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 reigns 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 Association for Horsemanship Safety. She and her husband Paul, are big Hokie fans and try to make it back to Blacksburg with their girls, Amy and Sarah 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!
Beverly Christian - Associate Director
Beverly joined the staff at Chestnut Ridge in Fall 2010. She graduated from Appalachian State University in 2009 with a degree in music education. Before coming to work at camp she worked at Duke Memorial United Methodist Church as the Music Ministry intern, Parents Morning Out, and several camps in the area. When she’s not at camp she enjoys running, camping, hiking and pretty much anything outside especially in the mountains of North Carolina! Beverly oversees the Summer Staff at Chestnut Ridge and would love to talk with you to see if you might join our wonderful team!
Amanda Powell - After School Director
Amanda joined the Chestnut Ridge team in the summer of 2012 after falling in love with the camp and its staff as a “Camper Mom.” She lives in Durham with her husband, Shawn, and three young children, Reese, Maeve, and Beck. Amanda has always enjoyed working with children in some capacity. Before joining the staff at Chestnut Ridge, she managed a children’s birthday party & play facility. In the past, she has taught Kindermusik classes as well as horseback riding lessons to children of all ages. She relishes the energy, enthusiasm and joy children bring to any situation. Amanda says, “I am blessed God gave me a love of working with children, and I am able to fulfill that on a daily basis. I am excited to continue it here at Chestnut Ridge.” In her spare time, Amanda enjoys riding horses, reading, spending time with her children and hiking and camping with her family.
Adam Ledbetter-Bock - Hospitality Director
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.
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.
Cyril Murphy - Food Service Director
Cyril began in the Fall 2013 as an after-school/retreat/ outdoor education staff, and is now on the Leadership Team serving as the Food Service Director. Growing up between Eastern Pennsylvania and the family farm in Northern Indiana, Cyril has been cooking his way through the country from a very young age. He earned a Bachelor degree in Sacred Music from Westminster Choir College in NJ and a Master degree in Music Performance from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Ministry has been the focus of his education and since moving to NC in 2012, camp ministry has been calling louder and louder! Growing up on a dairy farm, farm-to-table is just an extension of his upbringing when his grandma began teaching him to cook at age 5. In his free time you will find him singing, trying new recipes, getting lost in the woods (hiking), and most importantly hanging out with friends and family, around a campfire if possible. He also is on staff at Duke Memorial UMC in downtown Durham where he currently leads adult music. Cyril says, “I am blessed to have found a career building community around a common table, where faith can be shared around food, singing, laughter, and love.”
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.
My name is Chris and this is my 9th summer at Chestnut Ridge! I'm originally from New Zealand, but I love this place so much, I just keep coming back. Chestnut Ridge is like a second home to me, full of amazing people, and incredible experiences. At camp you can find me helping with the challenge course and keeping the lake toys inflated all summer long. I'll also be helping run the awesome evening activities. Can't wait for another amazing summer with all of you!
Chris Handley - Seasonal Program Director
Hannah Hall - Program Specialist
Hannah grew up in a small town near Warrenton, Virginia. She lived there for a major part of her life,
until she relocated to attend college in the Northern part of the state. Hannah graduated with a degree
in History, minoring in nonprofit studies and communication, from George Mason University in the
spring of 2019. While pursuing her degree, Hannah spent her summers working at a Christian summer
camp in Northern Virginia, where she fell in love with camp ministry and the exciting opportunities it
provides. Hannah says, “I am so excited to be able to share the love of Christ with the campers through
my work at Chestnut Ridge and can’t wait to see what amazing adventures God has in store!”
Hey! My name is Mary and this is my second year at Chestnut Ridge! I started here last summer as a counselor and that was just the beginning of a year round gig here! You can find me with my foot in almost every door here at camp from teaching outdoor education, setting new ropes course records, and chasing pigs into new paddocks up at the farm. I am so incredibly excited to spend my time here at camp making your stay as enjoyable and as fun as I can!
Mary Lilliston - Program Specialist
Carrie Simms - Equestrian Program Specialist
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, singing along to the radio, and hanging out with her cat, Keo.
Dakota grew up in rural Alabama on a small farm. She moved to Mobile, AL to attend the University of Mobile, where she majored in psychology. When she graduated she loved the college and city so much she stayed to work as the Freshman Orientation Coordinator. Although she enjoyed working in higher education she knew that she wanted to pursue a career in christian camping because of her love for kids, the outdoors, and how camp influences the lives of children. In her spare time, Dakota enjoys reading at local coffee shops, spending time with friends, horseback riding, traveling, kayaking, and adventuring with her dog, Cooper. This will be Dakota's second year with us. She is excited to be leading our Traveling Day Camp Program this year.