Our Team, Our Family
Amanda Landwehrle, PPC Outdoor Academy Director, is entering her sixteenth summer on camp staff. Amanda worked for ten years as Aquatics Director and five years as Trailblazer Director at Camp Somers. She has been involved in Scouting since birth, as her grandparents and parents have lived on camp properties as rangers and camp directors her entire life. Amanda has worked as an Assistant Camp Director at a YMCA day camp as well. Amanda serves as the Aquatics Committee Chair, and is a member of both the Membership Committee and Camping Committee. Amanda is certified as Camp Director and Aquatics Director by the BSA National Camping School. She holds an Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts and Humanities from Adirondack Community College, NY, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Developmental Psychology and Elementary Education from Castleton University, VT and an Educational Specialist (Ed.S) Degree in School Psychology from Rider University, NJ. Currently, she works as a School Psychologist serving students in Grades Pre-K-12 and owns an educational consultation business. Amanda married Tom, a former Camp Somers staff member, eleven years ago and they have three daughters (ages nine-months, four, and five). She enjoys spending time with family and friends, being at camp, anything that involves a lake or ocean, candy making and baking, and being outside with her husband and daughters. Amanda is so excited to be in the role of Director and to work with such an amazing and unrivaled team!
James Hitchings, PPC Outdoor Academy Assistant Director, will be entering his seventeenth summer of staff. James was instrumental in the design and implementation of the Dan Beard program at Camp Somers, serving as the Dan Beard Director for five years prior to taking on the role as Camp Somers Program Director, which has been doing for the past seven years. He started his tenure at Camp Somers as a Counselor in Training, and has also worked in Ecology and Conservation, High Adventure, and served as a Commissioner. James began his Scouting career as a Beaver Scout in England prior to his family’s move to the United States where he joined Cub Pack 277, Kinnelon. He continued on with Troop 277 where he obtained the rank of Eagle Scout. James is a member of the PPC Camping Committee, and President’s Council. He is certified as a Program Director through National Camping School. James regularly participates in camp work weekends with the Mount Allamuchy Construction Core (MACC) as well. James holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Education and Mathematics, Science, and Technology from the College of New Jersey and is currently employed as Middle School Design and Technology teacher. James enjoys reading, climbing, and collecting wasps, bees, and hornets. His collection includes twenty-one different species mostly collected from Mount Allamuchy Scout Reservation.
George Pantos, PPC Outdoor Academy Head Commissioner, is entering his fifteenth summer on staff, including an initial year as Archery Director on Camp Somers Staff. George has been involved in Scouting for more than fifty years, transitioning from Cubs to Scouts and ultimately earning Eagle Rank from Troop 19, Livingston. In addition, George worked at three other BSA camps, for a total of more than thirty-five years of camp staff experience. A lifelong Scout, George has held many diverse positions including Associate Lay Advisor to the Order of the Arrow Lodge 362, where he received Vigil Honor in 1969. George currently holds BSA National Camping School certifications as Camp Director, Program Director, and Shooting Sports Director. George recently served as the Assistant Vice Chair of Program for Patriots Path Council’s Jersey Jam and is a member of the Camping Committee and the Shooting Sports Committee, which he chaired. Wood Badge trained, he is a faculty member of the council’s University of Scouting and held Wood Badge Staff, JLTC, and BALOO staff positions. George holds a Master of Arts Degree in English Literature from Tulane University, LA, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature from Seton Hall University, NJ State Teacher Certification in English K-12 from the College of Saint Elizabeth and conducted Post Master Graduate Study in Education Administration from Montclair State University. George has since retired twice, first from his position as Director of Marketing and Public Relations and more recently from his position as a middle school English Language Arts teacher. George recognizes and appreciates the positive impact the Scouting program had on him as well as the many Scouts/Scouters who guided him.
Brian Vohden is a Camp Somers Staff Alumnus, having previously worked for ten years, culminating his service as Camp Somers Program Director for his last three summers. Brian also worked as Commissioner, and in the Dan Beard and Ecology Areas. He has been involved in Scouting for more than twenty-five years, ultimately earning the Eagle Rank from Troop 28, Chatham. Brian holds a Master Degree in Educational Leadership, Management and Policy from Seton Hall University, NJ and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Assumption College, MA. Brian is currently a Director of Curriculum and also teaches high school English. Brian is very excited to be a part of the PPC Outdoor Academy staff! Brian enjoys spending time with family, hiking, and running marathons.
