Mark Benerofe, CEO
Prior to entering the camp world, Mark enjoyed a 10-year stint as a teacher, basketball coach, and athletic director in the New York City public school system. It was there that he developed a passion for working with youth in athletic and educational environments. In 2004 Mark became actively involved with CampGroup's camps as an owner and member of the Board of Managers. In 2009, he joined the team fulltime as President of CampGroup and a Director of Camp Winadu. Currently CEO of CampGroup (and still a Director of Camp Winadu), Mark is committed to supporting CampGroup's directors as they pursue CampGroup's mission to enrich children's lives. Mark currently serves on American Camp Association's (ACA) National Board of Directors as well as the Board of Directors ACA's NY and NJ Affiliate.
Dayna Hardin, President
Director/Owner of Lake of the Woods and Greenwoods Camps since 1997, Dayna became President of CampGroup in 2014 after serving as Vice President for 4 years. In addition, Dayna is Vice President of the American Camp Association's (ACA) national board. She is the co-founder and President of SCOPE Midwest, an organization that sends underserved children to camp. She is also Past President of the Midwest Association of Independent Camps. She is a speaker at camp conferences on a variety of topics and is also the past conference chair for the ACA's national conference (2007-2010). She has received a number of awards for her dedication to the camp industry.
Eric is a life-long camper who is passionate about the transformative power of the camp experience. Before he and Debbie started Akeela in 2008, Eric worked for 10 years as a year-round, full time camp professional. He holds a BA in Math from Haverford College and a Masters in Education from Harvard University. Outside of the camp world, he has extensive experience working with children and young adults in a variety of educational and mentoring settings.
Debbie Sasson has been spending her summers at camp for over 25 years. She has a BA in Psychology and a Masters in School Counseling from the University of Rochester. After 3 wonderful years as a middle school counselor in Belmont, MA, she returned to school and earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Yeshiva University. Since opening Akeela in 2008, she works as a full-time director with Eric, a position to which she brings extensive knowledge of the fields of child, adolescent and Family-Systems psychology.
Josh has spent two decades in residential summer camping including 10 years working at Camp Walt Whitman, as well as directing an international summer camp in New Mexico for two years. Josh has held pretty much every position at camp, specializing in waterfronts and residential life. Originally from Washington, Josh rowed, swam, and played rugby at Wabash College and Willamette University. He has coached high school swimming and soccer, winning four coach-of-the-year honors. Josh founded and continues to direct the Waterfront Leadership School which trains waterfront directors at some of the finest camps in the Northeast. He is an ACA speaker on waterfront safety.
Jay, along with brother, Mark, has been the director of Camp Danbee since 1991. Jay has many years of experience working with children and young adults, having worked as a college educator prior to becoming a camp director. In addition, Jay was a 15 year key staff member at Camp Mah-Kee-Nac before joining Danbee as an owner/director. Jay received a B.A. from Bentley College in 1978 and earned a Masters in Education from Springfield College in 1981. He completed doctoral coursework at Vanderbilt University in the field of Educational Leadership in 1993.
Mark joined his brother, Jay, at Camp Danbee in 1991. Mark was a middle school teacher, soccer coach, and camp professional before joining Danbee full-time. He received his bachelor's degree in Environmental Science in 1983 from SUNY-Syracuse. He later received his Masters in School Administration in 1990. Mark is the treasurer for the Massachusetts Camping Association.
Ginger has been Director, with husband Steve, at Camp Kippewa since 2008. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from University of Washington and a master's degree in Occupational Therapy from Boston University. She worked as a children's O.T. for a Seattle-area school district before entering the camping profession full-time as Camp Danbee's Assistant Director after holding numerous summer positions. Ginger has been a presenter and program committee member for the ACA national conference and the Head Counselor at America's Camp, a week-long camp for children of 9/11 victims that ran for 10 years.
Steve joins his wife, Ginger, as Director at Camp Kippewa. Steve, a barefoot waterski national junior champion and national record holder in his native New Zealand, earned his bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering before traveling to the states to work at camp and finding a whole new career path, including Program Director at Camp Danbee. Steve is an ACA Standards Visitor and has presented at ACA national conferences. He, too, was Head Counselor at America's Camp, a week-long camp for children of 9/11 victims that ran for 10 years.
Dayna arrived as a camper at Lake of the Woods Camp for Girls in 1979. She worked her way up from counselor to assistant director before becoming Director/Owner of Lake of the Woods and Greenwoods Camps in 1997. In addition to being President of CampGroup, Dayna is Vice President of the American Camp Association's (ACA) national board. She is the co-founder and President of SCOPE Midwest, an organization that sends underserved children to camp. She is also Past President of the Midwest Association of Independent Camps. She is a speaker at camp conferences on a variety of topics and is also the past conference chair for the ACA's national conference (2007-2010). She has received a number of awards for her dedication to the camp industry.
