Growing Up at Gwynn Valley


Beyond the Summer: Gwynn Valley Staff Updates is a series of blog posts to help share the stories of our amazing staff when they’re not here at Gwynn Valley. This blog celebrates the professional and personal successes of our staff and tells the stories of the journeys along the way. In some cases, their time at Gwynn Valley sets the path, sending our staff on travels to visit places they wouldn’t have had the connection or courage to visit before or on career paths they didn’t yet know were their calling. In other cases, the experience as a Gwynn Valley staff member offers enrichment, helping hone their teamwork and communication skills as they move on to a predetermined field. For all staff, Gwynn Valley is a special place and we want to celebrate the stories of the exceptional people who make the summer experience possible for our campers.

At Gwynn Valley, we are fortunate to have many multi-generational families. As they become parents, some camper and staff alumni decide to send their own children to camp. Terry and Wanda Hassler, who first worked on our summer Medical Team in 1998, sent all four of their children to Gwynn Valley. Their three daughters – Leah, Madison, and Hayley – have moved from campers to staff and are now pursuing their careers. It’s awe-inspiring for us to learn how the impact of camp stays with our alumni as they move into subsequent phases of life.

Leah, who is now 28 wrote, “I am currently pursuing my Masters in School Leadership at Harvard. After I graduated from college, I joined Teach for America and became really passionate about educational equity. Growing up going to GV really instilled in me that each child has something unique and special to offer, and that when adults provide spaces for children to flourish, they will. After I graduate, I plan on becoming a principal at a turnaround school where I hope to provide my students with the same sense of home that I have always felt at GV.”

Madison, who attended and worked at camp for a total of 16 years writes, “I am currently working as a operations research analyst at the Pentagon. GV was such a special place for me, and became even more so when I came back as a staff member. Serving as Mountainside Head Counselor taught me so many important leadership lessons that I still utilize in my job today. After I graduated from college, I took a year off to live in Australia and was able to lean on many of the friends I’d met at GV during my travels. GV has provided me with so many lifelong friendships, and granted me the opportunity to pursue so many travel experiences.”

Hayley, 23, worked as our Young Leaders Head Counselor last summer. She writes, “I am currently pursuing my Masters in Microbiology at Clemson. Gwynn Valley taught me how to bring fun into everyday life. The FISH philosophies that were instilled in me as a staff member help bring light and perspective into my research all the time. As a masters student, I teach an undergraduate lab, and the lessons I learned at GV have pushed me to make an otherwise difficult subject matter engaging for my students.”

We are so grateful for our summers with the Hasslers, and our team at Gwynn Valley is excited to see what their young and brilliant lives will bring!

To read more stories about our staff, go to the Staff Updates page. If you have a story to share, please email