YMCA CAMP MINIKANI



YMCA Camp Minikani is a community that is dedicated to your child’s experience. The Minikani staff and Board work together to intentionally design an experience that will support and value your child for who they are and what they love.

The success of Minikani rests on the shoulders of our energetic, responsible and passionate counselors and administrative directors (AD Staff). Counselors are former campers who have learned about leadership and youth programming for three years through Minikani’s nationally-recognized Leaders in Training program. For summer staff, Minikani is the place where they developed resilience, independence and confidence, which is one of the reasons why they strive to recreate the same positive experience for your child. All summer staff is certified in First Aid and CPR.

2019 Ad staff



2019 Counselors

The year-round leadership team provides the strategic vision and direction for YMCA Camp Minikani. We are always thinking about new ways to improve camp. Please consider sharing your experience with us by emailing minikanifeedback@ymcamke.org.

Greetings! It’s a dream come true to be back home at Minikani. I focus on alumni and donor relations, risk management and strategic planning. From 1980 to 1997, I spent every summer at camp; from camper to Explorer Director. I have a BS in psychology from UWEC and a MS in outdoor recreation from SIU. My wife, Julie, and I lived out east, where I worked in higher education and local government. Julie and I met as counselors at Minikani. I love being able to give back what I’ve received from Minikani. I learned how to set goals and work towards them and realized the importance of friendship. I experienced the need of a strong work ethic, service towards others and what an honor (and massive responsibility) it is to be a Minikani counselor. In my free time, I enjoy coaching boy’s lacrosse and adventures with my dog, Maddie. Julie and I live in Whitefish Bay with our daughter Aubrey and son Ian.

Jon Fleming McLaren

Executive Director

It’s with great enthusiasm that over the past 12 years I have had the chance to watch young people’s lives change through the power of camp as they discover their ‘best selves!’ As the Senior Operations Director it’s my duty to provide leadership and support for all of camp’s operations to ensure our programs are of the highest quality, fully develop young staff and campers, and incorporate our strategic plan. Prior to my role as operations director, I held positions at Wisconsin Lions Camp, and in various full-time roles at Camp Minikani. I look forward to continuing to serve at camp where the strength of our programs and staff develops confident, independent and character-driven leaders.

Eli Fyksen

Sr. Operations Director

Dear Minikani Community,
I have been a member of the Minikani family since my first week of Overnight Camp as an 8-year-old camper. Since then, I have served as a leadership trainee, counselor, four-time summer administrator and now as your summer camp director. I am a graduate of Shorewood High School and Williams College. At the latter, I captained the cross country team and graduated with a degree in English and psychology. Before coming to Minikani full time, I spent a year teaching English at a high school in rural Thailand and traveling through the Eastern hemisphere. I also spent a year teaching social and emotional learning at Hopkins Lloyd Community School in Milwaukee as an AmeriCorps coach at Playworks. At Minikani this summer, I am so excited to see campers have the same positive experiences that shaped my journey through life.

Peter Drews

Summer Camp Director

I have been a proud member of the team since 2012, when I began my camp career as caretaker of the horse herd. Two years later, I became the equestrian director and have loved witnessing the positive impact of horses on those who visit. Not to mention, helping equestrian campers swim with horses is always a blast.
Growing up on the only operational farm in town, I developed a love for animals. Throughout my childhood, I showed a variety of animals through 4H, which taught me valuable leadership skills. Overall, I have 15 years of horse industry experience in the practices of English, Western, jumping, training and showing. I am passionate about teaching natural horsemanship methods and encouraging students to try their hand at every discipline. In my free time, I spend time with my son, Donovan, camp with my horse and mules, play with my pets, hike and travel.

Emily Lundquist

Equestrian Director

I work as the office admin at Minikani. I began this adventure in April 2016. Since then, I have been drawn to Minikani’s beautiful outdoors. Experiencing Minikani’s summer fun between counselors and campers makes my role at camp truly worthwhile. In my free time, I enjoy bringing out the colors of summer through gardening. My other hobbies include photography, drawing, watching sunsets from my porch and spending time with my horse and other pets.

Tracy Hennes

Center Administrator

Hello Camp Families. Summer 2018 marks my 5th year at Camp Minikani. In addition to working with all of our amazing camp families regarding their camper’s accounts, I also work behind the scenes to ensure that your registration and paperwork experience is the best that it can be. Additionally, I work with other office staff members to ensure our processes are efficient.
When not working, I enjoy spending time with my dogs and volunteer for a local dog rescue. I also enjoy spending my free time reading a good murder mystery or comedy book. In the summer, I enjoy lounging by the pool and spending time on the lakes of Wisconsin.

AJ Laughlin

Business Specialist

Hello, all:
I have been a part of the maintenance team at Camp Minikani since 2014. I love working outdoors, and Minikani is the place to be for that. Prior to coming to camp, I worked behind a desk in an engineering capacity. I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity of making camp a safe and fun-filled experience for visitors.

