Director and Staff

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. 

Administration Staff

Mary Fried - Owner & Director

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.  

David McGowan - Assistant Director

Campers, this is my first summer at Camp Agawak and I can’t wait to meet each and every one of you! Whether this is your first summer or it’s your 15th summer at Minocqua’s picturesque Blue Lake, prepare yourself for an exhilarating camp experience filled with camp fires, water sports, friendships, and everything else that Camp Agawak offers to create memories that will last forever. As a former Apple Corporate Director of Sales, hockey and lacrosse coach, my energy and passion for youth empowerment is palpable. Get ready to hang with me, my wife Amy, and my two golden retrievers, Crosby and Bauer. If you are looking forward to summer 2018 half as much as I am, then it’s never too early to prepare for what will inevitably be the BEST summer of your life! Home is Deerfield, IL & I have four amazing kids, Jennifer, Judd , Ethan & Isabella.


Emily Gurner - Administration

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!

Chris Garcia - Office Manager

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.

Ducky D.

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!

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Sophie P.

Hi guys! My name is Sophie, I am from Tucson, Arizona and this will be my 10th summer at camp, and my second summer on staff! In the fall, I plan on attending Northern Arizona University which is located in Flagstaff, Arizona!! Minocqua is a beautiful place to get away from the hot summers in Arizona! I love camp because its a place where I can try new things and surround myself with amazing people. This summer you will find me in the lodge singing and dancing, in the office working on the yearbook, or down at the ski docs! I can't wait to meet you all!!! Go white!

Erana P.

HEY GUYS!!! I’m Erana Parker, and this will be my fourth summer at camp. I’m 22 from Melbourne, Australia! When I’m not over at camp I’m here working as a netball coach for Victoria University. I’m counting down the days till I’m back on the shores of Blue Lake seeing you call come off the bus, See You Soon!!! xxx 

Morgan P.

Hi everyone! My name is Morgan Paull and I will be a senior at Glenbrook North High School in the fall!! This will be my ninth summer at Agawak and my first year as a counselor! At camp you will find me cooking, jogging, and walking around all of Agawak. I can't wait to meet you all and to be back at Blue Lake! Go white! 

Ashlee R.

Hi! I'm Ashlee of Hamlyn Terrace, New South Wales, Australia. Thank you for the opportunity to work at Camp Agawak. I am a responsible 20 year old girl with a caring yet energetic attitude, looking for a challenging and exciting experience. I am the youngest of two daughters and living with both mum and dad. My current occupation is a Disability Support Worker where I care and support clients ranging from a variety of ages and needs. This job requires me to organize fun and life skill related activities to suit the ages and abilities of my clients. This is a very rewarding job as I get to know each client and build bonds with each one making it easier to help them reach their goals in life. My interests include anything that is outdoors. I enjoy camping, swimming, paddle boarding, skateboarding and bush walking in summer and snowboarding in the winter. I enjoy being around people having fun, laughing and enjoying new experiences. My hobbies are active also; I play Oztag and go to the gym several times a week doing a bootcamp or a boxing class.

Maddie S.

Hey- I’m Maddie! I’m 20 and from Melbourne, Australia. I’ve been studying to become a primary school teacher but this year I’m on my way to Camp Agawak for the first time and I’m super excited to be joining all of you this summer. I love hiking and adventuring outdoors as much as I love creating so you’ll find me candle making, filming for the Agawak Stars and on the lake. See you soon!


Lindsay S.

Hi my name is Lindsay Schwartz, and I am from Tampa, Florida. This will be my 10th summer at Agawak, but my second year on staff.  I will be a freshman at the University of Florida in the fall. At camp you can most likely find me up at the Tango Tower or hanging out by the waterfront. My favorite things about camp are definitely evening programs, hanging out with my camp sisters, and screaming songs in the lodge. Camp is definitely my happy place, and I can’t wait to make it yours!! Oh, and GO WHITE!!!

Jim S.

Hey Agawak Families! I'm Jim...Camp Agawak's official "bean counter" I send you the billing statements from the camp's Mequon, WI office.. My picture is with my 2 grandchildren - obviously one of them is an Agawak camper in the making. I love to sail and spend as much time as I can in Wisconsin's northwoods. My one complaint about my job is that Mary doesn't need me in the camp's Minocqua office as much as I would like her to need me to be there.

Jenny S.

Hi, I am Jenny Steinke! I will be a senior at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire. I am majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology. I am going to school to become a school counselor. This will be my first summer at Camp Agawak and I couldn't be more excited! I love doing anything active outside and trying new activities. I can't wait to learn all of Agawak's traditions and do a ton of singing around the campfire! See you all very soon! :)

Julia S.

Hi guys! I’m Julia Spathis, and I’m so excited to be back for my 13th summer at camp, and my 4th on staff. I just finished my junior year at Emory University where I study Political Science and Marketing Consulting. I’m counting down the days to singing in the lodge, and running another summer of Blue & White! Can’t wait!

Mollie S.

Hi everyone! My name is Mollie Smetana and this will be my second summer as a counselor here at Agawak, but 10th in general! I'm currently a senior in high school, but will be attending the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign for college in the fall! I can't wait to meet everyone up at camp! And of course go blue!!