Leadership & Staff
All individuals working at Ondessonk choose the job because of a strong desire to serve others. The Leadership & 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 ratio is approximately 1:6. Leadership & 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.
Dan King, Executive Director
Phone: 618.695.2489 x102
Hometown: Edwardsville, Illinois
Education: B.S. in Geography with an emphasis in Environmental Planning from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale
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 are Katie, Charlie, Brian, and Colleen, some of which are already experienced Ondessonk campers!
Nolan Hurst, Camping Services Director
Phone: 618.695.2489, extension 116
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education: B.S. in Outdoor Education Leadership with a minor in Religious Studies- Ithaca College
Nolan grew up outside of Philadelphia Pennsylvania, spending many weekends camping with his family and friends. He attended Ithaca College where he earned a Bachelors in Science in Outdoor Adventure Leadership with a minor in Religious Studies. While living in Ithaca Nolan assisted with the programs for Primitive Pursuits, which focuses on primitive outdoor living skills. For five summers Nolan worked at Musser Scout Reservation in a variety of roles ranging from outdoor skills director to program director. He has worked both Spring and Fall seasonal program staff at Camp Ondessonk. Most recently Nolan was the Program Coordinator at Camp Ondessonk. When not focusing on camp work Nolan enjoys rock climbing and exploring the forest. He also can be found drinking a good cup of coffee with a crossword puzzle or a book somewhere outside.
Greg Santen, Program Director
Phone: 618.695.2489, extension 129
Hometown: Peoria, IL
Education: Master of Science in Education, Outdoor Recreation Resource Administration, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Greg first came to Camp Ondessonk as a camper in 1991. After five great summers as a camper, he became a member of the summer staff from 1996-1999 where he served as a wrangler and a horse adventure counselor. In 2006-2007, Greg came back to serve as a Unit Leader. In that time, Greg also spent two seasons as a year-round outdoor education instructor at Camp. Since then he as worked at several summer camps and outdoor education facilities in both programming and administrative capacities in New Hampshire, Connecticut, California, and for SIUC’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center. During and after graduate school, Greg switched gears to become a park ranger for the Department of the Interior; working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Illinois and for the National Park Service at Death Valley National Park in the California desert. In early 2014, Greg came back home to Camp O to take on an administrative role as the Program Director. As Program Director, Greg is responsible for Outdoor Education, user groups, and summer teen programs at camp. In his spare time, you can find Greg sitting on the porch playing guitar and grilling out while listening to Cardinal baseball on the radio or hiking the Shawnee.
Catherine Limkeman, Equestrian Director
Phone: 618.695.2489, extension 127
Hometown: Burlington, KY
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Studio Art – Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL Masters of Arts, Christian Formation & Ministry: Outdoor Adventure Leadership Specialization- Wheaton Graduate School, Wheaton, IL
Catherine grew up in Northern Kentucky, the second oldest of seven kids. She joined the Camp Ondessonk Full-Time staff in October 2017 as the Equestrian Director. She has recently received her Masters Degree from Wheaton College and has spent the past couple years as the Graduate Assistant in charge of the Equestrian Program at HoneyRock Camp, the Outdoor Center of Wheaton College. She has worked as a wilderness guide in the upper Midwest and as a head wrangler in Washington state and northern Wisconsin. She joins us with her husband Andy and young daughter, Mary.
Emelyn Herndon, Assistant Equestrian Director
Phone: 618.695.2489, extension 243
Hometown: Waco, TX
Education: Bachelor of Science in Equine Science and Management and Animal Sciences-University of Kentucky
Emelyn grew up in the Heart of Texas where she developed her passion for horses through a saddle club from a young age. The grass looked bluer at the University of Kentucky where she graduated with a degree in Equine Science and Management and Animal Sciences. She has had a love for camping from years spent at various camps attending and then working before joining the full-time staff at Ondessonk. In her free time she enjoys running, rowing, kickboxing and spending time adventuring with friends and family.
Dru Kee, Food Service Director
Phone: 618.695.2489 x132
Hometown: Johnston City, IL
Education: Southern Illinois University Carbondale – College of Agriculture/Animal Science
Dru has a strong food and beverage background with a speciality in competition quality BBQ. He has been involved with Ondessonk since his youth both serving as a Camp Counselor and Lodge Official.
Tony Vrooman, Sr. Director of Communications
Phone: 618.695.2489 x111
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Education: B.S. in Communications, Central Methodist University – Fayette, MO
Tony gained a great deal of his professional marketing experience working for private sector businesses including the award winning Lightstream Studios, RTS Sentry and Serum Security Solutions. His personal interests and talents led him to the not-for-profit sector, where he is a long time Tapestry of Community Offerings volunteer and founding member of River City Professionals, a business networking group based in St. Louis. Tony works from his home office in Freeburg, IL. He, his wife Kim, son JP and daughter Emma enjoy visiting Ondessonk as often as possible.
