My kids and I have really enjoyed listening to Discovery Mountain, a pocast for kids that leads children closer to Jesus and His Word through its entertaining and impactful stories. We wanted to get a closer look at this amazing ministry, so I contacted Discovery Mountain to ask them some questions. I am very pleased to introduce you to Jean Boonstra, founder of Discovery Mountain. Thank you, Jean, for talking with us about your amazing audio program for families!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you developed the Discovery Mountain audio drama series.
I’m Jean Boonstra, and I’m the Executive Producer and Creator of Discovery Mountain. The idea for the program began about 7 years ago. I’d written several stories for children over the years and when my husband and I began working for the Voice of Prophecy, a ministry that started in radio in the 1920s, doing something audio-based for children seemed like the perfect fit. I wanted to create the kind of programming that I wanted for my own daughters when they were young. And so, Discovery Mountain began as a dream to tell Bible stories that were faithful to the biblical accounts, create true-to-life characters, and place this all in a fun and engaging setting. The idea for a small town in the mountains and the setting of a summer camp came about during a camping trip in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
My kids and I love to listen to the Discovery Mountain podcast while driving to school. Each story is fun and entertaining, yet teaches my kids an important lesson based on Biblical truth. Can you tell us a little about the Discovery Mountain series and what inspired you to create it?
Discovery Mountain is an audio adventure, and not just for kids! We love hearing that families enjoy listening together and that the programs spark meaningful conversations at home and, like your family, while driving to and from places. The stories and characters were created to be relatable and to talk about situations and struggles that kids experience in their day-to-day lives. The Bible stories are the core of each Discovery Mountain season, and the stories that happen in the town of Discovery Mountain are modern day parables of the Bible stories. For example in Season 16 called “Courageous,” Mr. Simon, the town founder and mayor, is arrested. He’s arrested for standing up and doing the right thing, and he’s eventually found innocent and released. The Bible story is of Daniel and the lion’s den, and Mr. Simon represents a modern-day Daniel. The Bible story is told along with the modern-day story, and is faithful to the biblical account. The two stories together help the listener to exercise their faith.
Share with us a little about the process of producing an audio drama. How does the production process work, and how do you find such talented voices for your characters?
The process is long but a lot of fun! We start with the Bible story. I choose the Bible story for the season and then the writer—myself, or, recently, Janice Nelson—sets to work plotting out the storyline. Once the scripts are written, Producer Steve Phillips, Director Doug Bruce, and I sit down for a casting meeting. We listen to past auditions or send out a call to audition. We then cast the characters and build the production schedule. We record the season over the course of about 10 days in studio.
During COVID-19 this process has looked a little different, and we’ve spaced out actors and used more remote actors. Director Doug still directs every production, but he does so remotely from his studio in Toronto, Canada using technology that virtually places him right in the studio. Director Doug can talk to the actors through headsets, see the computer screens in the control room, and more. A few years ago we began investigating this kind of technology in case Director Doug ever had trouble crossing the border and so when COVID hit we were ready. Once everything is recorded, Director Doug edits the audio, adding sound effects. Then Sound Engineer Danny Colomby, adds original music to each piece. Then it’s ready for our listeners!
We love working with our voice actors and feel blessed to have so many talented individuals as a part of our team! None of our voice actors are professionals—they are either volunteers or employees of Voice of Prophecy that we drag into the studio to play various parts. ☺ More and more of our voice actors are remotely based and come from Canada, England, Australia, and all across the United States. Auditions can be uploaded to DiscoveryMountain.com/audition.
What do you want children to learn from this audio drama series? What types of lessons do you teach through the stories?
The primary goal of Discovery Mountain is to tell children and families about Jesus and to help them to exercise their faith in Him and draw closer to Him. Each season we link a biblical theme or promise with a modern-day lesson. In Season 12, for example, the Bible story is of Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem rebuilding the wall. The Bible story is a beautiful example of faith and teamwork and what God can do when believers join hands to make something happen. In the town the people overcome challenges and join together as a team to save and restore the Harmony Corner church. Those timeless lessons of teamwork, kindness, helping others, and more are the stories we want listeners to hear. We’ve opted to keep the main program free so that as many families as want to, can listen to learn more about Jesus.
Do you have any other audio dramas or Christian resources for kids that our readers should know about?
There are wonderful Christian audio programs available—just do a search on Spotify and several options will come up. We’ve also created more programming in addition to the program that is available in the Discovery Mountain Club. There are podcasts like Jake’s Take: An Oddcast You Can Trust and Bedtime Bible Stories. Many of our listeners have asked us about how they can share their faith with others. We have a few resources, including a Discovery Mountain themed VBS, and ideas on our website at DiscoveryMountain.com/share.
What are the ways our listeners can listen to and learn more about Discovery Mountain?
The easiest way to listen is to visit DiscoveryMountain.com. All of the seasons and episodes are available to listen to free and on demand, and there are fun behind-the-scenes bloopers and other videos. Discovery Mountain is also on all the major podcast platforms, so search for us wherever you listen to podcasts or ask Alexa to “play the latest episode of Discovery Mountain,” and she will! More information about the Club can be found at DiscoveryMountainClub.com.
Thank you, Jean, for sharing with us about Discovery Mountain and how it all started! I love that you keep the focus on leading kids to Jesus, while still telling very entertaining stories that will keep families coming back for more. Thank you for using your gift to encourage families in their faith – I am sure many will be impacted by your work and the work of your team!
To see more great audio dramas, click here to read Best Christian Audio Dramas for Kids!