Category Archives: General

By the grace of God, we have made a difference.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know the difference when you arrive some place else.”

This quote comes from some combined wisdom of Yogi Berra, Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, and our office’s Uninspirational Calendar.

We need a destination.

Without a destination, we have no direction.

Without a direction, we have no purpose.

Thankfully, Mountain T.O.P. has a purpose. We have visions and ideas; we have plans and outcomes. And, the best part: we finally have results!

Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our own plans, but the Lord establishes our steps.”

Mountain T.O.P. could draw up pages upon pages of plans. We could spend hours creating a vision, sharing ideas, and dreaming up desired outcomes. But, we ultimately have to depend on the Lord to make it happen; we have to lean into the discernment of Christ, graciously asking where his steps are taking us. I am choosing to believe that because these results we have at the end of the summer match those identified outcomes, the Lord is indeed establishing our steps. It is by the grace of God that we experienced success this summer.

He is the giver of good gifts, our great provider, our Shepherd, our sovereign Savior.

I have no choice but to believe that it was by the Lord’s goodness that after one week at Quest, 100% of our youth now believe they are an important person.

I am confident that it is the Holy Spirit that is transforming the hearts of summer staffers to pursue ministry.

I know that the Lord faithfully empowers our volunteers and staff members to truly meet all four needs of our families.

I am particularly thankful he gives us the means to capture not only the stories, but the numbers to prove these divine phenomena—the staff labor, the volunteers who help us with data entry, and the technology to keep track of it all.  

Anyone who has been involved—at any level—with this ministry surely has one story, or one hundred stories to tell. Whether it’s about a transformative experience with the Lord or a deep connection made with a stranger, whether it’s sweat-stained moment or tear-stained moment, it made an impact on you. These are the kinds of stories that raise the hair on your arms because you just know that it was an act of the Holy Spirit.

We cannot deny that stories connect us: they draw us together and help us relate to one another. However, there is more to share. This hard data adds another dimension to the stories that we love to tell. These numbers and statistics complete the picture of ministry that took place this summer. I invite you, as you read through this Outcomes Report, to fill in the space between the numbers with your stories. Partner your Mountain experience with what the numbers say.

We are excited about what you’re about to read. We are excited because the Lord is good and has showed us, for the 42nd time, that he is always able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine.

It is only by the grace of God that we have made a difference. We—you, this Mountain T.O.P. community, this kingdom of God—have made a difference.

Rachael Osborn, Mountain T.O.P. Communication and Assessment Coordinator Americorp VISTA

Click here to read the 2016 Summer Outcomes Report.

Click here to give to the 2016 Giving Campaign.

Meet the Family: Homeowner Edition Pt. II

“Mountain T.O.P. exists for two reasons: to help people grow in their relationship with Christ by bringing people together and to help people realize that everyone has something to offer.”  –Mountain T.O.P. Staff Member

img_8913Here at Mountain T.O.P., we believe that everyone has an asset to give – everyone can participate in partnership. Through our partnership philosophy and asset-based community building, we help individuals uncover what they have to offer. In this edition of Meet the Family: Homeowner Edition, we are proud to partner with Henry and Sue Nunley. They fully embrace Mountain T.O.P. and what it means to work together. Keep reading for an insider’s take on partnership in this edition of Meet the Family: Homeowner Edition.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Henry and this is my wife Sue. We live in Coalmont, TN. I was born ad rasied just down the street. Sue is originally from Tracy City but she has lived in Coalmont for 25 years now. I like to say, “You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl.” We love this community and the people that live around here.

How did you hear about and start working with Mountain T.O.P.?

We heard about Mountain T.O.P. through our son [Howard]. There have been lots of MTOP groups working at his house for a couple of years now. We have enjoyed them coming over and eating lunch with us in our gazebo.

What impact has Mountain T.O.P. had on you life?

Mountain T.O.P has brought so much change to our lives. They have allowed us to meet so many people from all over the state and country. We appreciate their hard work.

What are your favorite things about this community?

We love our community because of the people. We grew up here and everyone is family. It’s just home to me.

What are you most looking forward to once the project is completed?

We are looking forward to getting back to normal. We also will be enjoying our new floors.

Fun Fact about Henry:

“I put a Hersey’s chocolate bar in my chili. On time I messed up and put a Hersey’s bar with almonds in there. It still tasted good.”


We love partnering with people in the community! Look for more information about Mountain T.O.P. by following us on Facebook.

