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Now that camp happens in partnership with Angelic Organics Learning Center, we are working together to ensure we have the greatest staff in the history of camping! As usual, we are dedicated to a trained team of experts in the areas of safety, fun and growth. Each summer, the team changes a bit, but to get an idea of past years, see below.

Tim Magner

Tim believes in the magic of camp to create growth opportunities by connecting kids with the natural world in a novel and challenging environment. While visiting schools as a children's book author and running Truck Farm Chicago he studied the food system and learned about what's possible. Tim taught skiing to kids in Colorado, golf in North Carolina and was a camp counselor in Georgia. He's tutored & served on school boards and will never forget 'his' camp, Camp Highlands.

Julia Dornbush - Head Counselor

comes to us after spending twelve summers at her own camp in the Berkshires of Massachusetts where she was a camper, a counselor, a waterfront staff and a Unit Director (with a staff of thirty!). Since graduating Grinnell College, Julia has worked as an AmeriCorps member with Playworks, at an elementary school in Chicago. In her free time, you'll find Julia playing frisbee, finding a dog to pet, or eating ice cream.

Dustin Thacker Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 1.55.30 PM

grew up on a farm in central Illinois.  He loves challenging people to think bigger and to be curious.  As the director of Tinkering School Chicago, he has made a career out playing in the woods and helping children engage in big open ended building projects that spark their imagination. Dustin now runs the playshop at the DuPage Children's Museum.

Dante Donelson - Activities Director & Counselor

Dante is returning to the world of camping! He grew up a camper, then worked at several different sleep away summer camps in Wisconsin in several roles, including training staff and as an instructor (of things like survival skills). He's currently a 5th grade science teacher at a Chicago Public School. He loves the outdoors and has a passion for working with children and believes they get chances to explore nature.

Jess Charlotte - Wellness Director & Counselor

Jess is a nature lover who is also a licensed mental health counselor. She has provided therapeutic services to a diverse population of children, adolescents and adults over the last seven years. Her work involves art therapy, play therapy and cognitive/behavioral approaches to address present stressors while developing coping skills and fostering positive self-esteem.

Jake Van Wolvelear

is a student at Illinois State University studying Renewable Energy (he's studied in Denmark last year). He brings with him a love for nature, especially when it comes to things like hiking and camping. Jake enjoys spending time woodworking, reading, relaxing outdoors, cooking, and enjoying silly moments with his friends.

Cooking Program

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 1.22.28 PMValerie Holze (also from camp 2017) brings her experience in great Chicago restaurants and running a personal chef business. Shanna Linn has spent much of the last three years cooking with or for teenagers on a commercial sail boat  ring. They are dedicated to bringing new tastes and textures to everyone!

Sarita Dougherty & Champoy Lim

After a two-year Nature's Farm Camp hiatus, they return! Sarita is the former co-creator of an Art and Nature Camp in Los Angeles. She developed & implemented engaging garden and plant-focused activities to connect youth to nature and has extensive experience sharing the homesteading skills she uses on a daily basis. She’s also a professional artist, exploring the interaction between nature, cities, and cultures. Champ works as a woodworking teacher, but he's also a camper favorite as a talented teacher of comics and puppetry. 

Seneca Kern

For the past ten years, Seneca has built gardens for homes, schools & common spaces. Centered on self-reliance and community revitalization, his work brings home our most local and sustainable food.

Summer Job 2019: Hiring

We hire passionate people capable of making positive food and nature experiences available to children. They have a ton of energy and experience with kids in the outdoors. They have expertise in Food/Farming, Ecology, Arts or Building, and are good at sharing their skills.  If you're interested for an unforgettable summer job in 2019, apply HERE. Want to be considered for our cooking programs? Click HERE

Nature's Farm Camp Board of Directors

The Board of Directors are the fiduciaries who steer us towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies, as well as by making sure the nonprofit has adequate resources to advance its mission.

Gordie Kaplan comes to the Nature’s Farm Camp board with more than 48 years experience in camp administration, mentoring and training. Gordie was familiar with our program as the Executive Director of American Camping Association,  through trainings and conferences and because their Title XX grants helped with our camp scholarships. With extensive experience with program development and camp accreditation, Gordie will help us expand and improve camp programming. He has a Master’s degree in Camping and Outdoor Education as well as graduate work in Business Administration.

Alice Kao is an architect, avid indoor gardener and enthusiastic knitter. She graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University with a BArch degree. After spending most of her career in New York, she had the opportunity to work in Shanghai for a year. She returned to the U.S. and ended up in Chicago where she appreciates the bounty and colors of farmers markets. Her cooking is inspired by the hard-working, dedicated farmers of the heartland. She wants to make sure future generations of farmers are groomed today.

