Our Directors and Executive Staff bring a wide variety of backgrounds and experience to ‘Camp’ Camp. Many of them have been part of our Staff for years. Most importantly, they share a love for ‘Camp’ Camp – and the collective ability to know just how to make sure you have the best time ever!
meet our directors
Kerry Riffle (Owner/Director; Los Angeles, CA) was severely traumatized by five days at Camp Storer during his sixth grade spring break. However, the memory of his hunky Camp Storer counselor and his inexplicable desire to see the state of Maine prevailed when he saw an ad for the very first year of ‘Camp’ Camp in The Advocate back in 1997. Kerry has held various positions on the Camp staff since then, including Theatre Instructor (1997-1998), Rainbow Group Leader (1997-2000), Staff Training Supervisor & Programming Coordinator (2000-2004), and Assistant Director for Operations (2005). A member of Camp’s Steering Committee from 1999-2005, he was asked by ‘Camp’ Camp’s founder Bill Cole to assume ownership of Camp in 2006. So though his dream was always to have his own theatre company, Kerry nonetheless now happily finds himself the proud owner of a fabulous LGBTQ summer camp instead! Originally from Ohio, Kerry lived in Chicago from 1988-1999, where he waited tables, toiled as an administrative assistant, and worked as a stage manager and director with such theatres as City Lit Theatre, Talisman Theatre, and Bailiwick Repertory where he curated the Pride Performance Series in 1995. Curious about life beyond the Midwest – and partially inspired by his ‘Camp’ Camp experience – Kerry moved to Boston in 1999, then to New York City in 2001 where he worked as Office Manager/Controller for Rottenberg Lipman Rich, P.C., a boutique Manhattan law firm. In June of 2016, he finally left New York City behind so that he could devote more of his energy to ‘Camp’ Camp. After a full summer in Maine and an extended fall/winter visit with his family in Ohio, Kerry headed to Hollywood, California in March of 2017 where he currently lives with Brody, his adorable, overprotective twelve-year-old Norfolk Terrier, and works part-time as Night Manager at CB2 (one of his favorite stores ever) in West Hollywood. 2020 will mark his 24th year with ‘Camp’ Camp, thus giving him the dubious distinction of being one of only two people who has been at ‘Camp’ Camp every year since it’s inception in 1997. He has seen and heard a lot.
Betsy Orr (Owner/Associate Director; Portland, ME) is a wicked-local, lifelong resident of Maine and is uniquely qualified to co-run ‘Camp’ Camp: until her move to Portland in 2013, she could see Camp from her house – although she did have to travel to Boston Pride to find out about it. Betsy first came to ‘Camp’ Camp as a Driver in 2003 and later became a Rainbow Group Leader. When Kerry asked her to become his business partner in 2009, she said “Yes!” before she really had time to consider what she was doing. Camp 2020 will be her 18th summer at ‘Camp’ Camp, and she has loved every minute of the journey thus far. A lifelong camper – well, she spent much of her youth at her grandmother’s camp – Betsy is well-equipped to spend her summers playing with a bunch of homos in the Maine woods. To know her is to know that she’s really just an overgrown kid. ‘Camp’ Camp founder Bill Cole gave her the Indian name “Plays Well With Others,” which is a pretty accurate description, as her constant smile, quick wit, and colorful (ahem) language render her easily approachable at ‘Camp’ Camp. Betsy recently retired after many years of avoiding lesbian stereotypes as a PE and Health teacher, though she finds working with ‘Camp’ Campers to be oddly similar to working with the Middle School students she used to teach when ‘Camp’ Camp wasn’t in session. Betsy can always be heard before she is seen – which gives you ample notice to turn and run or to stop and talk.
meet our executive staff
Mary Beth King (Asst. Director; Tucker, GA) is a self-proclaimed camp addict and Camp’s resident vegan. She refused to go into recovery and instead has been spending the past nine summers at ‘Camp’ Camp and working/volunteering at YEA Camp and Camp It Up. Camp 2020 will mark Mary Beth’s fourth year as Camp’s Assistant Director, after first attending Camp in 2011-2012 as a Camper. She became one of our Rainbow Group Leaders in 2013, then added Vegan/Gluten-Free Baker & Dessert Chef to her Camp responsibilities beginning in 2014. (Whew!) She grew up in the Girl Scouts and started attending camp the summer before third grade. Mary Beth attended camp every summer after that first year, became a CIT, camp counselor, and eventually directed Girl Scout summer camps professionally for 10 years. She has presented workshops at several American Camp Association (ACA) conferences, was a standards visitor, and sat on the ACA Ohio board. The Barn Dance is Mary Beth’s favorite ‘Camp’ Camp activity, and she likes to warn all first-year campers that their face will hurt afterwards from smiling so much.
