Meet the new Miniwanca Directors at virtual townhall

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The AYF invites the Miniwanca community to meet the Directors on a Zoom townhall Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 8 p.m. ET. They’ll share their ideas for 2023, what they’re looking forward to most, and answer questions from the attendees.

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Miniwanca has seen some exciting updates to our full-time staff team in recent month.

Former Director of Programs Michael Harter has accepted a new position as the Conferences, Community, and School Programs Director. Harter continues to develop the AYF’s longest-running program, the National Leadership Conference, with co-directors Beth Wilson and Erin O’Brien. He also works with Miniwanca’s community and school partners to create engaging, powerful programs year-round.

Paul Kerchberger, who joined the American Youth Foundation in 2021 as Recruitment and Retention Manager, has stepped into the Boys Camp Director role. He looks forward to returning to his programming roots and growing the Boys Camp program in new ways.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be reentering the world of program this summer,” Kerchberger said. “The Boys Camp Director is the role where I can have the most impact on programming and participation. I spent most of my time at my previous camp in a leadership position. I have seen nearly every situation imaginable in a summer camping setting, and my fondest memories are working toward achieving our mission goals with both staff and campers.”

Bethany Wise is new to the AYF this year, taking on the Girls Camp Director role. She follows in the footsteps of Emily Knuth, a who served as Girls Camp Director in 2021 and 2022. Knuth has returned to her full-time work as Associate Director of the Prindle Institute for Ethics at DePauw University.

“Serving as the Girls Camp Director was the honor of my life. I led with my heart and gave it everything I had,” Knuth said. “I thank the 2021 and 2022 seasonal staff, campers, and their families for trusting me in this role.”

AYF Vice President Liz Marshall said Knuth was vital to Girls Camp’s success as Miniwanca carefully welcomed campers during the pandemic. “We are so grateful for Emily’s dedication to Girls Camp as we reopened after 2020,” Marshall said. “Her leadership and positive energy helped us navigate those challenging times, and we appreciate her excellent guidance.”

Wise brings several year of experience as a teacher and outdoor educator to the job. “I feel incredibly honored to be the next Girls Camp Director. I am committed to keeping Miniwanca a truly amazing place that positively impacts the youth that come through our doors,” she said. “I have heard so many stories about Miniwanca, but I can’t wait for that first day of summer 2023 when I get to experience the buzz of everyone arriving full of hope and excitement.”

Griffin Vogler continues to serve as Director of Operations at Miniwanca, overseeing the facilities and food programs. The Operations team has been hard at work readying camp for the winter months and looking ahead to welcoming even more youth in 2023.