Camp Staff Introductions

With summer officially starting yesterday that can only mean one thing in the Education Department, Staff Training has started and Summer Camp is underway!  This week, 23 dedicated individuals are learning everything they need to know about conservation, camper management, first aid, wilderness survival, and how to avert homesickness.  Their training days will be long, but not as long as their days once the campers arrive next week.

It is only day two but this group of new and returning staff members are ready to take on all of the challenges the next 45 days has in store for them. This year’s staff is a great mix of returning educators and staff in key positions mixed with new faces on the waterfront, male educators and in the Asst. Director Role.

Starting at the top, we have Camp Director Tyler Butler back for his second year in charge of Cedar Lake.  From the beginning, Tyler’s main goal for camp has been to instill a love for conservation science in all of our campers.  Creating a science-based foundation and an excitement for learning is a great way to incorporate the recreation side of camp including the hunting and fishing skills all of our campers will learn.

New this year our Assistant Director Ann Diepenhorst joins us from Michigan State but she grew up in Sault Sainte Marie.  She is completing an internship with her program in Sustainable Parks and Recreation. Ann is a passionate angler who also enjoys backpacking.  She believes deeply in the sustainable use of our resources for future generations.

Next, we have our Camp Nurse Alyssa Mulford.  Alyssa was an educator last year and a Junior Educator before that.  Prior to joining our staff, she was a camper for several years in a row and went through our Counselors in Training Program.  MOOD Camp has been a big part of her life and we are lucky to have her joining us in a role with new responsibilities.  She is a sophomore at Lake Superior State University where she also runs track.

On the range, our Range Director is Noah O’Reilly. Noah was one of our range instructors last year and prior to that, he served as an educator during the summer of 2016.  Noah is an avid Kayak angler and a budding outdoor writer who has been featured in Woods N Water as well as our own Michigan Out-of-doors Magazine.

Our second range person is Taylor Riffenbark.  Taylor is joining us for her first year at camp but brings a wide range of experience in safe and responsible handling of archery and firearms equipment.  Taylor has a Parks and Recreation major at LSSU and is a certified Wilderness First Responder.

In the Kitchen, returning for his 5th year is Jose.  We were extremely lucky to find Jose in 2014 and the camp bug bit him immediately.  A teacher overseas in Spain when he is not at camp, he loves challenging himself in the kitchen to provide fun meals for the campers and staff.

Joining Jose in the Kitchen as his Kitchen assistant is Kayla McKern. Kayla is a recent High School graduate who wants to be a biology teacher a few years down the road.  She has been an active conservationist since she was 5 years old and has held several leadership roles at Ashley Sportsman’s Club and currently serves on MUCC’s policy board.

Our Maintenance and grounds person is someone who may be running camp one day. Amanda Wright is returning for her 5th year on staff at Cedar Lake.  She has served as a Junior Educator and Lead Educator. She is a better shot with a rifle than pretty much anyone I know.  She studies business at MSU and is on the centerfire team for the Spartans.

This year we have one returning Male Educator, Joe Jaczkowski.  Joe has cut his camp teeth in the Boy Scout world and worked for us as an Educator last summer.  He is an ardent soccer fan and will be spending his off Saturdays following his beloved Detroit City FC team.  He is a student studying biology at Saginaw Valley.

Joining Joe in the male cabins are Kyle Heath, who is studying law enforcement and works in the fishing department at his local Cabelas. Austin Thompson, who is studying earth and environmental sciences at the University of Michigan and enjoys water sports and some, kayaking, Jacob Scheer who is an avid angler and hunter and David Alcenius who is working on a degree in psychology at Eastern Michigan who enjoys fishing as one of his hobbies.

On the Female Educator side of things, we have an amazing group of returning staff. Five of our six female Educators are returning for the 2018 season.  We expect many big things coming from Grouse and Pheasant Cabins this year.  Oliva Pelton is studying at Ferris State University. Brittany Kuykendall from Ohio was a junior counselor last year and is ready to take over the cabins this year as a full educator.

Both Kennedy Gardner and Savana Shellman are returning and they each went through the Counselors in training Program after spending several years as campers.  Known for their hiking prowess and campfire skit/song skills these two will be keeping the campers entertained each night down at the amphitheater. Amy Lavery is back for her second year and after a strong first year; we think she will be even better as a returned.  Closing out the female staff is Katherine Salmi. Katherine joins us from Illinois by way of Lake Superior State University. She is an avid water lover and used to be a canoe guide in the backcountry.

This year our Program Assistants are Zili Xue who is studying Environmental Sustainability at Michigan State and Caleb Wentworth who has worked his way through the ranks as a camper to join the team and get paid this summer!

With staff representing many different parts of the state including, the UP and a couple joining us from out of state our diverse team will be able to provide an exceptional experience for the campers this summer.

Whether your child is into hunting, fishing, wilderness survival, kayaking or conservation science MOOD Cedar Lake is going to be the place to be this summer.

We still have a couple spots available in our Fantastic Forests camp for 9-11-year-olds the week of July 8-13th and a handful of spots open in our Stewards in Training camp for 14-15-year-olds the week of July 15th-20th.  Visit for more details and you can get in touch with me at if you have any questions.

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