The NextGen Ministries camping team consists of several groups of people. The staff at Eagle Lake that helps with our Mobile Camps, Missouri Annual Conference Staff, Summer CORE staff, Camp Directors, and Counselors – there is a great deal of experience and passion in each and every person involved.

Meet Our Staff

Rev. Jeff Baker

Rev. Jeff Baker

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Rev. Jeff Baker

Director of Mission, Service and Justice
Sarah Sims

Sarah Sims

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Sarah Sims

Scott Burdin

Scott Burdin

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Scott Burdin

Core Camps Coordinator

Master S’Moresman, Professional Kid, Senior VP of all FaceChat, Snapagram and Instabook accounts, and self-proclaimed Head Cheese of everything that requires a lack of seriousness. Email with questions …

Josh Schaller

Josh Schaller

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Josh Schaller

Camping Logistics

“What a looooong day!” Josh exclaimed as he slumped exhaustedly into his chair after a particularly hot Missouri summer day. His wife, Kara, sat across from him in the living room with their newborn child bouncing happily upon her lap, looking back at her husband in bemusement.

“What was bad about today?” she replied as the right corner of her mouth turned up in a faint smirk. After being married for just over five years, she knew to ask the question, even though she thought she already knew the answer.

Josh glanced back up at Kara and their son, a mischievous grin spreading across his face. Had his sarcasm become so transparent to her after their many years together?

“Well I played a lot of gaga ball today, talked to some pastors and church members, ate chicken nuggets, and took a lot of pictures,” he said smiling the entire time.

“Uh-huh…. And you get paid to do this?”

“How dare you insinuate that I all I do is just play around?” Josh replied sardonically. “Honey, it’s like Brett Favre used to say: ‘They pay me for the months and months of preparation I put in. I’d almost play the ‘game’ for free.’”

Tina Twenter

Tina Twenter

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Tina Twenter

Camp Registrar

Hello Campers!

Tina Twenter here, better known as Core Camps Registrar. Looking forward to seeing you at Camp this summer. I’m here to help you with any details for Core Camp registrations. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. Happy to help make your registration a smooth and easy process.

Our Camp Directors

Jared Ritter

Jared Ritter

Xtreme Camp Director

My name is Jared Ritter, a full-time real estate broker, born and raised in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I’ve always enjoyed working with kids and recently had the opportunity of officially joining staff at La Croix United Methodist Church. I have been involved with Xtreme Camp at La Croix for five years as a counselor and co-leading last year. The summer of 2017 will be my first year as the Camp Director. This camp holds a deep place in my soul. I grew up inside the walls of La Croix, attending the very camp that we still provide as a 6th, 7th and 8th grader. To be able to be one of the working parts of something that was such a huge impact on my faith is something that I cannot put into words. I knew of Jesus, but I found out who He was at Xtreme Camp. I take great pride in providing a camp experience that is life-changing because I know on a personal level what can come from this tradition-filled, crazy, fun and Jesus-seeking week that we call Xtreme Camp.

Kevin Manion

Kevin Manion

Kerusso Camp Director

I grew up in St. Louis and went to Truman State University. I play the bass guitar and am a fan of BBQ, technology, and almost everything Star Wars. I’m married and have a daughter and two sons. Church has always been a part of my life. I got my start in student ministry when I was asked to be a camp counselor and got hooked when I realized I could be a big kid. Since then I’ve been involved with youth group at my home church and helped start Kerusso in 2009, which is when I began directing. Camp for me is an important part of our youth’s faith and life journey.

Stephanie Smith

Stephanie Smith

Senior High Leadership Camp

My name is Stephanie Smith and I have been the director of Senior High Leadership Camp for the past 8 years. This camp originally started at Camp Galilee in 2008 and has since moved to the beautiful campus of Central Methodist University in Fayette.

Over the past 15 summers, I have worked as a core staff, counselor, and director for the United Methodist summer camp program. As a result, I have witnessed the joy and growth of many youth as they experience Christ at camp.

When I’m not at camp, I work at our church as the Director of Student Ministries and as a full-time mom to our two children. My husband and I have been married for almost ten years and actually met at church camp. As a family, we enjoy spending time together, being outside, and taking care of our animals (dogs, cats, bunnies, turtles and chickens).

Every summer, though, I look forward to directing camp, seeing familiar faces and meeting new friends. It is my goal for Senior High Leadership camp to help campers develop and enhance their leadership skills, so they can return to camp as counselors, directors, and/or to their churches as equipped servant leaders.  

Karen Shanks

Karen Shanks

Adventure Camp

My name is Karen Shanks, and this is my fourth year directing Adventure Camp.

Church camp has always been a big part of my life, roughly the last 14 years of it.  It is where I accepted Christ and heard my calling for youth ministry. I also met some of my best friends there as well! I was raised attending church, so I knew what to say and when to say it, but it all “clicked” one summer around Whitener Circle when I accepted Christ. I was 12 years old at the time. My faith journey began that night.

