Keeping It Local— 25 Years of Outdoor Science
How can a program impact individuals for months or even years after they leave? Every year guests from a variety of cultural backgrounds attend Mount Hermon’s Outdoor Science School (OSS) program. The program serves both public and private schools. Its impact is both global and local and has been operating for over 25 years. We often hear about this impact from everyday interactions.
A current employee of Mount Hermon, Nick Buller, used to work at Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz and he would often wear his Mount Hermon gear to work. Locals would recognize his clothing and share their memories at Mount Hermon. Many locals recognized Mount Hermon solely from a positive experience in the Outdoor Science program when they were younger: “I went to science camp there when I was in the 6th grade and loved it!”
Nick currently oversees our Recreation programs, but he’s still running into former Outdoor Science students in the area. This past year he was talking to a local Santa Cruz company when the sales manager immediately recognized Mount Hermon. She said, “I’m a big fan of y’all. I was born and raised a few minutes from Mount Hermon and attended Outdoor Science at Ponderosa Lodge as a kid for science camp.”
Over the 25+ years that the Outdoor Science program has operated, it has served nearly 80,000 bay area students – as far north as Napa and as far south as Monterey. In fact, students who attended as 11 year olds (25 years ago) are now about 36 years old and work in a range of professional fields.
It’s incredible that Mount Hermon is recognized by thousands of area locals who wouldn’t have had a positive and potentially life-changing experience without a strong Outdoor Science program. This school year we have had several public and private school teachers who experienced it themselves as 5th or 6th graders. Because of their positive experience, they continue to bring their own students back to Mount Hermon.
I think we often underestimate the impact any one experience can have on a person. Mount Hermon has several programs like Outdoor Science where those attending may have never had an opportunity to build a relationship with a Christian. Having the positive experience of being “loved as Christ loves” by a Mount Hermon Naturalist can bring them one step closer to Jesus.