Dana Kite has spent the last 23 summers at Lake of the Woods Camp for Girls and Greenwoods Camp for Boys. She started as a camper at Lake of the Woods at age 10, and continued on as counselor, water-ski instructor, Program Director and was the Associate Director for 8 years. Now as a Director, Dana is involved in staff recruitment, staff training, program development, and has terrific relationships with our campers, parents and staff. Dana graduated from Indiana University. Dana is the co-founder of SCOPE Midwest (Summer Camp Opportunities Promote Education), a charity that provides camperships to underserved children throughout the Midwest at not-for-profit camps. Dana has been on the program planning team for the ACA's national conference and is a speaker at conferences throughout the year.
Rachel has spent her entire professional career in the camping world. In addition to being a camper and a counselor for many years, she has served as an Assistant Director, as well as Director of various residential programs in the north east. Rachel earned her degree in Psychology and Physical Education from Denison University. Rachel is active in ACA conferences as well as other camping, education, and recreation professional development groups. Rachel’s hobbies are golf, tennis, biking, the occasional game of basketball, and of course spending time with her husband and three daughters.
Jamie has grown up in the residential camp world as a lifelong camper, counselor, athletic director and program director. He is active in various ACA conferences including presenting sessions focused on staff development and athletic instruction. After receiving his degree in Health and Physical Education from the University of Delaware, Jamie spent the next 15 years as a college and high school basketball coach while teaching elementary Health and Physical Education. Jamie co-directs Mah-Kee-Nac with his Wife Rachel. They are proud parents of three daughters.
Jesse believes camp should nourish a child and inspire our youth to grow in a safe and fun environment. Previously, he was the assistant director of a day camp in Minnesota, and has been a youth professional in Colorado, Florida, Israel, Washington D.C., Virginia, and New York. Prior to joining Camp Pinebrook, Jesse was a congregational rabbi for 9 years in Hudson Valley, NY; Richmond, VA; and Washington, DC. He has an ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and bachelor degree from the University of Denver. He is currently studying for a MBA at SUNY Oswego. Jesse enjoys cooking, sports, travel, and spending time with his husband, Rabbi Andrew Goodman, and their twin sons, Parker and Holden (who are excited to attend Camp Pinebrook).
Jared has worked at Camp Ramaquois since 1986—he started as a group counselor and has gradually moved up to his current responsibilities. During the off-season, Jared is a co-director at the camp with specific responsibilities as the personnel director. During the summer months, Jared also serves as the director of Boys’ Side. Jared spent 20 years as a high school Social Studies teacher before joining Ramaquois full time. He earned his undergraduate degree from Binghamton University, and he holds a master’s degree in teaching from Boston University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the College of New Rochelle. Jared and his wife, Staci, are the proud parents of three children.
Phil began his journey at Ramaquois in 1996 as a counselor and has filled several administrative roles on his way to his current position. In addition to his responsibilities at camp he volunteers as a Standards Visitor for the American Camp Association. His undergraduate degree is in Recreation and Leisure from St. Thomas Aquinas College and he also holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Health and Physical Education from Hofstra University. Phil and his wife, Melissa, are proud parents of two daughters, who both attend Ramaquois.
Arthur & Natalie Kessler
Arthur and Natalie have spent their entire professional lives in camping. They have owned and directed both resident and day camps, developed unique day camp programs, spearheaded the formation of professional camping organizations, and worked hard to enhance the public's view of camping and the camping profession. Their significant impact on camping, and the standards of excellence that they have set merited them the prestigious recognition of "Legends of Camping" by the American Camp Association (ACA) in 2005. The Kesslers bought Camp Ramaquois in 1975 and have continually led a group of dynamic camp professionals at Camp Ramaquois in creating "a day camp as complete as a sleep-away."
Heath is a lifelong camper and experienced educator. He has been working at day camps on Long Island since 1995. Heath has a Masters in Elementary Education from Long Island University and a degree in Chemistry from Union College. His passion is for creating a camp program and culture where all children (and staff) take risks, explore interests, make friends and discover who they want to be. Heath is a standards visitor in the American Camp Association's accreditation process and regularly participates in industry conferences in order to improve the camp experience for all children.
Robert Kulchin has been a part of Shibley Day Camp his entire life. He grew up at camp and worked many seasons at Shibley while going to school. He went on to earn his undergraduate degree in business administration from Adelphi University and his law degree from Hofstra Law School. Equally adapted to sports programs as he is to office administration, Bob has worked as a counselor, sports specialist, swim instructor, group leader and administrator. When not performing functions like these, he lends his business expertise to all facets of Shibley's administrative agenda.
Drew, a Watitoh alum, attended camp for thirteen consecutive summers from 1986-1998. Drew was a camper, waiter, counselor, and group leader. After graduating Muhlenberg College and majoring in Business, Drew worked with an event marketing company, only to realize that creating the moments that make up a great summer camp experience was his true passion. Since 2002, he has been full-time in camping. Drew is actively involved in the ACA and co-chairs the Joe Kruger Youth Development Conference.
