Our staff are some of the best minds in summer camping, and if you were to add up their many years experience, you’d end up with a lifetime worth of summers spent at camp. With all that time in the field comes many, many fond memories, as well as an appreciation for the dedication that goes into designing an unparalleled experience for kids. It’s why our staff spends ten months out of the year preparing Everwood for the summer; they know this is what it takes to give our campers the best two months of their year. It’s also why–despite all the wonderful summers our staff has spent at camp–if you asked them what’s their favorite summer of all, they’d each give you the same answer: the next one.
Jaime Pickles — Co-Director
Alongside her husband Dane, Jaime is Co-Director here at camp. She is also our Camp Mom and the mind behind much of what goes on at Everwood. While that’s a whole lot to manage, she’s been preparing for the challenge her whole life! Prior to joining our Founding Team in 2010, Jaime spent 25 summers at Kenwood-Evergreen, an overnight camp in New Hampshire–first as a camper, and then in later roles as both a counselor and staffer. What kept Jaime coming back all those years? It’s the same thing that drives her today: the chance to be a part of a community where you can be “Your best self.”
Here at Everwood, Jaime has been charged with building our community–one that’s very intentional about the opportunities it provides to campers. Because even though Everwood is a place that is fun and silly (Jaime’s made sure of that), it’s just as supportive, and full of occasions for problem solving, collaboration, and social interactions.
The social component of camp is a particular interest of Jaime’s–she has her Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Pathology. Before arriving at Everwood, she worked as a Speech Language Pathologist, teaching children how to overcome social and pragmatic language issues, as well as communication disorders. Jaime’s years in the classroom convinced her that it’s social skill development that truly dictates a child’s success and happiness. This is why she’s always looking for new ways to integrate friendship, teambuilding, and communication skills into the Everwood experience.
Jaime also orchestrates our counselor training–a six weekend long orientation in the spring time. For anyone else, the demands of preparing our counselors for life at camp would be a job in itself, but Jaime doesn’t see it that way. For her, it’s a privilege to be able to teach our counselors what it means to live the mission here at Everwood: how to be there for others, celebrate the little moments, manage the tough ones with grace, and yes, how to be their best self.
When our Camp Mom’s not with us, she’s playing her favorite role of all: mother to her twins (and campers), Ryan and Sophie!
Contact Jaime: email@example.com
Dane Pickles — Co-Director
Like many boys, Dane’s first love was sports. Growing up in Leeds, England, he was often the one who gathered his pals (ahem: “mates”) together to play games, something he always found rewarding. This knack for organizing activities–and the fun and friendships that came out of them–is why Dane chose to pursue a Phys. Ed. Degree at university. To further his education, Dane decided to come across the pond and be a camp counselor during his first summer break from school.
Dane would return each summer for the next four years; camp had become his second love. While he’d always enjoyed being around kids–their curious nature, enthusiasm, and thirst for knowledge–he’d never seen all that energy put to work like it could be at camp. As a counselor, he was able to direct his love for sports towards delivering social, emotional, physical and cognitive benefits to campers. Add to that the lifelong friendships Dane made during his summers at camp (as well as meeting the love of his life, Jaime) and he knew he wanted to create his life around summer camp.
When the chance to build his own camp came along, Dane couldn’t have been more thrilled. Everwood’s been a creative outlet for his unique set of talents: the ability to see the fun in everything, and devise all kinds of games, including some of our campers’ summertime favorites (like the renowned pool noodle relay, and a real life rendition of Angry Birds). This is just one of the reasons our campers LOVE him (and we do, too)! Dane’s happy to be able to use his imagination to engage campers, and enjoys working alongside Jaime and their incredible staff to improve the Everwood experience. Dane also heads the hiring of Everwood’s counselors, handles all of camp’s transportation logistics, and still finds time to shoot hoops, hit the soccer pitch, and teach our campers many of his favorite sports and games!
Contact Dane: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen Kaplan — Head Counselor
Jen’s been with us since the very beginning! She loves working with kids, has a graduate degree in Early Childhood Education, and is the Division Leader for our youngest campers, the Turtles. She values the emphasis that Everwood places on preparing children for the future, and as a former teacher, knows that social learning is a necessary addition to what’s currently taught in the classroom. Jen is also grateful for the investment that Everwood has made in her own learning: she appreciates the ongoing staff development workshops and the supportive, communal environment at camp.
While she couldn’t possibly pick a favorite camp tradition (“they’re all so much FUN”), she’s definitely partial to Jello Tug-of-War, as well as storytime, when she gets to read to ninety 4 and 5 year olds! Jen also enjoys managing her team of counselors–challenging them to lead by example, step outside their comfort zone, and take the plunge into something new. She practices what she preaches: last summer, while on vacation with her husband and their two children, she repelled down a 350 foot waterfall!
Colleen Connors — Office Manager
Colleen has taken the road less traveled to Everwood, having joined our staff after seventeen years in financial services. She couldn’t be happier that her journey’s led to campus (and the same goes for us)! She loves the opportunity to contribute to the community, while collaborating with parents and fellow staffers to provide a safe, encouraging environment for children. And although this is unlike any job she’s had before, it comes naturally to her. That’s because she likens all the laughing and learning of camp life to being part of “one big family,” which is something she knows well: she’s the youngest of six children!
Camp plays a part in the life of her own family, too. Both her kids are Everwood campers, and Colleen is thankful to be able to have them close by–and to watch them smile–all summer long.
Colleen is always on the move around campus, but whenever she can, she makes time to walk down to the beach and take in the beauty of Lake Massapoag. Those reflective moments are among her favorite here at camp, and they remind her just how lucky she feels to be a part of Everwood!
Melissa McDonough — Transportation Coordinator
Melissa first joined Everwood for the summer of 2012 and became a part of our year round team in 2014! Prior to Everwood, Melissa spent a few years traveling from coast to coast, exploring exciting new places before returning to her Massachusetts roots.
Her previous work experiences include four years as a 911 dispatcher and two years working for an after school program. These positions have given her many valuable skills that she has brought to us here at Everwood. She also manages our social media and marketing accounts, and has begun writing and editing our online website blog.
Some of Melissa’s favorite activities include skiing, hiking, spending time with her family and friends, and most of all, her dog Konah! A true animal lover at heart, Melissa rescued Konah from a parking lot in North Carolina in 2010. Though he was skittish at first, she quickly gained his trust and they have been best friends ever since!
Melissa’s favorite part about Camp is seeing the happiness of all of the campers each and every day over the course of the summer. “Seeing campers grow over the course of the summer is such a great vision for all of us. It is refreshing to look out of the window every day and see hundreds of campers trying new things, making new friends, helping each other, and most of all, having an A-W-E-S-O-M-E time doing it all!”