Meet the Family: Homeowner Edition

“Mountain T.O.P. exists for two reasons: to help people grow in their relationship with Christ by bringing people together and to help people realize that everyone has something to offer.”  –Mountain T.O.P. Staff Member


Here at Mountain T.O.P., we believe that everyone has an asset to give – everyone can participate in partnership. Through our partnership philosophy and asset-based community building, we help individuals uncover what they have to offer. This Fall, we are proud to partner with community members like Wessley Nunley who fully embrace Mountain T.O.P. and what it means for us to work together. Keep reading for an insider’s take on partnership in this edition of Meet the Family: Homeowner Edition.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Wessley Nunley. Some people call me Wes. I’m from Pelham, TN and have lived here most of my life. I am the youngest of 4 siblings, all of which are sisters. I have lived in several other states for a few years such as Michigan, Alabama and Indiana.

How did you hear about and start working with Mountain T.O.P.?

My sister told me about it. I have lived in this area for a long time and know of the work that y’all do.

What impact has Mountain T.O.P. had on you life?

They have introduced me to so many people. These people could be doing other things but they chose to come and help me. I am very grateful for that. It makes me feel bad but I need help with the projects and I love how people are dedicated to working with Mountain T.O.P.

What are your favorite things about this community?

I would have to say the people around here. If I got on the phone right now, they would be here in a heartbeat. I would do the same thing, too.

What are you most looking forward to once the project is completed?

Rest. I won’t be worrying about my roof and things coming. I can rest easy at night thanks to Mountain T.O.P.

Fun Fact about Wessley:

I don’t eat “dinner” (also known as lunch). I eat a big breakfast filled with a couple of eggs, gravy and hash browns.


We love partnering with people in the community! Look for more information about Mountain T.O.P. by following us on Facebook.

2017 Mountain T.O.P. Program Schedule

2017 program schedule

Early Registration Begins September 1st!

Youth Summer Ministry

Week 1: June 4th-10th// Service Project & Day Camp

Week 2: June 11th-17th// Service Project/Day Camp & Safe Sanctuary

Week 3: June 18th-24th// Service Project & Day Camp

Week 4: June 25th-July 1st// Service Project & Day Camp

Week 5: July 4th-8th // Fish Camp/NHN

Week 6: July 9th-15th// Service Project/Day Camp & Safe Sanctuary

Week 7: July 16th-22nd// Service Project & Day Camp

New Young Adult Opportunity

Who: Anyone 17 years old or older *

What: Choose between Major Home Repair projects such as large scale construction and remodeling or participating with Quest: a adventure style camp empowering youth and build character through challenging elements such as rock climbing or high ropes courses.

11705430_10153378438338805_2584630888470041969_oWhen: July 9th -15th, 2017

Where: Camp Cumberland Pines

How much: $395 adults; $350 students

*Rising high school juniors, seniors and college students are encouraged to attend. 17 year olds must come with an adult. There must be an adult 22 years or older for every 5 under 18 year old youth. Groups may choose to work in YRGs with only members of their group.

Summer Adults in Ministry (AIM) Dates:

Week 1: June 4th-10th//Major Home Repair & Kaleidoscope

Week 2: June 18th-24th//Major Home Repair & Summer Plus

Week 3: July 9th-15th//Major Home Repair & Quest

       Weekend: July 6th-9th //Major Home Repair only

New Week-long Family Mission Opportunity

IMG_3160Who: Families looking to serve together for a week in the Summer

What: Parents and their children can participate in either Kaleidoscope or Summer Plus. Parents can also choose to participate in Major Home Repair. A parent must be with the child(ren) participating in the day camp programs.

When: June 4th-10th (Kaleidoscope) // June 18th-24th (Summer Plus)

How much: $395(1st Adult); $350 (2nd Adult); $75(1st child); $70 (2nd child); $65(3rd child); $60 (4th child)

If you have any questions feel free to contact us at 931-692-3999 or email

The Rest of 2017

The Gathering: January 7th

Friends Weekend: Feb 22nd-26th

Family Weekends: March 24th-26th // April 7th-9th // July 20th-23rd

Spring BreakOut: February – April

Baker Work Weekend: May 3rd-6th

Fall AIM:

       Weekend 1: September 28th – October 1st

       Weekend 2: October 5th-8th

       Weekend 3: October 12th-15th

       Weekend 4: October 19th-22nd

       Weekend 5: October 26th-29th // Fall Festival October 28th

Click here for the printable version of our 2017 Calendar of events.



