Camp Ondessonk First Time Campers- What to expect…

Camp Ondessonk First Time Campers- What to expect…

First Time Campers:  What to expect from Camp Ondessonk

Camp Ondessonk is the Premier Adventure Destination of the Midwest.  Our camper fees are extremely competitive and unlike many other summer camps, Ondessonk does not charge additional fees for horseback riding or senior camper electives.

Daily Schedule

7:45AM                 Breakfast

8:45AM                 Activities 1,2,3

12:30PM                Lunch

1:00PM                 Siesta (Rest Hour)

2:30PM                 Activities 4,5

5:00PM                 General Swim & Shower Time

5:45PM                 Optional Prayer Service

6:15PM                 Flag Ceremony

6:30PM                 Dinner

8:00PM                 Evening Activity

10:00PM               Taps and Lights Out

(Activities include:  Horseback Riding, Archery, Canoeing, Woodsmanship, Riflery, Hiking, and Crafts)

Who’s in charge and taking care of my kids?

All individuals working at Ondessonk choose the job because of a strong desire to serve others.  The full-time staff consists of devoted individuals with extensive experience in fields related to youth development and outdoor leadership.  The summer leadership staff is comprised of proven, sound decision makers who have completed college or are actively working towards that goal.  The camper staff raitio is approximately 1:6.  Staff training emphasizes child development, child protection, teaching skills, and responsible leadership.  First aid and CPR training is provided. Depending on position, staff members are certified by the Certified Horsemanship Association, National Rifle Association, American Red Cross, or other appropriate certifying bodies.

Executive Director

Dan King
Phone: 618.695.2489 x102
Hometown: Edwardsville, Illinois
Education: B.S. in Geography with an emphasis in Environmental Planning from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

Background: Dan’s history with Camp Ondessonk began in 1981, his first year as a camper.  For the next several summers, he attended at least one session per summer.  At the time, families lined up hours early at the beginning of each session to register campers for the most popular cabin units.  Dan’s parents were always willing to oblige their two sons’ passion for Camp Ondessonk…  The family car was often one of the first in line.  Dan was an Ondessonk Counselor in Training in 1986.  He spent the summers of 1987-1994 on the summer staff, which included co-leading the first ever Camp Ondessonk Horse Adventure trip.  Following college, Dan gained program planning and administrative experience at several other camps as a wrangler, outdoor educator, Program Director, and Summer Camp Director.  He returned to Ondessonk in 2006 and became Executive Director in 2008.  Loved by campers and staff alike, Dan inspires with a smile and has a talent for bringing meaning to the Camp experience with his unique humor and devoted love of Ondessonk.  Dan lives on site with his wife Suzy.  Their children, Katie, Charlie, Brian, and Colleen, can’t wait until they are old enough to be Ondessonk campers.

Camping Services Director

Evan Coulson

Phone: 618.695.2489 x104
Hometown: Johnston City, Illinois
Education: B.S. in Leisure Science with an emphasis in therapeutic and outdoor recreation from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

Evan started at Ondessonk as a summer camp counselor in 2004 after serving 5 years in the Coast Guard. He joined the Seasonal Program Staff shortly thereafter. Evan has been involved in the field of outdoor education since 2001 and gained valuable experience working for Touch Of Nature Environmental Center. He has also been heavily involved in Southern Illinois University’s Wilderness Education Association (W.E.A.) affiliate classes in Carbondale, IL and Cleveland Metro-park’s Institute of the Great Outdoors (I.G.O.) in Cleveland, OH.  Evan is currently working towards his Masters Degree in Outdoor Education Resource Management at SIUC. Prior to earning his present position, Evan served Camp Ondessonk in leadership roles as the Program Coordinator and Program Director. In 2008, he assumed the role of Camping Services Director, overseeing Ondessonk’s summer camp program and other camper services. Evan lives with his wife, Gabrielle, and their two cats.

