Dottie Myers-Hill

Dottie Myers-Hill — Hello there goobers and grownups! My name is Dottie and I am your Camp Director at VBYC. This is my 18th summer working at Camp and I love my job so much...I used to tell people that being on staff was so fun, it felt sacrilegious to accept a paycheck. I have worked with a bunch of different camp generations and consider myself lucky enough to have met many founding family members in my days here. I credit them with giving me the camp spirit and the inspiration to come back and keep their original vision for the program alive so many years later. I feel very lucky to work with the young people in these photos...they teach me things every day and I am extremely grateful that they allow me to lead them and VBYC into the future. I have two kids in college now and a husband and a cat at home. In addition to my family, camp fills my soul and keeps me grounded. Thank you for trusting me, and our staff, to look after your children...happy camping! :)

Lisa Palanca

Lisa Palanca — My name is Lisa Palanca. I am part time Assistant Director. I have many decades with VBYC as a camper, counselor, staff member, teacher, and non profit! It’s the gift that keeps on giving! When not at Camp, I am working for Palanca Leadership, a 501 C3, dedicated to those not lucky enough to have attended VBYC Leadership Camp. I have 2 daughters who also work with kids in this capacity. We love Camp!

Nayt Hiemstra

Nayt Hiemstra — Hello, I'm Nayt Hiemstra, the part time Assistant Director. I'm back for my eight's summer on staff. I was previous here from 1991-95 and 2000-01. I'm SO HAPPY to be back, it feels like putting back on my favorite pair of well worn jeans. I'm from Gobles and live in Chicago, where I'm a web developer and an artist. I recently had my first solo show of drawings, very much inspired by camp.

Savannah Cook

Savannah Cook — Hi everyone! My name is Savannah and I am a Psychology major Hailing from the University of Michigan. When I am not missing camp, I enjoy kayak adventures, being curled up with a good book, Dungeons and Dragons, and long naps on the beach/soaking up the sun. I love camp for the magic it brings to the world. This is my second year at camp and I can't wait to meet you all. Catch me directing the waterfront of Great Bear Lake this summer ready to go for a paddle!

Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith — Sports / Co-Head Counselor

Abbey Jensen

Abbey Jensen — Hello Humans! I’m Abbey and I’m super excited to be back for my 5th summer at VBYC! I’m currently studying criminal justice in college and for the past year and a half I’ve been interning on and off at Walt Disney World, most recently working at the Monsters inc Laugh Floor! As much as I love Disney Magic, Nothing beats camp magic! I’m looking forward to another summer of laughs, campfires, crazy meals and lots and lots of memories!

Hannah Powless

Hannah Powless — Hello, my name is Hannah, and I’m so excited to return to VBYC this summer! Spending the summer at camp is the highlight of my year! During the off-season I am a student at Western Michigan University where I am pursuing degrees in Gender and Women’s Studies and Communications.

Luke Cook

Luke Cook — Hello! My name is Luke. I'm a student at the University of Michigan studying computer science and theater. During the off season I sing with a philanthropic acapella in Ann Arbor as a bassist and a beat-boxer. I can often be found in one of AA's various theaters, whether on stage or off stage working tech. I am passionate about video games, super hero movies, and many other factions of nerdiness. I've been looking forward to coming back this summer, literally since last summer was over and I'm very excited to come home to VBYC. Dolphins aren't real!

Ruby Hensley

Ruby Hensley — Archery

Micheal Price

Micheal Price — Low Ropes

Toby Haynor

Toby Haynor — Hey guys! My name is Toby Haynor, this’ll be my second summer on staff and something like my 13th total. I am the rifelry instructor this summer. I currently attend Michigan State University where I study Finance and German. I enjoy working at camp because it’s in my blood. My older brother was on staff with me last year, my parents both worked here in the 80s and even my grandparents had roles on staff in the early days. It’s a bunch of fun and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else during the summer!

Arianna Christian

Arianna Christian — Hello! My name is Ariana and I am very excited to be on the VBYC summer staff of 2018. I am a student at Grand Valley State University where I am pursuing a psychology degree. I have been attending camp since I was six years old, so I am very excited to spend my whole summer here. In my free time I enjoy being outside and reading a good book, I also recreationally swim! Can’t wait to meet you all the summer!

Kiernan Dean-Hall

Kiernan Dean-Hall — Kiernan Dean-Hall is a native of Kalamazoo, MI. Kiernan enjoys rock climbing, swimming, hiking, sailing, surfing, exploring, camping, writing, drawing, thinking, and being. In the realm of academics, Kiernan enjoys studying chemistry, physics, forensic science, geology, astronomy, cinema, and philosophy. Kiernan is not an alumnus of Van Buren Youth Camp, but brings with him plenty of experience from various youth leadership and development programs as well as City of Kalamazoo summer day camps. Kiernan finds it amusing to write in the third person. Kiernan finds many things in life to be amusing. Kiernan will be serving as camp’s swim instructor this season. Kiernan swam varsity at his high school, Loy Norrix, throughout his time there and began in club swimming well before then. Kiernan is also a Red Cross Certified Lifeguard. Given the chance, Kiernan will riddle other’s ears with “Dad Jokes” despite being a bit young for the role.

Connor Wilson

Connor Wilson — Hello, my name is Connor Wilson. Well my first name is Geoffrey but for some reason I am called by my middle name Connor. I am a -- this year at camp and I could not be more excited! This is my first year as a staff member but around my eleventh year attending camp. In the fall I will be attending Western Michigan University and studying business. Some of my interests are tubing, tennis and hanging out with friends and family.

Izak Ables

Izak Ables — Hello!! I’m Izak and I’m the canoeing instructor here at VBYC. I’ve been coming to camp most of my life, so working here is such a privilege. I’m a student at Michigan State University, and I love being outdoors hiking and camping!

James Phelps

James Phelps — Kitchen

Nathaniel Prince

Nathaniel Prince — Kitchen

Bryn Van Vleck

Bryn Van Vleck — Hi there! My name is Bryn and I’ll be your Kitchen Girl come this summer! I’m a full time student and I’m studying at Michigan State University (go green!). In my free time I love to read and go on hikes. The outdoors is definitely my happy place. VBYC has been a part of my family ever sense my dad was a little camper and I can’t wait to continue the tradition! I have two beautiful sisters, a stinky brother and two dogs that are truly my best friends. I’m a frequent traveler who loves new adventures and I can’t wait to tackle this new and exciting adventure at camp this summer! I hope to see you all there!

Brian Lapham

Brian Lapham — Kitchen

Wendy Tarantino

Wendy Tarantino — Office Manager


Czechky — Hallo, mine name ist Czechky und I am a Fox. I am from Prague, but I learned to speak in Berlin so I have a German accent. This is my first summer on staff and I will be teaching German and joy. I love dancing, reading, and meeting the campers... especially when they work my strings to make me dance.