at Ekone Ranch
Volunteers | Summer Camp Staff
Summer Camp Volunteers
Our many amazing volunteers help make each camp unique and special.
Whether they are offering art projects, leading hikes, coordinating a Council of All Beings, staging a talent show, making delicious treats in the kitchen, administering hugs, doing yoga with the kids, teaching herbal medicine, making friction fires, telling stories around the campfire, inspiring the kids to stuff the truck with firewood, setting an excellent example, or sharing their special knowledge and talent with the children, Ekone volunteers are a key part of summer camp. Our unique, hands-on, individualized program takes a small army to coordinate and to give the children the attention they deserve. Ekone’s wonderful and generous volunteers help us make it happen and keep camp tuition within the realm of reason!
Summer Camp Staff
Michelle is our resident plant nerd and reigning Waddalyatcha champion!
She first connected with Ekone in early 2017 and has been a year-round Ekone staff since early 2020. Michelle brings many years of experience working in art, garden, and nature education, and love love LOVES to work with kids outside in nature. She has taught everything from preschool to art camp to middle school science to adult education and everything in between. She has a B.A. in Art from UC Berkeley and an M.S. in Sustainability Education from Portland State, and is currently working on a second M.S. in Conservation Biology. She is also a certified Wilderness First Responder. You can often find her planting seeds, smelling trees, or investigating tiny flowers.
Favorite summer activities? Early morning garden projects, exploring the woods, and building community with campers.
Liz has a special understanding with chickens, but she understands horses and kids pretty well, too.
A dynamic leader and longtime staff member, Liz first came to Ekone as a camper in 1995 and hasn’t missed a summer since. She is most known around the ranch for her love of all things related to homestead living: fixing things, building things, raising goats, pigs, and poultry, cooking and preserving food, putting in firewood, driving the tractor, having ever more Supreme Adventures in the woods, reading voraciously whenever there's time, and laughing loud enough to be heard from the other side of the ranch! Liz has lived year-round at Ekone since 2013, and is now the Operations Director, as well as supporting many weeks of summer camp and other programs. Before coming to live at Ekone full-time, Liz spent six years managing a small pasture-based livestock farm on Vashon Island, WA, raising dairy cows, pigs, sheep, and poultry for the Seattle farmer's markets.
Liz grew up in SE Portland, and graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she received a BA in Media and Cultural Studies, as well as working at the college’s farm and CSA. She is also certified in Wilderness First Aid.
Alyssa is our resident Craft Queen and a loving goat mama.
Alyssa has been coming to camp for the past four years. She never got the opportunity to come as a camper, but is now making up for lost time! Alyssa loves to explore the relationship between arts & crafts and the natural world with the kids, and to wander in the woods learning about the different plants and critters in the area.
When not at Ekone, Alyssa spends her time pursuing her own art, playing with her plants and exploring a new found love for cooking. Her favorite Ekone activity: Evenings milking the goats!
Ruby first came to Ekone Ranch for a horse camp in 2016 and after the first day, they knew that Ekone would always have a special place in their heart. They have returned every year since, first as a camper, then a youth volunteer and now as a staff member. Ruby lives for Ekone's camp community and is happiest when working alongside campers and staff. Ruby prides themselves on their attention to detail. You will often find them bustling around the ranch making sure everything is in order.
When not at Ekone, Ruby enjoys hiking, reading, and tending to their various farm animals.
Ruby is from Olympia Washington and will be attending Warren Wilson College starting fall 2022.
Ruby’s favorite camp activity is music night!
Evelyn first came to Ekone with her cousins and grandma when she was 8 years old and fell in love with the ranch. Since then she has made many valiant but failed efforts to never leave, as a camper, volunteer, and now as a staff member. Evelyn loves to do all the things from cooking, playing music, working with horses, and everything in between. She loves the friends and sense of self she has found at Ekone and hopes as a staff member she inspires and gives the same love and care to others. Evelyn is from Portland Oregon and attends Macalester College in St. Paul Minnesota. Their fav camp activities are writing silly camp songs, becoming friends with the horses, working in the garden, and stargazing.
