OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

LIZA GALLAGHER

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My name is Liza Gallagher and I am the Executive Director of Camp Jabberwocky. I started off my camp career as a young teen working at Paul Newman’s camps for critically and terminally ill children. I worked there every summer until I completed college. Following college I worked in independent schools creating new summer camps from the ground up. After 10 years, and learning all of the ins and outs of running a camp, I found and fell in love with Camp Jabberwocky. And, what a blessing it is! I feel so lucky to be part of such an amazingly supportive, positive, and loving place. 

First year at Camp Jabberwocky?

Summer 2013

Why I choose to spend my summers at camp?

Its a beautiful place where people can be themselves, everyone is celebrated for who they are, and it is like family. The history, lifelong friendship, wonderful culture, and deep rooted traditions make it so I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!

 

OUR DIRECTORS

JACK KNOWER

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Hellcat, who founded Camp Jabberwocky sixty years ago, always wanted a cup of Earl Grey tea when she came to camp for dinner. We would sit in the dining hall each night we had time and listen to her tell stories about camp. She was a natural actress and embellisher and would tell the most entertaining stories of camp and her life.

I was a counselor when she last directed camp, over twenty years ago, and was fortunate enough to participate in her whirlwind zany enthusiasm and energy. That summer we dressed everyone up in wild outfits and marched unannounced in a musical parade right through town in the middle of the afternoon. There were no handicap accessible stores or sidewalks back then. Hellcat wanted her campers to be able to do anything and go anywhere that everyone else could and she trusted our intelligence to be able to find a way to do it. I learned from her that you might ask anyone for anything if you are asking for it on behalf of the campers and not yourself. She encouraged me in all walks of life to try to say yes to requests because it is so easy to say no. Hellcat talked me into bringing my seven year old son to camp for the summer because she said it was a champion place to raise a child and her campers would love doing whatever a young boy was interested in doing.

I had first heard about her camp when I was a Special Education major in college. I was fortunate enough to be a counselor while two of her children were Directors. Her camp has been a major influence on me in both my professional career and personal life. I spent thirty years teaching Special Ed in New York State, received my Masters of Educational Administration from the University of Rochester, a dual certification in Elementary and Special Ed from SUNY Geneseo and a Masters of Special Ed from Mansfield University. Through all of that there has been camp where people come from all over the world and share stories from their lives while playing together. I look back on the afternoon Hellcat called me over to her shack in Oak Bluffs to ask me if I would direct camp for her and am so thankful that I said yes. She was a remarkable woman in so many ways and I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of her life and her camp.

 

Nora Olsen

My name is Nora Olsen and I began volunteering at camp in 1991 when I was a teenager. I have managed to make it back every year since then except for four sad summers. I quickly realized that Jabberwocky is a remarkable place where disability is not a negative thing. While a counselor, I was very lucky to start volunteering when John Lamb was a director and most recently with Jack Knower. And, I also had the good luck to know Helen “Hellcat” Lamb, Jabberwocky’s founder, who had an indescribable personality.

My camp experiences led me to working with people with disabilities at Easter Seals, United Cerebral Palsy, Meeting Street School in Rhode Island, and as a caregiver for boys with autism. Now, I am a full-time writer. I write novels for teenagers as well as science fiction stories. In my spare time, I am learning to play the drums. I live with my wife in New York’s Hudson Valley.

 

KRISTEN “SULLY” ST. AMOUR

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My name is Kristen, but I go by “Sully” at camp where I have been a member of the most amazing family for the past 20 years.  I live with my husband and two daughters south of Boston and co-own Oh Baby! Fitness (South Shore MA).

I started as a counselor in July of 1996 and became assistant director in 2007.  Camp is a major part of my life as I work during the year to plan activities and prepare for the upcoming summer.  Jabberwocky is not just a place to spend the summer, it is a family that continues all year long!  I come back to camp each year because it is a place where everyone is free to be themselves and are offered unique experiences regardless of their abilities.  It has been wonderful sharing camp with my children for the past four years and watching them grow and learn with so many caring people. 

