We are excited to introduce Katey Noel, our new Outdoor Education and Events Director, to the Camp Wood YMCA family. She joined our team in late March and jumped right in to ensure that schools and other special use groups enjoyed their experiences at camp this spring. Many of you may have met Katey during registration at the Centennial Celebration in May. She helped ensure that the day ran smoothly and enjoyed the chance to be a part of such a special milestone for Camp Wood. We are thrilled that she and her family have joined us and we look forward to welcoming them during their first summer on the Kansas prairie. Get to know Katey better in the interview below! 

What are your first impressions of Camp Wood?

I am very impressed with the values-driven mission of Camp Wood. Also, the staff was a primary factor in my decision to move to Kansas and join this team. I have been welcomed and feel like part of the team already. I am really enjoying watching the seasons change on the Tallgrass prairie. When I arrived at the end of March, very little was in bloom. Now, after the burn, I’ve been astonished at how quickly the land has turned green. I’m learning a great deal about the Flint Hills and Tallgrass prairie which is quite fun and very different from Oregon’s old growth forests.

What experiences do you bring to Camp Wood’s Outdoor Education program?

I have been involved in camping since I was a teenager. Summer camps lead me to pursue a teaching degree. I taught elementary school initially and then began teaching Adult Basic Skills & GED Preparation classes. I think my experience with education and non-traditional learners will help me as I support our Camp Wood instructors and the teachers who bring their students here for Outdoor Education.

What impact has camping made in your life?

People often say that camp has impacted or changed their life whether it was just one week as a camper or several seasons on staff. I too can say that. I began working at camp as a volunteer when I was in high school and met my (future) husband at that time. Camp has taught me self-awareness, leadership skills, and helped me develop a heart for service. My husband and I have been fortunate to raise our children in a camping environment by working at camp in the summer seasons. Many parenting conversations are made easier by referring to the YMCA values (and only invoke a little bit of eye-rolling from my children).

Speaking of your children, tell us a little about your family.

My husband’s name is Errol. My daughter is Makenna (16) and my boys are Beckett (11) and Thatcher (9). My dog is Dixie.

Errol and I met at camp 30 years ago. It has always been a dream of ours to live and work year-round on camp. Our kids have grown up going to seasonal summer camp but have not yet had the full-year experience. Right now, they are excited to see a new state (Kansas is very different than Oregon!) and a new camp. My daughter, Makenna, is looking forward to horseback riding and meeting new camp friends. Beckett is excited about swimming in the lake, playing in the creek and hunting for reptiles. And Thatcher is ready for horseback riding, swimming and hopes to help wash dishes or do maintenance this summer.

You’ll direct Camp Wood’s outdoor education program year-round. Why do you feel time outdoors is so important for today’s families?

In recent years due to a number of factors, children (and adults) are spending a very small amount of time outdoors. Research is showing that we gain problem-solving skills, gain attention spans, and increase our ability to focus just by regularly being outside. The role of a child is really to ask, “why?” Being in the outdoors naturally provides children that opportunity.

Besides working at camp, what are some other activities you enjoy?

Most of my friends would say that camp is my hobby. But, beyond that, I enjoy being with my family, especially when we can be outdoors exploring. I love going to the beach, hiking, and relaxing. I’m an avid reader and rarely am without a book. I enjoy baking and recently have started doing jigsaw puzzles.

Anything else you want to share with the Camp Wood YMCA family?

Thank you for making me feel so welcome!

Is your school, youth group, scouting troop or family looking for a place to gather this fall or winter? Give Katey a call at (620) 273-8641 or email her at events@campwood.org. She can help you plan your group’s outing–from outdoor education activities to meals to lodging needs. For more information, visit our Schools and Rentals pages.