Jenna brings her quirky sense of humor to the horse program, and she ain't afraid to get dirty in the process!
Jenna was a horse crazy 11-year-old when she first started coming to summer camp and has been returning ever since then, as a camper, intern and camp staff. In 2013, she graduated from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, with a BA in Studio Art, spent the summer working at camp, and then jumped on a sailboat from Seattle to New Zealand. Ask her about it sometime!
She has experience in the hunter ring and has been teaching riding skills to campers and lesson students for more than ten years. One of her favorite things about summer camp is watching campers' deepening connection with the horses and increase in self-confidence that comes hand-in-hoof with the riding and horsemanship skills.
In January of 2018, Jenna joined the year-round Ekone staff team and now calls the ranch home for four seasons a year!
Julia first arrived at Ekone in 2010 as a camper with a fascination and love for horses.
She came for the horses and stayed for the incredible people that make up the Ekone community. Julia is excited to be part of the horse staff and to learn from the other staff, horses and campers. She has ten years of riding experience in western and english riding that compliments her knowledge of Ekone horsemanship. She loves how Ekone’s horse program is focused on developing communication and trust with the horses and enjoys getting to know all of their unique personalities. Julia also loves leading chore crews, helping with bedtime and doing service projects.
When she isn’t at camp, she can be found running, cooking, backcountry skiing or backpacking. She is from Whidbey Island and will be attending Whitman College this fall as a freshman.
Her favorite Ekone activity is coming up with fun, creative challenges for campers to do on horseback!
Morgan enjoys sharing her love of music and song as powerful tools for storytelling, for weaving community and for bringing joy.
Morgan first came to work at Ekone in 2014. Never having been to summer camp as a kid, she feels extra lucky to be living out the dreams of her 8 year old self by playing in the woods, riding horses all day, and singing songs at Ekone Ranch.
Morgan grew up riding any/all horses that she could climb on. When she was eleven, she and her mom adopted a wild Mustang and began the long process of training through building a relationship built on trust and communication. Along the way she discovered that horses ask humans to develop sensitivity, patience, empathy, self-confidence, and a leadership style that is both gentle and firm. Morgan holds a degree in Visual Art/Art Education from the Evergreen State College. When she's not at summer camp, she enjoys cultivating creativity in kids of all ages, writing and performing music, and traveling.
Her favorite Ekone activity: helping to facilitate relationships between kids and horses, and watching the magic that inevitably happens.
Adela grew up on her family’s animal farm on Vashon Island where she met Liz, who smuggled her into summer camp in 2010! She has been coming back ever since. Adela can usually be found reading, climbing trees, hunting for treasures in the forest, or in the kitchen making mountains of sauerkraut. Her favorite things about living at the ranch are watching the land cycle through the seasons and being surprised by the unique beauty of every new day— it never gets old! She loves living far away from bright lights, silly noises, and beeping devices and is always excited to help kids learn how to have fun sans technology. She has felt very lucky to spend the past year living and volunteering at Ekone and will attend Amherst College in the fall.
Ray Mitchell started it all...
...Ekone Ranch in 1972, and summer camp in 1986.
Ray Mitchell (1946-2007) was the founder and visionary of Ekone Summer Camps, and his great love of the children, the land, and the horses lives on in everyone who experiences Ekone.
Caitlin is excellent at making lists, keeping everyone organized, and nurturing Ekone Magic at camp.
Now our Camp Director, Caitlin has been coming to Ekone summer camps since she was 8 years old, and has grown into a strong and compassionate leader. She has ridden horses most of her life, and believes them to be some of the most wise and loving of all animals (especially Ekone horses). One of the things she loves most about Ekone is being able to ‘get back to basics’ and work with nature rather than against it. She is holds a degree in Social Work from New York University in New York City.