Britton spent 11 years at camp as a camper, counselor, and Division Head. After graduating from Duke University, she taught elementary school for five years in a suburb of Washington DC and earned a Master's Degree in Educational Administration from The George Washington University. Experienced in child development and school leadership, Britton went in pursuit of her lifelong dream-- becoming a camp director. Since 2006, she has been full-time in camping. Britton served on the ACA-EPIC Committee and co-chairs the Joe Kruger Youth Development Conference.
After 17 years as Director and a lifetime at camp, Billy nows enjoys the role of Director Emeritus and watching the traditions of Watitoh continue to flourish under Drew and Britton's direction. A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Billy served as an Assistant District Attorney in Bronx, NY before returning to camp as a full-time career. For the next phase of his career, Billy is serving as CampGroup's legal counsel and indispensable advisor. Billy is also President of the Western Massachusetts Camp Directors Association, Board member of the ACA-NY/NY and the Massachusetts Camping Association.
Jed has grown up at Camp Walt Whitman since the age of 8 and became Director in 2005. Jed represents the third generation in his family to own and direct CWW. Prior to becoming Director, Jed worked at CWW for 10 summers, including 5 as the Assistant Director. Jed earned his undergraduate degree from Emory University and his MBA from the Peter Drucker School of Management at Claremont. Jed is a former middle school and high school teacher.
Carolyn joined husband, Jed as Director of Camp Walt Whitman in 2006. Previously, Carolyn worked as the Executive Director of the National Law Enforcement and Firefighters Children's Foundation in New York City. Carolyn graduated with a masters degree in Sports Management from the University of Tennessee and then worked as Assistant Athletic Director for the Women's Athletic Department. Carolyn played four years of collegiate basketball at Dalhousie University where she graduated with a bachelors degree in Recreational Management.
Corey received a Bachelor's in Sociology from Emory University and a Master's in Social Work from New York University. Prior to joining Wicosuta, Corey was the assistant director and girls head counselor at a co-ed resident camp and spent three years as the Director of Special Programs for the American Camp Association's New York Section office. Corey received the prestigious ACA Tri-State Award in 2009 and is an ACA Standards Visitor.
Justin received both his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and his Master of Education from the University at Buffalo. He worked as the assistant director and boys head counselor at two co-ed residential camps prior to becoming a Director at Wicosuta, with wife, Corey, in 2006. He serves as an ACA Standards Visitor.
Jared and Jill Shapiro
Jared and Jill are thrilled to be leading Camp Winadu. Jared's history with Camp Winadu goes back to 1984 when he began as a camper and remained at camp for twelve consecutive summers as a camper, Counselor, Group Leader, and now Director. During the summer, Jared directs all aspects of the camp sharing his extreme passion and love for Winadu's traditions and extraordinary and robust program. Jill oversees the camp office as well as parent and camper communication, during the summer and in the off-season.
Mark "Bennie" Benerofe joined the leadership team of Camp Winadu in 2009, however his first introduction to Winadu was in 1999 as a basketball coach for a post-season camp. Bennie was then a high school teacher, basketball coach, and athletic director in New York City. In 2004, Bennie joined CampGroup and became actively involved in Winadu and its affiliate camps. Currently CEO of CampGroup, Bennie comes to Winadu as an Owner/Director to share his passion for sports and teaching children firsthand. Bennie is currently on the Board of Directors of the national American Camp Association (ACA) and the NY/NJ chapter.
Bart Sobel continues a family tradition established in 1938 by his father "Doc" Sobel. Bart grew up at Winaukee as a camper and as a staff member. In 1981, he succeeded his father as a year-round director of Camp Winaukee and has continued to hold the fort ever since. Previously, Bart was a Professor of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in educational philosophy.
Dan is a graduate of the University of Sheffield in England and has a Masters in Business Administration from Hofstra University in New York. He has been a director at residential camps in both New York and Maine. Apart from camping, Dan had a 10 year career in sports marketing and business development including working for IMG, KPMG and Ernst & Young in both London and New York City. A rugby enthusiast from an early age, Dan brought his passion for the sport to Hofstra University where he was the head coach of their rugby team. He is a “cradle to the grave” Celtic Football Club supporter and will eagerly discuss with any camper why they are the greatest sports team on the planet! Dan is joined at Winaukee by his wife Brooke, a former summer camp director and elementary school teacher, and two daughters Keelin and Nora. Dan and his family reside in New Jersey.
David Jacobson-Fried comes to Zeal after years of experience in summer camp and education. For the past decade, David has been involved in every level of summer programming from counselor to director. Originally a counselor at Camp Walt Whitman, David became a water-ski director, before moving on to be a trip leader, medical specialist, and SCUBA instructor for Broadreach. David has spent the past three summers at the United World College of the American West. At UWC, he has worked as the Director of Summer Programs and head of the school’s experiential education program.