Years at Camp: 6
“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.
Years at Camp: 26
“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.
Years at Camp: Joined in 2022
Lauren grew up in Idaho and graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in Social Work. She spent 8 years as the Program Director at a camp in Idaho and is excited to be a part of the Camp Mak-A-Dream team. Lauren enjoys any and all sports, music, and exploring the outdoors.
“Camp is all about the people! I can’t wait to meet all the incredible people who are part of the Mak-A-Dream community and share in the magic and fun of Camp!”
Years at Camp: 19
“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.
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.
Camp Deputy Director
Years at Camp: Joined in 2022
“This will be my first summer at camp, and I am unbelievably excited to become part of the Camp Mak-A-Dream community and support this incredible organization. Camp touches the lives of so many people across the country and I’m looking forward to working closely with our volunteer staff and program team to create an unforgettable experience for our campers.”
Kelly was born and raised in Minnesota and earned her undergraduate degree from Drake University in business management. She then moved to North Carolina and began her career in finance with SBA Lending, while completing the MBA program at UNC Charlotte. She moved to Missoula in the spring of 2020 and fell in love with the mountains, the people and the endless adventures. Kelly spends all her free time hiking, riding horses and backpacking through the gorgeous Montana wilderness.
Camp Deputy Director
Years at Camp: Joined in 2022
Matt is a native of Michigan where he graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies. He was previously a cabin leader for Camp Mak-A-Dream during the 2018 and 2019 summer seasons. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to work for camp. Matt enjoys being able to get outside and experience big sky country. Matt loves to watch sports especially when it comes to the Lions or Penguins.
“Camp is truly extraordinary and holds a special place in my heart. I love that I now get to be a part of an amazing staff and work to ensure camp is a special place for campers. My favorite part about camp is creating memories and friendships.”
Director of Medical Operations
Years at Camp: 9 (1997-1998, 2005-2012, rejoined 2022)
Stu has served at camp in the past as a volunteer cabin counselor, volunteer physician, Board Member, and on staff as Camp Director and Executive Director. After 10 years away pursuing an MBA overseas and a career in Eating Disorder Care and Advocacy, he is thrilled to return to Missoula and Camp Mak-A-Dream. Stu's passions include baseball (Let's Go Mets) and Performing Arts and he has been a longtime volunteer at the Missoula Children's Theatre.
"Camp is where everyone can leave baggage at the door and be celebrated for who they are, not judged for what they have. Camp is the epitome of the community we all crave. I think we have all learned that lesson the past few years. It's great to be home".
Business Operations & Donor Relations Coordinator
Years at Camp: 2.5
“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.
Maria Davis Thrasher
Bookkeeping and Business Operations Coordination
Years at Camp: 2
“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.
Years at Camp: 3
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.
Years at Camp: Started April 2022
Executive Chef Gary Strong has been in the hospitality industry for over 30 years and has worked at such places as the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was the Executive Banquet Chef for the Double J Resort in Rothbury, Michigan where he was in charge of all the Weddings and Corporate Events and Large Parties and the Executive chef of Michigan Princess Riverboats in Lansing, Michigan going up and down the Grand River serving amazing lunches and dinner cruises. He also has been in the camp world before as the Executive Chef for Camp Newaygo and Ridge Specialties Catering. Chef Strong is very excited to be back in the camp world!
“I love children and food so what better place than camp Mak-A-Dream to bring them both together and give back, it means the world to me!”