Meet the Spring 2016 Outdoor Education Staff
Every Kid Needs a Champion. At least that’s the argument Rita Pierson makes in her impassioned Ted Talk. Kids learn best when they feel connected to their teachers, when they feel cared about, when they feel like they have the power to do big things. It’s through the power of relationships that kids learn, build-self confidence, and become the best versions of themselves.
That’s the guiding mantra of this season’s exceptionally talented Outdoor Education staff. They’re relationship builders. They’re advocates. They’re champions.
I grew up not too far from Tecumseh in the middle of a cornfield in Monticello, Indiana. I’ve worked in various capacities around Tecumseh, and I’m finishing up my 7th year on staff. I enjoy swing dancing and making terrible jokes in my free time.
If I had enough money to do whatever I wanted, I’d travel the world and meet as many people as possible. Dr. Seuss’s, “Oh The Places You’ll Go” is a book that should be read carefully and often in order to achieve maximum positivity in life.
The people that inspire me the most are kids. Kids are amazing because they think in ways that, as we grow up, we sometimes forget how to do. They always remind me to think outside the box.
If I could live in a fictional world, Narnia would be a top choice. Talking animals is too cool of a thing to miss!
If you’re looking for a show to watch, I’m currently very invested in a lot of the DC comics content on Netflix. It’s great stuff for kids and adults!
I come from the land of Greentown, Indiana where I live with my huge family and play with my dog Leo. I attend Indiana University Kokomo and will be graduating next fall with my degree in general studies. My Tecumseh experience began in the summer of 2013 where I worked as a cabin counselor during the summer and a weekend staff member during the fall and spring. I’m excited to start my very first season of Outdoor Education this spring!
I love interior design, singing, playing piano, hiking outdoors, doing crossword puzzles, reading books (especially Harry Potter), watching documentaries and Netflix, hanging out with my family and friends, and playing sports.
If I could give a Ted talk on any subject, I would talk about the importance of being the best version of yourself. I think people can get wrapped up in the craziness of life that they forget to remember who they are and what they’re passionate about. I want people to see how cool they are, and that they accomplish anything they set their hearts to.
If money was no obstacle, I would spend the next few years traveling the world and journaling about my experience. After my traveling experiences, I would either take a career in interior design or singing. I love to decorate and create ideas for space, and I love singing while doing so. So, I guess I would be a singing interior designer.
If I could have coffee with anyone living or dead, I would have coffee with my grandfather Rocco, who passed away in 2002. He moved to the U.S from Italy when he was a little boy and experienced a full, faith-filled, life. Since my grandfather lived in New Jersey when I was younger, I was unable to spend a lot of time with him. Today, I would love to have a conversation with him about his faith, his hobbies (he loved chess) and why he loved protecting his family so much. I would love to hear stories of his Italian background and play a game of chess.
Because of my recent interest in Harry Potter, if I had the option to reside in a fictional world, I would definitely spend my days walking the hallways of Hogwarts.
One of my favorite TV shows is Parks and Recreation. Amy Poehler is one of my favorite actresses / comedians, and I love this show because of its hilarity, the characters’ perseverance, friendship, and the fact that all of these different people come together to get work done. It makes me laugh and cry, and I have become connected with the characters.
I grew up in Brookston, Indiana. I started at Tecumseh working weekend Retreats in high school. During my years at Ball State University, I spent three glorious summers working with the warriors of overnight camp. My favorite Tecumseh experience was romping around with the Tecumseh trippers in 2014 – Sailing, rafting, and riding, oh my! This is my first season with Outdoor Education.
I am really good at telling corny jokes and playing fetch with my dog. I also love to read, eat, and spend time with my family.
If I could give a Ted talk about anything, I would want to talk about the importance of experiencing and understanding where someone comes from before choosing not to show love. Working title: “Eat. Speak. Love.”
If I could change anything about the world, I would eliminate a lot of hate and prejudice. The Beatles and Jesus were right when they said that all you need is love.
The best thing that ever happened to me in school… Well, two things. In eighth grade, I won my school spelling bee – I was stoked. In my senior year of university, I applied for and received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Malaysia (You can read about it here.). Also super exciting. One of my bucket list short-term life goals is to visit 25 countries by the time I am 25.
