Directors & Staff

Camp Akeela Staff

Camp Akeela is proud to boast a ratio of more than 1 adult for every 2 campers. More essential than the number of staff we employ is the quality of our personnel. At Akeela, every camper benefits from the care, spirit and skills of each staff member. We undertake extraordinary lengths to find the best of the best, to ensure that campers have the safest, most fun and most transformative experience possible. Each of our staff members has chosen to join Akeela because they are excited about living, playing, laughing and learning in our camp community. They approach each summer with the energy, dedication and sense of humor that make it evident how much they enjoy and truly “get” Akeela campers!

This incredible group of people includes experts in the fields of child development, psychology, special education, therapeutic interventions, and health care. All of this combined expertise helps ensure that every Akeela camper receives the individualized care and attention that he or she requires to have a successful summer.

Our Camp Directors

Eric and Debbie Sasson (with their daughters, Julia and Margo)

Eric Sasson has over 30 years of camp experience, at some of the Northeast’s finest camps, including Camp Walt Whitman, Camp Wingate*Kirkland and Camp Mah-Kee-Nac. He has been a full time camp professional for nearly 20 years and is an active member of the American Camp Association. Eric earned a BA in Math from Haverford College and a Masters in Education from Harvard University. Outside of the camp world, he has extensive experience working with children and young adults in a variety of settings.

Favorite Book: Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Place I’d Like To Visit: New Zealand
Camp Food: Fajitas

Debbie Sasson has been spending her summers at camp for more than 25 years. She has a BA in Psychology and a Masters in School Counseling from the University of Rochester. After 3 wonderful years as a middle school counselor in Belmont, MA, she returned to school and earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Yeshiva University in May 2008. She works as a full-time director of Camp Akeela, a position to which she brings extensive knowledge of the fields of child, adolescent and Family-Systems psychology.

Favorite Book: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Place I’d Like To Visit: South Africa
Camp Food: Tacos

Debbie and Eric met at a summer camp and have been partners in camping ever since. They have each held virtually every job available at camp, from bunk counselor and swim instructor to unit head and camp director. Throughout their careers, Debbie and Eric have always found themselves gravitating towards the “quirky” kids. Opening Akeela enabled them to create an empowering community for boys and girls who thrive in traditional camp setting with a little extra social support.

Kevin Trimble
Assistant Director
Kevin Trimble lives in Philadelphia and has worked at Akeela since 2009. He started as an accounting intern, and has spent his other summers as a counselor, Program Director and Head Counselor. In October 2013, he joined Akeela’s full-time staff as Assistant Director. He is responsible for finding and hiring the amazing counselors who work with your campers. Kevin also helps with camper recruitment, program planning, staff training, communication with camp families, and everything else that goes into making Akeela run smoothly.

Kevin is from Palo Alto, California. He played basketball at Palo Alto High School and was a member of the 2006 State championship team. He then went on to graduate from Wake Forest University with a bachelors and masters degree in Accountancy. After spending a year at Ernst & Young, the call to return to camp was too strong to ignore. He left his young accounting career behind to follow his passion here at Akeela. When he’s not working on camp stuff, Kevin enjoys playing basketball and traveling to see friends.

Favorite Book: The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons
Place I’d Like To Visit: Greece
Favorite Camp Food: Chicken Patties

David Baker
Assistant Director and Wisconsin On-Site Director

David Baker has spent over 15 summers at camp, both as a camper and a staff member. Since 2010 he has spent his summers on staff at Camp Akeela as a Cabin Counselor, Golf Specialist, Assistant Head Counselor and Head Counselor. He met his wife Katie at Akeela in 2011 and the two had their rehearsal dinner on the porch of our dining hall in Vermont! He knew from early in his time at Akeela that he wanted to make summer camp his career, and that dream came true when he joined Akeela’s year-round team in the fall of 2016.

Before joining the camp world full-time, Dave was a teacher, residential instructor and basketball coach at Middlebridge School, a residential boarding school in Rhode Island for students with various learning differences. He has a BS in Education from Franciscan University. He currently lives in Philadelphia with Katie, and their two dogs, Rudy and Luna. In his free time, Dave loves visiting with his huge family, watching his beloved New England sports teams, and visiting friends all around the country.

Favorite Book: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Place I’d Like To Visit: Santorini, Greece
Favorite Camp Food: Fajitas

Katie Baker
Head Counselor and Wisconsin On-Site Director
Katie Baker is a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) who lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Dave, and their dogs, Rudy and Luna. During the non-camp months, she works as a BCBA with children in the Philadelphia area. She earned her Master’s degree in Behavior Analysis from the University of Cincinnati after completing her undergrad at Miami University in Oxford, OH. Katie has been part of the Akeela staff since 2011 and has previously held the roles of cabin counselor, Beyond Akeela Advisor, Assistant Head Counselor, and Head Counselor.

