For over 25 years, Mary Fried, owner and director of Camp Agawak has brought heart, passion and hands-on leadership to an extraordinary and diverse camp environment. Mary has been “camp mom” and role model to thousands of campers and staff since 1989. She holds a masters degree in Educational Psychology and has dedicated her life to working with children. Her experience as an elementary and middle-school counselor makes her a resourceful and compassionate director. Mary’s breath of talent, combined with her enthusiasm for working with children creates a camp culture that is as extraordinary as it is fun. She is an active member of the American Camping Association, the Midwest Camping Association, the Wisconsin School Counselor Association, and the American Counseling Association. Mary lives on the camp property year round with her three children, Jaclyn, Jacob and Joshua.
As any good camp director will tell you, the key to a successful summer is the caliber of the staff. Implementing a dynamic program and maintaining a beautiful facility is only meaningful if our staff supports the mission of providing a safe and nurturing camp environment for our campers. The selection of quality staff is given top priority. We look for the “cream of the crop”……the best of the best.
At Agawak we select sensitive, enthusiastic, exceptional people who are dedicated to working with children. Our staff is composed of undergraduate and graduate students, teachers, coaches and high school students who love camp, the outdoors and working with children. Agawak staff members are high spirited, passionate individuals from around the country and world who want to make a positive difference in the lives of our girls.
In addition to the vast amount of rigorous, on-site training that our staff receives during pre-camp, they also go through intensive online training with industry professionals from Expert Online Training.
Emily Gurner has been at Agawak since 2000 where she started as a camper. She was a counselor for three years and now part of the administrative team. Emily is from Deerfield, IL and attended Indiana University where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. She also is a Learning Behavior Specialist. Emily currently works as a 7th grade special education teacher at Shepard Middle School in Deerfield. Emily is an integral part of the administrative team and absolutely loves it. She handles day-to-day communication with parents. Emily is looking forward to her 17th summer and can't wait to be back at her favorite place in the world and her happy place, Agawak!
Camp Agawak was joined by Suzi Pierce in 2008, who became our Activities Director and then our Assistant Director. Suzi works closely with Mary, throughout the year, on the day to day operations of camp- planning and implementing programs, activities and making sure that everyone is having fun, being safe and has a smile on their face. She brings a wealth of experience with her to Camp Agawak. Her love for camp started as a young camper at Wisconsin Porter Gymnastics Camp. She grew through the ranks during her 16 years as a camper, counselor, head coach and member of the senior staff. Her love of gymnastics continued on during her career as the Director of 2 different gymnastics clubs in Idaho. Suzi is the mother of two boys, Ben and Max. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Suzi has lived in Idaho since 1993. Suzi was introduced to the Camp Agawak family by Mike Pierce (MP) and they wed in 2010 on the Shores of Blue Lake. Suzi is looking forward to another great summer in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin.
Mike Pierce started at Agawak in 1993. Mike, who is known both in and out of camp circles as MP, is the director of our water ski program. As a member of our administrative team, MP also assists our staff with programming, staff training, and tripping program. In MP's, 30 plus years in camping, he has been a camper, counselor, swim instructor, water-front director, tripping program leader, photographer, and ski instructor. Our campers and staff lean on his experience and expertise. MP holds a Master's Degree in Fine Art, and spent over a decade as a Professor of Art at UW-Milwaukee, The Milwaukee School of Art and Design (MIAD), and Concordia University- Wisconsin. MP is married to Suzi Pierce, our Assistant Director. They have two boys, Ben and Max. They reside during the off-season in Boise, ID.
Chris Garcia joined the Agawak crew in 2008 and is a Minocqua native. After gaining an undergraduate Finance degree from Carroll College in Waukesha, she went on to receive a Masters degree in Administration from University of Whitewater. Chris thoroughly enjoys the office life of number crunching, report running and day to day operations that go on "behind the scenes". She works year round at Agawak, but also coaches the local swim club seven months out of the year and the boys high school team. From time to time, Chris lends a hand to the waterfront giving swim lessons or lifeguarding. As a mother of four, she also gives out hugs when needed or an extra ear to listen. Chris lives in Hazelhurst with her husband, Robert and children; Nick, Hanna, Jack and Georgia.
Hi, I'm Ducky and this is my 22nd summer here at Agawak. I have been the head cook longer than any of our campers have been alive! I look forward to another summer of making everyone happy with healthy, delicious food, including all the faves- Pizza, Grilled Cheese on Tuesdays, BBQ Chicken and of course...Pasta Bar! Can't wait to see you all very soon!
Hi! My name is Melissa and I’m going to be a Junior at the University of Illinois! I am a Community Health major studying to go become a Nurse. This will be my 10th summer at camp, and 4th year on staff! I’m counting down the days until I get to be back on Blue Lake, eating ducky’s pizza, watching campers ski and being at my home away from home! I can’t wait for another amazing summer on Blue Lake!
Hi everyone!! My name is Nicki Kleifield and this is going to be my eleventh summer at Agawak and my third on staff! I'm from Glencoe, Illinois and just finished my freshman year at Indiana University. I can't wait to meet you all and spend another amazing summer on Blue Lake going full speed ahead!
Hi my name is Em, I'm 23 from Melbourne, Australia and this will be my 3rd summer! I love everything camp, you'll catch me outside on the waterfront, playing basketball or up in arts and crafts. At home I work full-time in a cafe as a barrister/manager, I love being around people and making them smile! Can't wait to be back on Blue Lake and seeing all of your gorgeous faces, new and old!
Hey guys! My name is Hannah Keller and this is will be my 8th summer at Camp Agawak. I am so excited to be a JC1 this summer. I live in Riverwoods, IL and go to Deerfield High School. My favorite part of camp is blue and white and making incredible memories and forming lasting relationships. Can't wait to see you all at camp <3
Hello everyone, my name is Annie and this will be my 3rd summer at Camp Agawak. I am a born and raised Wisconsin girl and love to spend my summers in beautiful Minocqua. You can find me helping out with activities, working around the office, or casting a line off the docks. I am very excited to be on Blue Lake and can't wait to see everyone's smiling faces!
Hi I'm Emily Kaplan! This will be my ninth summer and first year on staff at Camp Agawak. I love cooking, skiing, and cheering on the blue team! I can't wait for this summer to come and to be back on blue lake!
Hi everyone, my name is Zara Kirkwood and I’m from Northern Ireland! I’m 20 and I’m currently studying Human Biology at Queen’s University Belfast. I love all sports as well as drama, and I’m really looking forward to camping out at the teepee! This will be my first year at camp, and I can’t wait to meet all the campers and have the summer of our lives!!
Former Agawak camper Iris Krasnow returned in the summer of 2014 to resurrect the camp magazine, Agalog, and start a creative writing program. Iris is a journalism and women's studies professor at American University in Washington, D.C. and is the mother of four sons. This season marks her 12th summer at Agawak.
Hi my name is Chloe Levitz and I will be a senior at Highland Park High School in the fall. This will be my 9th summer at camp and my first summer on staff! I am looking forward to meeting all the new campers and getting to spend my summer with all my friends! Counting down the days until we're all back together on Blue Lake!!
Hey everyone I'm Issy from Melbourne Australia! This will be my first summer at camp and I'm super excited to meet all you lovely people. I cannot wait until camp starts to learn all the songs and get involved in
all the fun activities. I absolutely love gymnastics and being out in the water and that's what I'll be teaching over the summer at camp. I can't wait to meet everyone there!