Get To Know Camp’s Staff Team

With all the new faces and new roles, it's time to catch up with the Camp year-round staff team!

New faces, new roles, and new openings. Camp is gearing up for an exciting 2022! For one thing, next year marks 75 years of ministry. Woo Hoo! Second, the calendar is full of ministry opportunities for youth, families, adults, and guest groups. And third, the Board has approved a campaign to build a multi-purposed gym. In fact,  August 27 is the target date for groundbreaking! It’s also the day set aside for the big on-site 75th Celebration!

To accomplish all of this, Camp will need the strongest staff ever. Job descriptions and titles are being adjusted and vacancies need to be filled.  One huge hole was created when Rich and Anna Olson (Director of Youth and Family Ministries/Marketing Associate) left Camp after six fruitful years to plant a new Corner Church in Northeast Minneapolis (full story). Camp also looks to fill Mariah Simonson’s program post as she accepted a call to Trout Lake Camps.  So, in light of all this change, let us take a moment to get to know the new Camp Lebanon team.

New Faces

If you’ve been to Camp lately or have been following Camp’s story, it’s likely you noticed a few new faces on the staff team. Esteban (Jessy) Mora was hired in May as the Rental Ministries Associate. Esteban has a contagious love for serving others and has already made an impact in our ability to serve Spanish speaking guests more intentionally. As he grows into his position, he will become the primary contact and host for rental groups and log cottage guests, allowing Monte Abeler to slide into a new development role. Scott Shoemaker joined the team August 1 as Camp’s new Facilities Manager.  Scott, Cheryl, and four children bring much joy to our team. Adding him has allowed the former Facilities Manager, Shane Hollenbeck, to slide into a brand new leadership role with the ministries team. Two interim ministries associates, Tori Campbell and Corrine Schomer, were added into the mix this fall as a bridge to next summer when we hope to have our new Youth Ministries Director in place. The “Barneys’” impact in helping with program and serving guests onsite has been huge! Two new Marketing Interns, Maddie Quinn and Alicia Korpi, were the final additions and will help us maintain communications, connections, and promotions.

Esteban Mora

Rental Ministries ASSOCIATE

How long have you been connected with Camp Lebanon?

Started working at camp on May 1st, 2021. But my wife grew up coming to camp and was part of the summer staff for a couple of years.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

Flyfishing, beekeeping, aquarium keeping, hiking… can’t pick one, I like to stay busy!

Why did you choose to serve in camping ministry?

I know how impactful camp ministry can be because it was at camp where I grew and matured as a Christian and influenced my personality and lifestyle. I have been involved in camp ministry since I can remember and it made me who I am now. I would like to give some of that back to everybody who comes to Camp!

What is one of your fondest Camp memories?

Not at Camp Lebanon but in Roblealto Camp (Costa Rica) it was sharing The Gospel with kids at social risk from a very poor community, a ministry called Gracia Missions. It was very impactful to see how much these kids need love and especially the love of Jesus. Now talking about Camp as Camp Lebanon… it has been great to connect with Latin American groups the last few months.

If you could swap jobs with someone at Camp for a day, who would it be and why?

One of the guys from maintenance, I like fixing and making stuff.

Scott Shoemaker

Facilities Manager

How long have you been connected with Camp Lebanon?

My Camp Lebanon story isn’t as extensive as some.  I remember as a teenager coming here for a weekend church retreat.  A couple of months ago, I was content working as a carpenter.  Then, a close friend of mine sent me a link for the job posting.  That was the beginning of God leading us out to Lebanon.  Through a lot of prayer, God led us here.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

Our family gets filled the most by spending time together. If we could choose one activity to do as a family, it would be packing up the canoe and heading deep into the Boundary Waters.

What are you most excited about in your position on the Camp team?

We are excited to be a part of this ministry, that God has blessed.  The phrase Camp Lebanon uses that gets me most excited about this team is “uncompromisingly biblical”.  I am excited to be a part of this ministry, furthering the Kingdom of God.

Favorite verse or passage of Scripture, and why?

Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” God has made this amazing gift of eternal life, that is completely unattainable through my works, attainable. 

Tori Campbell

Interim Ministry ASSOCIATE

How long have you been connected with Camp Lebanon?