If money were no obstacle, I would travel the world studying different cultures and getting to know the people.
My parents inspire me the most. They work hard, play often, love God, and always put others before themselves.
This is my second season working with the Outdoor Education staff. I started coming to camp when I was eight years old as an overnight summer camper, and never really left after that. I spent five years on summer staff. I grew up in Indianapolis and graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a degree in Sports Marketing in Recreation. Go Hoosiers! While in school I was very active in IU Dance Marathon supporting Riley Children’s Hospital in downtown Indy. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
I love doing anything that keeps me active and outdoors. I believe March is one of the best months of the year because of March Madness. Again, Go Hoosiers! I love water skiing and snow skiing, and would spend all of my time on a lake if I could have my choice.
If I could change one thing about the world right now, I would ensure every kid in the world could go to summer camp.
The people in the world who inspire me most are those that do what they love, and are happy and enthusiastic to wake up every day doing what they do and inspire others.
I pretty consistently change my mind on what I want to be when I one day decide to grow up, but for now I can’t imagine another place I would rather spend my time than at camp, and I’m so excited to work with and get to know all of you!
I’m from the buzzing metropolis of Brookston, Indiana! I started at Tecumseh as a day camper, and I’ve been here ever since! I’ve worked the past few summers here, and this is my second season on Outdoor Ed. I’m really good at hip-swiveling, adventuring outside, having conversations that start out crazy and end up being really awesome, and noodle tag. For fun, I like to play ultimate Frisbee, read, hammock, read in my hammock, swing dance, and bake things out of whatever’s lying around the kitchen.
I think a book that everyone should read is Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo, or any of her books. Tiger Rising is a really hopeful story about empathy and how important it is to understand the things that the people around us are going through.
If I could give a Ted talk, it would be on the most important questions to ask kids, questions that give them permission to dream big, be creative, and be open to new things.
The best thing that ever happened to me at school was my senior research project. It was so much work and a lot of detailing, but I learned a lot and had to commit a lot. It was incredible at the end to get our results and actually be a part of the scientific process.
If money was no obstacle, I would spend my life traveling the world, taking pictures of things, enjoying nature, and meeting people and hearing their stories.
Right now, the people that inspire me the most are my summer camp girls. They have so much passion for life, they’re making an impact on their communities, and they’re confident in who they are. I love being able to learn from them and hear their stories.
I’m from Brookston, Indiana where I grew up in a family of nine. My Tecumseh experience started when I was five years old when I began attending Day Camp. I have since attended Camp Tecumseh’s overnight camp and have worked as both a day camp and overnight camp counselor. In my free time I enjoy reading, writing, and playing sports. My favorite sport is soccer.
If I could recommend one book to anyone, I would recommend The Hobbit. It is one of my favorite adventure stories and I love its simplicity and accessibility.
If I were to give a Ted talk on the subject of my choice, I would talk about our perceptions of each other. I think that everyone has a story worth hearing, but more importantly, a story worth caring about. We go through life treating people poorly because they treat us poorly, never stopping to consider the issues the other person is going through.
If I never had to worry about money ever again, I would find a way to work as some sort of conservation officer/ranger in every country in the world; like Bear Grylls but with less extreme survival (yes I know Bear Grylls isn’t a conservation officer).
If I could have coffee with anyone person who ever lived it would definitely be George Washington Carver. I would bring some type of food and we would see all the uses we could get out of it. Then he would tell me how to be awesome.
If I could live in a fictional world I would choose Middle Earth. It’s such a vibrant place and full of a diversity of culture and landscape; I would just love to live just about anywhere in Middle Earth. Playing soccer in the Shire would be awesometacular.
I’m from Frankfort, Illinois. For a few years I studied at Joliet Junior College and have recently been looking at online schools to continue my education. Sometimes being an adult is hard and camp is a great place to both clear your mind and wrap it around the things that are most important. Eventually I would like to live in Ireland wherever the music meets the wind and the presence of green is evidence of God. Honestly though, I would live anywhere close to my mom and family.
