The most important consideration in choosing a camp is its safe environment and qualified staff. At O-AT-KA we understand this and have worked hard to build a strong leadership staff.
With decades of camp expertise, our leadership staff strives to provide a caring, supportive and safe environment for every camper. The boys at Camp O-AT-KA are supported and nurtured, as well as challenged and held to a high standard. Accomplishing both of these together is a skill we have refined over decades of guiding boys on their path to being men.
Camp O-AT-KA enjoys a healthy diversity in the backgrounds of our staff. There are many women working in camp in addition to men. And just like the boys that spend their summers here, our staff come from all over the nation, as well as foreign countries.
Read on to learn more about our leadership staff, and to hear what parents have to say about our boy’s summer camp.
Executive Director — Kyle Tong
Kyle returned to Camp O-AT-KA where he served as a staff member from 1977 to 1980. Prior to O-AT-KA, Kyle spent twenty-eight years as a teacher administrator, and coach in Independent Schools in New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, North Carolina, and Ohio. His most recent tenure was at The Columbus Academy in Gahanna, Ohio where in addition to teaching, coaching, and administrative posts, he founded the Columbus Academy East Asia Institute, an endowed program of exchanges between the faculty and students of Academy and their counterparts at schools in the Philippines, India, Cambodia, Japan, and China. Kyle is one of three generations of O-AT-KA men. His father, Curt, was a counselor and King in the 1950s and his son Conor was a member of the O-AT-KA counseling corps for six years in the 2000s. Kyle’s wife Deb serves as a “Camp Mom” during the summer and is the School Librarian for Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, Maine. Their son Conor works and lives in Washington DC and they have a daughter Emily who is a free-lance photographer in San Luis Obispo, California.
Program Director — Charles Donovan
Charles works closely with Kyle, the unit heads, and program staff to carefully plan each summer, manage operations, and ensure that every camper has a safe, fun, and educational experience. He joined the Camp O-AT-KA staff in 2001, having worked in the summer camping industry since 1991. He has served as a cabin counselor, assistant unit head, and craft head, and has been Program Director since 2006. When not at camp, Charles is a science teacher and head coach of the speech and debate team at Loyola Blakefield High School in Maryland. Charles is a graduate of Stanford University and is currently an MBA candidate at Loyola University.
Heather Plati joined the staff in 2015 as the first full-time Director of Advancement. Heather focuses on fundraising, as well as bringing alumni and parents together for events, communications, volunteer opportunities and continually finding new ways to engage others with O-AT-KA. She also works with outside groups on special events. Heather has extensive experience in the world of development, most recently spending 10 years in key alumni relations and development roles for Saint Joseph’s College. She and her husband Josh – who is also part of the O-AT-KA staff as the Dennen Week Director – live in Windham, Maine with their two children. Heather holds a BS in Marketing from Bentley University.
Senior Unit Head — Chris Kohl
Chris Kohl has worked at Camp O-AT-KA since 2001. Chris is currently the Senior Unit Head and the Staffing Coordinator; and has previously been the Athletic and Program Directors. When not at camp Chris is the Chair of the Wellness Department, assistant boys tennis coach, and a title-winning women’s soccer coach at Thornton Academy in Maine. He is an undergraduate of Gettysburg College, and has earned both a Masters and Doctoral degree from Springfield College.
Service Master Emeritus— Bob Courtney
Bob Courtney has spent more than 50 summers at Camp O-AT-KA. He joined the staff as a Junior Unit counselor and has held numerous positions including Unit Head, Head of Work Crew, Head of Commons, and now Service Master. Bob is a retired Head of the Math Department at Baker University in Kansas. Bob’s wife Marlene, a retired high school Home Economics teacher, has been at camp almost as long as Bob. Bob and Marlene have spent many years working to keep the facilities at camp running smoothly.
Middler Unit Head — Carter Milliken
Carter has been working at camp since 2009; he has been the Middle Unit head for the last two summers after spending five summers as a Middle Unit Counselor. He spent a few years as the head of the Archery program at O-AT-KA; Now he finds himself driving the ski boat and teaching swimming. During winters, Carter spends his time teaching 11th grade English and AP Language & Composition, and assisting coaching boys basketball at Pioneer Charter School of Science II in Saugus, Massachusetts. He currently resides in Medford, Massachusetts after completing his undergraduate degree at Wheaton College in Norton, MA and spending a winter in Alta, Utah.
Tom first came to the shores of Lake Sebago in 2007 and joined the staff in the Junior Unit, where he has remained ever since. He was first a cabin counselor for a number of years before moving into the subsequent roles of Assistant Unit Head and Junior Unit Head. Throughout Tom’s tenure at camp, he has taught a variety of crafts, was the head of the woodworking program, and continues to teach various crafts in conjunction with his work as Junior Unit Head. Tom is a graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he double majored in history and in French. He has traveled extensively in Europe, having studied and lived in France, and occasionally continues to run into members of the O-AT-KA family abroad. When Tom is not at camp, he can be found on the campus of Suffield Academy in Connecticut teaching French, running a sophomore boys dorm, advising several students and coaching rowers in the crew program.
Chaplain — Roy Heller
Roy Heller has been at Camp O-AT-KA since 2007. He is the Chaplain in charge of Sunday services in our camp chapel. Roy is a great resource for all of our staff with interpersonal relationships. Roy is also the guidance and organization of the Order of Sir Galahad. The Heller family has been greatly involved at Camp. Roy’s wife, Amy, has worked at camp alongside Roy and with their son, Noah, who is a cabin counselor. Their daughter Annie has also grown up here at O-AT-KA. Roy and his family live in Dallas, Texas where Roy is on the faculty of Southern Methodist University and teaches the Old Testament.
Director of Facilities — Peter Powers
Peter has worked at Camp O-AT-KA since 1999. He has extensive knowledge of all of the systems at camp and during the summers is always busy maintaining them in smooth operating order. During the non-camp months Peter stays active at camp working on every kind of renovation and maintenance issue.
Director of Knights Cove — Ken Berndt
Ken Berndt, great grandson of founder E.J. Dennen, has been involved with camp all of his life. Most recently Ken has been part of the physical construction of camp’s Knights Cove, a remote campsite located in South Bristol, Maine. It was a natural transition to have Ken prepare and lead groups (camp and others) that come to Knights Cove for camping, kayaking, and Maine coastal exploration. During the off season Ken assists with maintenance at camp.
Marketing & Recruitment Coordinator — Annie Bowe
Annie Bowe joined the O-AT-KA staff in September of 2016. Prior to, she spent the summer at camp as a staff photographer. Annie’s role as the part-time Marketing & Recruitment Coordinator will help to assist with various communication efforts including social media, the website, and recruiting events. Annie previously worked in the Advancement department at Saint Joseph’s College and has experience working in development, alumni relations, and event management.
In her earlier years, Annie developed a love for camp as a longtime camper and counselor at Chimney Corners in Becket, Massachusetts. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art at Connecticut College, and continues to pursue her passion for the arts as a painter. Annie, her husband Josh, and their son Sawyer live in Standish, Maine.