Matt Grogaard is a Camp Somers Alumnus returning to staff after serving thirteen years on camp staff previously. Matt was the Camp Somers Program Director for four years, then returned after a brief hiatus as our ATV Director for three summers. During his extensive service at Camp Somers, he worked as Commissioner for several years, having started as a counselor in training then moving on to Outdoor Skills and Mountain Biking programs. Matt has more than twenty-five years of Scouting experience including earning the Eagle Rank from Troop 90, Franklin Borough. Matt holds a Master Degree in Education (grades K-6) and Teacher of Students with Disabilities as well as a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology, both from Montclair State University, NJ. He currently is employed as a special education teacher. Matt believes his work as a special education teacher allows him the opportunity to understand how children learn and develop. Further he feels his experience as an educator has enhanced his ability to connect, understand, and improve the way in which he teachers Scouting skills. Matt is busy raising three boys under the age of four, and enjoys spending time playing with them when he has free time.
David Gallagher will be entering his fourteenth year as staff. Over the years he has served as Outdoor Skills Director, Commissioner, Counselor in Training Coordinator and Aquatics instructor at Camp Somers. David has been involved in Scouting for eighteen years, starting with Cub Scouts and advancing through the Scouting ranks, earning the rank of Eagle Scout from Troop 112 Morristown. David regularly participates in camp work weekends with the Mount Allamuchy Construction Core (MACC). David holds a Master of Arts Degree in Music Education from Montclair State University, NJ and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education from the Mason Gross School of Arts at Rutgers University, NJ. David is employed as the Director or Bands at Morristown High School working with students of all ages and backgrounds in small group and large ensemble settings in both music and theater education programs.
Tom Kaczmarek is a staff alumnus of the Camp Somers staff, previously working two summers in Outdoor Skills. Tom has been involved in Scouting for nineteen years and earned his Eagle from Troop 39, Morris Plains. Tom holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from DePauw University, IN and a Master of Arts Degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, NY. Currently Tom serves as a policy advisor for the New York State Department of Public Service. He has worked in various public service areas including the IN State legislature, nonprofit government affairs, and on congressional, gubernatorial, and national campaigns. Tom feels his time as a Scout prepared him for his future and the cheerful service, he embraced in the BSA Order of the Arrow led him to his career in public service. Tom developed his love of the outdoors through many activities with his troop, later enabling him to succeed in hiking challenges as a LongTrail End-to-Ender and an Adirondack 46er. Tom is grateful for the lifelong friendships he has enjoyed with the members of the Camp Somers staff family.
Pat Hawkins rejoins us for her twelfth summer on camp staff. She has nineteen years of Scouting experience, stemming from her son Richard’s transition from Cub to Boy Scouts. She has consistently served as the Eagle’s Nest Director, a program area she developed at Camp Somers in 2009. This program enables Scouts to focus on Eagle required merit badges while at camp and includes follow up completion days in the fall as needed. She has been on staff at the Patriots Path Council University of Scouting and served the Minsi Trails Council as a member of a district training committee. Pat, a member of the Order of the Arrow, received the Vigil Honor in 2017. Pat is a founding member of Troop 1150, a girls troop based in Sparta, NJ and was Assistant Scoutmaster for troop 416, Independence Township. Pat honorably served four years in the US Navy and earned an Associate of Arts degree from Thomas Edison State College, NJ. She is a certified substitute teacher and a licensed security guard for the NJ State Police. Pat has vast experience in various workplaces including many years in the publishing industry, specifically graphic arts and typesetting. She also served as an adult education instructor at Monmouth County Vocational Technical High School. Pat enjoys camping, hiking and is always looking for a new adventure.
Deb Reidmiller joins us for her second season as our Health Officer. She has extensive Scouting experience totaling more than fifty years beginning with the Girl Scouts of America (GSA) for thirty-five years and then adding fifteen years of Boy Scouts of America experience. Deb has worked at two GSA camps serving on the waterfront as a lifeguard, as a unit counselor, and as a Waterfront Director for ten years. Specifically, Deb has served as a Den Leader, Pack Advancement Chair, and Troop Committee member. Deb is also a member of the Sussex DOC and the Council Advancement Committee, serving as the chair for the past three years. She is also on the National Disabilities Awareness Committee. In 2018, Deb was awarded the Silver Beaver Award, a distinguished BSA service accomplishment. Deb has two children who excelled in Scouting: her daughter earned a Gold Award and her son achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. Deb holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Rowan University, NJ and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Marygrove College, MI. Deb is a retired special education teacher serving youth with special needs for over thirty-three years and is currently an EMT. Deb loves camp and all that it offers to our Scouts and Scouters of all ages.