Camp has been a constant feeling of love, faith, and safety. I remember coming to camp my first summer as a counselor as a shy ex-gymnast who lost a great opportunity. That was all I really defined myself as. But there has been no other place that I have felt more sure of myself, or confident in the person I was becoming.
I was a competitive gymnast. I am excellent at watching too much netflix, eating candy, picking out recipes for things I want to cook and then ignoring them anyway and just making it however I want, starting things and not finishing them, coloring inside AND outside the lines, quoting SNL skits, knowing too much information about celebrities and pop culture, and laughing at weird or uncomfortable moments.
I LOVE watching Amy Poehler or Krisitin Wiig SNL clips and then quoting them until people laugh at me, cooking and baking followed by eating my kitchen creations (or disasters), watching Netflix and home videos, reading YA fiction, Watching gymnastics or the Chicago Blackhawks play hockey, and finding new crafty things to try.
If I could recommend any TV show it would be The Office. It is the one show I can watch in order, out of order and so many times over again. The characters remind me of the people I work with and it never fails to make me laugh no matter how many times I’ve seen each episode. Each episode you notice something different and learn something different about work environments, about love, and about life.
If I were qualified to give a TED talk on anything it would probably be on the subject of gymnastics or coaching gymnastics. In every job there are people who are very successful and people who are not as successful as the rest. I think it’s so important to be able to connect and respect the gymnasts you coach. And having come from a background of competing I’ve had good coaches and coaches that made me struggle more than I should have, their is just so many areas to teach other than the skills themselves. And the kids remember those things for life. Not every kid is going to be on the olympic team or a collegiate competitor. And it’s when these kids walk away from this sport that it clicks all that they accomplish in their competitive career.
If I could choose something to spend the rest of my life doing without money being an object it would have to be either going to see movies all the time, eating, or hanging out with my mom.
If I could have coffee with anyone ever, I would have coffee with Amy Poehler, for many reasons. First, to find out her coffee order and then only drink that for the rest of my life. Second, to thank her for being such a big part of my life and for helping me aspire to be funny instead of beautiful. Mostly, if I could make Amy Poehler laugh just once (with me or at me) I would feel like I succeeded in life.
Hello travelers, my name is Jupiter. My orbit began twenty one years ago in the small town of Chillicothe, Ohio. Although that is where I began I have been making memories at Wright State University, Sherman Lake YMCA and of course right here at Camp Tecumseh. When my gravitational pull allows, I like to travel, solve problems, rock climb, run, play sports (Ultimate Frisbee, Football, Soccer, ect.), eat pizza, hangout with my friends, and be an all around a goofball.
If money was no obstacle I would travel to all the places that I could in every way I could helping everyone I met. As I mentioned before traveling and solving problems are two of my favorite things to do so combining those in a great way is what I would do.
A great book series that I would recommend would be the Redwall series and the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, both by a man named Brian Jacques. His story telling is full of great adventures and pieces of his life experience as a sailor and adventurer.
One thing I would change about the world would be making superpowers real. Although this has a lot of pros and cons I think people would be a lot happier if they could fly or do something extraordinary like that.
The human being that inspires me most is a man from the late 1800’s named Newton Knight. Newt lived in Jones County, Mississippi during the civil war and chose not to fight for the confederacy. He lead the citizens of Jones and Jackson county in an alliance to help the Union for a major part of the Civil War.
If I could live in a fictional world I would live in the Star Trek Universe. It would be amazing to travel among the stars and discover so many new things.
I am originally from a quaint little suburb of Chicago called Western Springs—recently named one of the safest towns in the United States. However, I’ve spent the better part of three years living in the city. I started coming to Camp Tecumseh as an Indian Guide, then as a camper, and then as a summer staff member, and now finally as program staff year-round. That makes a whopping seventeen-ish years! I’m an expert at writing and grammar, volleyball, tying my shoes, and memorizing useless trivia. I also enjoys hiking, driving, exploring new places, and collecting only the finest hats.
I love TED Talks—the inspirational ones are my favorite and if I was given the opportunity to present one, it would be on the importance of learning and interacting with others outside.
If that’s not inspiring enough, I would love to recommend you read Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It’s an awesome young adult book that not only hooks you in right away with the story, but also gives some surprises and chills along the way.