Jamie Fields, Director of Development
Phone: 618.695.2489 x113
Hometown: Breese, IL
Education: B.S. in Marketing, Illinois State University – Normal, IL
Jamie began her Camp adventure as a camper, CIT, and volunteer. With a professional background in Marketing, and most recently as the Development Director at a local nonprofit organization, Jamie brings experience, enthusiasm, and a genuine love for all things Camp. Jamie works from her home office in Breese, IL and is focused on ensuring the sustainability of Camp Ondessonk through the support of generous donors. Jamie shares her love of Camp with her husband, Adam, and 2 children who can’t wait until they are old enough to be campers!
Mike Jennings, Camp Ranger
Phone: 618.695.2489 x125
Hometown: Grantsburg, Illinois
Mike grew up very close to Ondessonk, but never had the chance to attend as a camper. He joined the Ondessonk staff as Assistant Ranger in 1994, and was promoted to Ranger shortly after that. Currently the longest serving full-time employee, there is neither a nook nor cranny at Ondessonk that Mike does not know. Mike works year-round with a large group of staff and volunteers to keep camp well maintained, in order, and running smoothly. When not keeping the campers and staff of Ondessonk safe and well taken care of, Mike can be found camping with his wife, Becky.
Brandon Dalton, Assistant Ranger
Phone: 618.695.2489 x125
Hometown: Tunnel Hill, Illinois
Brandon grew up very close to Ondessonk spending time in Tunnel Hill and Carrier Mills. Even though Brandon never had the chance to attend Ondessonk as a camper, he now knows every crook and crevasse of the camp. As Assistant Ranger, Brandon is, as he describes it, responsible for everything Mike tells him to do. He can usually be found working closely with Mike around camp as they keep the grounds pristine and beautiful. When away from camp, Brandon spends his time hunting, riding horses, working with the fire department, and as an assistant basketball coach.
Lisa Bloodworth, Assistant Director of Finance
Phone: 618.695.2489 x101
Hometown: Vienna, Illinois
Lisa came to us here at Ondessonk after working at Banterra Bank as a Deposit Support Representative. Lisa enjoys working with numbers and figuring out how things work. You can usually find her working in her office at St. Noel with finances or down at the trading post stocking and getting online orders. When she isn’t here at camp she loves cooking, playing music, and spending time with her family.
Sue Clancy, Database Administrator
Phone: 618.695.2489 x109
Hometown: Westport, MA
Education: B.S in Business Information Systems, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, North Dartmouth, MA
Sue was first introduced to Camp Ondessonk in 2003 by her husband and former Equestrian Director, Danny Clancy, and has continued to be a devoted volunteer ever since. Prior to accepting the full-time Data Coordinator position, she worked as a Department of Defense contractor managing all facets of information technology and support services for over 20 years in Orlando, FL. Having just relocated to the area, when Sue is not at camp, she is enjoying getting settled into their property in Simpson, IL.
McKenna Sawchak, Event and Marketing Coordinator
Hometown: Chaffee, Missouri
Education: B.S. in Psychology and Masters in Business Administration from Southeast Missouri State University
McKenna grew up in Chaffee, Missouri and attended college at Southeast Missouri State University, where she received both her B.S. in Psychology and Masters in Business Administration. McKenna’s love for nonprofit work and marketing brought her to Camp Ondessonk in May 2019. Her duties include: assisting Tony Vrooman with marketing initiatives and planning Camp’s fundraisers throughout the year. McKenna works from her home in St. Louis, Missouri. When she’s not working, she loves spending time outside with her husband, Adam; son, Ezra; and two dogs, Eli and Teddy.
Kristin Beutel, Assistant Camp Registrar
Phone: 618.695.2489 x131
Hometown: Rolling Hills Estates, California
Kristin grew up in Southern California where she was involved with Girl Scouts and National Charity League. During her school years she was very active with her church, St. Peters By the Sea, and participated each year in a mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico to build houses for the community. She moved to Southern Illinois in 2008 and immediately fell in love with the Shawnee National Forest. Kristin and her family enjoy camping and hiking. Before working at Camp Ondessonk, Kristin spent four years working as the Office Manager for the Marion Chamber of Commerce. Kristin started working at Camp Ondessonk in April of 2019. As Assistant Registrar, Kristin is responsible for getting campers registered for summer camp and the many details involved with the process.