Abbey Winget is a Camp Somers staff alumnus, having worked at camp for three summers. While on staff, Abbey worked as a key member of the Aquatics team. Abbey has been involved with Scouting for seventeen years. She began with Camp Coley,where she earned the WoHeLo Medallion. She continues to volunteer her time as a Leader with Camp Coley. Abbey regularly participates in camp work weekends with the Mount Allamuchy Construction Core (MACC). Abbey holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Family Science and Human Development at Montclair State University, NJ and is continuing her studies full time at Montclair working on her Master of Arts in Teaching in Students with Disabilities. Abbey enjoys swimming, kayaking, playing soccer, and spending time in the outdoors with friends.
Catie Kunkel is a Camp Somers staff alumnus, having worked at camp for seven years. She served in many areas in camp including High Adventure, Dan Beard, Aquatics, and Handicraft, where she was the Director. She also worked in the Shooting Sports Area, serving as Archery Director and Shotgun Director. Catie has been involved with Scouting most of her life beginning with Camp Coley. Catie has earned the highest honor bestowed upon campers involved in Campfire USA, the WoHeLo Medallion. Catie holds current BSA National Camping School certifications as a Shooting Sports Director and a COPE Director. Catie has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health and Physical Education with a minor in Leadership Development through Civic Engagement from Montclair State University, NJ. Currently Catie works as the Catholic Campus Minister at a NJ college. She enjoys adventure driven activities like traveling to new places, hiking and biking.
Magda Menner (Mags) joins the PPC Outdoor Academy staff for her second summer as an EMT. Mags grew up in Scouting with over forty-eight years of Scouting experience. She earned the Sign of the Arrow, Sign of the Star, and her First Class rank, all awards that existed prior to Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards through the Girl Scouts of America. She worked on various camps staffs throughout high school and college, from being a counselor in training to Waterfront Director for eleven years. Currently, Mags is an Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 72, Parsippany and is on the Venturing Crew 276’s Crew Committee. Mags has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Sciences from Rowan University, NJ, and a Master of Science Degree in Emergency Medical Management from Columbia Southern University, AL. Mags is a Paramedic with over thirty-one years experience. At this time, Mags is employed with a hospital mobile health services unit. She holds a National Paramedic EMS Certificate and is on the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. She has extensive certifications and experience in the health care system, both private and public sectors. Mags enjoys anything in the outdoors and loves being at summer camp where she gets to combine Scouts and medicine, in a cabin or in the woods. She believes it doesn’t get any better than that!
Charlie Neely is an alumnus of Camp Somers, previously working several years as a key member of the Aquatics Staff and as a Commissioner. Charlie had been involved in Scouting for ten years, advancing through the ranks and ultimately earning the Eagle Rank from Troop 50, Randolph. Currently Charlie is the owner/operator of Charlie Neely Photography, specializing in photography and videography of weddings, portrait, and corporate work. He works full time with his professional business and attends Montclair State University, NJ where he majors in Visual Arts. Charlie has maintained a deep connection with Camp Somers as well as other Scout camps, providing troop photographs throughout the summer. Charlie gives credit to Scouting for the personal goals he has fulfilled thus far in his life, and is always looking to give back to the program and to the Camp Somers family. He looks forward to teaching merit badges again, benefiting Scouts from his experiences and possibly sparking a love of photography in the future generation of Scouts. Charlie enjoys traveling, sailing, and is an avid NJ Devils fan.
Jason Rudich is a Camp Somers staff alumnus, serving on camp staff for ten years in our Commissary and Food Services area. During those years, he also served as the Head Cook for several seasons. Jason has been in Scouting for seventeen years and earned the Eagle Rank from Troop 186, Hillsborough/Manville. He is actively giving back the Scouting values he gained to his home troop by acting as Troop 186 Assistant Scoutmaster. Jason received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics and Secondary Education from Ursinus College, PA and currently works as a high school math teacher, where he also coaches high school girls cross-country and track. Jason enjoys running and swing dancing in his free time.
Amelia Stapperfenne joins the PPC Outdoor Academy staff for her seventh summer. She most recently became the Trailblazer Director after serving five summers on Trailblazer staff. Amelia has been involved in Scouting for sixteen years, as her father was Scoutmaster of the local Scouts BSA troop with her two older brothers. She was also involved with the Girl Scout program, earning her Gold Award in 2017. Amelia attended Camp Coley for eleven years. She continues to volunteer as a Leader for the program. Amelia regularly participates in camp work weekends with the Mount Allamuchy Construction Core (MACC). Amelia credits her experience working on camp staff as the main reason she chose to spend her career working with children. Currently, Amelia is a senior at West Chester University, PA majoring in elementary education. She enjoys theater, music, and fine art.
