pals

Director Series: Camp PALS New York

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Hey PALS Families! It’s us…New York!

We are the amazingly, fun (totally unbiased) Directors for Camp PALS New York this year and so excited to help bring the PALS magic to Cornell!

Dan Rodini: Heyyyy you guys! I am Dan Rodini and I am the Volunteer Director for Camp PALS New York this year. My job is to make sure that all of our volunteers get what they need and are prepared for our week together at PALS! I’m the guy you e-mail when you have that random question about what to bring to camp, travel arrangements, or for whatever you need! When I am not spending my time on PALS, I am a 6th grade science teacher in West Philadelphia and a first year graduate student at Temple University studying Special Education. There is never a dull moment in my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This will be my second year as a Director for Camp PALS New York and I am super excited for our new location at Cornell University! PALS is my home away from home and I couldn’t imagine a summer without it!

Morgan: Hi PALS family! I am beyond excited to be joining my co-Directors, Dan and Dan, at a brand new PALS location this summer. My role is the Camper Director, meaning I get to communicate weekly with our special Camper families! This is my fifth year as a part of the PALS family and second year directing. A little bit about myself: This past May, I graduated from West Chester University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition. Since I love being a student sooo much, I’m currently a full-time graduate student studying Community Nutrition. Some of my favorite things include laying on the beach, traveling to new places, eating ice cream, and I guess running/exercising. I’m looking forward to sharing my PALS love with all of you! Welcome to New York, we’ve been waiting for you!

Dan Knott: What’s up PALS People?! My name is Dan Knott and I am the Logistics Director here at Camp PALS New York! It is my responsibility to make sure everyone at Camp has the best week of the year (all while staying under budget)! After spending weeks brainstorming and planning, I think I’ve come up with the perfect week that I’m sure you will enjoy. This is my fourth year being involved with Camp PALS and second year directing. I am a senior at Temple University and will be graduating this fall with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. I am also a lifeguard at the Jersey Shore during the summer, which is where most of my favorite memories are from, besides Camp PALS of course! I also enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities, such as; skiing, running, hiking, water skiing, wakeboarding, surfing, fishing, and eating food. I can’t wait for this summer at Camp PALS New York! It’s going to be the best Camp out there!

See you in New York!

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Director Series: Camp PALS Chicago

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Kayla

My name is Kayla and I am so excited to serve as the Camper Director in Chicago this summer. This is my third summer with PALS and my third time at Camp in Chicago. I cannot wait to see so many returning Campers and welcome our new Campers into the PALS family. I have been lucky enough to have attended the Chicago and San Francisco Camps in addition to the Wisconsin Dells Adventure. My favorite PALS activity is karaoke night! I am from a suburb of Chicago and love being in the city. I am currently a senior special education major at Clemson University and am completing my student teaching experience.

Riannon

My name is Riannon and this is my third summer with PALS! I began my journey in Chicago in 2015, and then directed the Wisconsin Dells Adventure in 2016. Last summer, I had the pleasure of exploring the West Coast in San Francisco and will be heading there for the Monterey Bay Adventure! I’m finishing up my senior year at the University of Illinois studying special education and am currently completing my student teaching. I am beyond excited to be the Volunteer Director this summer and can’t wait to spend a week in the windy city!

Devin

My name is Devin and I am ecstatic for my first year at Camp PALS Chicago as a Director! This will be my second year volunteering with PALS Programs. My first experience with PALS was at the 2015 Indy Adventure. Within my first year I have been able to attend a Camp in San Francisco as well as the DC Adventure. I am in my senior year at Grand Valley State University, studying Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. I am from Grand Rapids, Michigan, located about 45 minutes from Lake Michigan. I can’t wait to meet everyone and have the best week of our summer!

We are all so excited to meet you this summer during our favorite week of the year at Camp PALS Chicago! We just hope you’re as excited as we are! Take a look at this video to get ready for camper arrival in Chicago in just 145 Days!

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Director Series: Camp PALS San Francisco

Morgan

Hi everyone! My name is Morgan and I’m really excited about Camp PALS San Francisco 2016, also known as ‘CPSF2K16’, also known as 'the place where the people who know what’s up will be’. A little about me: I like to dance, I’ve been involved in PALS for 7 years, and I have the two best co-directors in the whole world. My favorite thing about PALS is the people. Every summer, we create and partake in an incredible spectrum of communities, each one unique, beautiful, and world changing.

Meaghan

Hi PALS! My name is Meaghan and I am one of the directors of the fabulous Camp PALS San Francisco director team! I work as a pediatric physical therapist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in the beautiful Bay Area, just down the road from our host site Santa Clara University! I’ve been a part of PALS as a counselor, Adventure director, and head counselor since 2012 when the west coast joined in on the PALS fun! This is my first year as a camp director and I am so excited to plan your favorite week of the summer! When I’m not working on PALS or at the hospital I enjoy running, baking, watching puppy videos, and listening to all the songs from my favorite Disney movies! I can’t wait to meet you all at Camp PALS San Francisco this summer!