Reflections from a YSM Day Camp Youth

The third afternoon of day camp, as our white bus bumped onto a dirt road and navigated through the metal-littered front yard to the door of the trailer, the little boy next to me quickly patted my arm. His brilliant blue eyes were lit up with excitement, and he had a huge smile on his face. “Look at my porch!” he exclaimed, still hitting me for attention. “Look at it!! Mountain TOP built it for us! Isn’t it amazing?”

I probably wouldn’t have noticed the porch if he hadn’t have pointed it out, but it was, indeed, a reliable-looking entrance to the trailer. It looked newer by far than the rest of the structure and its accessories (several half-assembled cars and a semi-truck).

The boy, who had just spent an hour bus ride talking to me about how excited he was to assemble fireworks for the Altamont Fourth of July parade and bet me a quarter that he could eat three whole watermelons for lunch, threw his arms around me. “My uncle says that Mountain TOP people are angels. So thank you.” He then hopped up and ran off the bus.

I had never felt so overwhelmed with emotion. I didn’t feel like an angel at all. Throughout the week, as we had done activities, I loved the kids; I felt closer to God, and I did sense that we were making a difference. But, in that one moment, I knew. I saw pure joy in the eyes of a seven-year-old boy who lived in a trailer with eight other siblings, whose uncle was arrested later that week for armed robbery and whose father was in jail for drugs, because someone had built a small wooden structure onto his home. I saw someone who had every right to be angry, to feel alone and to feel stuck; but he was none of these things. He was exuberant over the porch, so proud that he continued to tell me about it throughout the rest of the time that we were there. The porch would not have been there if God had not sent us there; I later found out that the porch was built by a major group that contained several people from St. Luke’s.

The truth was, if we all were angels, we were certainly not the only angels there. The kids who showed us that there is more to life than where you live or how your family interacts, who took selfies and played kickball with us, who offered us rides on their four-wheelers, were the angels. They thanked us for changing their lives, but, honestly, I have never felt more touched by a group of people. Their smiles were inspiring and adorable, and I can recall their sayings and mannerisms well. Even today, I sometimes lie awake at night and think about Mountain TOP and I thank God for calling me to go. Because everyone knows that they are an angel at Mountain TOP.

The Fruitful Mission

by Julie Keel

Associate Executive Director

Mountain T.O.P.


I am confident in our mission.

2007. I can remember sitting in my house in Mississippi when Mom called. “Mountain T.O.P. is hiring and you should apply!” She thought this was the best idea ever. I just shrugged the suggestion off. I was unsure about living in Grundy County, TN. I didn’t know the new executive director. This big of a change wasn’t something I was willing to consider right now. I was in the midst of some big compassion fatigue, and I was looking for a job where I didn’t have to use my feelings as much.

Eight years later I’ve notice something I always knew. I’ve always had confidence in the mission of Mountain T.O.P. Always. It’s not that things have been done correctly for 40 years. It’s more like foundational things here are just right. Really right. For some reason this was apparent to me from the beginning, and I’m even more sure of it today.

Take for instance our partnership philosophy. Long, long, long ago, the people who set up this ministry made sure partnership was fundamental to how we do what we do. I’m not sure how that all happened, but it’s genius.

Let me tell you why I think so…

Partnership is this aspect of what we do that helps us show the value we see in everyone. Everyone has an asset. You might not have every asset you need for the vision of, say, your home or children, but you have some things of value. Mountain T.O.P. provides one very effective way to pool our assets to get the results we want.

Jesus says that he came so that all could have life and have it abundantly (John 10.10). I think that looks a lot like our partnership philosophy. Haven’t you been in a situation where you had to work as a part of a team to get a job done, and if someone didn’t do their part, the job would be somehow lacking? What about the last time you really, really cooperated with the Holy Spirit to use your gifts? That’s the way Mountain T.O.P. works with families, participants, and the community. We all have an asset to give, and with Jesus in the midst of it, the sum total is ABUNDANT.

Mountain T.O.P. doesn’t fix people’s lives or homes. We don’t magically take away the burden that was once there. We do join with families and children, come along side of them, and work with people to create healthier lives and homes. And this has the ability to transform us all in the mean time. We all walk away different, better because of the partnership.

Whenever someone asks me are we really making a difference, I always point them to partnership. Mountain T.O.P. is not a charity. We are a partnership ministry. We try not to do something for someone that they can do for themselves. Everyone has an asset to give, and sometimes our job is helping people uncover it. Because we come as ministers of the Gospel, the net effect of pooling our resources has supernatural, positive consequences. And this is exactly what helps change the underlying culture of entitlement or that this not a good place. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes. This is why, yes, even one week in our Day Camp can change the trajectory of the life of a child! I could rattle off example after example.

