Meet Our Camp Family
Wheaton came to the New York YMCA Camp in June 2008 from YMCA Camp Cosby, Birmingham, AL where he also served as executive director. Before directing Camp Cosby, he spent 8 years as the executive director of Camp Dudley YMCA, where he went to camp as a young boy, following his father’s footsteps. Before discovering that his life work was directing YMCA camps, Wheaton, with a Ph.D. in psychology, practiced this profession in hospitals, clinics, and in private practice. For ten years he and Eileen had the great fortune to raise their two children, T and Amos, on a farm in Earlville, New York. As T and Amos grew up, Wheaton and Eileen joined the Gesell Institute of Human Development in New Haven CT, and consulted in schools throughout the nation on developmentally appropriate practices that focused on supporting each child’s individual development. This remains the base of Wheaton’s approach to camps, where the goal is to support the joyful, safe development of each individual camper. “If a child is not having fun at camp, then that is a problem we need to solve – what do we need to change for that child to have fun?”
When not involved in growing camp’s resources and staff, Wheaton can be found running the trails of our forested acres, hiking with Eileen, or playing with his children and grandchildren. Around camp he is known for his spirited driving style behind the wheel of the Silver Streak, his colorful Caribbean shirts, and laughing with the kids at camp. He remains active in the affairs of Maho Bay Eco Resorts, which he directed on the island of St. John, YMCA camping, and with various educational endeavors…not to mention cheering on the New York Rangers, New York Giants and New York Yankees.
Associate Executive Director
Steve Merifield, born and raised in Melbourne Australia, started his YMCA camping career in 1997 as a camp counselor teaching waterskiing and lifeguarding on the waterfront at YMCA Camp Cosby. Steve spent 10 years taking on several diffent roles at Camp Cosby including OEE instructor, waterfront director, assistant camp director and Summer Camp Director for 4 years. In 2007, Steve took on the role of Executive Director with YMCA Camp Piomingo in Louisville. He spent 5 years in this role until moving to the New York YMCA Camp as the Associate Executive Director April 1st 2012. We are very pleased to have Steve, his wife Erin, and two girls, Taylor who is almost 3 years old and Kendall who is 9 months old. Steve met Erin at camp and has been married for 4 wonderful years. Erin is from Dothan, Alabama. She is a teacher with a Masters Degree in Special Education. Erin, Taylor, and Kendall love being at camp and enjoy spending time exploring the outdoors and having fun. Taylor and Kendall love to take the family dog, Tuck, on their adventures around camp. Steve and the whole family are Auburn Tiger fans (War Eagle!) Steve loves the outdoors, skiing and snowboarding, waterskiing, and spending time with his girls.
Karen and Elliot Kasprzak
McAlister Village Director
Elliott and Karen Kasprzak joined New York YMCA Camp in April 2012 both with previous YMCA experience and a love for the wilderness. Their love for summer camps started as campers at a small camp in WI, which they went to the same week in the summer of 1998 but didn’t meet until college in 2003. Elliott and Karen worked at Camp Phillip throughout their college years and then got married and moved to Marquette, MI while Elliott finished up his degree and Karen directed a YMCA afterschool program. In 2011 they hiked 700 miles of the Appalachian Trail and then spent a short time in Wisconsin eating cheese. Elliott is now a Naturalist and Trip Leader with Greenkill and Karen is the McAlister Village Director. Both are very excited to be in NY with the Y, working outdoors, shaping lives, changing perspectives and building communities.
Talcott Village Director
Hi, my Name is Neil Allmark and I am the Talcott Village Director here at New York YMCA Camp. I am originally from Birmingham England and I live here with my wife Jamie and my two daughters Mariah and Olivia. I attended New York YMCA Camp as an International summer staff member from 1997 to 2002; I held a variety of positions from Counselor to Assistant Director in my five summers here. I have worked as Program Instructor for Camp Copneconic in Fenton Michigan (where I met my wife and Rich Englemann!) From there I went on to direct three summers firstly at a high risk youth camp and then with Camp Fire USA both based in Michigan.
I am a huge sports nut; my biggest passion other than my family! Aston Villa Football Club in the English Premier League is my all time favorite team EVER; also Green Bay Packers, Ohio State Football (Sorry Richard) Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers! Playing, watching and coaching! My all time favorite things about summer camp are the campfires and Olympic week! Fact: In all the years I attended summer here I came 4th, 3rd and 2nd in Olympics and to this day I still think it was a conspiracy against me!
Susan joined the New York YMCA Camp in June 2010 as new member of camp's family. Prior to joining the Y, she held several accounting/management positions in the corporate environment. Susan decided to join the Y because of their family atmosphere and positive values. She holds both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Accounting from St. Johns University. Susan was raised in Staten Island, NY and moved to Middletown, NY in 2004. When she is not busy at work, you can find Susan spending time with her husband Richie and her two daughters, Kaitlyn and Sara.
Retreat Program Director
Richard joined the New York YMCA Camp in September 2011 as our Retreats Program Director after working in various positions at Camp Copneconic for over 5 years in his home state of Michigan. He is an alumnus of Albion College where he majored in biology, played on his college's baseball team, and sang in an acapella choir. As an avid sportsman, Richard has a genuine love for the outdoors and an interest in sharing this passion with youth and their families.
Outdoor Education Program Director
Jason hails from the 1st state of Delaware but has worked in MN, KY, NY, MA, OH and came back to NY to join the New York YMCA Camp as the Outdoor Education Program Director in August 2008. Previously he was the Outdoor Education Director at a YMCA facility in Massachusetts as well managing outdoor programs in other states. He has a degree in Outdoor Education with an emphasis on Ropes Course Management and a coaching certification for baseball/softball. Jason is married to his wife Jennefer and they have a daughter Aderyn. He loves winter and all of the sports associated with it.
The New York YMCA Camp has been an important part of most of Jenny’s life. She was a camper, counselor, waterfront director, kitchen aide and store clerk. Jenny left camp for a while to start her family and came back part-time to the Y Family in 2000. She began her current role as Camp Registrar in 2007. All three of her children have been campers and they love camp as much as their mom does.
Phill Bestor, a graduate of Oregon State University, comes to us with over 30 years of work experience at summer camps and residential outdoor schools. Most recently he was the site & facilities manager at a medical specialty camp in Massachusetts, prior to that the site manager at a 4-H camp in Oregon. He met his wife, Janice Watkins, at a camp in Washington, where they got married. They join us with their two dogs and two cats.
Food Service Director
Steve grew up in a small town called Wallington located in New Jersey. He moved to Huguenot when he was fifteen and began working as a camp kitchen-aid at sixteen. After graduating from Port Jervis High School, he continued his education at Orange County Community College and Binghamton University. After college Steve returned to camp as a naturalist and found his calling to work with youth. Currently, he serves as camp's food service manager and youth pastor for his local church. He and his wife Vanessa have three wonderful children, Chloe, Joshua and Caden.