Kim McKearnan

Executive Director

Years at Camp: 5

“I am grateful for the opportunity to call Camp 'work.' As a health care provider, it is a gift to see survivors and their families outside of the hospital environment. Being witness to their laughter, triumphs, friendships, courage, creativity and resiliency is a privilege. It is all I need to fuel my passion for making Camp the best it can be. Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, 'Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.' Camp is definitely great work. It is beyond satisfying. For me, it is a work of love.”

Kim returned to Montana after living abroad in Qatar where she helped open a much-needed children's hospital. She earned her Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Washington and has 25 years of experience in pediatric health care. She started with bedside clinical care and progressed to organizational leadership positions.

Jennifer Benton

Camp Director

Years at Camp: 25

“Since first volunteering, then joining the staff in 1995, I’ve been fortunate enough to hold several different positions and witness countless milestones and special moments here at Camp. Whether it’s watching the growth and success of our annual RATPOD cycling event, or welcoming former campers back years after their cancer to serve in a volunteer capacity, or sending someone down the zip line for the first time, magical moments happen day after day in this land of dreams. I feel fortunate to play some small part in helping those who come to Camp make memories, build confidence and form lifelong friendships.”

Jennifer began as a volunteer with Camp our very first summer in 1995. The next year she joined our team full time and has served in a number of roles over the years. Outside of Camp she also serves on the Board of Directors for the Children's Oncology Camping Association, International, has served on the board for Ovarian Cancer Survivors Foundation based of Montana and volunteers with other area non-profit organizations. A graduate of Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, Jennifer immediately discovered Camp after moving out West and enjoys camping, fishing, hiking, skiing and exploring with her husband and two black labs.

Jake Wood

Facilities Director

Years at Camp: 18

“My favorite thing about working at Camp is meeting all the great people and the view never gets old!”

A Montana native, Jake first started as a groundskeeper and maintenance assistant at Camp in 2002. He was promoted to property manager in 2006. Jake quite literally keeps the wheels on the bus and the roof over our heads.

Jen Emendorfer-Wade

Camper Manager

Years at Camp: 6

"My Camp journey started years ago when I volunteered as a concierge at Winter YAC. Camp quickly became one of my happy places and opened my eyes to what I wanted to do when I 'grew up.' I knew someday I wanted to find my place within the cancer community, helping others find their way to resources and the support they needed to make a difficult time a little easier. Thanks to a twist of fate, that place ended up being the same one that started me on this journey. I was offered a position as the Program Administrative Assistant in 2016 and have loved every minute since I emphatically accepted!

"I have the pleasure of helping campers with their application paperwork and answering questions to prepare them for their adventure. I get to be among the first to greet out-of-state campers when they arrive at the airport, and one of the last to say goodbye as everyone prepares to fly home. I love chatting with everyone at the end of their week, seeing the friendships that formed or grew in only a few days, and hearing about what made Camp special for them."

Jen volunteered in our foundation office in Missoula in 2001 and went to Camp her first time as a concierge for the 2002 Winter Young Adult Conference and returned for subsequent summer and winter programs for two years. A graduate from the University of Montana with a bachelor's degree in psychology, Jen is delighted to work closely with our program staff.

Tessa Heuermann, LCSW

Wellness Programming Manager

Years at Camp: 1

"Since I am new to Camp Mak-a-Dream, I am excited to learn and grow along with campers, caregivers, volunteers, and staff. As the new Wellness Programming Manager, I am involved in creating supportive and engaging programming that promotes safety and wellbeing. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I have the training and background for recognizing and meeting each camper’s cognitive and emotional needs.

Prior to joining Camp Mak-a-Dream, I worked as a mental health therapist at Southwest Montana Community Health Center. There, I gained insight and skills for serving clients with complex medical and mental health conditions. In other experiences, I have worked as a clinical program leader at a summer camp for children with emotional disturbances. Also, I have worked with Veterans, elders, people who are homeless, people with intellectual disabilities, and people experiencing violence in their relationships.

I was drawn to work at Camp Mak-a-Dream for the opportunities to support and encourage survivors along their journey with cancer. Montana is my favorite place on Earth. Sharing it with cancer survivors who could use its beauty and peace, is a dream come true for me."

Amy Surbrugg, RN

Health Care Coordinator

Years at Camp: 2

“Camp is a magical place. It is amazing to watch a group of campers go from essentially strangers to family in just a matter of days. I am very excited to work in such an amazing place.”

Amy was raised in Montana and graduated from Carroll College in Helena, Montana with a degree in Nursing. She has been working in Billings as a nurse working with pediatric and adult medical and surgical patients. She is a certified medical surgical registered nurse and a pediatric chemotherapy and bio therapy provider certified through the Association of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Nurses. She worked at camp Mak-A-Dream as a cabin counselor in 2012 and 2013 and is excited to join the organization year round.

Linda Baldwin

Business Operations & Donor Relations Coordinator

Years at Camp: 1.5

“I found Camp Mak-A-Dream through participating in the RATPOD ride several years ago. The compassion, fun, gratitude and support were outstanding. Meeting the people and knowing what I was aligning with sparked a familiarity in me to beliefs about community and service I’d had all of my life. I knew someday I would find a way to serve the camp more permanently! Whether I am working in the office, or at camp meeting amazing people and looking out over the luscious scenery, this camp has a magical and beautiful quality that has to be experienced. I am honored to be a part of the team.”

Linda grew up in Montana, and comes from a background in health care and nutrition, adventure and bicycle travel, and overall service. She’s a born “foodie” and loves to indulge her creativity in the kitchen.

Joe Colistro

Camp Chef

Years at Camp: 2.5

Joe is a retired police officer who has been refining his culinary skills at the Portland Yacht Club and then a fishing lodge in Alaska. He is author of Giuseppe's Recipes.

Maria Davis Thrasher

Bookkeeping and Business Operations Coordination

Years at Camp: 1

“Montana is my happy place and I am thrilled to be working behind the scenes for other cancer survivors. I truly wish it had existed to support myself and my family at the beginning of my cancer journey. I cannot wait to see it in action for all the people who need its beauty and camaraderie.”

Maria has an accounting degree from Siena College. She has been providing accounting services in a variety of fields for virtually all of her working life. She lives in the Sapphire Mountains with her husband and all their critters, including four horses. She spends the majority of her free time on horseback or reading a good book.