camp kennebec’s SENIOR LEADERSHIP
Warm, Experienced & Effective Senior Leadership Team
The six of us who are Camp Kennebec’s Senior Leadership Team: Donz, Rob, Sarah, Brian, Jay and Holly share the philosophy that our camp should be a fun, safe place that offers so many opportunities for campers to have the summers of their lives, try new activities, learn new skills, become more independent and confident, and work on their social skills. It is a welcomed break from real life for our campers. A place where we celebrate each camper’s uniqueness. A place where we focus on the positive, recognizing large and small achievements, all the time. A place where rules are there to ensure health, safety, and respect for each other. A place where we use conversation, distraction, and a smile or a joke in difficult situations.
HERE’S A QUICK INTRODUCTION TO CAMP KENNEBEC’S SENIOR LEADERSHIP TEAM:
Donna (Donz) Segal, Owner & Director
Donna or “Donz” as she is more commonly known, has been at Camp for nearly 4 decades, and is a key part of the senior leadership team. She was a 16 year-old leader-in-training her first year at camp — and our own Jay Aber was her counsellor! If you ask her, she’ll tell you that she loved Camp so much from the moment she arrived — that she could never leave. Donz’ background includes early childhood education and social work. She spends her summer with campers as one of our three Camp Directors, keeping camp organized, taking pictures, making kids and staff laugh with her zany sense of humour, and giving campers hugs and high-fives. She also has a vast collection of crazy hats that make an appearance each summer. In the off-season she’s usually the main point of contact with families, and loves assigning campers to cabins, as she tries to imagine which campers are likely to become friends.
Rob Deman, Owner & Director
Rob has been with camp for over 2 decades, starting off as a counsellor, then becoming senior staff in charge of our youngest campers and their staff. And before he knew it, he became a camp director, part of the senior leadership and then an owner! Rob has a background in psychology and education and worked as a teacher prior to joining Camp Kennebec full time. But he’ll tell you that he never expected to meet his wife, Dee at Camp too. Each summer, you can find, Rob, Dee, their two boys Harrison & Bennett, and their dog Ollie up at Camp too. Rob is the first one to initiate pranks and ice cream sundae after-hour raids with our campers, who love being “in” on the joke. In the off-season, Rob manages hiring for all of our domestic and international staff, and along with Sarah, develops and leads our 14-day senior staff and 8-day cabin staff in-depth, pre-camp training programs.
Sarah Wagner, Director
Sarah joined the Camp Kennebec Director team in 2022, after working with camp for nine years, starting as a counsellor, then senior staff, then as the lead for the Camper Support Team and now a key member of the Senior Leadership team. With a background in behavioural science and education, Sarah worked with adults and youth who have special needs in Canadian and Caribbean school systems. At Camp, Sarah is more commonly known by her camp nickname “Swag”, a nickname she adopted during her first summer at camp to differentiate herself from the three other Sarahs on staff. Fun fact, Sarah grew up and lives for half the year in St. Lucia, but these days her favourite place to spend the summer is under the Kennebec sun in beautiful Arden, Ontario!
Jay Aber, Owner & Business Admin
Jay has been connected to Camp for over five decades. He started here as a camper, and over a ten-year span was a counsellor, head of horseback riding and senior staff member. With his long-standing friendships with Camp’s founder Steve Hannon and Brian Garnier, he maintained a tight connection with Camp, despite leaving Kennebec for the business world. For the past decade, Jay and The Aber Group — his ad agency — have worked on camp’s marketing. He also handles camp’s accounting and business affairs. Apart from his responsibilities on the senior leadership team, Jay spends as much time as he can up at Camp, including nearly 6 weeks every summer. He helps run our horse-back riding program and you can find him most days leading trail rides, playing games on horse-back, and cheering campers on so they are relaxed and confident. Many of our campers consider Jay to be like a ‘camp uncle’ — a favourite adult who always has a joke, can be known to break a rule once in a while, and has a kind word for every one of our campers.