Hans Stockman is a Camp Somers staff alumnus having served eight summers, culminating his career as Aquatics Director. Previously he worked on the Aquatics staff as an instructor for several seasons, having already worked with the camp’s Food Services operations. Hans has been involved in Scouting for more than twenty years and was active with Troop 186, Hillsborough/Manville. He regularly participates on work weekends at camp with the Mount Allamuchy Construction Core. Hans credits his experience working in Aquatics at Camp Somers and the Scouting program in assisting him to find a career doing something he loves. Hans is currently an Aquatics Director Manager of a private swim school. He holds certifications as a BSA Lifeguard, BSA National Camping School Aquatics Director, Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor, Certified Pool Operator, and also holds a certification with the National Swimming Pool Foundation Lifeguard through Ellis & Associates. Hans is thankful he was able to spend his summers at camp where he met his wife Mariel, also a Camp Somers alumnus. Hans enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing video games, and swimming.
Brian Lake is a Camp Somers staff alumnus, having served for five summers in our NOVA area. Brian has been involved in Scouting for fifteen years, beginning as a Cub Scout. Brian credits Scouting for offering him multiple opportunities to be involved with diverse programs and experiences. Accordingly, he was able to help others achieve and serve the community at large. Brian holds a Master Degree in Astrophysical Sciences Degree and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics, both from Rochester Institute of Technology, NY. Currently, Brian is teaching 9th grade physics and innovation at a private High School. Brian enjoys spending his free time managing video game communities and practicing his trombone.
Patrick O’Rourke, or Paddy-O as he has affectionately come to be known, will be joining the staff for his fifth summer. He is an Eagle Scout and has been involved in Scouting for ten years. Paddy-O is most recently the Camp Somers Dan Beard Director, and has significant experience working on Dan Beard staff and as a lifeguard. Paddy-O attends Rowan University, NJ, majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He enjoys swimming, camping, and hiking and ( in the best Scouting tradition) truly enjoys working with knots and lashings. He is very excited and energized with the chance to continue helping Scouts achieve and learn.
Melissa Sarcona joins the PPC Outdoor Academy staff for her fifth year of service on camp staff. Mel has contributed greatly during her time on staff working in Food Services. She has been involved in Scouting for six years beginning in 9th grade when she joined Venture Crew 276, Byram Township, where she held leadership positions as Historian, Vice President of Public Relations, and finally as President. Mel credits Venturing for providing her with the skills necessary to be the leader, role model and confident woman she is today. Mel currently holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Johnson and Wales University, RI. Mel loves being at camp and will often find herself there year-round at any season to spend time regaining a sense of peace she feels there.
Mariel Stockman is a Camp Somers staff alumnus returning after four summers of service in Ecology and Conservation and High Adventure. Mariel has been involved in Scouting for seventeen years, beginning in 2nd grade through Girl Scouts, Campfire USA, and ultimately with the BSA. As a result of her work at Camp Somers, Mariel was introduced to rock climbing, which started off as a hobby, then evolved into a job and has become her career. Mariel works as a manager at a private climbing gym, doing what she loves to do every day. She credits her employment to the significant skills she gained at Camp Somers and Scouting in general for enabling her to achieve her dream. In addition to climbing, Mariel has a love for Art. She attended Maine College where she studied art with a focus on textile design. She spends her free time climbing, gardening, enjoying the outdoors, and practicing embroidery.
Chris Lance joins us for his tenth summer on staff. Chris has worked as the NOVA Director and an Eagle’s Nest advisor and for several years. Chris holds a Master Degree in Music and Digital Technology from the University of Newcastle, Australia. Chris also holds many certifications in music education, music business, performance and audio engineering from Caldwell College, Montclair State University, and William Patterson University. Additionally, Chris attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA to study Aeronautics during the computer and internet revolution. This sparked a love for the computer sciences and prompted Chris to become proficient in science and technology. Chris has a diverse set of skills and as worked in many areas, serving as a Planetarium Director, a radio station DJ, and as a launch range officer at two World Space Modeling Championships with the US Navy in Florida. Chris is also invested in the performing arts as a director, actor, producer, and musician. He is the owner of several entertainment businesses that focus on comics, films, and publishing. He also attended performing arts classes at New York University and the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York City. Chris has produced and directed two independent films and music videos. A fun fact about Chris: He performed as an extra in OZ, Law and Order and the motion picture Serendipity. In his free time, Chris enjoys traveling, video games and spending time with his fiancé.
Tim Carroll joins the PPC Outdoor Academy staff for his tenth summer on staff. Tim has more than fifteen years Scouting experience and is most recently the Camp Somers ATV Director. Tim holds a current ATV Safety Institute Instructor Certification. He has worked in several areas prior to his present position beginning as a counselor in training, then working in Ecology and Conservation, later becoming the Ecology Director. Currently, Tim is employed as a lifeguard at a private swim academy. He enjoys anything related to space, cooking, and the Lord of the Rings anthology.