Program Director

Rebecca Cler

Phone: 618.695.2489 x129
Hometown: Villa Grove, Illinois
Education: Bachelors in University Studies from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

Rebecca started her Ondessonk journey as a summer camper. She later became an Ondessonk summer camp counselor for three summers During her senior year of high school, Rebecca studied in Denmark as a Rotary International Youth Exchange Student. After working for a variety of camps, outdoor education centers, adventure programs, and youth conservation agencies, Rebecca returned to Ondessonk in 2007 as a Program Instructor. She was quickly promoted to Program Director in 2008, overseeing the Ondessonk Outdoor Education Program during the school year, all Camp Ondessonk specialty programs such as Mother-Daughter Weekend and Fall Family Camp, and summer activity areas, as well as hiring, training, and mentoring the Seasonal Program Staff. When not booking school group visits or facilitating a challenge course program, Rebecca can be found enjoying the trails of Camp Ondessonk with her dog, Vena.

Parent Testimonials

Kenny Toohill-That sending my kids to Camp O was one of the best things I’ve ever done for them. That Camp O was one of the most positive influences in their life. That my children have developed strong lifelong friendships at Camp O. That Camp O has enriched my children’s spiritual lives.

Jennifer Drainer-Schauster- Camp Ondessonk give your child a place to grow in responsibility and independence in a safe and structured environment. It provides them with positive role models and allows them to try out new skills and broaden their horizons. As a successful, collage educated, thirty something mother of two I know that Camp Ondessonk played an important part in getting me where I am today. I will certainly send my children there when they are old enough.
Valerie Oestry- That my child loves Camp O so much she wants to live there, and that she has learned things she will never learn at school or at home, but only at Camp O – all positive, life-changing things! (Plus it is a week of no-worries parenting for me!) Seriously though, I am letting go of her a little bit for that week, but in a positive way where I know she is growing soooooo much!! It is worth every dollar!!!
Norbert Garvey- All 4 of my well adjusted, college educated children attended Camp Ondessonk, I feel they were motivated to succeed, in part, by the outdoor education received while at Camp Ondessonk.

Camp Ondessonk Certifications

ACA:  American Camp Association

Camp Ondessonk strives to meet the highest health and standards.  We are proud to be accredited by the American Camp Association.  This accreditation means that Ondessonk thoroughly reviews operational practices, seeks the wisdom of other camp professionals, and continually makes improvements to comply with more than 300 written standards.  Only one-fourth of the camps in the US have earned this mark of distinction.  An on-site health center is run by a registered nurse.

CHA:  Certified Horsemanship Association

CHA has developed a highly lauded certification process for arena instructors, trail guides, instructors of riders with disabilities and seasonal equestrian staff. Instructors are evaluated in five areas: safety, horsemanship knowledge and ability, teaching technique, group control, and responsibility and professionalism. CHA’s certification process has been continually monitored and refined for more than 40 years, in order to meet the needs of a changing horse industry.

The purpose of CHA clinics is to evaluate the existing knowledge and skill level of the clinic participants and to grant certification at the level that each participant is able to demonstrate his/her proficiency throughout the clinic, not to teach participants how to become an instructor or trail guide. However, everyone is certain to learn a lot at the clinic through all the knowledge shared by both participants and clinic staff.

WFR:  Wilderness First Responder

Camp Ondessonk’s Executive Director, Camping Services Director and Programming Director have all been Wilderness First Responder certified.  The General Principles of Wilderness and Rescue Medicine with an emphasis on the prevention and identification of medical emergencies, appropriate technology, and risk management.

  • Patient assessment and emergency care including CPR, basic Life support, and the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis and asthma.
  • Environmental Medicine including altitude illness, hypothermia and heat illness, frostbite and cold injury; lightning, submersion, and environmental toxins.
  • Backcountry Medicine including the assessment and treatment of common medical problems.
  • Musculoskeletal Problems including unstable and stable injuries, overuse syndromes, and dislocations.
  • Wound Management including open fractures, lacerations, burns and blisters.
  • Practical Skills including splinting, bandaging, litter packaging and medical kit preparation.
  • WMA Wilderness Protocols including wound cleaning and exploration, spine injury assessment, dislocation reduction, CPR in the remote setting, and Anaphylaxis and Asthma.

Important Resources

Camp Ondessonk Facility Map

Traditional Camp Packing List


Camp Registration

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