I started coming as a camper when I was in the fourth grade and returned every year through my senior year of high school. I joined the D3 program at age 14, ended up in Dining Hall, Housekeeping, and Special Projects. I graduated LIT in 2016 and Junior Counseled through the next couple years. Once I graduated high school, I was asked to join the Senior Staff and I served as the Worship Leader in 2018. The next two summers were spent back in my hometown of Park Rapids, then at the Caribou of Bemidji. BUT- I came back to Camp for the summer of 2021 as the LIT Supervisor. At the end of the summer, I was asked to join the staff. So, I packed up my things and moved to Upsala!

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

My most favorite hobby is writing and playing music. My mom was a worship leader during my childhood, so I grew up on piano lessons and Sunday services. It wasn’t until I was the Worship Leader at Camp that I actually learned how to play an instrument. What better way to use the tool of a melody than to praise the one who gave it to me?

Why did you choose to serve in camping ministry?

When I first came to Camp, I thought my counselor was so cool! I wanted to be just like her! So when I was finally old enough to work at Camp, I jumped on the opportunity and somehow fell even more in love with Camp. This place has done so much for me and It’s been so fun to be a part of that, whether that’s doing action songs with the kids, preparing the next generation of staff, or encouraging those around me.

What is one of your fondest Camp memories?

There are too many to choose from! If I had to choose from memories of just this past summer (2021), I’d have to pick stargazing. During one of our many end-of-the-week campfires out at Bass Point, I and a couple of my good friends on staff sat further back from the fire. We laid down on the grassy hill and listened to the kids laugh and sing as we searched for shooting stars. Truly a testament to what God can do, moving in kid’s hearts and giving us a show of his majesty.

If you could swap jobs with someone at Camp for a day, who would it be and why?

Depends on the day, depends on the season, depends on what group we have at camp. I think if I could switch jobs with someone else for a day, in a season of my choosing, I would want to switch with Lisa during Quilt. The community and encouragement that goes on with these ladies in a room full of sewing machines is unlike any group we have. There is a crazy comradery that happens when a bunch of women come alongside each other both in needlework and in conversation. Every lady has a story of God’s grace, and it’s an honor to create that space for them.

Corrine Schomer

Interim Ministry ASSOCIATE

How long have you been connected with Camp Lebanon?

I have been coming to Camp since I was five years old, which means I have been connected for about 15 years.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

I really enjoy going kayaking.

Why did you choose to serve in camping ministry?

I chose to serve in camp ministry because I care deeply about furthering the Gospel through relationship-building, specifically with the Summer Staff, Junior Staff, D3, and youth campers. I love the planning and program aspect to my job, and I also love that I get to pour into volunteers and guests.

What is one of your fondest Camp memories?

Some of my fondest memories have been during one-on-ones,  whether they were having heart-to-heart conversations with my supervisor when I was on Junior Staff or sitting with my campers as a counselor. This summer I was the Lead Counselor and Junior Counselor Supervisor, which meant I got to teach and pour into all the counselors and junior staffers. I got to meet with so many different, wonderful young ladies. One-on-ones ranged from laying in front of the A/C on the Gazebo floor to comforting on the swinging bench to laughing and playing games in the Dining Hall. I loved every moment I got with my girls this summer, and I wouldn’t have changed it for anything else!

If you could swap jobs with someone at Camp for a day, who would it be and why?

If I could switch jobs with anyone at Camp for one day, it would probably be one of the kitchen hourlies because I really enjoy working in the Dining Hall cooking, doing dishes, and hanging out with Jim, Tony, and Sylvia.

Maddie Quinn

Marketing Intern

Alicia Korpi

Marketing Intern
New ROLES:

Camp is breaking ground for more than the new gym. Shane Hollenbeck and Monte Abeler are trailblazing new roles at Camp Lebanon. Shane transitioned to the new Director of Ministries in August, a position designed to provide oversite for Camp’s fifty-plus program events and seventy-five year-round rental groups. He will also manage program resources and be in charge of the Camp Calendar. This big move allows Bill Abeler, Executive Director, more time to commit to the campaign in partnership with Monte Abeler, Camp’s first-ever Director of Development & Marketing. Monte will hang onto the marketing team lead in addition to cultivating relationships with Camp’s friends, alumni, volunteers, and donors in funding the gym campaign and ongoing ministry operations. In a third big shift, Paulette Crowe, Camp’s amazing Housekeeping Supervisor, was promoted to full-time service, adding Sales Service Manager to her title.  Be on the lookout for a new feel in the gift shop!

Shane Hollenbeck

Director of MINISTRY

How long have you been connected with Camp Lebanon?

