The NextGen Ministries camping team consists of several groups of hardworking people. The Missouri Annual Conference Staff, the staff at Eagle Lake and Heartland Camps that helps with our Mobile Camps, Summer CORE staff, Camp Directors, and Counselors each provide a great deal of experience and passion in everything they do. Learn more about our team before you get to know them more this summer!

Meet Our Staff

Rev. Jeff Baker

Rev. Jeff Baker

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Rev. Jeff Baker

Director of Next Generation Ministries
Dora Thackery

Dora Thackery

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Dora Thackery

Executive Assistant
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 six 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

Jeff Baker

Jeff Baker

Elevation Camp Director

Director of Next Generation Ministries….what? I confess, I’m the reason they don’t sell “Yard Darts” anymore. Seriously though, children, youth, and college-age students matter….not more than anyone else, but they matter. Reggie Joiner points out that “if we want to affect the way a generation sees the world, then it makes sense to start influencing their character and faith when they are young.” Like it or not, this generation needs our investment. I choose to make deposits instead of withdrawals. Oh, and I like Rocky Road Ice Cream and there is no hill or mountain I won’t try to climb with my Jeep (His name is Rhino).

Andrea Curtis

Andrea Curtis

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 8 years. I live in Sedalia with my husband (so crazy to say since it just happened in February) and my 9-year-old daughter Ellie! I am a 4th grade reading and writing teacher. I have my Masters in Administration and am the President of our district’s Teachers Association. I attend Wesley United Methodist Church in Sedalia and am very active there. I am the lead of the Pettis County Relay For Life and also on the Mid-Missouri Leadership Board for the American Cancer Society. 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.

Amanda Bond

Amanda Bond

Xtreme Camp Director

I am the Director of Next Generation Ministries at New McKendree UMC. I have worked in youth ministry for 16 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.

David Israel

David Israel

Xtreme Camp Director

I am the Lead Pastor at Living Word UMC.  I have been a camp director for 16 years for Spirit Camp, YFI Camp and now Xtreme Camp.  I love my grandchildren, running and beef jerky!

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!

Nick Ervin

Nick Ervin

Sanctuary Kamp Director

I am the husband of an amazing wife, father of three awesome children, a healthcare provider by trade, and an unapologetic follower of Christ.  Growing up in the church and attending church camps from a young age have molded me in to the father, husband, son, brother, and Christian I am today.  I began my camping journey the summer after my 2ndgrade year and have only missed two years of camp since.  Sanctuary Kamp has been a part of my life for the last 20 plus years and has been not only where I have made lasting friendships with people that I truly hold dear, but have grown in my faith, moving closer to be a true disciple of Christ. Currently, my family and I are active members of La Croix United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau, MO.

Courtney Birk

Courtney Birk

Sr. High Leadership Camp Director

My name is Courtney Birk, and I was the director of Older Elementary Ultimate Extreme Camp for several years, but am moving to Sr. High Leadership Camp this year. 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!

Tim Schulte

Tim Schulte

Elevation Camp Director

My name is Tim Schulte, and I am excited to serve as the Camp Director for the Elevation Camp! I serve as the lead pastor at Eureka UMC.  I married my high school sweetheart, Sherri,  32 years ago. We have three wonderful adult children, two great sons-in-law, and four beautiful granddaughters. I began serving in youth ministry 20 years ago and during that time have led over 60 regional/international mission trips, retreats, and camps for youth.

I am married to my high school sweetheart, Sherri, and we will celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary this year. We have three wonderful adult children, two great sons-in-law, and four beautiful granddaughters. I love being outdoors! I am an avid hiker, mountain biker, stand up paddle boarder, skier, and off road enthusiast. I am a member of the National Ski Patrol (NSP) and have served as a patroller, providing EMS services at Hidden Valley Ski, area for the past 19 seasons.

I am a Camp Director because I am passionate about sharing my love of Christ with your youth! I love seeing lives changed as students encounter Jesus for the first time or in new or unexpected ways during a.unique camp experience like Elevation Camp.

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.

Stephanie Smith

Stephanie Smith

Older Elementary Extreme Camp

My name is Stephanie Smith and I have been the director of Senior High Leadership Camp for the past 8 years, but am now becoming the Older Elementary Director. 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.  

Wilhelmina Bartels

Wilhelmina Bartels

God's Girls on the Go Co-Director

Hi, I’m Wilhelmina but at camp I go by Miss Mina. I have been with God’s Girls on the Go since 2006. Since then I have worked at other camps on and off. However, I have not missed a summer with this camp. I love being a part of camp and experiencing God with the campers. I am always excited to be outside. I always have ideas floating around for camp and this year is no different. I am looking forward to another year with wonderful campers.

Kayla Kelly

Kayla Kelly

University Adventure Camp Director

Kayla Kelly is the Campus Chaplain and Director for The Center for Faith and Service at Central Methodist University. She began her appointment at CMU as a Licensed Local Pastor through the Missouri Annual Conference of the UMC in July of 2017 and will be Commissioned as a Provisional Elder June of 2019. Kayla graduated from CMU in May 2013 with a BA in Religion and Philosophy and went on to graduate from Princeton Theological Seminary in May 2017 with a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Christian Education and Formation with an emphasis in “Ministry with Young People.” At CMU, Kayla brings her academic skills and her heart for helping young people grow in knowledge and love of God together to help guide students through the unique collegiate experience of grounding their academic work in lives of faith and service. As the director of University Adventure Camp, Kayla brings her experiences as a collegiate chaplain and a youth director together for campers to guide them through an experience of living their lives and their faith boldly!

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

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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