Hannah

Hey PALS family! My name is Hannah and I am beyond excited to be joining my co-directors, Morgan and Meaghan, over on the west coast for my third summer at Camp PALS San Francisco! A little bit about myself: I graduated from West Chester University of Pennsylvania in May 2015 and I am currently teaching 3rd grade in South Philadelphia. I like to swim, eat guacamole, and I’m currently training for a half marathon (even though running is my least favorite activity in the world…) And oh yeah, I love PALS! I can’t wait to see you all for our fifth summer under the Bay Area sun!

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Director Series: Camp PALS Philadelphia

Meet the Camp PALS Philly 2016 Directors:

Cat: I am so excited for my first year of directing a Camp PALS program! This will be my 8th summer with PALS Philly and each year is better than the last. PALS for me is a home away from home, filled with incredible friends and memories. My favorite PALS memories are going to the beach, PALS Olympics and the famous PALS dance! This year I’m excited to meet new counselors and campers and welcome back our returners. My goal for Camp PALS Philly 2016 is to create an environment that is electric and fun with opportunities for everyone to make friends, let loose and find their own favorite PALS memories! Can’t wait for June 2016!

Shane: Hi PALS Family!! My name is Shane Kensil and this will be my sixth summer at Camp PALS, but first time in the role of director. To say that I am excited would be a complete understatement! My younger sister who has Down syndrome and I both got involved in 2011 and haven’t looked back since. I am currently a senior at St. Joe’s University in Philadelphia, studying Health Administration. I am originally from Warrington, PA which is about 30 minutes from Philadelphia. I am so incredibly excited to be working with Cat and Ed this summer!! This dream team knows how to take a single week in June and pack it full of fun activities, trips, and amazing campers/counselors. Personally, Dave&Busters is my favorite trip during the week, but Beach Day is definitely a close second. My hope for the future is that one day the spirit of acceptance, happiness, and love that exists at PALS will be able to exist in the real world for the other 51 weeks of the year. PALS really is the happiest place on Earth! Can’t wait to see everybody in a few months!!!!

Ed: Hello PALS family and friends, I’m Ed and it’s great to be helping lead another summer in Philly! My life outside of PALS is as a financial advisor helping families and businesses best navigate towards a comfortable retirement. It is also spent going on adventures with my brother Edwin!

In my 8th year with PALS programs, I’ve gained many great life long friends and learned even greater lessons about how to live a meaningful life. PALS has helped me shape my principles about how I want to treat others of all similarities and differences. My devotion to helping PALS grow is out of pure love for the people involved who continuously pour their efforts into forming a stronger community. Let’s make 2016 the best one yet!

Director Series: Camp PALS Maine

Dear PALS Family,

We hope life’s treating you wonderfully and happy 2016! In case you didn’t already know, we are your Camp PALS Maine Director team. Here’s a bit of info about us:

C. Bell: outdoor adventurer, cat & dog enthusiast, science geek, baker.

Morgan: Peanut butter lover, wanna-be dancer, professional napper, puppy snuggler

Jordan: Movie Buff, Dog Owner, Recreational Swimmer, Big-time Nerd

We are elated to be planning this summer’s Camp PALS Maine! Last year’s Director team planned an amazing week, and we hope we can add even more fun to this summer. Whether this is your first Camp PALS or gazillionth, we can’t wait to meet you, or catch up, and have great times together!  

You might ask, “What can I do to spread the PALS love?” Well, first of all, great question! We have some simple suggestions:

        A. Spread the word through social media
        B. Donate! We can’t make this week amazing without $$$
        C. Sign up to join us during July 17-23rd
        D. Do nothing
        E. D is the wrong answer. Choose again :P

Sending a Nor’Easter of PALS love your way,

C., Morgan, and Jordan

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Director Series: Camp PALS Georgetown

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Andrea, Alex and Ben

Hi Everyone!  

We are Andrea, Alex and Ben, and we are the Camp PALS Georgetown 2016 Team! Collectively, we represent 20 combined years of being a part of PALS and are traveling over 550 miles to come to spend a week with everyone in our Nation’s Capital this summer. 

In between the times Andrea is planning counselor and on-campus logistics, she finds herself working as a Program Supervisor at the Mental Health Association, working on independent living with her clients. Recreationally, she enjoys spending time with her family and rocking out to 90s dance music. While Alex spends most of his time working on community engagement and camper logistic for PALS, he works toward finishing his Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In his spare time, Alex likes building rockets out of household chemicals and supplies. Ben, the youngest of the group, is a budding PALS star, specializing in off-campus programming as well as financing logistics. Somehow, between all of this, Ben works tirelessly pursuing his degree in Finance, Supply Chain Management, and Policy at Syracuse University, all while living in a hotel! He finds time in between the busy hours to play basketball and collect fountain pens.