Richard Lawrence (Operations Manager; Jackson, MS) will mark his 14th year at ‘Camp’ Camp in 2020, his 10th year as Camp’s Operations Manager, having been part of the Maintenance & Logistics Team since he first attended Camp in 2007. However, ‘Camp’ Camp is far from his only summer camp experience. Richard grew up in the small town of Canton, Mississippi where the movies A Time to Kill and My Dog Skip were filmed. Just north of Canton is a small, 752-acre camp where Richard spent every summer since he was 13. He was a camper for only two years, but then was a counselor for two years, full-time summer staff for three years, and adult staff for 14 years, followed by ten years as property manager, living on-site year long and working the camp and conference center. In 1996, Richard was responsible for designing and directing a winter camp for high school students that takes place in the break between Christmas and New Years Day, subsequently running the program until 2004, though the camp continues to this day. He has worked in construction and sign painting, as well as Art Direction for commercials, trailers, and short films. He is currently the Technical Director for Mississippi’s only not-for-profit, professional theatre where he acts, directs, sings, and builds sets for the theatre and surrounding community theatres, as well as serving as the Vice President of the local avant-garde theatre group, Fondren Theatre Workshop. Two Truths And A Lie about Richard: his mother is eight years older than his oldest sister, he once died, and he can swallow his tongue. (The first one is the lie: his mother is actually nine years older than his oldest sister!)
Jim Wilkins (Asst. Operations Manager; Anchorage, AK) is a lifelong Alaskan who originally hails from Sitka, Alaska in southeast Alaska where there are no formal camp grounds. Jim has been a flight attendant for nearly 30 years and finds his flight-attendant skills come in handy at Camp! He has worked in various jobs over the years including being an auditor, waiter, caterer, candy man, pizza specialist, and DJ. His parents owned restaurants when he was growing up, so Jim understands the complexity of running a successful business and is always willing to do whatever it takes to make things happen. Jim’s love of Alaska shows when he has visitors to his home state, and he loves to show his connection to his Inuit roots from his mother’s side through culture and art. Jim originally read about ‘Camp’ Camp in The Advocate quite a few years back, but, thinking Maine was at the edge of the earth and having never gone to summer camp, he had no idea what to expect. Always up for an adventure, Jim finally decided to go for it and attended Camp for the first time as a Camper in 2012. He returned for two more years as a Camper, before joining the Maintenance & Logistics Team in 2015. Jim assumed his current role as Richard’s right hand man in 2017. He is honored to be a part of something so magical and exceptional that creates a safe space for so many.
Melissa West (Asst. Operations Manager; Tucker, GA) returns for her fourth year at ‘Camp’ Camp in 2020. This summer will be her second as part of our Executive Staff after spending her first two years as part of our Beverage and Maintenance & Logistics Teams. After growing up in Virginia, Melissa moved to South Carolina for college where she learned to love the (Game)cocks. Melissa spent her childhood summers traveling around the country via RV, and she visited her 50th state in 2018. (Yay, Vermont!) Melissa & Mary Beth (Camp’s Assistant Director and resident rainbow-unicorn-vegan-mermaid) currently live outside of Atlanta, GA but get out of town as often as possible. As Asst. Operations Manager, Melissa can be seen bustling around Camp in her now signature sleeveless t-shirts and shorts, often carrying armfuls of toilet paper and paper towels. Having just recently bought a house, Melissa’s current favorite pastime is drilling holes in the wall and hanging things. So far, nothing has fallen down.
