Shady Oaks Staff
Each year young men and women from all over the world (15 countries in 2017) come to work at Shady Oaks Camp. The staff range in age from 18-30, many of whom have never had experience working with someone with a disability. Most of them come with drastically different cultural, educational, religious, and family backgrounds. Despite these differences, they do have one thing in common, and that is the need to want to help make a difference in the life of someone other than themselves.
Shady Oaks is run by an Executive Director, Camp Director, Assistant Director, and a cast of support staff. Each support staff member has a specific position at camp and assists the Director in the supervision of the counselors. Counselors work directly with the campers in each dorm. Each counselor is responsible for one camper a day, which ensures that the campers will receive individualized attention.
A training period is provided before the campers arrive to help prepare new staff for life at Shady Oaks. Because of this orientation, experience with working with someone with a disability is a plus, but not a requirement. More importantly an ideal S.O.C. staff member is someone who is caring, a good listener, and willing to learn. The ability to be oneself and a good sense of humor are also very important.
Every summer many positions at camp are available. All staff at Shady Oaks are required to live on camp grounds for the entire camp session (10 weeks). Each staff member is given a salary, room and board, and 8 days off during the summer. Some require specific certifications, others do not.
2018 Support Staff
Scott Steele- Executive Director
Scott will be returning to camp for his 27th summer. He started out as a counselor in 1992 and returned to camp every summer until he graduated with a Bachelors degree in education with a emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation from Southern Illinois University in 1997. In 1998 he worked at Lovelton Academy in Elgin, Illinois as the Therapeutic Recreation Supervisor. In 1999 Scott was hired as Executive Director of Shady Oaks Camp and currently holds this position. Scott was born and raised in Chicago, IL and currently lives in Michigan City, Indiana with his wife and 2 children.
Nikki Dunne-Camp Director
Nikki Dunne is from Dublin, Ireland. This will be her 6th Summer at Shady Oaks. Nikki graduated from ICFE in advanced Early childhood care and education in 2013 and continued her studies in 2015 in BCFE where she was awarded with Special Needs assistant level 6 qualifications. Nikki works in Setanta special school as a full time special needs assistant to children aged 12-18 who have autism.
Gary Schaid-Assistant Director
Gary lives in Woodstock, IL. and will be returning to camp for his 27th summer. Gary brings a unique prospective to our staff. Because Gary himself has cerebral palsy, he is able to relate to campers and staff on a level most staff can not. Gary serves as a great liason between staff and campers. Gary started at camp “just looking for something to do for the summer” in 1991. “From the minute I arrived at Shady Oaks I knew what a special camp I was a becoming a part of and was doing what disabled people only dreamed of doing. The atmosphere created at SOC back in 1991 was the same as it is today.” “If you are a camper or staff member you will never forget your time at SOC. Shady Oaks has change so many lives around the world, campers and staff alike. Anyone looking to work at Shady Oaks for the summer is in for the best and most memorable summer of their life”
Jessica Herries-Head Dorm Counselor Dorm 5
Jess is from Leicestershire, England. She is currently studying Occupational Therapy at York St John university. Alongside university she is also working in a care home for the elderly as a care assistant. Jess is really excited to be returning to SOC for her third summer!
Alison Glass-Head Dorm Counselor Dorm 7
Ali is from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland and is currently studying English Literature and History at the University of Edinburgh. She hopes to become a teacher, supporting those with special educational needs. This is her second year at Shady Oaks Camp and she is extremely excited to see all the Campers again!
Robyn Jones-Head Dorm Counselor Dorm 13
Katie is from England and works in a care home for elderly patients with dementia and is currently working toward her NVQ in care. This will be her fourth year at shady oaks and she cannot wait for another fun filled summer.