My family has been coming to Lebanon since I was a baby. My first real memory of attending was spending a week here in the summers for youth camp. I gave my life to the lord here as a child, counseled here during college, and came to serve here fulltime in August of 2019.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

Can I say dating my wife? I love the performing arts. Sit me down in front of a symphony, concert, or a play beside her. That is what I want to do with my free time.

Why did you choose to serve in camping ministry?

I thrive off creativity and sharing the Gospel. I have discovered that Christian camping begs you to conceptualize spaces where people can gather to enjoy life to its full and be delighted with the presence of God.

What is one of your fondest Camp memories?

I fondly remember hunting to catch turtles with my cousin during free time as a kid!

If you could swap jobs with someone at Camp for a day, who would it be and why?

Scott Shoemaker! Just Kidding, I love my job!!!

Monte Abeler

Director of Development & Marketing

How long have you been connected with Camp Lebanon?

Since birth. I was born during a Family Camp week in August of 1988 to Bobber Bill and Lisa “Woo Hoo” Abeler. (to be clear, I wasn’t born onsite at Camp…but that would’ve been quite the story!)

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

Fantasy football.  If you really want to get me talking just ask how my fantasy teams are doing, and I’ll probably give you more statistics than you want to know. I love it because I’m a diehard sports fan, am strategic to a fault, and really enjoy managing a team.

Why did you choose to serve in camping ministry?

Ultimately, because I’ve been an eyewitness to seeing how the Lord uses camps to reach people in amazing ways and because I simply love Camp ministry.

What is one of your fondest Camp memories?

Watching my grandma, Sandy Abeler, swim across Cedar Lake to raise scholarship money so that finances don’t keep kids and families from coming to Camp.  Ultimately, this memory spurred on the Swinging For Summer wiffleball homerun marathon, too!

If you could swap jobs with someone at Camp for a day, who would it be and why?

That’s easy, I’d be a Cabin Counselor. No thinking about logistics, just get to love kids, tell them about Jesus, and help them make memories that will last a lifetime!

Paulette Crowe

Housekeeping & SALES SERVICE Supervisor

How long have you been connected with Camp Lebanon?

Since January of 2019.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

Baking.

Why did you choose to serve in camping ministry?

Close to home and the caring staff.

What is one of your fondest Camp memories?

Quilt seasons.

If you could swap jobs with someone at Camp for a day, who would it be and why?

No one, I enjoy my multiple hats.

NEW OPENINGS:

Our Camp Team may be getting larger, but there are a few more important spots yet to fill, including Youth Ministries Director, Food Service Manager, and a part-time Office Associate. If interested, please visit the Employment Opportunities Page to apply!

Continuing PARTNERS:

Despite all the changes, the majority of Camp’s core staff team remains intact and serving in current capacities. Their faithful service is the backbone of a growing ministry with a big future.  To God be all the glory! To meet the entire team, simply scroll over the pictures and bios below.

Bill Abeler

Executive Director

How long have you been connected with Camp Lebanon?

I first scraped by knee at Camp Lebanon as a seven-year-old family camper in 1966. My first counselor role was the summer after tenth grader when I was a last-minute recruit for Herb Hazzard.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

As “Bobber Bill,” I love fishing, but even more taking others fishing, especially a pontoon full of kids! I also enjoy trying to make Bible stories come to life as a teacher and organizing other people’s fun. 

Why did you choose to serve in camping ministry?

I thoroughly enjoyed Camp Lebanon as a child (youth and family camps) and serving as a young adult. Camp ministry continued to be a favorite “hobby” through seminary.  As a newlywed couple, Lisa and I had a choice between camp ministry and church ministry. After a summer serving together at Pine Lake Christian Camp in Iowa, we answered God’s call to camping and the rest is HIStory.

What is one of your fondest Camp memories?

As a new counselor back in high school, I remember taking two young boys for a canoe ride on Cedar Lake. Half way into the trip one of the boys turns around and asks, “Can I ask Jesus into my heart now?” I’m not sure who was the happiest, the angels rejoicing in heaven or the young leader in stern.

If you could swap jobs with someone at Camp for a day, who would it be and why?

There are a lot I’d like to try, like Facilities Manager (then I could drive the skidsteer!) or Head Chef (he gets cheered a lot!). Fishing Grandpa would keep me on the water longer, but the ultimate role is counselor, a front-line soldier interacting face-to-face and heart-to-heart with kids for the entire camp day.

Lisa Abeler

Director of Women's Ministries

How long have you been connected with Camp Lebanon?

