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!
Tianna Berkel - After School Director
Tianna joined our full-time team after being a regular member of our after-school staff. Tianna is passionate about nurturing the development and growth of children, focusing not only on the academics but also on fostering their self-confidence and individuality. Tianna is committed and looking forward to creating a dynamic and enjoyable environment where kids can explore their creativity and have fun. Some of Tianna’s favorite camp things include zip lining, hanging around the campfire and making trips to the farm. When not at camp, Tianna enjoys exploring new places, challenging her creativity with baking, using her vocal skills at her church’s worship team, and spending quality time with friends and family.
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 began noticing changes within agriculture and wondered what that might mean for the family farm and the natural world. This inspired her to earn an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Environment with an emphasis on sustainable agriculture; since then, she has been able to invite many, many children to discover the joys of nature within the context of our small farm at Chestnut Ridge! Her other interests include traveling, creating welcoming indoor and outdoor spaces, and spending time with her son Luca and golden retriever Hattie.
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
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.
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.
Kimberly Wassil - Preschool Director
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.
Amanda Clark - Preschool Teacher
Amanda moved to NC for grad school in 2006 (go Wolfpack!) and fell in love with its proximity to the beach and mountains. She currently lives in Orange County with her husband and four children, a dog, cats, chickens, and honeybees, and can often be found painting in her spare time. While Amanda has a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a M.S. in Outdoor Recreation Management, her passion for nature education bloomed while spending the covid year guiding her children through adventures from hiking to river tubing to camping. She watched her own kids discover the magic of nature play while attending the Preschool at Chestnut Ridge and is excited to facilitate child-led exploration for other preschoolers as she joins the Chestnut Ridge team in 2023!
Meg Hoffman - Preschool Teacher
Meg is happiest when she is out in nature or sitting in a circle of children and wondering about God, which makes being a preschool teacher at Chestnut Ridge pretty much her dream job. When she’s not at camp, she keeps busy as the co-pastor and kids director of Oak Church in Durham, wife to Matt, and mama to James and Sam. Before beginning her career in ministry, she taught elementary school in Virginia and North Carolina for eight years. Meg was introduced to Chestnut Ridge through her youngest son, who was a chickadee in 2020, and is delighted to join the preschool team in 2023 and learn the forest paths, rocks, and trees that her son already knows by heart.
Will Cody - Program Director
Will moved to Durham, from Three Lakes, WI after his wife, Mariah, received an opportunity to attend Duke Divinity School. Will discovered his love for wilderness discipleship while studying to earn his M.A in Outdoor Adventure Leadership. Will greatest passion is facilitating outdoor experiences that engage and enhance people's ability to better see, hear, and desire Jesus in their lives. In his spare time, Will enjoys Climbing mountains, Kayaking down waterfalls, and silently sharing puns with himself
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.
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 Asher- Program Specialist
Jacob has worked as a camp counselor for the past 3 years in Hendersonville, NC. Originally from Atlanta, GA, he attended Clemson University for his B.A. in History and M.S. in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management (Go Tigers!). Jacob is excited to join the Chestnut Ridge team as a Program Specialist! His hobbies include camping, fishing, and trivia.