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

NextGen Supervisor

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.

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 seven 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.’”

Maggie Lohmeyer

Maggie Lohmeyer

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Maggie Lohmeyer

Youth Specialist
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.  jritter@lacroixchurch.org

Brett Cheek

Brett Cheek

Xtreme Camp Pastor

I have been involved in leading Xtreme Camp since 2008 and have enjoyed it immensely. An avid outdoors lover,  story-teller, and lover of all things that are slightly ridiculous: camp is a perfect environment for me. One of my favorite things is to teach our young people about their place in the story of God and his creation and invite them into seeing Jesus in a new way that captures their heart. bcheek@lacroixchurch.org

 

Amanda Bond

Amanda Bond

Xtreme Ignited Camp Director

I am the Director of Next Generation Ministries at New McKendree UMC. I have worked in youth ministry for 17 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.  youth@newmckendree.org

Blaine Brunkhorst

Blaine Brunkhorst

Xtreme Ignited Camp Pastor

As the Student Ministry Teaching Pastor at La Croix United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau. I have worked in youth ministry for 8 years…3 as a volunteer and 5 at my current position.  Before working in full time ministry I enjoyed 14 years at Sikeston Career and Technology Center teaching marketing, management and entrepreneurship.  I am married to Beth, my bride of 22 years, and we have four amazing kids.  My passion is leading others toward transformation and the understanding that the glory of God is man fully alive.  bbrunkhorst@lacroixchurch.org

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!

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.

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.  

Courtney Birk

Courtney Birk

Sr. High Leadership Camp Director

My name is Courtney Birk, and I am the director of Senior High Leadership 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!

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 9 years. I live in Sedalia with my husband and my 10-year-old daughter Ellie! I have been with the Sedalia School District for 15 years as an Elementary Teacher and now an Instructional Technology Specialist.  I have my Masters in Elementary Administration.  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.

 

    

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.

Mike Tipton

Mike Tipton

Faith, Fishing, and Friends Director

Mike Tipton is in his first year serving as the Camp Director for the Faith, Fishing and Friends Camp. For 16 years Mike served as a middle and high school teacher while coaching many different sports. Mike is in his ninth year of ministry and currently serves as the Pastor of Discipleship with an emphasis in Children’s ministry at the Chillicothe UMC. His passion is connecting people to a closer relationship with Christ with enjoying the greatness of God’s creation.

Tom Lemons

Tom Lemons

Faith, Fishing, and Friends Director

I worked as a full-time dentist for 32 years and I am now in my 10th year as a part-time United Methodist pastor.  I am currently serving at Hydesburg UMC which is just outside of Hannibal.  This will be my 13th summer of serving as a counselor at the Jo-Ota Methodist Camp.  One of my children and one of my grandchildren have been campers at Jo-Ota.  I love being outdoors and in nature at Jo-Ota which allows me time away from my normal home routines and distractions.  I love helping young people have fun and grow in their faith in Christ, since I’m still growing too.

What Makes UM Camps Great?

(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

The number one question we received at camp was “What about this Bible?”  We gave away over 20 Bibles at camp.  We had one 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