Collectively, we are so thrilled to be spending another summer under the sun in our Nation’s Capitol. We cannot wait for July 31st and all the great things we have planned!!

PALS Love,

Andrea, Alex and Ben

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Director Series: Camp PALS New Jersey

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Jake introducing Amanda

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the incredible Amanda Sayer!

A PALS MVP since 2013, Amanda has been an inspirational leader at Philadelphia and Georgetown over the past three years. She has an incredible ability to see through a person’s outer shell and connect with who they really are, and lives in a way that exhibits the fundamentals of Camp PALS as an organization. Speaking of organization, Amanda continues to demonstrate her affluence for scheduling, ensuring no other leaders in charge of on-campus curriculum (who shall remain nameless) fall behind. Her love for PALS stems from personal relationships with family and friends with Down syndrome, and the organization has benefitted from her being both an active leader as well as a role model for all involved. Amanda is a molder of young minds who brought her talents from Pennsylvania to the great state of Virginia to train the future of America.

In her free time, Amanda enjoys reading the thesaurus. She is a lifelong rock collector, and hopes to someday discover a new composite. Her food preferences include M&M’s, but only the blue ones, and she prefers a week of school to a week of snow days. If you see her, ask her to tell one of her classic knock-knock jokes, as she knows over 200 of them (disclaimer: some or all of the above information may be fictional).

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Amanda introducing Nathan

PALS Family, I present Nathan Drewes!

he’s cool

Just playin’! Nathan is an outgoing, generous, confident leader who has embodied the PALS vision over his past three summers. Though he hails from outside of Chicago, IL and attends college in Tuscaloosa, AL, Nathan has made his way around PALS camps and adventures, making new friends everywhere he goes! This year he is lending his talents to Camp PALS New Jersey, where his diligence and compassion have so far made him an incredible Camper Liaison. Nathan’s experiences with the Down syndrome community have made him an imperative part of the Camp PALS formula of creating and executing quality camps. We are lucky to have him!

When Nathan is not working hard at the University of Alabama or enjoying time with his PALS family, he likely enjoys trading places with his triplets (although one is a female) and instructing the elderly in Zumba lessons. He also probably likes Hot Dog Eating Contests and singing in the shower. Be sure to check out his Blue Steel. Some, or all, of the information presented in this paragraph is Amanda’s attempt at humor. But if you run into Nathan at Camp PALS this summer, you will be sure to smile and laugh, and that’s no joke!

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Nathan introducing Jake

Introducing the one, the only, Jake Myers!

Despite his home base being Philly and his dog’s name being Cleveland, Jake has opted to take his many talents to Camp PALS New Jersey for the 2016 summer. Known as Mr. Myers to his students, Jake spends his days molding the minds of the today’s youth. Jake joined PALS in 2013, branching out from 3 years of Philly to attend Camp PALS Chicago (with yours truly) last summer as well. From counselor to head counselor and now director, Jake is the perfect example of someone who embodies all of PALS’ values- Passionate, Welcoming, Supportive, and Fun!

In his free time, Jake enjoys long runs in the woods and drinking milk directly from the carton. He also LOVES talking about his headband collection. If you’re ever hanging out with Jake, drop a beat and ask him to freestyle - his mix tape’s coming soon!

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PALS in space! No, really.

Captain’s Log, Stardate 68758.4. PALS bracelets have returned from their journey to space on the flight test for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle…

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Mike Hawes (far right) presents PALS Staff with the 50 bracelets and official NASA documentation authenticating their flight on Orion

We are beyond thrilled to reveal that 50 PALS bracelets have returned from their epic journey to space. Yes, we said space. Reaching an altitude of 3,500 miles above earth and traveling at a speed of 15,000 miles per hour, it is safe to say that these bracelets boldly went where none of us have gone before. 

But HOW, you ask? Last Fall, Camp PALS Chicago Director Conor Hawes approached the PALS staff with an offer of a lifetime.  Conor’s awesome dad, Mike Hawes was connected to the flight test for Orion- a capsule that will eventually send humans to Mars. The theme of the flight test was inspiration, and Conor and his Dad thought PALS was a perfect fit.  We selected 50 PALS bracelets (handmade by our Office Manager, Robyn Newbury) to make the trip. Other notable items in the capsules included original works from Maya Angelou, a prehistoric fossil from a T-rex, and Cookie Monster’s cookie. 

We are SO thankful, honored, and amazed to have been given this opportunity. We still haven’t quite wrapped our heads around the awesomeness of it all. Our PALS community is the best and we are grateful for all of you.  Whether it is talking about PALS to a friend over dinner, or sending PALS bracelets into space, each and every effort helps our community grow and brings us closer to a world of acceptance and welcome.

Read more about the items included in the capsules here. Or watch the launch here