Robin Benton (Risk Manager; Jamaica Plain, MA), an EMT, RN, and Professor of Aquatic Management at Salem State University in Massachusetts, has been providing aquatic and safety training to camps, schools, and recreation programs from Pennsylvania to Alaska for more than 25 years. She originally served as Hiking Instructor at ‘Camp’ Camp when she first attended in 2006, later moving into Risk Management and serving in her current position as Lead Risk Manager since 2009. An author, nationally recognized speaker, and expert witness, Robin has held numerous leadership positions with the National Recreation & Park Association, the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in Higher Education, Swingtime Boston, and other agencies. An avid outdoor and motorcycle enthusiast, Robin has ridden and camped through much of North America, so, while many people consider ‘Camp’ Camp to be on the rustic side, it always feels like a spa vacation to her! Basically, Robin is just a Camper with a day job. Her other passions include gardening, ballroom dance, and fostering dogs.
Karl Baudendistel (Camp Store Manager; New York, NY) currently spends his life taking people on vacation as a professional Tour Director. His love of travel grew from his first love: the theater. For many years, Karl traveled the country as the Company Manager for numerous Broadway National Tours including The Phantom of the Opera and Monty Python’s Spamalot. Chances are he’s been to a city near you. He is a trained Sommelier, a licensed NYC and Washington, DC tour guide, and enjoys Bikram Yoga. Having been traumatized by a nightmare week at sleep-away camp as a child, Karl was initially reluctant to attend ‘Camp’ Camp when he first attended as a Camper in 2010 (taking on his current role in 2011), but now he looks forward to escaping Manhattan for the peace and tranquility of Maine for a week each summer where he can relax, catch up with old friends – and hopefully sell you a t-shirt (or two)!
Lyndsey Fox (Co-Executive Chef; Philadelphia, PA), a native Philadelphian, is described by those closest to her as Charmingly Rebellious. A contrarian by birth, she sees no issue in pairing a $100 bottle of Mezcal with a hot dog from a street cart. As an adopted New Englander, she appreciates the beauty of a straightforward answer and cheap beer in a can. Lyndsey recently relocated back to Philly after a brief stint in Northern California where she worked in marketing for a well-known winery. She is a lifetime believer of #nonewfriendsjustcampfriends as a camper and counselor at ‘Camp’ Camp’s host camp, which is how she found Camp in the first place. Lyndsey started her journey at Camp in 2006 as a Kitchen Assistant. 2020 will mark Lyndsey’s 12th year at camp and fourth year as Executive Chef. Her favorite part of Camp are the people, of course, but the showtunes and dancing aren’t bad either. During her down-time, you can find her making a mess in the kitchen taking selfies with her dog Stanley, listening to music that makes her nostalgic for her adolescence, or reading one of the 36 etiquette books she has amassed over the years. Her future aspirations include opening a diner, being a Jeopardy champion, and, of course, writing the next great American novel.
Louis Ray (Co-Executive Chef; Splendora, TX) has been an executive chef and caterer since 2006 working for/with catering companies in the Houston, Texas area, cooking for places such as the Alley Theater and the Houston Symphony. He first came to Camp as part of our kitchen staff in 2007, eventually serving as Executive Chef in 2013 and 2014. Louis was then absent from Camp for three years, during which time he was busy serving up Southern-inspired fast casual cuisine in Pennsylvania as the inaugural Executive Chef of the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center (HMAC) and, after relocating back to Houston and kicking cancer’s butt, founding Devour Houston Catering with Brian Best and CJ Dillan. However, the siren song of ‘Camp’ Camp proved too strong to resist, and Louis returned to Camp in 2018, saving the day by stepping in last minute after illness sidelined our Sous Chef just two weeks before Camp. Reunited then with his pal and former Camp Kitchen Cohort, Lyndsey Fox, they decided to tag team the shit out of the Executive Chef position for Camp 2019! (And, boy, did they ever!) A U.S. Navy veteran, Louis has been all over the map, which has helped him with his inspiration in creating some fantastic menus. His other work includes preparing food for masses of youth as Executive Chef for a prestigious private school in Pearland, Texas and one summer as head chef for Camp’s own host camp. Louis’ work has been featured in magazines and publications such as Houston’s Hater magazine and Harrisburg’s PennLive.com (“…the best onion rings in Harrisburg”) and The Burg. Thriving by being a positive cancer survivor, he is part of E.R.S.I.C.S.S. (Empire of the Royal Sovereign and Imperial Court of the Single Star), a charity organization that gives back to Houston’s LGBTQ community. He is also obsessed with squirrels.