I am most inspired by the underdogs, specifically Walt Disney, due to the fact that he was able to accomplish so much and enact so much creativity and wonder in others despite a less-than-ideal upbringing.
Speaking of, I would like to grab coffee with Mr. Disney and Tim Burton for those same reasons. They are both so creative and so off-the-wall that it would be an amazing discussion! If we could all open ourselves up to thinking outside the box, to realizing each and everyone of us is creative, to inspire others to be different, the world would be a much more incredible place than it already is!
My name is Enoch but my friends call me “Danger”. I’m from Indianapolis and graduated from Indiana University. I attended summer camp at Tecumseh as a resident camper for nine years, worked six summers on staff as a counselor, and this will be my second season with Outdoor Education!
I enjoy crafting- my favorites are friendship bracelets and embroidery. I enjoy laughing, roller blading, and spending time with my grandma, Jarn.
I think every person should read the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I would let you borrow mine but my copy is currently in Chicago with a friend. If you ever read a great book, always give them to your friends. It’s like creating your very own book club.
The best thing that ever happened to me in school was getting extra credit to eat “The Big Ugly” cheeseburger, a one pound burger from Bub’s Burgers, for a class called “Bizarre Food”. My photo is posted on the wall of the restaurant. Best college class ever.
My grandmother inspires me the most. My family calls her Jarn, but her name is Lois McDonald. There is nothing she can’t do. We just celebrated her 96th birthday this February. She is my biggest fan and supporter and never fails to make me laugh and smile! I am so lucky to be her granddaughter.
If I could have coffee with anyone it would be Will Smith. Some might say I’m obsessed with him but, doesn’t everyone own 2 shirts and 1 sweatshirt with Will Smiths face on them?
If money was not an obstacle I would spend my life traveling. I would go to different countries and spend time with children of different cultures and laugh and learn with them. I think kids are the most knowledgable people because their outlook on life is more simplistic and their solutions to problems more creative. I would also like to open an orphanage and create a family experience for all children who need a home and a place to stay.
If I could live in any fictional world I would choose Bikini Bottom from SpongeBob SquarePants. I have always wanted to eat a Krabby Patty and think I would fit right in with SpongeBob and Patrick.
If I could change one thing about the world I would change the way people treat each other because I believe when people are kind to one another it can go a long way, unfortunately when people are mean to one another it can have a domino effect. “Be kinder than is necessary.”
I am originally native to the Chicagoland area and now find myself in Indiana, where I graduated from Purdue with degrees in Kinesiology and Spanish. It’s a blessing to be part of Tecumseh’s Outdoor Education team for a third season, where I get to weave and connect classroom experiences with the outdoors.
After speaking with my roommate, I have learned that I am really good at eating popcorn, cuties, and things that contain dark chocolate, listening to others, keeping things organized, and always being up for an adventure. I enjoy a great run outside, a good book that’s preferably read outside in a hammock, as well as learning and trying new things. I love hanging out with friends and family, watching and playing sports, traveling and exploring anything outdoors as well!
If money were no obstacle I would definitely be doing what I am currently doing with the exception that all proceeds would contribute to provide a camp experience to as many kids as possible. Attending camp every summer has molded me into the person that I am today and I have camp experiences to thank for that. If I were able to give that to even more children every year, I would be well on my way to accomplishing one my life missions.
If I could live in a fictional world I would have to pick post-Voldemort Hogwarts. Having an owl, being able to fly, going to a Quiddich match and being able to perform magic all at the same time has always been dream of mine!
One of the best things that ever happened to me in school was being able to give back to as many as I could in my community; whether in grade school, high school or college. Being able to help others learn English in college, was definitely one of the highlights!
My favorite childhood book is The House on Mango Street. Currently, my favorite book is The Last Lecture. Both books have been positive influences in my life.
I would love to have coffee with my Grandfather. Growing up I heard great stories about how giving and loving he was. Growing up in a different country, in a different culture with new experiences than I would have had would be something that I would enjoy hearing more about. He was such a positive influence in our family and still is in memory.