 

JOHANNAH “JOJO” ROMERO DE SLAVY

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I have been part of the Jabberwocky family for now 25 years.  Please just call me JoJo.  What started as two weeks of volunteering as a counselor, has led me into the path of nursing in healthcare. I now perform the role of  director for the July Session at Jabberwocky.  There is nothing as magical as what is “Jabberwocky” so come and spend your summer here and make some life long friends.  Challenge yourself and learn to love others.

 

OUR COUNSELORS: there are over 100 volunteers each summer but here are a few…

BEN RIETANO

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My name is Ben Rietano and I am from Washington DC. I am college bound next fall and will study at Washington and Lee in Lexington, Virginia. I have been involved with Camp Jabberwocky since 2010. From the moment I first started volunteering at Jabberwocky I knew right away how incredible, fun, and special my time there would be. The relationships that I have formed with both campers and counselors are awesome and I keep in touch with many camp people throughout the year. Every second at the camp has been invaluable and I cherish my time there each summer. As long as I can, I will continue to volunteer at Jabberwocky with hopes that my time at camp is as valuable to the campers as it always is to me.

First Year at Camp Jabberwocky:

Summer 2010.

Why I choose to spend my summers at camp?

When I first became interested in Camp Jabberwocky, it was after having seen the famous, big, red bus bustling with campers and counselors throughout Martha’s Vineyard. When I decided to see what Jabberwocky was all about in 2010, I was unsure what I was getting into. After stepping foot onto the camp’s property, I immediately realized what an amazing place Camp Jabberwocky is. There’s nothing like it. The camp is overflowing with smiles, a refreshing sight from our world outside of Jabberwocky. The relationships that I have formed with campers and counselors mean so much to me. I honestly cannot think of a happier, more loving group of people than those who choose to spend their summers at Jabberwocky. I consider myself unbelievably fortunate to be able to spend time there and every session is better than the last.

 

KAITLIN BURKLE

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I’m 26 years old and work at the Kennedy Day School in Brighton, MA.  I am currently finishing a Masters in Severe Special Education at Lesley University.  I am a counselor at Camp Jabberwocky in the summers and plan the Follies for Camp Jabberwocky campers in the off season.

First Year at Camp Jabberwocky:

Summer 2008.

Why I Choose to Spend My Summers at Camp?

Camp Jabberwocky has my heart. It is the driving force behind my education, job and countless friendships. Jabberwocky means family. There’s no stronger bond than the one that holds Jabberwockians together.

Camp Jabberwocky is one of those places that you walk into thinking you’re going to do some good, and walk out realizing it did far more for you, than you could ever repay. You learn so much about yourself, the people around you, and learn to overcome challenges together. Camp Jabberwocky is a place where, regardless of ability, you are an equal. It is one of the only places we can go and feel “normal”. No one is looked at differently because they are “different”, because we are all different. Being different allows us to be one big, beautiful, Jabberwocky community. I am so grateful for Camp Jabberwocky, and the family I have gained because of it. Jabberwocky love!

 

KATE FOLEY

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I’m from Billerica, MA and go to Williams College.

Why I Choose to Spend My Summers at Camp?

It’s really a unique and amazing place that brings out the best in campers and counselors alike. The counselor I am at camp is the person I strive to be the rest of the year. I’m even lucky enough to have my brother Brian here as a counselor too!

I really value having the opportunity to spend time with the Jabberwocky family.

 

MAGGIE RAEMER

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I have been a part of the Jabberwocky family since the summer of 2007. After growing up in Boston,  I am now studying Fine Arts and Art Education at Saint Michael’s College near Burlington, Vermont.

First Year at Camp Jabberwocky:

Summer 2007.

Why I Choose to Spend My Summers at Camp?

I choose to spend my summers at Camp because it is a unique place were everyone is able to express themselves, free of judgment. It not only provides an amazing experience for people with disabilities, but it also provides a sense of happiness, comfort and belonging to everyone in the entire camp community no matter who you are. Jabberwocky blurs the lines between camper and counselor and makes us into a very large, loud and happy family! For me, spending time at camp is not a job or work in the traditional sense; it is an honor and privilege to enjoy the company of such wonderful people in a place that has become my home away from home!

