Leadership Team & Office Staff
Our staff are dedicated to cultivating a great environment at camp and all year round. These are our year-round staff that make Leadership Academy great. They plan, organize, talk to parents, and much more! We hope you have the pleasure of meeting some of them, but until then, here is a short write up of our staff.
Laura Johnson, Founder & CEO
Enthusiastic is the best word to describe Laura. She is an avid hiker, sailor, paddler and adventure-seeker. Laura is passionate about summer camp and helping others find time to be outside to grow appreciation for outdoor recreation. Laura first became known as “Twigs” in the summer of 1996, her first summer working at camp, a summer that forever changed her life and forged the path to a career in summer camp. She founded the company in 2014 with a goal to get more people outside to play through summer camp experiences.
Carrie “Firefly” Howell, Executive Camp Director
Firefly is a favorite of many of our staff and campers at our Nature Camps. She loves being outside and has experience at leading and organizing a variety of camps in the area. Firefly loves science and experimenting to find fun and interesting activities to share with others. She is currently living in Chattanooga, but comes up for the summer to help our campers have a memorable experience.
Renee “Smiley” Schumacher, Administrative Assistant & Marketing Coordinator
Renee loves doing anything outside! She enjoys spending her time with her dog Sadie, walking, hiking, biking, kayaking, gardening, and loves live music. Smiley, as many call her, has a positive, calming energy that makes her approachable and comfortable to be around. She is very passionate about encouraging others to see and respect the beauty in all things, as well as making fun, lasting memories. Renee aspires to continue to be a positive impact on people of all ages and someday having her own Health and Wellness Retreat.
Camp Twigs at Bells Bend Beaman
Megan “Turtle” Klopp, Camp Director – Megan/Turtle is excited for the opportunity to share her love of learning and caring for nature. With a school counseling background, she also hopes campers learn social emotional skills that will help them in other areas of their lives. Megan/Turtle is looking forward to working with youth outdoors and hopes to one day take groups on overnight trips to increase confidence and perseverance. During her free time, she enjoys hiking with her husband and two furbabies, as well as backpacking and kayaking.
Rachael Courtney, Assistant Camp Director – Rachael is looking to be the role model that she always looked up to as a young camper herself. She hopes to encourage campers to be curious and ask questions about the world around them while having a great time! Rachael is excited to go back to school this fall to get her teaching license to become an elementary school ESL teacher. In her free time, Rachael likes to run, go on bike rides and read in the park.
Aaron Jay Thompson, Teen Leaders Coordinator – Aaron Jay wants to be a staff member because he is passionate about outdoor education and what the wilderness has to offer. He will teach by example and provide campers an opportunity to engage with the wilderness within their comfort levels, while also encouraging them to explore new perspectives in nature. Through this time as a camp staff member he will gain the skills and knowledge of interpreting the environment to other individuals. His long term goals are to own his own company that works in forestland restoration, outdoor education and recreation.
Camp Twigs at A New Leaf
Caroline” Fern” Perry, Assistant Camp Director – Caroline has been a lover of all things camp since I was in the 4th grade! She enjoys the connection that camp brings us to the world and to each other! It gives everyone an outlet to show up as we truly are and to be embraced for that person. Some of her favorite things to do at camp are making bracelets, competitive games, and using our imaginations! Caroline wants campers to leave the week feeling confident, heard, and excited about the relationships they have built. Her camp career is helping her to build an impressive resume while still earning her degree so she can spend her free time hiking and traveling!
Nashville Sail Camp
John Boatner, Camp Director
John enjoys boating and sailing and is excited for this summer. As an instructor, he strives to teach campers about working with others, about strengthening their confidence by learning to sail, and about putting safety first.
Carolina, Assistant Camp Director
Carolina has experience sailing in Tennessee, Lake Michigan, and off the coast of Brazil and Argentina. After being a sailing instructor in Wisconsin for 3 years, she is excited to work in Tennessee for the first time and share her experiences with the campers. She is also looking forward to being a part of a new sailing community and making new friends. After graduating university, she plans to move to Florida to get her Captain’s License and Boat Surveyor License. In the future, she hopes to combine her passion for sailing with her career in interior design to become a boat interior designer.
Lily has been a camper at Nashville Sail camp for 5 years, and they finally got the chance to be a counselor this year! They love the outdoors and they love to hike, sail, and bike during their free time. They hope to spread joy to others through sailing and crafts this summer. They hope to get their sailing license or their sailing instructors license throughout the summer and they hope to bring the happiness of sailing to others.
Reagan wants to be a camp staff member because it will be a great experience for her to learn and work with others as a team. Campers will learn from Reagan how to keep a positive attitude and encourage one another and have lots of fun. Reagan plans to learn good leadership skills and how to teach others and lead a group. Reagan plans on attending college and becoming a physical therapist. Reagan enjoys hiking paddle boarding and various outdoor activities.
With a love for sea shanties and sunshine, Captain Cass is excited to be a part of Leadership Academy’s Nashville Sail Camp! Cass joined the team after discovering that being stuck in an office doing paperwork was not her ideal profession. She would much rather spend time kayaking, swimming, and hiking! Cass has been to all of the 56 state parks in Tennessee, and she wants to explore all 86 natural areas next. In the meantime, Cass is excited to spend time teaching campers the power of joy, the strength of community, and how to navigate the waters like the pirates she was obsessed with as a young girl. She hopes that guiding campers in this adventure will inspire her to continue stepping out of her comfort zone and enjoying the present moment, just as it is.