STAFF LEADERSHIP TEAM
Jon Fleming McLaren - Operations Executive
Eli Fyksen - Program Operations Director
Peter Drews - Summer Camp Director
Kathy Gilbert - Food Services Coordinator
AJ Laughlin - Member Engagement Director
Emily Lundquist - Equestrian Director
Rachael Shaff - Business Specialist
Tracy LaChe - Center Admin
Jon Fleming McLaren
Greetings Parents and Campers:
It is such a pleasure to be back at YMCA Camp Minikani. Like many of you, I began my camp journey at eight years old with a seemingly endless drive out to Hubertus. That trip out to camp began a 17 year adventure that took me from camper to LT, to counselor and finally as a member of the summer administrative staff. Now, 17 years, later I’ve returned back home to the Y as the Operations Executive at Minikani.
I grew up in Shorewood and Mequon and graduated from Homestead High School. After high school I earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology with a minor in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Go Blugolds! Camp sparked my interest in combining leadership programs with outdoor adventure activities. While in college, I began to guide adventure programs for UWEC. After Eau Claire, I attended graduate school at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale where I received a Master’s in Recreation Administration with a focus on adventure programming.
Those experiences allowed me to begin my career at the University of Maryland – where I ran outdoor leadership and adventure programs for a decade. I finished my time out east working in community and recreation programs for local government.
My wife, Julie, and I met as counselors while at Minikani. We love camping, hiking, snowboarding and watching Packer games with our 14 year-old daughter, Aubrey, and our son Ian who is eight. I am an avid runner and help coach local youth lacrosse for the Shorewood boys’ team and Whitefish Bay’s MC Elite girls’ team.
Program Operations Director
Hello! I have been with YMCA Camp Minikani now for 10 years. Wow, it seems like a really short decade. Prior to my time at Minikani, I was at UW-Stevens Point earning my Bachelors of Science in Environmental Education. For a short time after college, I was the trips director for Wisconsin Lions Camp, working with kids of all different ages and ability levels. That led me to my role as Environmental Education Director with Camp Minikani.
Since then I have had a few moves in my position here at Minikani and currently am in the Program Operations Director role. In this role, I am able to take the responsibilities of overseeing and directing the operations of Camp Minikani, as well as coordinating all of our non-summer season groups, including weekend groups and schools. Being in charge of operations allows me to see first hand the life changing power that exists at Camp Minikani.
If you have any questions, concerns or comments about school trips, weekend rentals or the operations of Minikani please contact me at email@example.com or call camp at 262-251-9080.
Food Services Coordinator
Hi, I am Kathy Gilbert "Kitchen Kathy" and I am the food service coordinator at Camp Minikani. I have over 37 years in the food service business. I have been at camp for the last 5 years preparing meals and overseeing the kitchen staff. In the summer we have 12 staff members doing the prep and serving of the meals. It can be very hectic at times but we all have a passion for making sure everyone has a well-balanced meal to have the energy so they can keep up with all the activities during their stay. If your child is coming to camp and you have any concerns feel free to call or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk about their dietary needs.
I grew up on the only farm in my town, surrounded by a variety of different animals which I loved, cared for, and showed throughout 4-H. Despite always wanting a horse, I started off showing beef cattle, pigs, rabbits, chickens, and dogs. After years of begging, I finally received Saddleseat lessons as a gift and things took off from there. I got my first horse at age 15 and have since competed in many different disciplines including jumping, English pleasure, Western pleasure, and trail class. I served as a working student under a professional trainer for two years and learned tons about the care and training of horses.
After renting and running my own small barn for two years, it was my love for horses that led me to Minikani. I took the position at the equestrian center as the Barn Manager in November of 2012. With experience in a multitude of areas and a few vet tech courses under my belt, I feel right at home managing the Minikani barn and herd.
With my free time I enjoy spending time with my son and my two dogs. Besides showing horses, I enjoy trail riding, overnight horse camping, and photography. I look forward to many future endeavors here and meeting some great camp kids, volunteers, and students here at Camp Minikani.
Member Engagement Director
Hello campers and parents. I'm excited to continue my journey here at Camp Minikani as the Member Engagement Director. I started out at Camp as the Center Admin in 2013 and am excited to interact with you all on a different level. As the Member Engagement Director, I take care of a few business office duties, as well as the main person responsible for implementing our Camp's engagement within the local schools in SE Wisconsin, as well as planning our few community events such as Pancake Breakfast.
In my free time, I enjoy camping and being outside in the summer and love spending time on the lakes of Wisconsin boating or swimming. In the winter I love lounging around enjoying a good book or movie.
Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about camp by email at email@example.com.
In the summer, Rachael can be found roaming the grounds, snapping photos of campers and staff while they have the time of their lives. Throughout the year, she oversees all social media and marketing communication. Rachael’s favorite part of her job is spreading the Spirit of Minikani through use of her creativity.
Prior to her time at Minikani, Rachael earned her Master of Arts in Communication at CU-Denver. She also earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Technologies with emphasis in Journalism from UW-Platteville. She previously worked in public information for Regional Transportation District, where she spread the word about commuter rail developments in Denver. She was also a journalist for the Kenosha News in southeastern Wisconsin.
If you have a story to tell about Camp Minikani, Rachael is excited to hear from you! You can reach her at 262.251.9080 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tracy has our office running like a finely-tuned machine! If you have ever called the main office, you have probably met her. In Tracy’s role as center administration, she is the primary person who answers phones and responds to emails sent to the Minikani general email. She is also the lead person for the scholarship application process.
In her free time, Tracy is an artist who loves to draw, paint and snap photos. She also loves horses and playing with her two dogs and cat.
If you need assistance with registration, payments or scholarships, Tracy is happy to assist you. She can be reached at 262.251.9080 or at email@example.com
Summer Camp Director
Hello Campers, Families, Alumni, and Curious Parties!
My camp journey began when I was an eight year old boy, tentatively inching into Brian Digate’s cabin with my friend Sawyer for our first overnight camping experience. I still remember the haze of incense and dim candlelit bunks of cabin 11 (it is likely just my memory that provides the haze, but the impression lasts), the cabin that I would counsel in 11 years later. That week would come to alter the path of my life in many ways, helping to determine my interests, my friendships, my career, and most importantly the quality of my character. The fun I had that week could reverberate for a lifetime. It was impossible to walk away from.
When not at Minikiani, I spent my childhood running (literally) around the streets of Shorewood, where I attended sterling educational institutions through high school. I filled my days traversing hill and dale on the 8-time state champion Shorewood Cross Country and Track and Field Teams (go Greyhounds!). I continued running through my collegiate experience at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where I graduated with a BA in Psychology and English.
Before joining the full time Minikani team, I spent a year teaching English in rural Thailand and traveling Southeastern Asia. That included jaunts into Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, and Australia. I spent the 2015-16 school year working for Playworks, a national non-profit that leverages the power of play to teach children fundamental social and emotional skills, in Milwaukee. I was the “coach” at Hopkins Lloyd Community School for the year, and helped turn recess into a place where kids could be themselves and have fun. The tools camp instilled in me—desire to better the lives of children, work ethic, communication skills—helped every step along that journey.
This next summer will be my 17th on the shores of Amy Belle, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to spend it with the most spectacular staff in the world, and with the coolest kids gracing Southeastern Wisconsin. I am eager to share the memories that I made as a camper, a leadership trainee, a counselor, and an administrator over all of these years, and to create more for the next generation of Minikani campers and staff. Can’t wait to see you at camp!