Brian Garnier, Owner & Physical Plant Manager
Brian started at Camp Kennebec nearly six decades ago as the head of canoeing and tripping. He quickly fell in love with the place and the natural beauty of Camp’s 1,000 acres of protected forest and 4 lakes. He is a master carpenter, and along with his staff, is responsible for all camp systems and buildings. Brian is a favourite among campers as he patiently takes on camper “helpers” to assist him in building decks, fixing stairs and all other kinds of maintenance and building projects — even when all the extra “help” slows him down. He’s also an experienced sailor who often shares his knowledge of the prevailing winds and best sailing routes with our staff. He’s also the person who can fix just about anything, so he’s a very popular guy all summer. He’s known for his elaborate pranks, and passion for keeping the Kennebec spirit strong.
Holly Collins, Supervisor
Holly has a long history working in the hospitality and recreation industry. She joined the Camp senior management team on a full-time basis in 2022 and has been working at Camp since 2017. Along with Brian, Holly makes sure that Camp’s physical operations run properly and assists in many other areas around camp. Among her many responsibilities are the kitchen and dining hall, laundry and activities like wood working and fishing. Holly loves to make everyone in the Kennebec community smile; you can often hear her laughing with campers, telling jokes, cheering campers on, dressing up in a full-size dinosaur or other hilarious costumes or wearing one of her many outrageous hats.
"I believe that my son and my other children grew more in 2 weeks of camp each year (more than school or therapies combined) because of the staff caring enough to help them grow. They see the person each child is, and who they can become." — Parent
"I’m incredibly glad that I chose to work at camp this summer. I’ve had many great summers before, but I think I can honestly say that this was a summer of a lifetime. I wouldn’t want to miss all the experience I gained and the people I met!" — Counsellor
"I have referred families to Camp Kennebec for years, and those families that look into Camp Kennebec have wonderful experiences. As campers begin to outgrow their stay at our inclusive day camp, I am always looking for camp programs that they can grow into. Camp Kennebec is among the top camps that I recommend for our campers and families when a child who requires more support and/or modifications than a traditional overnight camp can offer. The feedback that I receive from our families and campers, who take advantage of all Camp Kennebec has to offer, is extremely positive."
"This camp and all of the staff are so amazing. It is incredible the love, compassion and enthusiasm you all show for the campers (and their families). Having our son recognized by name as soon as we arrived at camp this summer, made him feel so welcomed."
WHAT CAMPERS ARE SAYING
"I learned to knee and waterboard as well as tubing. They are somethings I have never done before and really enjoyed learning to do them." — Camper
WHAT COUNSELLORS ARE SAYING
"There is no place that I have felt more like myself, ever. I immediately felt at home and that feeling has not changed in four years, if anything it has only gotten stronger. This is a place that EVERYONE should be able to experience, to just laugh and play and be a kid." — Counsellor
WHAT EXPERTS ARE SAYING
"Camp Kennebec allows children with ADHD and other special needs to become confident and independent. Novel activities and social situations allow children and teens to conquer fears, develop friendships, learn how to communicate, resolve disagreements. The overall message a summer at Camp offers is that campers can be successful and autonomous individuals no matter what they encounter throughout their lives." — Expert
"It’s a great camp for kids with special needs. The application process gave me the confidence in knowing that they have a screening process to meet the needs of the campers and it’s not about filling spots!" — Parent
WHAT COUNSELLORS ARE SAYING
"At camp, I learned to become flexible and just have fun. I spent my summer outside helping children have an amazing summer! What more could you ask for?" — Counsellor
"I grew up, and I mean that in the complete sense, at Camp Kennebec when it was still a camp for all children. Kennebec was not just a camp but indeed a second family for me and thousands of others who were joined in a huge Kennebec extended family. The care, imagination and absolute commitment to each child as an individual could not be surpassed. Our summers were magical and every Kennebecer still feels connected to his/her peers, even 45 years later. When Kennebec evolved into a Camp for special needs students I, as a special needs teacher in my professional life, could only admire the complete dedication and Kennebec commitment that went into each child. Now, as a school board commissioner in the West Island area of Montreal I meet parents of special needs students who tell me of their children's experiences at Kennebec when they find out that I went there too. I am not surprised at all to hear how Kennebec changed their lives because it changed mine." — Expert
"He felt confident and happy each and every day. It was clear to us that all the staff really tried to connect with him and make him feel respected, important, and valued. He started talking about going back to camp, the minute we pulled out of the gates. I had high expectations and you definitely met my expectations for him. Thank you!" — Parent
"It's not just about the time we spend here in the summer, I have friends that I talk to during the year now. I start counting down to camp on the first day of school." — Camper