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 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 over 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 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
Beyond Akeela Director
Kristin Trimble joined the Akeela team in 2015 as a counselor, and has spent every summer since in the Akeela community, including her role as the Beyond Akeela Head Counselor in 2018. When she’s not at camp, Kristin is a school & mental health counselor at a performing arts high school in Philadelphia. She obtained her graduate degree in Counseling Psychology from Temple University, and has focused her career on high school aged students. Kristin brings her counseling expertise to camp and oversees the social success and emotional well being of Beyond Akeela teens. During the off-season, Kristin works closely with her husband, Akeela’s Assistant Director Kevin Trimble, to build the Beyond Akeela curriculum and meets with each new family. When she’s not focused on camp, Kristin enjoys playing in a local volleyball league (with Kevin!), exploring Philadelphia, and finding new recipes to try at home! Favorite Book: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara Place I’d Like To Visit: Portugal Favorite Camp Food: Vegan cookies
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.
Staffing Director & Program Director
Ben Jerez is from a small town called Bunbury in Western Australia. After moving to Perth, the state capital, to earn his degree in Education at Curtin University, Ben started a tutoring and mentoring business serving disadvantaged youth. After his first summer at Akeela in 2015 Ben realized he loves camp! Ben enjoys his free time playing football, hiking and surfing. Ben has a passion for traveling and in 2018, he brought his experience in places like Papua New Guinea, Iceland and Hawaii to his role as the Outdoor Adventure Director. In June 2019, Ben joined Akeela’s full-time year-round staff. In his capacity as the Program Director during the summer, he makes sure that all activities, trips and special events are safe, memorable and fun! In the off-season, he works closely with Debbie and Eric in all aspects of the operation, focusing primarily on hiring our incredible staff members. He is so glad to be returning to Akeela for his fifth summer. Favorite Book: Ishmael by Daniel Quinn Place I’d Like To Visit: Chile Favorite Camp Food: Hike day lunch!
Assistant Director & Head Counselor
Rob Glyn-Jones lives in the north of England, although he has spent the last twenty-four 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 discovered a new love for the complexities of scheduling and trying to make sure that everyone gets their top choices for Specialties! Beginning in 2017, Rob pioneered the role of communications director for Akeela. In that capacity, he works closely with Debbie, Eric and the head counseling team to continually improve how we communicate all of the successes happening at camp with the outside world!
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!
John Gallagher, originally from Seattle, is a 6th grade English teacher in the St. Paul Public Schools out in frigid Minnesota. He worked as an Akeela cabin counselor in 2017, and is thrilled to be back on the shores of Miller Pond this summer as a Head Counselor! John received his Teaching license and a Bachelor’s degree in English in the cornfields of Iowa at Grinnell College, where he also ran Track and Field and Cross Country. In his free time, John loves running, playing soccer, going to sporting events, and watching Netflix. John loves working at camp, because it gives him a chance to connect with awesome young people outside of the classroom. Favorite Book: Wonder by R.J. Palacio Place I’d Like To Visit: Wherever the 2023 Women’s World Cup is! Favorite Camp Food: Chef Trina’s Bread Pudding
Justin is from New Jersey, where he is an instructional support and intervention aide in elementary education. He has worked in education since 2013, while also pursuing a professional performing arts career as a dance and theater artist. Justin has worked as a social skills coach, instructor, and school support worker, and has been lucky enough to apply his theater and dance training to his work with children and young adults in creative ways. He will be joining Camp Akeela for the first time as a head counselor in Summer 2021. For the last 7 years, Justin has spent his summers at a camp in Pennsylvania, and is so excited to be joining the Akeela family. When Justin is not busy working with students, he loves to practice yoga, go on trail walks and long hikes in his home state, or learn a new recipe. He loves new places, and hopes to resume traveling around the world soon. Justin also enjoys a casual game of chess, a nice cozy spot to read in, and a good song to sing along to. Favorite Book: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce Place I’d Like To Visit: Berlin Favorite Camp Food: Ice Cream!