In December 2015, Katie was part of a team that traveled to Chandigarh, India with the Global Autism Project to work with kids with autism and train teachers on how to use Applied Behavior Analysis in a school. She presents to other camp professionals about how to use the principles of behavior analysis in a summer camp setting. Her favorite thing about camp is seeing how much the campers change over such a short period of time, and loves watching children and friendships grow at camp!

Favorite Book: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Place I’d Like To Visit: Ireland
Favorite Camp Food: S’mores

Our Senior Staff

Our senior staff is composed of highly trained and experienced professionals in the fields of psychology, education, special needs, and therapeutic interventions. These “go-to” people train and provide on-going support to our counselors and activity specialists. They also work directly with campers as part of our regular program and on an as-needed basis.

Blayne Hill
Vermont Site Manager
Blayne Hill is a vital member of our year-round camp leadership team. He has been with Akeela since the very beginning, joining Debbie and Eric in the fall of 2007. Blayne’s hands, vision and talent have touched virtually every square inch of our camp facilities. He refurbished all the buildings and cabins that Akeela has kept from previous camps that were on our property, and added many, many more new structures.

What makes Blayne such a unique and invaluable asset to Akeela is that in addition to his skills as a builder, contractor, and facility manager, he loves camp life! He and his dog, Kayla, are beloved figures around camp and play a big role in the community. Born and raised in Thetford, Vermont, Blayne also serves as our expert in all things local. When not working on camp projects, he can usually be found fishing in Miller Pond or playing in the mud with his excavator!

Favorite Book: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Place I’d Like To Visit: Japan
Favorite Camp Food: Desserts

David Baker Sr.
Head Counselor (WI)
David Baker Sr. comes to Akeela with over 30 years of administrative experience in the public school system. He has his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Rhode Island College and his Doctorate of Education from the University of Vermont. Throughout his years working in education he has served as a teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, and Superintendent. He is currently the Superintendent of Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union.

In his younger days, he worked as a Head Counselor at a day camp in Rhode Island for six summers, and a camp chef at a Boy Scout camp in the Catskills of New York. He currently lives in Danville, Vermont, with his wife, Mary Ann. Together they raised seven children (three of whom currently work at Camp Akeela!) and have seven grandchildren with one on the way. In his free time he loves to watch sports, spend time with his kids and grandkids, and sip on Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with Mary Ann!

Favorite Book: 1984 by George Orwell
Place I’d Like To Visit: Ireland
Favorite Camp Food: Sloppy Joes

Lauren O’Brien
Head Counselor (WI)
Lauren O’Brien currently lives in Appleton, WI and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and English as a Second Language. Lauren joined Akeela last summer in Vermont as a Cabin Counselor and is so thrilled to take on the role of Head Counselor in her homeland of Wisconsin. Lauren fell in love with camp life last summer and couldn’t be more excited for another summer filled with awesome camp traditions (evening meeting and campfire being her personal favorites) and a wonderful crew of campers and counselors.

After this summer, Lauren will move to Denver, Colorado to pursue her career in education. She couldn’t think of a more perfect way to spend her last few months in Wisconsin than with the greatest community out there!

Favorite Book: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Place I’d Like To Visit: Ireland
Favorite Camp Food: Tacos and desserts

Celia O’Flaherty
Head Counselor (VT)
Celia O’Flaherty lives in Nashville, TN where she is earning her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education and is working toward becoming a BCBA. Celia started her journey at Akeela in 2013 as the camp photographer and nanny for Margo and Julia Sasson. She then joined the counseling crew in 2014 and will be a Head Counselor this coming summer.

Celia grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, but has been drawn to the mountains since she attended Gonzaga University in Washington state, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education. Celia loves everything outdoors, from hiking to swimming, rock climbing to cross country skiing and is looking forward to spending her fifth year at the greenest, happiest place on the planet!

Favorite Book: The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett
Place I’d Like To Visit: Switzerland
Favorite Camp Food: Pigs in a Blanket

Greg Walker
Greg Walker
Head Counselor (VT)
Greg Walker is currently living in Des Moines, Iowa after graduating from University with a First Class in Childhood Studies last year. This will be Greg’s Sixth Summer at Akeela and first year as a Head Counselor after being a leader on our program team for three summers. He first came to Akeela in 2012 as the Drama Specialist and fell in love with Vermont and the community of Akeela. Greg is looking forward to his new role this summer as a Head Counselor. When Greg has free time, he loves to watch and play soccer, play online video games and socialize with friends.