Kevin Joest (Beverage Manager; New York, NY) is a musician/composer, poet, builder, cook, cocktail designer, and dreamer. He grew up in Kentucky, which he now feels is a good place to be from, and currently lives in New York City, after stints in Nashville and Boston. Growing up, he never really went to summer camp, but his family went camping and sailing often, so he’s no stranger to the woods and what can happen in them. Now a city boy, his day job as a receptionist for the largest financial management firm in the world (Google it) is just to fund his life, which is better spent composing music, building furniture, cooking food, helping run a creative collective in Harlem, and traveling. His husband Marques is an opera singer (and member of Camp’s Dining Hall Team), and the adventures they have had together include helping push a Jeep out of a tank ravine on the Israel-Syria border, walking along what’s left of the Berlin Wall, participating in the very first NYC SongSlam, and getting married before the inauguration. Having spent many years waiting tables, bartending, and smiling at folks over great food and cocktails, Kevin was excited to put all that experience to use as part of the Camp Staff when he was initially hired back in 2017 as Camp’s first-ever Beverage Manager. Having exceeded Kerry & Betsy’s expectations for the position over the past three summers, he was more recently excited to hear his position would be the newest addition to Camp’s Executive Staff beginning in 2020. Kevin loves heading up Camp’s Beverage Team, leading the charge in helping to keep Campers hydrated during the day and feeling good at night. At Camp, you’ll usually find him behind the bar or in his short shorts filling up coolers in the beautiful Maine sun.
Vicki “Vickers” Hames-Frazier (Waterfront Director; Ypsilanti, MI) brings a wealth of experience in both camping and aquatics to her role as Camp’s Waterfront Director, a role she’s held since first attending ‘Camp’ Camp in 1999. When not making Camp’s waterfront a safe and fun place for all of our Campers, Vickers works as an aquatics specialist for special-needs children and adults, ages 3-26, a position she’s held at the same school district for the past 30 years. Her passion for children with special needs and aquatics led her to start “Aquagirl Aquatics”, a swim program that provides private swim instruction and therapy for special-needs children. Vickers has become a consultant and presenter on the topic of adapted aquatics to aquatic professionals across the U.S. A Girl Scout all her life, Vickers has worked in a camp setting since she was 18 years old as a counselor, waterfront staff, and waterfront director where she taught swimming, canoeing, and sailing. Her interests do extend outside of the water, though: she enjoys home improvement projects and the outdoors and is an avid runner, swimmer, and reader. Cooking is another of her joys, and she is currently working on a “family” cookbook. She enjoys time with her family and friends, especially her son Vincent and his wife, Andie. But… her Greatest Joy is her beautiful wife, Sandy who can usually be found during the week of Camp behind the wheel of one of the Camp vans!
Bill Cole (Founder; Colrain, MA) started ‘Camp’ Camp a couple of months after he came out at age 49 in 1996. His goal was to create a safe place for gay and lesbian adults (he didn’t know then about bisexual, transgender, and queer people, so other letters were added later) to enjoy the out-of-doors and a variety of activities just like the summer camps he wanted to like, but was never comfortable in, when he was a kid himself. He wanted to give people the luxury of time and the chance to get beyond first appearances to the possibility of real friendship. The first year of ‘Camp’ Camp, in 1997, 88 people attended – this in the days before most people had email and Facebook’s founder was in high school – and about two-thirds of them were part of the Camp staff! In 2006, Kerry and Susan “Clink” Clinkenbeard took over – with Betsy subsequently replacing Clink as Associate Director in 2009. Bill feels that founders may be overrated and says, “It takes a different skill set, but not a lesser skill set to continue to foster and grow a business. [Kerry, Clink, and Betsy] deserve enormous credit for all [they] have done to keep Camp thriving. I admire you very much.”