Jolie Krasinski is an environmental grant-maker who lives in Evanston, Illinois. She currently serves as the Natural Areas Program Director at Illinois Clean Energy Community where she oversees the administration of six different grant programs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a master’s degree in public affairs and policy analysis from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Ms. Krasinski worked for several nonprofit environmental and conservation organizations in the Chicagoland area before beginning her career as a grant-maker at the Great Lakes Protection Fund in 1999. She enjoys traveling to natural areas throughout Illinois with her family for both work and pleasure.

Dr. Geeta Maker-Clark is a physician board certified in both family medicine and Integrative Medicine. She has created a practice through NorthShore Medical Group in the Chicagoland area that focuses on the therapeutic and preventative use of food as medicine. Her integrative practice also utilizes herbs, botanicals, mind body therapies alongside allopathic medicine. Dr. Maker-Clark is a clinical assistant professor at the Pritzker School of Medicine of University of Chicago,  teaching nutrition through a course called Culinary Medicine, and coordinating all integrative medical education.

Tim Magner is the Executive Manager of the Board and the current Camp Director. In addition to working with kids in a variety of capacities since high school, Tim spent nine years in sales and sales management for EMC Corporation and six years in commercial real estate. Tim is also a Grant Officer for the Bryan Cameron Education Foundation.

Thank you to Teams 2015- 2017

Without a doubt, a natural resource as valuable as the delicious veggies we harvest is our Team.
2017: Vicki, Kate, Carolyn, Lea, Sarah Jane, Sarah Jane2, Tatum, Deliah, Patrick, Chef Franklin, Valerie, Dustin, Tomas, Seneca. Without a doubt, the best crew yet 🙂 Visitors included Timber Edge Farm, Brian Severson Farm and State Representative Bennett.
2016: Vicki, Winona, Kate, Eliza, Kathleen, Matt, Carolyn, Susan and Joe: thank you for bringing your energy and delivering a wonderful experience. Visiting Stars included Teddy Z, Warren (Mark Twain), Amanda, Charlie and farmers from Timber Edge Farm and Timber Feast.
2015: Our Camper garden wouldn't have happened without the direction of Kirsten Akre, formerly of Growing PowerThe Kitchen Gardener & Chicago Park District and local farmer Andrew Barelli, with special help from college superstars Effie Bentz and Ashley Quinlan. Many of our seeds came from The Green City Market, our starts from The Kilbourn Park Organic Greenhouse, Wicker Park Garden Club and LaGrange Park's Master Gardener Bob Zeni. Thank you also to our favorite seed grower: High Mowing Organic Seeds.

We appreciate the guidance of various current and former Camp Directors, notably Bob & Joan Erickson of Arts & Sciences in the Woods and Dustin Thacker of Tinkering School Chicago.

We're also thankful to our supporters who've enabled us to offer financial aid & scholarships: Patrick Suciu, Craig Pratt, Patrick Shannon, Kate Sirkin, Adam Hinrich, Noemi Kopp-Tanaka, Marti Hoffer, Hayes Family, Mack Family, Alice Kao, Marko Vulovic, Brian Lynch, Lauren Beuerlein, Magen Elliot, Gier Bowen, Beth Masterson, Prathima Yeddanapudi, Vic & Amy Morman, John & Linda Fix, CJ Wolf, Marvelous Meccia, Jill Stockard, Joe Digilio, Lena Bravo-Olsher, Reed Watson, Chris Howard, Karl, Amanda Rutter Hanley, Amanda Sargent, Matha Clemons, Gerry Weitz, Erin Kelly, Nilam Trivedi, Marilyn Going, Anna Langston, Susie Kirkwood, Sarah Walter, Jenelle Hammes Sullivan, Brekke Bounds, Nancy McClelland, Dianna Smith, Kate Gross, Kitty River, Marge Shannon, Sally Lian, Mike Judy, Jennifer, Julie Ann Alex DeSorbo-Quinn, Josh S, Christine Hutcheson, Brian"Fox" Ellis, Glenna Sullivan, Robert Fierro, Liz Miller, Rachel Land Browder, Jill May, Elizabeth Sommer, Genna Toledano, Boaz, Grobo, Amanda Nugent, Carly, Kevin Evans, Joel Parker Henderson, Elise Kleinman Jaffe, Chris Niewiarowski.

History of the Founding

Nature's Farm Camp grew out Elena Marre and Tim Magner's experience working together with The Kids' Table and Truck Farm Chicago. It was, and is, about their desire to get kids out of the city and connected to awesomeness (and everything that sustains us). Elena and The Kids' Table ran the cooking portion of the camp for the first two years and we will forever be thankful. Today, Elena is focused on The Kids' Table (and their amazing summer camp in Chicago).