Vinny Gschlecht- Executive Director
Vinny has been part of the Camp Marist Community for 35 years. He was the long time prefect of Cabin 2/Pineview. In 2005 he became an Assistant Camp Director and in 2009 he was named Summer Camp Director. Vinny has now been appointed as the Executive Director of Camp Marist. He succeeds our Executive Director Emeritus, Joe Bouchard. Certainly Joe is a tough act to follow. Vinny will now oversee both the summer camp program as well as the year round operation of the camp. Watching camp unfold for all of our campers is the best part of working at Camp Marist. In the end it is all about the campers. Vinny is a member of the ACA and has attended conferences, workshops and courses offered by the ACA to augment his many years of experience.
One of his passions at camp is hiking in the White Mountains. The beauty of New Hampshire can be found in many ways but hiking provides views that are good for the soul.
Vinny has after 35 years retired from his winter job as a Guidance Counselor and Director at St. Mary’s High School, a Catholic high school located in New York. He is certified as a school counselor by the State of New York and is a member of the Nassau Counselors Association.
Joe Bouchard – Executive Director Emeritus
Joe Bouchard has been at Camp Marist since 1967 where he was a prefect, counselor, activities director and, in 2007, appointed Executive Director. He is a graduate of Marist College and Seton Hall University and taught High School for 39 years before retiring in 2006.
As activities director Joe was responsible for establishing the present activities program where campers choose their own individual activities for a two day period. After becoming Executive Director he has updated the facilities on the property including a new pavilion, arts and crafts building, staff housing, and the refurbishing of the boat house at the waterfront. Joe and his wife Mary have 4 children and reside in Pembroke, Massachusetts during the off season.
Karen Merker has been a part of the Camp Marist staff for twenty-five years. She has been a counselor, transportation director and is presently one of the assistant directors. Karen publishes the Whispering Pines newsletter and the Calendar Yearbook. Karen is a retired middle-school science teacher. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education from Queens College, and a Masters of Technology in Education from SUNY New Paltz. She enjoys photography, chess, cooking, rug-hooking and reading in her spare time.
Chris Krueger – Activities Director
Chris Krueger started coming to Camp Marist as a camper at age 9, was later a CIT, and joined the staff in 1993. He served as a general counselor and an assistant prefect, with many years at the waterfront, including as the waterfront director before moving into The Lodge as the prefect, where he continues to reside. In 2012 Chris joined the administration as the activities director, with responsibility for the evaluation and development of activities as well as the programming of the staff and campers’ daily schedules.
Chris is fortunate to be accompanied each summer by his wife Tracie and his three camper children Jared, Maura, and Dylan. He and his family live in northeastern Massachusetts where he keeps busy between camp seasons as a public school Spanish teacher.
Bekki Stronach Kowalski – Assistant Director
Bekki Stronach Kowalski became part of the Camp Marist family in 1999 after completing a year of service with the Marist Volunteer Program. Since then, she has been a counselor for Arts & Crafts, Ceramics and Photography. She spent a number of years prefecting the oldest girls in Sailor’s Cottage as well as the youngest ladies of La Petite Villa. Bekki enthusiastically accepted the position of Assistant Director in January of 2014 and is looking forward to many more years of inspiring campers to have the “best summer of their lives.” During the off-season she is a middle-school Art Teacher, abstract painter and yoga student who is hoping to teach herself how to play the ukulele. Bekki earned a Bachelor of Arts from Boston College and a Masters of Art in Teaching Creative Arts from Bridgewater State University. Bekki lives in Massachusetts with her husband — a former Camp Marist in-line skating counselor — and their two Camp Marist loving children.
Tom Pelliciari – Assistant Director
Tom has been involved with the Marist Community since entering the halls of Mt St Michael Academy in the Bronx, N.Y. He has been a member of the Camp Marist family for over 40 years. He was a camper, counselor, riflery instructor, assistant prefect, long time prefect of the Lodge (Cabin One), and mentor. Tom’s family which includes Genevieve, Nicholas, Amanda and Sophia have been happy to call Camp Marist their summer home.
During the off season, Tom is an American Speech Hearing Association (ASHA) certified speech language pathologist (SLP) working for the Danbury Public Schools in Connecticut, as well as, the SLP for the New Milford VNA.
Br. Jim Halliday – Director of Mission
Brother Jim has been at Camp Marist for over twenty years. He has served as the prefect of the oldest boy’s cabin during these years. In addition he served as director of Camp Marist for twelve years. He has a Master’s degree in school counseling – worked as principal of Marist High School , Eugene, Ore and presently serves as Student Activity Director at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, MA.
Camp Marist has what we like to call “a generational staff” comprised of an exceptional mix of veteran counselors with the wisdom that comes from many years of experience, and college age staff who bring unbridled enthusiasm and energy. Our staff is second to none and helps create a safe environment with healthy and vibrant relationships among both staff and campers.
The administration of Camp Marist is comprised of individuals with many years of experience with professional credentials as teachers and guidance counselors. In addition to our administration, our staff is composed of many professionals including teachers, nurse practitioners, guidance counselors, psychologists, athletic directors, priests and brothers, college professors and many more. This wealth of experience is the foundation for building a diverse staff which fosters counselor development far beyond our pre-camp orientation and is reinforced with ongoing training throughout the summer.
Staff Mentoring/Supervision Program: Several of our experienced staff members have created an organized mentoring program for all first year staff members. In addition to the ongoing supervision and development going on for all staff by the administration, new staff members have frequent meetings as a group or individually with their mentors.
We are truly an international staff with counselors carefully chosen and screened from both the United States. as well as many other countries from around the world, including from as far away as Australia! Many of our staff were once campers at Camp Marist who have moved up through the ranks bringing very real camp experiences with them.
The Counselor In Training program at Camp Marist was established 30 years ago by Br. Kenneth Robert, a former Camp Director, who still directs the boy’s branch of CITs. This program is a two year leadership training program which has been a major source of our staff once they have completed the training. CITs are supervised by a staff member at all times. Recently we discovered that we had 32 former CITs on our staff.
Our mission statement is very clear on the type of staff member we want to be working with our campers. Having the skills necessary to run an activity such as archery, water skiing, etc. is only part of the criteria to be a counselor at Camp Marist. More importantly, we look for counselors who possess strong personal values, and are positive role models for young people.