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Camp Ondessonk -Letter from the Executive Director – Farewells and Welcomes.

-Letter from the Executive Director – Farewells and Welcomes.

Dear Ondessonk Friends,

One of the many pleasures of my job is the great honor of working alongside a team of excellent camp administrators.  In the process of serving Ondessonk and its campers, we become very close.  I am sad to report that at the end of 2011, two fantastic staff members, Evan Coulson and Rebecca Cler, left the organization to pursue new adventures.  Then more recently, Sara Oviatt, our Equestrian Director for the last year and a half, departed to be closer to loved ones while working as Campus Life Coordinator for a community college West of Denver.

Evan Coulson, whose role was primarily rooted in summer camp leadership and staff development, is now Coordinator of Outdoor Pursuits at Steven F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, TX.  This position will allow him to pursue his ultimate goal of becoming a university professor while, among other duties, leading college students on backcountry trips throughout the United States.  Evan and his wife Gabby, also a longtime Ondessonk staff member, are now happily living in their tiny house in the great piney forest of East Texas.

Rebecca Cler, who served camp most recently as Program Director, relocated to St. Louis.  She often rides her bike – I’ve been told with a big smile, to her new job as Walk Manager at Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.  Rebecca and her loyal dog Vena now live in a neighborhood close to parks, coffee shops, and numerous Ondessonk friends.  Needless to say, we miss her infectious smile and strong leadership skills.

While departures are challenging, they also bring great opportunity.  Camp Ondessonk could always use new ideas, energy, and faces.  Our campers deserve great leaders, and they will soon be introduced to two of the best.

Jeremy Culpepper, our new Camping Services Director, came to us by way of YMCA Camp Onyahsa, where he started as an eight year old camper and eventually became Associate Camp Director.  He earned his undergraduate and Master’s degrees from Bowling Green State University.  More recently, Jeremy completed his Doctoral program coursework in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management from Clemson University.  While his academic background will surely benefit our campers, I believe they will benefit more from his warm, genuine, and immediately likeable personality.  Further, he brings to Ondessonk added bonuses in the form of Rachael, his wife, and Holden, their wonderful three year old son.

Our new Program Director, Brian Croft, began preparing for Ondessonk’s spring programming season in late January, when he moved to camp with Denise, his wife.  Currently completing his Master’s degree in Recreation Resource Administration from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Brian previously worked as Outdoor Program Leader at Touch of Nature Environmental Center.  His extensive experience serving school groups clearly shows in his work for Ondessonk thus far.  Brian grew up in Teutopolis, IL, and was heavily involved in Boy Scouts as a kid.  He openly shows enthusiasm for his new position, often telling Ondessonk veterans how happy he is to be here.

As hard as it has been to say farewell to Evan, Rebecca, and Sara, their departures make-way for something great.  We all have an opportunity to experience the joy of making a few new friends, which is, of course, one of the greatest parts of being an Ondessonk friend.

As always, please keep camp in your life for the rest of your life.

Sincerely Yours,

Dan King, Executive Director

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