 

MARA STORTO

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I am a 22 year old from Concord, MA. I recently graduated from Duke University and plan to go to medical school. One of the biggest highlights of my year is the time I get to spend at Camp Jabberwocky.

First year at Camp Jabberwocky:

Summer 2008

Why I Choose to Spend my Summers at Camp?

Camp Jabberwocky has become my second family and I would not be who I am today without the support and love from Jabberwocky campers and counselors. Camp is a special place where every person is considered an equal and feels comfortable being him or herself completely, which has been an unparalleled experience for me. I will continue to return as long as I possibly can because I have never witnessed the same degree of enthusiasm, perseverance and compassion anywhere else.

 

GENEVIEVE TUVESON

I am originally from Tallahassee, FL. I graduated from Stanford University and am now doing research in pediatric trauma in DC at Children’s National Medical Center.

First Year at Camp Jabberwocky:

Summer 2009.

Why I Choose to Spend My Summers at Camp?

Every summer, I look forward to coming to camp. My first year, I was able to stay for the entire August session. Since then, I have made it a point to come by as often (and as long as) I can. It is not just the other counselors, the experience, the Vineyard itself, but the campers. They have taught me about myself and the world, shared their own experiences with me—Jabberwocky has become a family to me. Through good and bad, mistakes and successes, they are always there. I am blessed to have this family in my life, and that is what has kept me coming back.

 

JAKOB PALCHES

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Jakob works at All Out Adventures in Western Massachusetts. All Out Adventures leads adaptive recreation trips for people of all abilities! He is in the process of starting Wheel Equal, a non-profit to research and develop wheelchairs and adaptive equipment. Wheel Equal is focused on simple, inexpensive and appropriate technology. Jakob also has volunteered at Camp Looking Glass in Mississippi and Camp Tulgeywood on Nantucket. Jakob lives in the tiny-house he built with his wife Laura.

 

First Year at Camp Jabberwocky:

Summer 2007.

Why I Choose to Spend My Summers at Camp?

The community at camp challenges everyone there on a daily basis. There is an unrivalled spirit of creative adventure entwined with an irreverent disregard to common perceptions of how people with and without disabilities should interact with each other and the world. At camp we challenge the world as ourselves.

Jabberwocky and it’s community have guided my life’s goals.

 

KIM HO

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First Year at Camp Jabberwocky:

Summer 1986.

Why I Choose to Spend My Summers at Camp?

My brother, Ron Simonsen, was a camper for many years at Jabberwocky, so I came to see the show in 1980 when I was 10 years old. I decided then I was going to “grow up” and become a counselor. They all looked so happy, and I could see how the campers and families depend on Camp all year. I started as a counselor when I was 16. The next year I had Sean Wawrzaszek, who changed my life. Sean taught me all the ways a person can communicate beyond using their voice. This led me to become a speech language pathologist who specializes in Augmentative and Alternative Communication. I love my work, but I am always happiest at Camp. I got engaged at camp, married at Camp (second ceremony), and have brought my three kids to camp every summer.

 

SAM SIMCOE

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I am a graduate of the University of San Diego and, recently, made my way back to be near my family in my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I run my own small business from my home.

First Year at Camp Jabberwocky:

Summer 2015.

Why I Choose to Spend My Summers at Camp?

Six years after learning about Jabberwocky during an island visit, I finally made it to camp.  From the very first meal in the main cabin after the campers arrived, I knew I was in for an incredible adventure at a special place.  You immediately feel the impact of the overflowing joy, love, enthusiasm, teamwork, support, and acceptance found in every corner of camp and everywhere the red bus travels. The “can and will do” attitude is contagious, and personal growth and feeling your heart expand every day are inevitable.

Jabberwocky attracts phenomenal people, counselors and campers alike, and every person adds something unique and important.  I love how camp fosters ageless friendships that feel like family every summer, and also year-round.  I came home with so many new friends from this exceptionally inclusive and joyful place, a community unlike any other I have experienced.  I truly can’t wait to get back!