John Alberts is eager to begin his first summer at Camp Akeela! Starting his camp career on the shores of Lake Cobbosseecontee, he began as a swimming and bunk counselor at Camp Cobbossee for Boys in Monmouth, ME. With years of competitive swimming experience, he quickly moved to the assistant waterfront director position. He spent two summers in that role, implementing a structured, safe, and of course engaging swim program in which campers strove to be the best versions of themselves. Over the last two years, John has spent four seasons working with kids and adults with special needs and challenging illnesses at Camp For All in Burton, TX. Making residential camping his career objective, his experience at Camp For All gave him a better understanding of not only why he does camp, but also the population he enjoys serving best. John believes camp has a monumental impact on those who truly step outside their comfort zones, and being able to provide a safe environment for campers to thrive makes places like Camp Akeela feel like a second home. Favorite Book: The Body by Stephen King Place I’d Like To Visit: Tokyo Favorite Camp Food: Cheeseburgers
Sydney, originally from Larchmont, New York (same town as Eric Sasson!) is currently a Kindergarten Teacher in Saint Albans, Vermont, and is living in Burlington. Sydney graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Education in 2019, and has been teaching young children ever since. Sydney first started at Camp Akeela as Wisconsin’s Trip Director in 2019, and continued as a hiking specialist in Vermont. Sydney is so excited to return for her third summer at Akeela as Vermont’s Trip Director this summer! When Sydney isn’t teaching, she enjoys reading, writing, and spending time in Vermont’s great outdoors. Sydney loves to hike and ski the VT mountains, as well as relaxing on the beach with a good book in hand. Sydney is enthusiastic about traveling and trying new things. She can’t wait to take old and new campers on many fun, exciting trips this summer! Favorite Book: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn Place I’d Like to Visit: Italy Favorite Camp Food: Chef Trina’s brookies (half brownie, half cookie)
Assistant Head Counselor
Courtney is a born and raised North Carolinian. After attending NC State and earning her degree in Communication Media, she decided to make Raleigh, North Carolina home. She is currently a K-5 Special Education teacher and recently obtained her Masters in Special Education from NC State, with a focus on students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. When Courtney first came to Akeela in 2019, she fell in love with camp and the lifelong friends she made that summer. This will be Courtney’s third summer at camp and when she’s not at Akeela, you can find her loudly and proudly cheering on the NC State Wolfpack in various sports, volunteering with Miracle League of the Triangle or playing in an adult sports league. Courtney also enjoys catching up with staff friends around the world throughout the year. Favorite Book: One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey Place I’d Like To Visit: Santorini Favorite Camp Food: Chef Trina’s Brookies (half brownie / half cookie)
Assistant Head Counselor
Gabe’s background with kids started in high school, working as a counselor for an outdoor science camp, instructing kids in subjects from basic survival to ecology! In 2016, they joined the Akeela staff as a counselor and swim instructor. For the next four summers, they lived primarily with younger camp cabins, while loving the opportunity to teach swimming to all of the age groups at camp! As a psychology major at Western Washington University, they focused their studies on cognitive development. After graduation in 2018, Gabe moved to China to be trained for early child education while working as a foreign language teacher. Upon returning to the States, Gabe has been working as an ABA therapist in Orange County, California. They plan on attending CUNY Law in New York City in the fall of 2021, specializing in environmental law and immigration. Favorite Book: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo Place I’d Like To Visit: Australia Favorite Camp Food: Chef Trina’s classic jambalaya!
Assistant Program Director
Kylie lives in Narragansett, Rhode Island where she works at a boarding school counseling kids with learning differences. This will be Kylie’s third summer at camp. She first came to Akeela in 2018 as a cabin counselor while she was still at Villanova University obtaining her degree in psychology (Go Wildcats!). In her free time, she likes reading, traveling and figure skating. Kylie’s so excited to come back to camp to see her old campers and friends and to experience camp in her new role! Favorite Book: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne Place I’d Like to Visit: Iceland Favorite Camp Food: Trina’s Bread pudding
Keefe Traendly was born in nearby Lebanon, NH, and grew up along with his two brothers and two sisters right down the road from Camp Akeela! He graduated from Thetford Academy in 2000 and began working as a carpenter for several years before deciding to move to North Carolina to attend college. After 10 years down South, the opportunity arose to come back home to Vermont to help his ailing father run his contracting business. Since then, Keefe has made carpentry into a career, on that gives him the type of satisfaction most only dream of. In 2013, Keefe married his wife, Yvette, who is a special education teacher at the Newton School in Strafford. His hobbies are hiking, fishing, hunting, and going to see as much live music as possible! Favorite Book: Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss Place I’d Like To Visit: Brazil Favorite Camp Food: S’mores
Chef Trina Triacca
Chef Trina is from Orlando, Florida and currently lives in Gainesville, where she is a chef for a fraternity at the University of Florida. She is a graduate of the prestigious culinary arts program at Johnson & Wales and has been working in food service for nearly 20 years. She has explored her love for food and people in a variety of settings, including catering and food specialty stores. She has even owned, managed and cooked in her own food truck! In addition to her talent, her contagious laugh and her unwavering positivity, one of the things we love most about Trina is her passion for making people happy through food. Every summer, she wows us with a great menu, and a sharply tuned attention to all of our various preferences and special diets.
When Trina isn’t in the kitchen she enjoys spending time with her family and her old dog, Bender. She loves trying new restaurants and traveling. Her travels have taken her to much of the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and all over Europe. She has a quirky love of 80s movies, especially anything starring Bill Murray. She also loves painting, crafting and everything about Camp Akeela! Favorite Book: The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King Place I’d Like to Visit: Australia Favorite Camp Food: Tacos!