I grew up in Belleville, Illinois, not to far from the mighty Mississippi River. This is my ninth year on staff at camp, living next to the quiet flowing Tippecanoe River. I graduated from MacMurray College with a BA in Religious Studies and General Psychology, and received a MA in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.
The Internet and ACA (American Camping Association) brought me to camp. Camp Tecumseh is the third camp I have worked at. I wanted to combine my passion of the great outdoors and working with groups, especially children, and the community related feel at camp. Currently, I oversee the Nature Center, and am one of the full time program specialists within the Outdoor Education department. I am a certified interpreter guide for the National Association for Interpretation (NAI), a not-for-profit professional organization dedicated to advancing heritage, history, science, nature, and peoples through many programs. Also, I am an Eagle Scout.
You may see me juggling, using puppets, walking through the woods, enjoying a peaceful night next to a campfire, or spending time with the amphibians and reptiles in the nature center. I enjoy lounging in a hammock, eating unique foods, and trying to visit all 50 states (I’ve currently visited 39).
Laughing and playing outside are two things I would do to change the world now. We should enjoy the company of those around us while laughing and playing outside. Someone once said, “A good laugh cheers people up and playing outside lifts one’s spirit.” So, while visiting camp, laugh and play outside.
I grew up in Crawfordsville, Indiana and graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Human Services. I met my husband at camp when we were counselors in 2010 and we got married in June of 2014. We live here at camp with our dog, Miley. Camp helped me to discover my passion for working with youth and getting them excited about learning. I am now on full time staff at Tecumseh and I feel so blessed to work at this incredible place year round!
Some of my favorite things include long walks with my dog, singing, taking naps in hammocks, movie theater popcorn, and staying in the loop about anything new from Disney or Marvel. My family are the greatest people I know. I have two nephews and a beautiful niece that I adore and try to visit as much as I can. I love to be creative – painting, crafting, sewing, you name it.
I started quilting with my mom a few years ago, and it is now one of my favorite ways to spend my time. My mom is my inspiration and someone I admire so much. She has taught me how to love and serve the people around me with compassion and grace.
Movies I would recommend to anyone would be The Chronicles of Narnia series. I love how they brought the stories to life and I just really want to give Asland a hug.
If I could have coffee with anyone it would be Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. I think they are hilarious together, so I wouldn’t have to say a word, I just want to listen and laugh until my sides hurt.
If money were no obstacle, I would love to travel to and hike all the 14ers (14,000 ft. mountains). There are 53 and I’ve climbed one, so I’ve got a little ways to go, but that view from the top of the mountain is one that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
If I could change one thing about the world right now is every kid would experience the love they deserve. Kids matter and have a lot to say. We should support their dreams and show them that they’re passions are important. If we give them a chance they will change the world for the better.
My name is Mongoose and I am blessed to live here at Tecumseh year round as the Outdoor Education Director. I’ve been working full time here at camp for almost 2 years, but started here as a camper and worked many summers in lots of different roles. I’m originally from Michigan but moved to Florida to study at the University of Miami where I earned a degree in Microbiology and Immunology. After college I joined Teach For America, I went into the classroom and taught high school science in Miami for 4 years. It was during that experience that fell in love with education and saw first hand the importance for providing educational opportunities for all of our kids outside of the classroom.
In my free time I love to read a good book, go for a run, travel with family and friends or hang out with my dog Dash. I’m also attempting to learn the guitar, so hopefully my band will make their touring debut soon.. The most recent book I have read is The Boys in the Boat (which I definitely recommend) and my all time favorite is the Lord of the Ring series, (I’d pick The Hobbit if you made me pick one).
If money was no obstacle I’d probably spend my time traveling the world and doing all of the above, that sounds like a pretty good adventure doesn’t it? Or if I could travel to any fictional world I’d probably have to pick Terabithia, or be a toy in Andy’s room in Toy Story – I’ll just have to keep dreaming about that one!
Tecumseh is all about making the world a better place, and I believe that camp has the opportunity to do that in a big way. If I could change something about our world, I would make sure that every kid has the opportunity to grow in their faith and self confidence through a camp experience. I know that if every kid had a camp experience, the world could be a much more awesomer place, (I know that is not a word but it seemed appropriate here) and solve so many of the problems that we are facing today.