As a camper, I thought our counselors were the best! They were fun and energetic and not only did I admire them, I looked to them for guidance and encouragement. They truly helped me grow my faith.

I am a camp director because I want to share my love for Christ with your youth. It is an amazing thing to watch them get excited about so many things, such as sharing with old friends, making new friends, acting silly and singing crazy songs. My hope is to help them grow by sharing my knowledge of scripture with them and helping them cultivate their faith. It is really a great experience to plant a seed and watch God work in their lives during the week we get to spend with them.

Connie Bartels

Connie Bartels

God’s Girls on the Go Camp Director

My name is Connie. I’ve been married 35 years to my husband, Herb. We have five awesome children, and we live in Mid-Missouri on our farm. I first discovered how much I enjoyed working with children when I was in grade school and the Sunday school teachers let me “help” with the younger kids. I’ve been involved with kids ministry ever since.  Although I am a certified Special Ed Teacher, I chose to home-school our children. I prefer outdoor adventures and hands on learning.  I love Jesus, I love kids and I love camp!

Andrea Young

Sanctuary Kamp Director

I grew up as a director’s daughter, became a camper, then a counselor, and now have been the director for over 5 years. I live in Sedalia with my 6-year-old daughter Ellie who will be able to come to Kamp with me for the first time this year! I am a 3rd grade teacher but also have my Masters in Administration and help my school principal a lot. I attend First United Methodist Church in Sedalia and am very active there. I am in charge of the Pettis/Johnson County Relay For Life and love helping raise money to see more birthdays. I love the St. Louis Cardinals, dogs, going to the beach, watching Disney movies, being active in my church, and being with my family and friends.

David Israel

David Israel

Youth Fellowship Ignited Camp

I am the Lead Pastor at New McKendree UMC. I have been a camp director for 15 years.  I love my granddaughter, running and beef jerky.

Courtney Boedeker

Courtney Boedeker

Older Elementary Ultimate Extreme Camp Director

My name is Courtney Boedeker, and this is my third year directing the Older Elementary Ultimate Extreme Camp. I am from Pleasant Hill, Missouri, and attend Grace United Methodist Church in Lee’s Summit. Growing up, I was always very active in my church’s youth group. I attended church camp for several years, mainly during high school. Before I became a director, I was a counselor for two years. I loved the experiences that I had at camp, so I decided I wanted to become a director to give other kids those same experiences. Being a camp director has allowed me to play a role in helping kids grow closer to God and strengthen their walk with Him. I am looking forward to another great week at camp this summer!

Amanda Bond

Amanda Bond

Youth Fellowship Ignited Camp

I am the Director of Youth Ministry at New McKendree UMC. I have worked in youth ministry for 14 years as a full-time volunteer, part-time staff and full-time director. I grew up going to camp every summer from third grade through high school. My experiences at camp strengthened my love for worship and sparked my interest and passion for reading God’s word.

What Makes UM Camps Great?

The number one question we received at camp was “What about this Bible?”  We gave away over 20 Bibles at camp.  We had on little girl who came, and her friend’s mom came and talked to me.  She said that her daughter was embarrassed because she had to borrow her grandmother’s bible for camp, and it was awful because it had all these old words in it.  Not only did we give her a Bible, but we gave her little brother a Bible as well.  And I just loved it because they had been coming to Upward Basketball but had never come to church.  It wasn’t until after camp that they felt confident in doing that.  

- Kim Mertz, Concord Trinity

(A particular child that attended camp) probably has emotional defiant behavior issues.  Because of that he gets picked on a lot and is bullied a lot.  So, that week he was getting bullied a lot and was causing behavioral issues for their group.  Daily, I would have to talk to him and talk to the counselors to try to figure out what to do.  But one afternoon near the end of the day, something had happened. I and a counselor sat down and talked with the child about this tree in our playground.  We talked to him and we talked about God.  I can’t even remember what was said, but since then he has come back every Sunday.  And nights (Saturdays) when his mom works, he asks to come spend the night with us.  His mom told us that “he had never experienced God like that.”  He still always wants to go back to that one tree.  

- UMC Children’s director

There was one day we were coming out of camper rally, and there was a kid that was having a hard time. So, his counselor went out into the lobby with him.  They were kind of over off to the side, and he was kind of leaning over the kid.  I wanted to see if something was wrong, so I went over.  (The counselor) had found a random piece of paper and a pen that only worked half-way, and he was drawing a picture of a cross and the kid was intently watching.  The kid was looking at him up in the eyes and having that conversation, and it was in a moment when everyone was filing out of camper rally.  But who cares?  They started that conversation, and the other counselor would get the kids back to their room while he finished it.  I saw a lot of those conversations all throughout the week.  All of those little conversations were the best thing about camp.

- Sarah DeClue, La Croix

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