Favorite Book: Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
Place I’d Like To Visit: San Francisco, CA
Favorite Camp Food: Pizza

Barb Wolfson
Head Counselor (VT)
Barb Wolfson has been a child advocate and professional educator for over 30 years. She is a graduate of UMass Amherst and has a Masters in Education from Lesley University. Barb was the director for 10 years at Camp Wingate Kirkland on Cape Cod (where Debbie and Eric met!). Barb lives in Wayland, MA with her husband Jim and their two black labs Moses and Nellie. She has two grown children, Elizabeth and Sam. Barb loves to read, cook, exercise, go to the movies with Jim, hang out with her family, spend time with friends, and take Moses and Nellie for walks.

Favorite Book: Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Place I’d Like To Visit: Alaska
Favorite Camp Food: S’mores

Rob Glyn-Jones
Rob Glyn-Jones
Communications Director (VT)
Rob Glyn-Jones lives in the north of England, although he has spent the last twenty summers working at American summer camps. Rob started his camp career in 1996 as a counselor at Summit Camp in Pennsylvania. He rose through the ranks at Summit and for eight years was a Unit Leader there. In 2010 he joined Camp Akeela as a Head Counselor and had an immediate and profound impact on the Akeela campers and staff. He has always been drawn to working with children and believes that camp is a fantastic environment for encouraging growth and development – as well as having a great time! In 2015, Rob moved over to the Program side of life at camp and has discovered a new love for the complexities of scheduling and trying to make sure that everyone gets their top choices for Specialties! He’s excited to be involved in all things communication this coming summer!

During the rest of the year, Rob works as an actor and workshop leader. A lot of this work takes him into schools and colleges to facilitate issue-based presentations on a wide variety of topics such as anti-social behavior, bullying, community cohesion and drug issues. In his spare time he enjoys cooking, reading, swimming and watching Doctor Who!

Favorite Book: The Box of Delights by John Masefield
Place I’d Like To Visit: Nepal and Tibet
Camp Food: Hot Dogs and dessert!

Michael “Woody” Forrestal
Co-Program Director (VT)
Michael Forrestal (or as we call him at camp, “Woody”) was born in Dublin and raised in picturesque Connemara, and has now moved back to Dublin as he begins his teaching career. He started working at Akeela as a Woodshop Secialist in 2012, and will be returning for his Fourth Summer. Since taking a two year hiatus from Akeela, Woody has gone on to graduate top of his class in GMIT Letterfrack and was awarded ‘The Teaching Excellence Award’. He now works in a brand new school teaching Woodwork, Technology and Technical Graphics. Woody’s favorite thing about camp is the creativity the campers bring to all areas of camp, and his second favorite thing about camp has to be chicken patties. Woody is really looking forward to summer 2017 and can’t wait to get back to the Akeela community.

Favorite Book: The Big Book of Weekend Woodworking by John A. & Joyce C. Nelson
Place I’d Like To Visit: New Zealand (for the rugby!)
Favorite Camp Food: Chicken Patties with Franks Hot Sauce

Isabel “Izzy” Freedman
Co-Program Director (VT)
Isabel Freedman lives in St. Louis, MO where she will be graduating from Washington University in St. Louis this May with a degree in Anthropology. Izzy first joined the Akeela team as a nanny for Margo and Julie in 2014 and worked in the Health Center last summer as the nurse intern. Having been a camper for 15 years, Izzy is excited to use her camp experience to create an exciting program for Akeela campers!

Izzy completed a part of her studies in Geneva, Switzerland where she researched experimental educational approaches for children in refugee camps and fell in love with all things hiking and exploring the outdoors! Izzy grew up in the Philadelphia area and is looking forward to moving back home to pursue a career in education policy after another incredible summer in Vermont!

Favorite Book: The 13 Story Tree House by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
Place I’d Like To Visit: Iceland
Favorite Camp Food: Fajitas

Kyle B
Kyle Bennett
Aquatics Director (VT)
Kyle Bennett is happy to be returning to Akeela for his fifth summer. He grew up in Iowa where he worked at New Hope Village, a living facility for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. Kyle attended Millikin University in Illinois and earned his degree in Theatre, and started spending his summers working at Akeela!

He then moved to Vermont and spent a year working as a behavior interventionist and helping troubled children in the classroom. Kyle now lives in New York City and is pursuing a career on the stage. In his free time he enjoys reading, taking his dog to the park, and trying new restaurants in the city. At Akeela, Kyle has always worked in aquatics but enjoys dabbling in other aspects of camp and using creativity to have as much fun as possible.

Favorite Book: His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
Place I’d Like To Visit: Mykonos, Greece
Favorite Camp Food: Eggs McKeela