything.
We want to invite you to change one life this summer through your encouragement. Will you Adopt-A-Staff? Will you encourage one summer staff as they run hard and give all they’ve got to Proclaim Christ to teens?
“As a lover of all things snail mail related, Adopt-A-Staff is one of my favorite ways to serve Whisper Mountain and was a huge encouragement to me when I was on staff. Adopt-A-Staff, for those who don’t know, is when someone not at Whisper Mountain agrees to come along side one summer staff to encourage and support them through prayer and mailings for the summer.
Whisper Mountain does a fabulous job passing along info to you on your staff member. They provide info on what the staff needs prayer for and things like favorite candy, color and beverage, what they like to do with their free time, what gift cards might be helpful and so on. It really helps you get to know them even if you’ve never met them. It also helps give you ideas for things you could mail them in a care package.
Now this may be where some of you jump ship, but please hear me out. A care package can be super clever, funny, themed and over the top but it can also be just as encouraging if it’s not. Also every time you send something it doesn’t have to be a full care package (but please do send at least one during the summer).
Something as simple as a card saying “I’m praying for you” or a card with an encouraging verse can be just what we need to pick us up and push us through the week. Heck, sometimes just being handed mail puts a smile on our face before we even open it. The idea that someone cares, someone is thinking and praying for you , someone took the time to do something for you means more than you can imagine when you are pouring yourself out all week. It really changes things.
Personally, I love sending an over the top themed care package. It’s just in me to be creative. If you decide to Adopt-A-Staff and want to do an over the top package, but you aren’t the creative type, you can search google – the ideas are endless. If over the top isn’t in your wheel house please, please, please still adopt.
During my summer of being adopted, one of the most meaningful and encouraging things I received was a card with a short note reminding me they were praying for me and a little business size Bible verse card. It really helped me refocus and push me through a hard week.
When you Adopt-A-Staff, God sized things happen, I promise! You think, “Oh, I’ll just send this,” and God says, “Oh, I’ll deliver that at just the right moment.” You think, “Oh, this candy isn’t much,” but then a camper sees our favorite candy you sent and it’s their favorite candy and it helps us make a connection. Something so simple that you forget the moment you sent it may be something we hold on to for months or years.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here are a few things other summer staff have said they found encouraging:
“… just knowing they were praying for me was huge.”
“…the fact that they checked in via text and asked what I needed prayer for.”
“…just a little something (whether it be stickers, snacks or whatever) and a note can make your day receiving something in the mail.”
“… when my adopt-a-staff got me gifts that were not on my questionnaire. It showed a ton of effort and love.”
“…receiving a written out prayer. It took it a step beyond just saying they are praying for me.”
Alright, that’s all I have for you! Thanks for reading. Now please, go be an encourager and ADOPT!!
We have had a swelling retreat season this fall! We usually have a decently full fall, but 2020 was different – people needed to get out of isolation and into community in the great outdoors!
Some groups requested we didn’t post their group while at camp and we also desired to protect people from seeing an image and misunderstanding how we were following the proper protocols, so we didn’t share very many pictures of our fall retreats on social media. These times are crazy, aren’t they? So much fear has been instilled in us during this COVID time that we don’t always see clearly.
All that aside, we have felt privileged to serve the people who have come our way. We shared about our Men’s Retreat here (click that!). Below are a few pictures we felt were okay to share of some of the groups we welcomed (following all the proper protocols!!).
God pulled people from isolation and brought them into the mountains this fall where they could be with people who encouraged them, spoke truth from His Word and provided the face to face community all of humanity was meant to have!
How are you handling these times? Hope may be harder to find in these times, but the God of hope is able to “fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
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?!
In the spirit of catching up on all the communications since the COVID pandemic, I’m taking you back to March, when things were just starting to get harry! March, when the ladies were to be gathering at Whisper Mountain Camp for the annual Craftivities Weekend!
Let me tell you about Craftivities in case you are unfamiliar! Each spring we welcome a small group of ladies to the mountains for simple encouragement, white space for the heart and mind, and a new skill to learn to cultivate beauty in their lives!
This year we learned the art of Block Printing! A simple way to create things of beauty for gifting, homemaking and so much more!
Because this weekend was at the very start of people being afraid to interact with each other, about half the guests who were supposed to come ended up cancelling at the last minute. This was the first disappointment in a long line of disappointments for our ministry in association with the pandemic changing our lives! We definitely missed having those who didn’t feel comfortable coming, but found those who braved the outing to have been glad they did!
Many beautiful things were made, each one’s personality seen in their creations. We hand carved the stamp blocks with our preferred designs then printed those designs with a permanent and washable ink on canvas bags, large cloth “flour sack” towels, and paper for wall art and/or stationary. Each design was happy, unique and beautiful!
When we weren’t creating, eating good food or chatting, we were being encouraged by the words and message of Becca Giancana! Becca is from Long Island, NY living in Columbia, SC. She has a degree from Columbia International University in Bible and Bible Education and is currently studying for her Master’s Degree. We really enjoyed her coming and teaching us!
She had an easy to grasp way of communicating God’s Word with us. Becca gently challenged and encouraged us through Mary and Martha’s story and helped make the Gospel relatable for everyone, no matter where they are in their walks with Jesus.
The weekend was rainy, the fear of the coronavirus was swelling, and we were on the brink of quarantine as none of us had ever known. But this weekend was a weekend filled with the white space necessary to be refreshed, make something beautiful with our hands and be encouraged. Thanks to all who came!
Lord willing, we will host our next annual Craftivities Weekend in the Spring of 2021! So tuck that away in your mind and be looking for more information in the new year!
Thanks for reading and may the Lord be encouraging you in these times,
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?!