Caitlin says Ekone is a second home for her, somewhere she always feels welcome. Some of her favorite summer Ekone activities? “Helping campers improve their riding, throwing bales of hay, and seeing billions of stars every night!”
Shonie first came to camp in 1994, because of a picture just like this one.
She first showed up at camp as a horse-crazy teenager, and began serving as the Executive Director of Sacred Earth Foundation and Ekone Summer Camps in 2009. She lives full-time on the ranch and has a great passion for sharing this special land with children of all ages and inspiring earth stewardship. Shonie has over ten years of leadership with Ekone summer camps under her belt, and brings her natural sense of responsibility, practicality, and FUN to the task.
Shonie has a degree in Community Development and Food Systems from The Evergreen State College. She has a wide variety of professional experience in the non-profit, educational, and agricultural sectors, including serving as the Food & Farming Program Manager at Sustainable Connections in Bellingham, WA. She is certified in Wilderness First Aid.
Her favorite summer activities? "Watching the kids fall in love with the land and learn big life lessons from our patient horses."
Max Gregor has been involved with Ekone since 2020. He first visited in the winter as one of our forestry interns, and after falling in love with the people and the land, was then easily convinced to stay all summer long for camp. He brings with him 20 years of music experience, both as a solo artist and as a member of the group Lemuria (those are links to Spotify pages, if you want to give him a listen!). At Ekone, he has discovered a love for horses and for the physical demands of the ranch lifestyle. Max aims to intertwine his mindfulness meditation practice with his passion for music and community into his offerings at music camp and beyond. Originally from Vermont, Max has lived all over the United States, traveled the world making music, and currently resides in Boulder, CO while he works on his BA in psychology at Naropa University. At Ekone, you can often find him cooking up a feast in the kitchen, playing guitar in the lodge, or wandering around the woods.
Chris is the Queen of the Yummy Tummy Café, and our resident camp mama.
Chris Woodcock has been cooking for Ekone summer camps since 1995. It all started, she says, when her daughter became a staff helper at camp and convinced her to come along for the ride. After her first season, Chris moved to Ekone and hasn’t left since!
Chris is a homesteader at heart and lived in both Maine and British Columbia before coming to Ekone with her partner, Bob, and her three daughters. Ekone can’t get rid of her, they say, “because she’s too nice, and the food is just too darn good!” Chris cares passionately about providing healthy meals for the kids, and showing them how it grows in the garden. “It’s my favorite place and my favorite thing to do,” she says of the Yummy Tummy Café.
Her favorite summer activities? “Harvesting and serving food from our garden, watching kids grow and deepen into the Ekone experience, interacting with our wonderful staff, and laughing with Lizzy.” She is certified in Wilderness First Aid and gives the very best hugs.
Kayla loves doing ALL OF THE THINGS!
Complete chance and pure intuition led Kayla to Ekone in the summer of 2021. She arrived as the garden intern on the record-shattering hottest weekend in the NW and hasn’t been able to keep her cool about how much she loves the ranch since! After staying on through the wildly fun and busy summer ’21 season she’s back again to get a dose of that Ekone magic everyone’s always talking about.
Kayla received her dual BS/BA degrees in telecommunications and sociology from the University of Florida in 2016, and hasn’t done anything remotely related since! She’ll be happy to share one (or all) of her tales of adventure over a meal at the YT, but loves more than anything hearing and collecting stories from everyone else who pops up throughout the summer. In fact, her absolute favorite part of Ekone is all of the amazing people it attracts and the stories they have to share.
It’s hard to say where the most likely place to find Kayla on the ranch is. She’s been known to go on early morning runs with Julia, get into all of the mischief with Adela, sing along out of tune to the Moon Song, hold meetings of the Tender Hearts Weeding Society in the garden with Michelle, Shampoothie in the bath house, stroll to Mizar’s Bluff with Caitlin, or maybe dig a grave in her spare time!