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Kelly Kunsek, Camp Director

Kelly began working for the camping program of AbilityFirst as a high school student and has held many positions at both Camp Paivika and Camp Joan Mier (no longer in operation) over the years. She has been Camp Paivika’s on-site director since 1995. Kelly holds a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts. In addition to her work at AbilityFirst, Kelly has worked in the field of special education for the Los Angeles School District and spent over two years in rural Paraguay working with individuals with special needs as a Peace Corps volunteer. Kelly resides at Camp Paivika year round with her husband Kenny, who is the camp Facilities Manager, and their daughter Sydney.

Lauren Wilson, Program Director

Lauren and her family moved to the mountain community of Crestline in 2013. She has a daughter who was born with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome which has caused both developmental delays and physical disabilities.  Lauren has a blast creating new activities for campers and staff training.  She embraces the challenge of trying to make each summer better than the last through creativity, adaptability and always putting the camper experience first.  In her free time, Lauren coaches the AYSO VIP soccer team for players with special needs. Lauren is very passionate about empowering individuals with disabilities to live life to the fullest, while focusing on their abilities.

Tina Ronning-Fraynd, Camper Services Coordinator

Tina has been a member of the Camp Paivika team for a few summers now. Her role in helping campers prepare for their visit to our mountain retreat is one that she enjoys immensely. She considers the opportunity to assist families and caregivers with their camper’s preparations for a fun-filled visit to camp very rewarding. Tina continues to forge new friendships while working to ensure that each camper is ready for a great time at Camp Paivika!

Seasonal Summer Staff

Our staff come from across the country and even internationally for the opportunity to spend a summer at Camp Paivika. The majority of our staff are college students who are studying a related field or are recent college graduates ready to begin their careers working with individuals with special needs. AbilityFirst works with exchange programs to offer a select few international college students the experience of a lifetime by spending a summer working in the U.S. at Camp Paivika.

Camp Paivika believes that every participant has the right to a healthy and safe camp experience. All of our seasonal summer staff are interviewed by our Camp Director Kelly Kunsek. Once considered for a position, background and reference checks, criminal background checks and drug screens are conducted. Staff then participate in an extensive, six-day training to prepare them in their roles working with our campers. Training includes all of the fun aspects of camp like campfires and programming, but it also covers providing for the special needs of our campers. Staff are trained in:

  • Lifting
  • Transferring
  • Feeding
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Brushing teeth
  • Toileting/Incontinent Care
  • And more

They also learn about different types of disabilities, how to handle challenging behaviors, non-verbal communication and even how to “tuck in” a first-time camper on their first night of camp!

Many of our staff return for multiple summers as they just cannot get enough of what we refer to as the “Paivika Spirit.”

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