Patrick Quella

Property Director

Hello Minikani Families! I am excited to work in the camp environment, with the backdrop of trees, prairie, and blue skies to boot! As the marketing and membership coordinator, I take pics to planning events, to making sure the heart of soul of camp is showcased. I have worked with children and youth in the non-profit sector for many years, the bulk of it teaching middle school. I have a B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Education, with a certificate in Adult Learning. When I am not working at camp, I teach Sunday school, do social media and marketing for the Cream City 5K, and run. My two children, Mattea and Rowan knew and loved Minikani before me, so I earned major brownie points coming here. I love spending time with my family, friends, and just did a sprint triathalon, even though my husband Chris thought I was crazy.

Rita Davis

Member Engagement Director

Maddie (aka “Mads” or “Mad Dog”) is Jon’s six year-old Labrador retriever. She’s the camp dog. During the school year she can be found sleeping under Jon’s desk or sitting next to Tracy all day hoping for more treats. Maddie never leaves Jon’s side and does not roam camp freely. Maddie has three important roles at camp. First, she is responsible for keeping geese off the waterfront lawn—she is very good at this. Second, she entertains campers during free time with her love of diving off the docks and retrieving sticks from the lake. Lastly, she will spend time with campers who might feel a little homesick and need the affection that only a happy Lab can provide. In her free time, she loves duck hunting and sleeping on the couch.

Maddie

Director of Morale

Our support staff are the backbone of camp. From teaching environmental education to preparing meals and maintaining facilities, these staff members ensure that camp is fully functional and smoothly operated.

Hello friends,
I am privileged to have joined the Camp Minikani family. I have fond memories of camp back in the late ‘80s, and I am excited to be back. I have a background in construction and remodeling and love tinkering with anything and everything. I live in Bayside and enjoy spending time with my wife, Jolena, and two daughters, Lydia (7) and Abigail (2). I also enjoy soccer, boating, visiting our family cottage in Door County and spending time with friends and family. I am very lucky to be a part of such a fun, dedicated team here at camp.

Alex Presti

Assistant Property Director

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 and we can talk.

Kathy Gilbert

Food Service Manager

Hi my name is Allison! I’m 24 years old and I grew up in the southwest side of Milwaukee. When I was 2 years old, myself and my parents were the first family to thru-hike the entire Ice Age Trail during the summer of 1998 in just 50 days. Since then I have based my life around the outdoors and conservation. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in May of 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Geography. During my time as an undergraduate I studied fluvial geomorphology which is the study of rivers and how streams change and create landscapes. I was fortunate to have many opportunities through school to travel across the United States as well as study abroad in Scotland. I have dreams of one day working as a ranger in a National Park and sharing my passion for the outdoors with those around me.

Allison Vincent

Environmental Education Instructor

Hi my name is Danielle! I am from a south suburb of Chicago and began my love for the outdoors at a young age, having had the opportunity to camp and travel to all but 15 states in the U.S. I studied at Eastern Illinois University, earning my Bachelors degree in Psychology. I have a passion for anything water related, having been a life guard for over 8 years, and teaching babies as young as 6months old how to swim. I am a fitness, and power lifting fanatic, who currently holds a personal training certifictae through NASM. I plan to further my education, and recieve my masters degree in global sustainability, with a concentraion on water conservation. Looking forward to sharing this beautiful YMCA camp with you!

Danielle Ercole

Environmental Education Instructor

Hello! My name is Emily Krueger and I’m from Milwaukee, WI. I graduated from UW-Whitewater with an undergraduate degree in Health and Human Performance with a minor in Recreation. My love for camp began early as a Girl Scout at day camp and later at overnight camp. I am a volunteer, CIT (Counselor in Training) and most recently completed my AmeriCorps terms, where I spent two years at a camp in the WI Dells supporting campers with disabilities of all ages. All of these experiences have confirmed my love for the outdoors and I look forward to learning more at Camp Minikani as an Environmental Educator. I enjoy playing soccer, swimming, working out, and ice skating as a member of the Skeleton Crew with the Milwaukee Admirals hockey team. When I am not at camp, I like to spend time in Green Bay with my two nieces and nephew. I also enjoy spending time at my family cabin in Rome, WI.

Emily Krueger

Environmental Education Instructor

Our Board of Directors are dedicated and enthusiastic professionals who volunteer their time and talents to YMCA Camp Minikani. Through their service, members offer their expert advice and fundraising assistance in order to advance the strategic mission of camp and improve all aspects of Minikani.

Chris McArdle, Board chair
The Rauser Agency

Anne Ballentine, Board member
Rogers Behavioral Health

John Bolger, Board member
Bolger Legal Group, LLC

August Herschede, Board member
Realty Executives

Jerry King, Board member
Precision Engineering

Jill Kohli, Board member
[m]pirik

Pam Kruse, Board member
Chameleon Collective
XO Group, Inc.

Drew Maxwell, Board member
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

Karl Schoendorf, Board member
La Causa

Greg Valde, Board member
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

David Wierdsma, Board member
everything2go.com

Ryan Derus, Minikani Alumni Community Representative
Ascension

New alumni platform coming soon.

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