Professional development is very important not only during the summer, but throughout the year. At the CampGroup Fall Retreat, 17 phenomenal camps filled with talented directors, staffing coordinators, and many other positions were brought together to connect with others that are in our profession, analyze what was successful and could be better, and explore changes that can benefit each camp. The professional development went far beyond expectations with topics ranging from technology/social media to setting up our staff up for success.

We can’t wait to continue to learn and implement ideas to make camp the best place possible for all. Below are testimonials from staff members in attendance from Camp Kippewa and Camp Kippewa Point.

Ailsa Ritchie – Assistant Director, Camp Kippewa

“One of my favorite sessions to attend with other camp people surrounds managing camper behaviors. We are able to learn from some amazingly skilled professionals to help us provide the best preparation for our staff and the best care for our campers.

“This year’s session was specifically about training staff on managing camper behaviors in collaboration with the greater bunk life and director team. We shared how we train staff on behaviors such as homesickness, as well as preparing them for things they may not have experienced before. Although the concept is not new, this session helped us find ways to keep training fresh and relevant, which is a key goal of staff orientation every year.”

Jackie Brethel- Director, Camp Kippewa Point

“One of the biggest highlights from this year’s retreat for me was the time I spent in the company of friends and colleagues from CampGroup. It’s always such a privilege to be surrounded by such talented and thoughtful camp directors. I consider myself lucky to be able to learn alongside them. Although I spend my summer nestled beneath the pine trees in Maine, every fall at our retreat I am thankful for time with the expansive network of camp professionals at CampGroup. Our week together is a reminder that we are part of a team that cares for each other and is part of the engine that drives our camp and our industry forward!”

Clayton Dodson- Assistant Director, Camp Kippewa Point

“When young professionals begin their first career, they are often pushed to describe their “why.” Why do they want to be an engineer? Why do they want to be a teacher? Why do they want to be a chef? Why do they want to be an author? One of the biggest takeaways from the 2022 CampGroup retreat was to explore the “why” of our counselors. They are all dedicating 10+ weeks of their summers and usually travel hundreds (if not thousands) of miles to a place that is unfamiliar to them and work morning, noon, and night with a camp full of strangers.

“Why are they making this choice? Is it because they are majoring in education, and this gives them more experience with kids? Is it because they are seeking opportunities to make connections and new friends? Is it because they want the coaching experience? Is it because they want the chance to explore New England? Giving counselors the space to share their “why” will help the camp leadership staff to tailor camp experiences. If the counselors are enjoying their time at camp and fulfilling their summer goals, a natural domino effect will occur throughout the camp and will positively affect everyone in the camp community.”

Piper Heaman- Head Counselor, Camp Kippewa Point

“Going into my first Camp Group retreat I didn’t know quite what to expect. For me this experience was so much more than I could have imagined. My main takeaway was realizing how phenomenal the community is. It was wonderful to meet so many different people from such different backgrounds, who all bring their own individual strengths to the team. There is clearly so much knowledge and expertise within the group and I feel like I learnt so much from every conversation. I now know there are so many people I can go to when I have a question or to simply bounce ideas off of.”

Steph Callen – Camp Business Administrator, Camp Kippewa

“The 2023 CampGroup retreat was outstanding! The location was excellent for our group meetings, and it allowed for a lot of options for how to spend our down time. Mario Del Cueto (CampGroup) shared an informative and really well put together presentation on the analyzed 2023 staffing data; I am looking forward to seeing what he is going to talk about in his next update.

“I also really enjoyed the presentation by Matt Kaufman (Camp Ramaquois) about growing leaders at their camp and how they do it. It’s a great example of the effect recognition by upper management can have in regard to propelling someone forward as an individual and camp professional.”

Sydney Bozeman – Social Media and Communications Coordinator, Camp Kippewa

“Even though each camp is very different, we all have similar goals for our staff members. We want them to grow into better leaders. We want them to teach and take care of the campers to the best of their abilities. We want them to travel and see all of the beautiful places that each area has to offer. We want them to be successful.

“A big theme of this year’s retreat was how to set up our staff for success. We started as a big group to discuss some challenges we have faced and then broke into smaller groups to brainstorm as many solutions to the concerns as we could. While leaving the retreat, I am hopeful and excited to take what we have learned and apply it to better staff members and campers at Camp Kippewa.”


There were many great takeaways from this professional development opportunity. We are grateful to be a part of CampGroup, which is filled with many hardworking and talented people who are eager to learn and share ideas to improve. The staff of Camp Kippewa and Kippewa Point are very excited for this coming summer and continue to brainstorm what will work best for each camper, parent, and staff member.

Thank you to Dayna Hardin, CampGroup, and the planning committee for hosting this event. A special thank you to some of our own on the planning committee, Ginger Clare, Jackie Brethel, and Ailsa Ritchie. Your excellent planning and optimal scheduling resulted in an informative and smooth retreat.