Some of you may remember Kate as the friendly face with an infectious smile and the sweet australian accent behind the guitar. She has been with Clearwater for 6 summers in a row from 2006 – 2012 starting as the Discovery Unit Leader, putting her musical talents to work as the Music Director and finally spending some time both volunteering and coordinating volunteer efforts.
Kate came to us all the way from Sydney, Australia, where she was born and raised and has worked as a musician “doing all kinds of musical things” for much of her adult life. Her passion for travel and music inspired her to get creative with how to manage being overseas and still have a guitar in her hands every day. That’s how she ended up at Clearwater Forest and the rest is history!
We caught up with Kate to find out more about what she’s been up to in the past few years and hear all about how her music career has taken off and the new album she just released.
Can you tell me a little bit about your experience at Clearwater Forest?
I had a great experience getting to be a part of the community there. The setting is so beautiful, what our good friend, Andy Kennaly, referred to as “a thin place.” It always seemed like God’s presence was hovering over the water, moving through the trees, and being felt through the fun and laughter.
Finish this statement: “When I started out my first summer with Clearwater…I had never ever been kayaking, camping, or on a high ropes course before!”
What’s one of your favorite Clearwater Forest memories?
Just one? Here’s a few: Playing music with DJ, Ben, Lucy, Doug, Liz, Cathy, Katie, Rikki, Peter etc… So many! Fishing with Jake; Watching people get their first kayak Eskimo roll (Like LH, Starr and Eric P!); Early morning kayaking with Charlie; singing Pearl Jam songs with Jake; Cribbage games with Bobbi; Watching Jon K teach sailing and see the kids love it so much; Playing Nertz in Eagle; the comradery of Endless Summer Friday nights; Strawberries; Listening to Doug masterfully read the Lorax during a storm; Sending people down the zip line; And finally, my beyond favorite thing was playing guitar to the cabins at night. So peaceful.
It’s been 7 years since you’ve worked at Clearwater, what have you been up to since then?
In the last days that I volunteered at Clearwater, Jake Van Pernis asked me if I’d ever considered working in ministry. Little did I know that 3 weeks later, via some incredible circumstances, I would be interviewing for the role of Music & Creative Arts Pastor at Narrate Church in Helena, MT! I was offered the role and moved across the world from Sydney to Montana the following year. Since then, I’ve been enjoying Big-Sky country (but also missing the Aussie beaches)!
The highlight of my time in the States has been a new instrumental album entitled “The Corners Of Mountains,” which I recorded with an extremely talented cellist, Maren Haynes Marchesini. Our band name is Hemispheres seeing as we come from opposite sides of the world. It’s available in the usual places online if your keen for a listen! (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon etc). Chris Cunningham engineered it from Storyhill for all those who’ve enjoyed Storyhill Music Festival at Clearwater, you know who I’m talking about! We had a lot of fun recording in Bozeman with Chris.
Wow, we can’t wait to give it a listen…Where do you draw inspiration for your music from?
They are all new songs on the album which are inspired by people and places. There are two closely related to Clearwater. The first is obvious, entitled “Clearwater”, this song was written about Clearwater Forest and I originally recorded it on my first album (Home in the Crossing), however, I challenged Maren to weave a melody in it and we re-recorded it with some percussion and a Bouzouki too! It came out great!
The other is entitled “The Hermitage”. I wrote this in, you guessed it…the Hermitage! I used to stay out there sometimes for a week after the busy summer camp season was over, and one year I couldn’t stop writing or this playing this song. You may recognize faint strains of Amazing Grace throughout its textures. It’s about the intersection of our shadows and God’s incredible grace and the beauty found in each unique story, however deep those layers are.
I hear you’re still very connected to your Clearwater family and fellow alums, do you have regular reunions?
Four come to mind… The most “epic” reunion I’ve ever had was having the entire Pointer family come and stay with me in Sydney, Australia. We had such a great time together! I was honored to play my song “Clearwater” at Lucy and Doug Snaza’s wedding. That was a brilliant night and I loved seeing them and everyone! The last “mini-reunion” I had was having Laura Wagner (Hoffman) and Laura Tweedell (better known as LH & LT) come and visit me in Helena, Montana! I love those two Laura’s! Lastly, sometimes I go and visit Andy & Shawna Kennaly in Sandpoint, ID (only 5 hours away). Throw in some cribbage, kayaking, good company, and Shawna’s incredible bread. It’s always a treat!
Do you plan to return to Clearwater anytime soon? Might we be surprised with an impromptu concert at this year’s Friends & Neighbors of Clearwater Day??
Bobbi Pointer (Board Member) asked me to come and play this year at Friends Day, so I’m thinking, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I’ll be there!
What does Clearwater Forest mean to you? Why is it special to you?
Because of Clearwater Forest, I got to experience a safe, caring and inspiring environment that gave me the confidence to try new things, write new songs and learn more about God and people. I still love kayaking and camping! I’m forever grateful for the friendships I was blessed to form whilst I was there and the places around the world I went to in order to visit many of them! It’s the most special as I was baptized in Lake Superior at Little Sand Bay as a result of my first kayaking trip through Clearwater. I’ll never forget that week! Thanks for organizing that DJ!
We are thrilled to find out when Clearwater alumni are doing so well and sharing the impact Clearwater Forest had on their lives with the rest of the world! Thank you Kate for sharing your story with us!
If you are a Clearwater alum (camper, staff, volunteer, or all of the above!) and want to be featured in our Where Are They Now Series to share your story about how Clearwater has impacted your life after camp, you can comment below or send us a private message on Facebook or Instagram.