Summer Camp

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

Caitlin Jones, Program Director

​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!”

pronouns: she/her

Shonie Schlotzhauer

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."

pronouns: she/her

Liz Coppola

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.

pronouns: she/her

Jenna Milton

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!

Fun fact: Jenna shares a birthday with Dani :)

pronouns: she/her

Dani Parker

You can usually find her on a horse, under a rig, or in the woods!

All Dani wanted as a 10-year-old girl was to live on a ranch and ride horses. And then her dad found Ekone! She spent the next eight years coming to camp and interning for programs before graduating high school. In 2012, she attended Lamar Community College in CO and obtained her A.A.S. in Horse Training & Management. During her time in Colorado, Texas, and Montana, she worked for many cattle ranches and horse training facilities, offering training, lessons, and general ranch work. After a seven-year hiatus from the ranch, she came back to Ekone in 2019 for summer camp with her amazing doggo, Dylan, and her mare, Bugs. She is now full-time volunteering and working programs. Ekone has played an integral role in shaping the person Dani has become, and she is overjoyed to be living here—a childhood dream realized! Dani's favorite summer camp activity? "Watching and facilitating the kids' breakthroughs with challenges. Whether it is with the horses, a craft, a game, or a wonder wander—seeing a child overcome an obstacle is one of the most rewarding parts of being camp staff!"

Fun fact: Dani shares a birthday with Jenna :)

pronouns: she/her


Rivers brings many talents and interests to our summer camp team, from wranglin' ponies to playing with goats to adventuring on the land for hours on end.

Rivers first came to Ekone as a camper in 2008. In 2017, after nine months of traveling in South America, they were inspired to return to camp as an intern. In April of 2019, Rivers moved to the ranch as a volunteer and hasn’t left yet! With 18 years of horse experience, Rivers has a special passion for behind-the-scenes horse work and can be found most summer mornings in the arena before breakfast. When not playing with horses, they are bound to be playing in the woods, often with some assemblage of dogs and goats in tow. Rivers loves fostering curiosity and exploration in kids; camp outs, story telling, tracking, and epic forest games are some of their favorite camp activities.

pronouns: they/them

Julia Hess

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!

pronouns: she/her

Jo Schimpfoessl Cornejo

Ekone has been a second home for Jo since she was eight; her energy, playfulness and hard work aim to create that home for today's campers.

Jo was born in Germany and moved to the United States when she was three; she speaks four languages, (German, Spanish, English, ASL). She started coming to camp when she was eight and has been coming back ever since.
After graduating high school in 2019, Jo moved to Ekone for the year to further connect with the land, the creatures, and the community. Her favorite activities during camp are going on Supreme Adventures and connecting children with the horses and wild creatures of the land. When not working at summer camp, Jo likes to go on horse adventures, explore new places, hang out with her snake, Houdini and other creatures, snowboard, and go bouldering.

pronouns: she/her

Morgan Kavanagh

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.

pronouns: she/her

Mindy Schmidt

Mindy finds the fun in EVERYTHING.

Mindy grew up in California, Colorado, and Scappoose, OR, and excels at creative problem-solving and finding the fun in EVERYTHING. After graduating from high school, Mindy spent a year as a full-time Ekone volunteer, learning all about the ins and outs of the ranch facilities. She spent the following winter traveling extensively in Greece, Austria, and Germany, gaining further facilities and horse management skills, and we’re so glad she’s returned to Ekone to share her experience with us! She is so great to have around that we auctioned off a week of her help at 2017's Barbed Wire Ball, and the bidding was intense! In September 2018, Mindy took on the role of Ekone's volunteer coordinator.

pronouns: she/her

Alyssa Eckert

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!

pronouns: she/her

Amalia Silverheart

Famous for her infectious enthusiasm, Amalia dives ALL the way in to all things summer camp!

Amalia first arrived at Ekone as a camper in 2012 as and instantly fell in love with a certain grey cat. She then found that she loved the land and the people so much that she had to come back, and eventually got to know the horses, too. She loves to introduce campers to the woods, the plants, and the shyest of animals, and to guide them in handcrafts and storytelling. When she’s not at camp, Amalia likes to read, knit, sew, draw everything she sees, and practice martial arts. After graduating high school and taking a gap year, she ventured to Earlham College in the fall of 2019 where she plans to study Public Health and Sustainable Agriculture (and take a bunch of art classes!).

Her favorite Ekone activity: Just one? A trail ride followed by a clean-up dance party followed by music in the dusk.

pronouns: she/her

Lilly Schlotzhauer

Lilly is a lover of all things beautiful and fun and loves to laugh. 

Lilly first came to Ekone as a 12-year-old in 2008 to visit her big sister, Shonie. Most of her visits were in the off season but she made it to camp twice and loved every moment of it. She started her journey as Summer camp staff in 2013 and hasn't been able to stay away since. As camp staff, Lilly brings all of her enthusiasm and 'I LOVE SUMMER CAMP' attitude to everything she does. She spends most of her time adventuring in the woods and helping the campers find magic in the most unexpected places.

When she is not at camp she lives in Upcountry Maui where she is pursuing a degree in early childhood education. She spends most of her time gardening, teaching at a preschool, and going to the beach. Her favorite summer camp activities are burrito night and wonder wanders through the forest. 

pronouns: she/her

Shannon Pepper

Shannon loves nothing more than a good joyride, except maybe the satisfaction of helping our campers achieve such joy.

Shannon first came to Ekone in 2000 and has returned every year as a camper, intern, and now staff.  Her passion for horses has given her 15 years of experience riding, training, playing, and expanding her fluency in the equine language.  She is a knowledgeable, patient teacher who is happy to work with riders at all skill levels and from every discipline.  She brings her talent and expertise to Ekone’s unique brand of riding with a supportive, enthusiastic attitude toward horses and campers alike.

When she isn’t playing with the kids and horses, Shannon loves hiking, rock climbing, and staying active and informed on environmental issues.  She is currently pursuing a B.S. in Resource Conservation with a minor in Wilderness and Civilization at the University of Montana.  She is an avid outdoorswoman and certified Wilderness First Responder.

Favorite Ekone activities are “Moonlight rides to the canyon, campfire songs, and treks into the great wild yonder.”

pronouns: she/her, they/them

Chris Woodcock

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.

pronouns: she/her

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.

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So much fun and community and meaningful service!