Rev. Nick Jeffries - Director
Nick joined the Chestnut Ridge Staff in the Spring of 2006. He is a South Carolina native who first moved to NC to go to college. He graduated from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor degree in Sociology. While Nick once pondered the notion of becoming a professional bowler, he knew that God was calling him to other things. Nick graduated from Duke Divinity School with a Master of Divinity degree. He is an Ordained Deacon associated with the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. Nick and his wife, Miriam, have three sons, Levi, Samuel, and Micah.
Chris Burtner - Equestrian Director
Chris joined the full-time staff as Garden Manager in 2009. Prior to taking the reins of The Community Farm at Chestnut Ridge, Chris had been volunteer managing a community garden and teaching preschool and elementary children in Fuquay-Varina, NC. With an undergraduate degree in Animal Science from Virginia Tech and years of work experience in the veterinary medical field, Chris was well suited to take over livestock management in 2010. In 2011, Chris also added Equestrian Director to her expanding role at camp. Chris has over 20 years of riding experience and certification from the American Riding Instructor Association. She and her husband Paul, are big Hokie fans and try to make it back to Blacksburg for a football or basketball game each year. When she’s not playing in the dirt, or riding a horse, you can find Chris taking a walk or curled up with a good book. Chris looks forward to riding the horses with you through the beautiful woods of Chestnut Ridge!
Melissa Mauney - After School Director
Melissa originally joined the Chestnut Ridge team in the summer of 2009 as a summer camp counselor. She has since served in many different capacities at camp helping with Outdoor Education, teambuilding, housekeeping and After School. Melissa has always enjoyed working with children in some capacity. She relishes the energy, enthusiasm and joy children bring to any situation. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys watching her son's baseball team and cheering on the NC State Wolfpack.
Rev. Adam Ledbetter-Bock -
Summer Camp Coordinator
Adam joined the full-time staff in the spring of 2019 after finishing his Masters of Divinity degree at Duke Divinity. Adam began working at Chestnut Ridge in 2015 as a counselor and retreat staffer while he was a student at UNC studying psychology and communication. When not in the office, you can find Adam gardening, working on and riding bikes, drinking coffee, or exploring new places. Adam is a proud Durham native and lives there with his wife, Hope, who is a pastor at Fuquay-Varina UMC.
Erica Romkema - Farm Manager
Erica grew up in the rural Midwest amidst dairies, lakes, cornfields, and combines. After completing a major in English, she grew increasingly concerned about the family farm and the natural world, so she went on to earn an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Environment with an emphasis on sustainable agriculture. Erica has worked on farms from Iowa to France, promoted field days and events, put on farm dinners, and cared for a menagerie of animals. Her other interests include hiking, camping, horseback riding, and exploring new and favorite places.
Isis Koonce - Retreat Coordinator & Summer Camp Registrar
Isis joined the Chestnut Ridge team full-time in 2022. She originally began working at Chestnut Ridge in 2014 as a camp counselor and served on staff for several summers. Isis has a degree in Child Development and Family Studies from NC A&T State University. Working to have a positive impact on the lives of children and their families has always been a passion for Isis. When not at camp, Isis enjoys spending time with her beautiful daughter, making crafts with her cricut, curling up with a great book, and traveling to new places.
Joel Roberts - Maintenance Director
Joel has been a part of the Chestnut Ridge community longer than anyone can remember, and as such, he is somewhat of a historian regarding the history of the ministry at Chestnut Ridge. As part of the maintenance staff, Joel continually amazes everyone with his ability to fix just about anything. When he is not repairing buildings, driving the tractor, or deftly wielding a chainsaw, Joel is always ready with a fascinating story to tell. As a world traveler, Joel has taken adventures to places both near and far. He has survived -40 degree temperatures in the Utah mountains, climbed narrow shafts in the Egyptian pyramids, and avoided a coup attempt in Zimbabwe. To the amazement of all, Joel shares these stories, and imparts other life lessons to all the campers at Chestnut Ridge.
Christine Peckman - Outdoor Education Director and Office Administrator
Christine originally hails from the Northeast, but has called NC home for many years. Christine loves teaching kids about science; especially programs containing to nature, animals, and the outdoors. Christine lives on her own little farm, where she has many animals, including her prize winning goats that you can see at the State Fair. In addition to teaching at a local Community College, Christine works with all of our local teachers to plan wonderful field trips to Chestnut Ridge
Becky joined the Chestnut Ridge team in 2014. She felt passionate about the idea of offering children extensive time outside connecting with nature, and has since been instrumental in pioneering the new outdoor preschool at Chestnut Ridge! Building on her years of teaching at a local preschool, she has also taken part in many outdoor preschool conferences and trainings, including The Nature Preschool Conference at Irvine Nature Center and Reaching Nature Connection. Some of Becky's favorite things about preschoolers are their curiosity, sense of adventure and wonder, and their love of hands-on learning. Becky lives in Hillsborough with her husband and three children, and enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, and working at the camp community farm. She sees life as one big adventure and enjoys adventuring through the Chestnut Ridge forest with the Chickadees!
Becky Garus - Preschool Director
Kimberly Wassil - Preschool Teacher
Kim grew up in North Carolina, and while she has taken time away to travel, she continues to return to her roots. Her interest in working with young children began in high school, and this, combined with her love of the mountains, led her to Appalachian State University where she obtained a degree in Child Development. Kim loves sharing in new discoveries with children and evoking their understanding of the world around them by asking questions to further their thinking. She recently discovered forest kindergartens and was immediately drawn to the philosophy and opportunities they offer for children to connect with nature. Outside of her work with children, Kim enjoys crafts, hiking and backpacking, traveling, and taking classes to try her hand at new skills.
Carrie Simms - Assistant Equestrian Director
Carrie was born and raised in Chapel Hill, NC. She graduated from Appalachian State in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in history with a anthropology minor. Carrie came to Chestnut Ridge for the first time in 2014. She spent 2 years as the Equestrian Intern before going up to New York to work at a dressage barn. Carrie returned to Chestnut Ridge in 2018 to help Chris run the equestrian program as the Assistant Director. Carrie has more than 20 years of horse and riding experience. Most recently she has ridden with a Grand Prix dressage rider who helped to greatly expand her knowledge of horses and their care. Armed with this new knowledge, Carrie is ready to pass it on to campers and retreat goers of all ages. Outside of camp, Carrie enjoys perfecting her riding skills on her horse Raffles, reading, drawing, knitting, Frisbee golfing, watching hockey(Go Canes!), singing along to the radio, and hanging out with her cats, Keo and Ari.
Mallory Black - Program Specialist
Mallory is from Lake Charles, Louisiana and recently graduated from Lakeland University in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. As you can tell, she loves traveling and exploring new areas! She was a summer camp counselor at Chestnut Ridge in 2021 and decided to return in 2023 as a Program Specialist. Mallory loves hiking, camping, anything outdoors, and is always down for an adventure!
Jacob Normyle - Program Specialist
Jacob was on the Camp Chestnut Ridge summer staff in 2019 and 2021. He has worked the past two years as a special education teacher in Wilmington, NC. He is ready for his new adventure as Program Specialist and to be back at camp! When Jacob isn’t at camp you find him at the beach, at the theatre acting in plays, or drinking coffee at his favorite coffee place.