Since 1986 –  it was 35 years on April Fool’s Day!  “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

I really love reading books … and I collect children’s books!

Why did you choose to serve in camping ministry?

Camping ministry provides a wonderful way to reach people with the love of Christ and to encourage families and individuals in every stage and season to keep walking by faith, in hope, with their eyes fixed on Jesus!  “Where the eyes look, the body follows.”

What is one of your fondest Camp memories?

I loved the excitement and joy experienced the night that the lights went on for the first time in the Wiffleball stadium!

If you could swap jobs with someone at Camp for a day, who would it be and why?

I would love to swap jobs with someone in the production line at the kitchen!  Fun and food and Chef Jim – all great reasons to roll up your sleeves and enjoy serving in our wonderful camp kitchen!

Parker Anderson

Director of Operations

How long have you been connected with Camp Lebanon?

6-7 years.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

Playing music.

Why did you choose to serve in camping ministry?

The environment created at camp can be used by God in powerful ways to reveal his truth in our hearts. It is a platform to share the gospel audibly. It is also in a setting where creation proclaims God’s majesty.

What is one of your fondest Camp memories?

Hearing men sing loud at Men’s Retreat.

If you could swap jobs with someone at Camp for a day, who would it be and why?

I don’t believe I would switch jobs.

Tony Cluka

Food Service Assistant

How long have you been connected with Camp Lebanon?

Employed year round since 2001 and a camper since early 90s.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

Woodworking / Outdoorsman

Why did you choose to serve in camping ministry?

Grew up at Camp! Fell In love with the mission, feels right, feels like home.

What is one of your fondest Camp memories?

All the friendships I’ve made over 20+ years.

If you could swap jobs with someone at Camp for a day, who would it be and why?

Vern. So I could be outside most of the day.

Marc Nelson

Business & Technology Manager

How long have you been connected with Camp Lebanon?

I’ve been employed for over 22 years – But, we came  to family camp for many years before I started working. Yes, Camp has always been a special place for our family, we even came to Family Camp before we had kids…

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

Biking is a great way to stay physically fit and it was also a great way to celebrate my birthday this year by biking 60 miles in less than 4 hours.

Why did you choose to serve in camping ministry?

Yes – I’m able to serve God here with my talents, but what really matters to me is that Camp is Gospel Centered and Uncompromisingly Biblical.

What is one of your fondest Camp memories?

Watching my daughter proclaim her Faith in God by getting baptized here when she was only 13 years old was a very special moment indeed. But, what seemed like the “blink of an eye” 11 years later I was walking that same daughter down the isle at her wedding here at Camp. Thank You God – For A Really Great Place To Raise A Family!

If you could swap jobs with someone at Camp for a day, who would it be and why?

The first thing that comes to my mind would be to be the “Maintenance Man Extraordinaire” so I could tool around in that cool new Bobcat. But wait what about a Sous Chef and learning under our very own Master Chef that would be even better!  But wait… (Pause for effect)…What I really want is my 15 minutes in the spot light – I’ve always wanted to be up front leading worship and singing praises to our Lord! Now if only I could convince someone to take my job for a day?

Faith Petersen

Registrar

How long have you been connected with Camp Lebanon?

I have been employed by Camp for 3 ½ years, but I volunteered for 5 years before that and have been connected to Camp Lebanon all my life, coming to summer camp, retreats, etc.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

Cooking, trying new recipes, but I don’t enjoy baking as much.

Why did you choose to serve in camping ministry?

My Dad was one of the founding fathers of Camp Lebanon.  Camp and I were both born in 1947 so it has always been part of my life.  When my father passed away, I started volunteering at Camp as a way to honor him.  When the opportunity became available to work here full time (even though I had been “retired” for several years) I said “absolutely”!

What is one of your fondest Camp memories?

A mother was standing at my desk, with tears rolling down her face, thanking me for the scholarship that Camp Lebanon had given her to bring her family to camp for a Family Weekend.  She said it changed their lives and she would always be grateful.  I also love the sounds of the youth laughing, playing, and singing.  It warms my heart!

If you could swap jobs with someone at Camp for a day, who would it be and why?

No one!  I have THE BEST JOB at Camp Lebanon and I absolutely love it!!

Jim Flaa

Food Service Manager

Craig Knudtson

Facilities Assistant

Dwayne Pundsack

Maintenance / Facilities

Sylvia Flaa

Food Service

Vern Frericks

Maintenance / Facilities
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