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 owners & directors
Kerry Riffle (Owner/Director; Woodville, OH) 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 at Camp 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, while his dream was always to have his own theatre company, Kerry nonetheless has happily spent the past 18 years the proud owner of a fabulous LGBTQ+ summer camp instead! Kerry grew up in northwest Ohio, but he departed after college for Chicago, where he lived from from 1988-1999 and could be found waiting tables, toiling as an administrative assistant, and working 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 first two summers at Camp’s first two summers — Kerry moved to Boston in 1999, then to New York City in 2001 where he worked as Office Manager at small Manhattan law firm and had the briefest of stints as a (substitute) stage manager on the Broadway production of Mamma Mia! After 15 years, he left New York City behind in 2016 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 which meant he was at least able to spend the worst of the COVID pandemic in all that glorious Southern California sunshine. However, family matters called, and he recently returned to the small Ohio town where he was born, his aging-but-still-adorable, overprotective fifteen-year-old Norfolk Terrier, Brody, in tow. (And ironically finds himself remotely employed as a Legal Assistant by that very same NYC law firm he left in 2016.) 2023 will mark his 25th season with ‘Camp’ Camp, and he’s thrilled to be returning to another in-person ‘Camp’ Camp experience in Maine after designing/managing two years of virtual Camp programming in 2020 & 2021. His tenure at Camp gives him the dubious distinction of being the only person left who has experienced ‘Camp’ Camp every year since its inception in 1997. He has seen and heard a lot. A lot.
Michelle Rediker (Assistant Director; Framingham, MA) thrived as a camper at Girl Scout Camp Natarswi, at the Southern Gate of Maine’s stunning Baxter State Park in the ’80’s. Though she heard about ‘Camp’ Camp in its earliest years, Michelle kept denying the longing in her heart to return summer camp. (One of her life’s biggest life regrets.) In the summer of 2009, Michelle finally decided to take the plunge — and she’s only missed one year of ‘Camp’ Camp since then! As a Camper her first two summers at Camp, Michelle spent so much time in the lake, Camp’s Waterfront Director decided she might as well just hire Michelle as a Lifeguard if she insisted on being there all the time anyway! And thus it began: Michelle was a full-time lifeguard on Camp’s Waterfront Staff from 2012 to 2016, then split her time between the waterfront and Rainbow Group Leader from 2017 to 2019. She “retired” from the Waterfront Staff in 2022, when she served as both a Rainbow Group Leader and their Team Leader. Michelle’s career outside of Camp centers on fundraising. After graduating from the University of Maine, she worked at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, starting as the receptionist and moving up through the organization in a variety of positions — pretty much doing everything but litigation! In her last role at GLAD, she was responsible for their annual fundraising events. After realizing she didn’t quite possess the Fabulous Gene such a position required and instead preferred the data side of fundraising, she acquired her Client/Server Certificate from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After four years as a Programmer/Analyst at a 700-bed hospital, Michelle “got the call” to return to something more non-profity and took a job in 2006 at the Unitarian Universalist Association, where she eventually landed in the UU Funding Program in a position that beautifully combines the knowledge and skills honed throughout her career: fundraising, hosting and feeding panel members, community organizing, databases, and the workings of non-profits and foundations. It’s been a match made in heaven! When COVID-19 struck, Michelle – knowing the value of Camp as a community institution and being committed to Camp’s future – utilized her extensive fundraising background to organize a GoFundMe campaign that was instrumental in ‘Camp’ Camp surviving those uncertain days of no in-person Camp (translation: little revenue) but ongoing expenses. In her spare time, Michelle has mentored LGBTQ+ youth living in foster care and volunteers with the Swing Blue Alliance to fight for Democracy. She loves to travel, especially if it gives her the chance to go diving. In 2014, she traveled to Thailand for her UUA sabbatical, where she perfected her SCUBA skills and worked on a reef restoration project. Michelle and her wife, Sue, live in the bucolic farm and conservation land of Framingham with their Mini Goldendoodle, Buster.
Betsy Orr (Owner/Purchasing & Inventory Manager; Portland, ME) is a wicked-local, lifelong resident of Maine and is uniquely qualified to be a long-term owner of ‘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, and she served as Associate Director from 2009-2022. Camp 2023 will be Betsy’s 19th summer at ‘Camp’ Camp, and, while she has loved every minute of the journey thus far, she’s excited that her new role as Purchasing & Inventory Manager will allow her to spend the week of Camp frolicking full-time with the other Campers. Having spent much of her youth at her grandmother’s camp, Betsy has always been well-equipped to spend her summers playing with a bunch of queers 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
Richard Lawrence (Operations Manager; Jackson, MS) will mark his 15th year at ‘Camp’ Camp in 2023, his 11th 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.
Erich Nobis (Asst. Operations Manager; Armington, IL) should technically be a fifth year Camp veteran since he first attended Camp in 2017 as part of Camp’s Beverage and Maintenance & Logistics Teams; however, he’s actually marking his fourth year at Camp this summer by joining Camp’s Executive Staff in his new role. (He strongly recommends to “never miss ‘Camp’ Camp for a boy!”) Erich was also a part of Camp’s Beverage and Maintenance & Logistics Teams again in 2019, and then served on the Maintenance & Logistics Team and as Assistant Evening Social Event Manager in 2022. A life-long outdoorsman, Erich caught the camp bug as a kid hiking with his parents, later attending and counseling at performing arts summer camps in central Illinois. Erich has a background in maintenance and logistics operations and is currently a Technology Analyst in corporate event planning. On practically any decent weather day, you can find him escaping corporate life in this chicken coop, one of several garden beds, or hiking and foraging in the local nature area.
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.
Louis Ray (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 numerous summers 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; Philadelphia PA) 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 Philadelphia, after stints in Nashville, Boston, and New York. 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, he spends his days woodworking for a boutique home goods company and his nights composing music, scratching on his viola, cooking food, and traveling. His husband Marques is an opera singer (and sometimes 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, biking on the waterfront in Montevideo, and participating as a team in the very first NYC SongSlam. 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 during his first three years, he (and his position) became the newest addition to Camp’s Executive Staff beginning in 2022. 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, if he’s not kayaking on the pond, you’ll usually find him behind the bar or in his short shorts filling up coolers in the beautiful Maine sun.
Scott Surette (Camp Store Manager; St. Petersburg, FL) was referred to ‘Camp’ Camp by a close friend, initially attending as a Camper in 2013 and 2014. His 17 years of experience in retail management came in handy when he was asked to serve as Interim Camp Store Manager in 2015, his first year as part of the Camp Staff. He’s worked as a Camp Store Assistant almost every year since then (2017 was sadly a Camp-free year for Scott), returning as Camp Store Manager again in 2022. Although Scott never went to summer camp as a kid, he always enjoyed camping with friends as a teen in his native New Hampshire. Like many of our Campers, Scott says it’s the great people he continues to meet at ‘Camp’ Camp that has kept him coming back for so many years. Currently a contact lens fitting consultant, Scott has also served on several committees for non-profits over the years, including MoveOn.org and The Southern New Hampshire HIV/AIDS Task Force. In his spare time, he enjoys attending concerts and writing and is planning to publish his first book this year.
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.”