Whether it’s because you have participated in Mountain T.O.P. or you believe in the same things we believe in, “we are drawn together by God, who is about to do a new thing through our collaboration” (Henri Nouwen). After 40 years of (literally) life changing ministry, we are looking for God to do a new thing. We are asking for a huge collaboration: raising $400k by the end of this year. Guess what? We are well on the way. I’m offering you the invitation to be a part of this. I can ask only because, like I said, I am confident in our mission.

Here are a few examples of what we’ve already seen your money do: put shoes on kids’ feet, build up teens spiritually, give a single mom a working kitchen, challenge adults in their faith, put roofs on homes, fund critical infrastructure, give local teens a summer job, proclaim the word of God, influence the career of a summer staffer, preserve the home of a elderly couple, open doors of greater funding, focus a family on God, help us maintain relationships with participants, and empower a father to work.

You can give two ways: online at Or you can mail a check to: Mountain T.O.P., PO Box 128, Altamont, TN 37301.

As always, thanks for listening!

Support Staff Changes and Update

IMG_1897Betsy Galbraith

As of August 31st, Betsy will be departing from the Mountain T.O.P. Support Staff. While serving on at Mountain T.O.P., Betsy was responsible for all administrative functions related to processing group/campers that sign-up for our programs. She then was their main contact until they arrive in camp, so she strived to communicate all necessary information for a successful experience. She was also the primary staff person supporting all aspects of our Children & Youth Day Camp programs. Her passion and love for our day camp programs will be greatly missed on the mountain. We wish Betsy the best of luck in all of her upcoming adventures.

OliviaBioPicOlivia Wickersham

As of September 1st, Olivia will be joining Mountain T.O.P. Support Staff as the Program Manager of Logistics and Program Support. She is the main contact for groups as they are preparing for their time on the Mountain, and coordinates with each group from the start of the application processes through a post-event follow-up to complete all administrative paperwork. Olivia graduated from Indiana University (IU)in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management and minors in Business and Marketing. She finished up her degree interning at French Lick Resort as a meeting and event coordinator in the conference services department at the West Baden Springs Hotel. Prior to Support Staff, Olivia has been a camper for eight summers, one summer on summer staff, and most recently served on the Cumberland Pines Kitchen Staff. In addition to Olivia’s involvement at Mountain T.O.P. and IU, she also enjoys exploring new areas, water and snow sports, and considers herself to be the life of any good dance party.

2015 Summer Staff

AIM Staff
Rachael Osborn – Winchester, IN
Cody Jorstad – Snellville, GA
Abby Jenks – Saline, MI
Jennifer Horton – Franklin, TN
Taylor Coats – Winchester, IN

Pines Odds

Ben Nichols – Saline, MI
Liz Egan – Nashville, TN
Chris Guerrant – Dunwoody, GA
Erika Roberts – Dublin, OH
Pines Evens
Blake Austin – Smyrna, TN
Hank Cohen – Lawrenceville, GA
Lauren Taylor – Snellville, GA
Amanda Hyssong – Franklin, TN
Baker Odds
Tyler Pearson – Mt. Zion, IL
Mallory Dorton – Livonia, MI
Alex Lister – Loganville, GA
Baker Evens
Shellee Merryman – South Lyon, MI
Allison Waters-Kutsch – Dubuque, IA
Chad Pasinger – Whites Creek, TN
Tristan Eaton – Godfrey, IL
Blair Fisher – McMinnville, TN
Tanner Lowery – Germantown, TN
Derek Steinmetz – Chana, IL

Cooper Austin – Smyrna, TN
Liz Berghoff – Saline, MI
Connor Boyce – Brentwood, TN
Emma Crandall – Oregon, IL
Nick D’Errico – Tyrone, GA
Dan Eby – Saline, MI
Lilly Finley – Danville, IN
Janelle Gernes – Rochester, MN
Ericah Johnson – Monroe, WI
Jason Jones – Snellville, GA
Noah Potts – Gallatin, TN
Austin Salinas – Snellville, GA
Ben Willans – Whippany, NJ
Jordyn Yourczek – Woodbury, MN
Savannah Brown – Nashville, TN
Hailey Conner – Cincinnati, OH
Leah Blackman – Carrollton, GA
Mary Watson – Nashville, TN

Support Staff Changes and Updates

Olivia Evans

oliviaAs of May 31st, Olivia Evans will be departing the Mountain T.O.P. Support Staff. She has served for two years as the  Program Manager of Recruiting and Public Awareness. During her tenure Olivia was instrumental in launching the new website, updating our email system, and bringing innovative ideas to recruiting. Her talents as a musician and leader enhanced worships around camp as well as gave depth to all of Mountain T.O.P.’s programs. Her energy and style will be greatly missed on the mountain. We wish Olivia and her hedgehog, Lewis, well in her upcoming adventures. After moving to Nashville for work, Olivia will be getting married in August. She will also be living out her dream of driving an ice cream truck (one that isn’t sketchy and doesn’t play sad music).

Brooke Freeman

unnamedAs of June 1st, Brooke Freeman will join the Mountain TOP Support Staff as the Program Manager of Recruiting and Public Awareness. Brooke’s job is to recruit new groups and individuals to come and serve in the different programs offered at Mountain T.O.P. throughout the year, as well as working to increase the awareness of what Mountain T.O.P. is and the outreach opportunities we are providing in our community. Prior to being on Support Staff, Brooke volunteered four years of high school as a youth camper and served three years on the Adults in Ministry summer staff, most recently as the Director. This summer she will be serving as Director of the Junior Staff program. Brooke will be graduating from Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, Georgia with a Bachelor’s degree in Community Health and Human Services. During her four years in Milledgeville, she was involved in Kappa Delta Sorority where she served as the chapter Chaplain and Community Service Assistant Chair. She also was apart of the Wesley Foundation Leadership Team. Brooke comes from a close knit family in Snellville, Georgia…”where everybody is somebody”. In addition to being involved with Mountain T.O.P., Brooke also enjoys spending time crafting, painting hammocking and wearing anything monogrammed.

2015 Summer Staff Job Openings

Mountain T.O.P. (Tennessee Outreach Project) Mountain T.O.P. Foundational Objectives

• To help meet the physical, spiritual, emotional and social needs of the Tennessee Cumberland Mountain people.
• To actively encourage the Christian growth of the participants and staff who come to Mountain
• To develop the leadership skills of participants and staff. Serving on the Mountain T.O.P. Summer Staff is an incredible opportunity to grow and serve in a uniquely rewarding way.

Our staffers develop leadership skills while building meaningful relationships and having a great time! Please read through our website for more information about our programs or contact Julie at 931-692-3999 or We would love to discuss any of our open positions with you.

Requirements for the positions:
1) A high school graduate and at least 18 years old by May 23, 2015
2) Able to provide your own personal vehicle and auto insurance
3) Available for staff training, starting on May 23, 2015 (May 21 for directors and managers)
4) Available to serve on staff from staff training through the morning of August 9, 2015
5) Certified in First Aid and CPR by May 23, 2015
6) Committed to reading all preparation materials we send you The specific salary amounts are listed below. We do ask for our staffer to raise half of their salary and living expenses ($1,000) through partnerships. We provide them with several ideas and can offer additional support.


Adult Ministry – Program Manager Serves on the Adults in Ministry staff (5 people) as a member of the staff management team. He or she manages and leads total program operations to ensure quality of all programming events including but not limited to the following: camper registration and orientation, camper activities, and community worships. He or she assists in the development of the staff in the areas of spiritual growth, leadership, management, and job performance. – Salary $2,400 plus living expenses

Adult Ministry – Day Camp Ministry Coordinator Serves as a member of the Adults in Ministry staff (5 people). He or she plans and executes day camp programs with the help of adult campers. We run three programs throughout the summer: Kaleidoscope – an arts and music workshops (for children ages 6-11 with special needs), Summer Plus – workshops from sports to cooking (for youth ages 12-17), and Quest – adventure-style programs (for youth ages 12-17 who have been targeted as particularly at-risk). This person ensures that campers understand the philosophy of Christian helping as they strive to meet the needs of the people they serve. – Salary $2,200 plus living expenses

Youth Ministry – Service Project Ministry Coordinator This position serves as a member of a staff of 8-10 people. He or she is responsible for the following activities: acquiring projects, visiting families, managing work teams at work sites, and assisting in planning and executing nightly programming such as games and worships. He or she leads 3-6 teams of youth and adults in their daily activities during the week of mission work (minor home repair). They ensure that campers understand the philosophy of Christian helping as they strive to meet the needs of the people they serve. – Salary $2,200 plus living expenses