U

Our Year Round Team

Our Most Valuable Resource

We hire creative, fun, inspiring individuals who demonstrate a desire to work with children and who have strong character, leadership skills, and experience to teach in our program areas. Our staff is made up of many camper alumni, friends, and people from all over the world; these diverse cultures are integral part of Gwynn Valley. Countries such as Scotland, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, The Netherlands, South Africa, Poland, Russia, and others have been represented at camp. There is also a lot of geographical diversity within our American staff with 20-25 states being represented each summer.  All of our counselors and program leaders are 18 or older and the majority have completed at least their freshman year in college. Our overall camper-to-staff ratio is 3 to 1. Our medical team consists of a physician and two nurses each session.

Meet the Directors

Anne and Grant Bullard bring a rich variety of skills to Gwynn Valley as professionals, parents, and grandparents. They became Directors and Owners in 1998 and are dedicated to the mission of Gwynn Valley and youth development. It has been a joy for them to watch children grow up at camp, to be a part of each camper’s development, and to work with them later as caring and mature counselors and staff.

Before joining the Gwynn Valley family, Anne taught French at both the elementary and high school levels for fifteen years. Anne leads in all aspects of camp and loves partnering with parents and families, overseeing camper adjustment and their well being, and training and working with the the GV leadership team. Her attention to the details keeps us all on track. Anne’s favorite activity at camp is horseback riding and she loves all of the traditions at Gwynn Valley, from Tajar Ball to Friendship circles, to serenade at bedtime.

Grant has been involved in year round camp administration and outdoor education programming for forty years and also instructed for two Outward Bound Schools. He has served as a delegate to the American Camp Association’s Southeast Section, serves as a board member for the NC Youth Camp Association, is a whitewater canoe instructor for the American Canoe Association, and loves mountain biking. Grant is out in program every day working with children and staff.

Both have a great love of the outdoors and its connection to the growth and education of children. They live at camp year round and raised their four children here.  They devote their full time energies to the direction of Gwynn Valley and love the camp life.

Please call or email us, if you have any questions. We would be happy to speak with you about camp.
Anne: anne@gwynnvalley.com  828-885-2900 ext 24
Grant: grant@gwynnvalley.com 828-885-2900 ext 23

Meet the Director Team

We have a very talented Director team and year round staff with many diverse strengths.  If you have a specific question, you can email them directly.

Ezekiel Cochrane

Associate Director

Ezekiel joined the year round team in May 2021 as the Assistant Director of Older Programs. Ezekiel has worked at Gwynn Valley for 10 summers and started at GV by spending two seasons working in the Gwynn Valley kitchen. He went on to be a Hillside cabin counselor for three years, before stepping in as a program leader- running our 1890’s grist mill. Ezekiel has worked in a leadership role in both our Mountainside and Riverside programs as well as working with the Director team to run Family Camp in 2020. Ezekiel graduated from UNC Chapel Hill where he majored in astrophysics, but after graduating has largely pursued his true passion of outdoor education. During the months of August 2020 – May 2021, he worked as a Resident Wilderness Educator at the Outdoor Academy here in Brevard. Ezekiel has previously worked at YMCA Camp Raukawa in New Zealand as well as Camp High Rocks just down the road. Ezekiel has a deep love for backpacking, white-water paddling, and rock climbing. He is enthusiastic about using these outdoor pursuits to teach youth the importance of community and self-confidence. You can look for him instructing in these areas on the trails, rivers, and crags come summertime!

ezekiel@gwynnvalley.com

Katie Bullard

Assistant Director - Operations

Katie joined the year round team in 2017 after graduating from Guilford College with a major in English and a minor in business. Having grown up at Gwynn Valley, she has a deep love for the values, traditions, and magic of camp. Before joining the year round team, Katie spent many summers working first in our riding program, and then in the Gwynn Valley kitchen where she developed her love of baking. She has worked in the roles of baker, food preparation, assistant cook, lead cook, and shift manager. Katie serves as the Assistant Director of Operations helping with the many organizational and logistical tasks of running camp. Katie also spends time meeting and talking with new camper families and assisting with staff hiring and communication. In the summer Katie continues to use her organizational skills to help with Main Camp logistics, helps to mentor our back of house staff, and serves as the liaison for our Food Service Director. Katie works to continuously strengthen the camp community in our staff as well as our camper to staff relationships.

katie@gwynnvalley.com

Heather Chalmers

Assistant Director - Main Camp

Heather is a former camper who credits Gwynn Valley as being a home away from home and the place of some of her happiest childhood memories. Originally from a suburb of Atlanta, she graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in International Affairs and a minor in Spanish, which she earned while studying abroad for a semester in Valencia, Spain. She spent her summers working here at Gwynn Valley as a cabin counselor and lifeguard, as well as interning in DC for the US Senate. After graduating, Heather worked as a teacher for the nonprofit organization Teach for America, a nonprofit that serves underprivileged communities in schools where a majority of the students live at or below the poverty level. For several years, Heather taught 5th grade reading, writing, and social studies in Jacksonville, FL. She then taught preschool while working towards her goal of living in Hawaii, and once COVID settled she worked as a nanny and private chef in Hawaii on the Big Island and Oahu. Heather spent her summers working on leadership as a Head Counselor here at GV, on both Hillside and Brookside, before joining our year-round team in 2023. Heather has loved GV since she first arrived as a camper, and because it gave her so much as a child and adolescent, one of her favorite parts of working at Gwynn Valley is getting to pay it forward so that the next generation of campers can be enriched the way she was! She is so grateful to play an active role in nurturing children to grow into their best, happiest selves.

heather@gwynnvalley.com

Chris Tarpey

Assistant Director - Program

Chris graduated in December, a semester early, from Western Carolina University with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management. Chris worked at Gwynn Valley in 2018 in our Main Camp Program and spent the last three weeks of the summer as a counselor on Riverside. He returned to Riverside in 2019 as a counselor and trip leader in climbing, whitewater paddling, and backpacking. Chris helped his campers develop skills and comfort in the outdoors, a strong community, and confidence. Chris has a passion for rock climbing, backpacking, whitewater paddling, mountain biking, and fishing, including fly fishing. He has his American Canoe Association Level 2 Canoe Instructor, and Rescue 3 international Whitewater Rescue Technician. He also has his Level 4 Swiftwater Rescue certification. Since he wasn’t able to move into his role as our whitewater paddling director in 2020 due to COVID, he spent those months working for the Nantahala Outdoor Center as a raft guide. Chris loves the outdoors and teaching skills to kids of all ages; one of his goals is to share his appreciation of the natural world with others, a core value here at Gwynn Valley. One of his professors and mentors described Chris in this way. “He has an incredible ability to connect with others, is incredibly kind and compassionate, and truly has a servant’s heart.”

christarpey@gwynnvalley.com

Jeff Heath

Site Director

Jeff works alongside Chris Webb, our Assistant Site Manager, to maintain all aspects of our site.  He insures our grounds are in pristine condition during the summer and orchestrates the parking and luggage process on Opening & Closing days.  Jeff is originally from Canada and began working at Gwynn Valley as a summer staff on the maintenance team in 2000.  Jeff’s innate talent for strategic thinking makes him exceptional in planning the vast array of projects that are done throughout the year and his strong sense of personal responsibility ensures everything is completed efficiently and to a high standard. He met his wife Shelley at camp and they have a nine year old daughter.

JEFF@GWYNNVALLEY.COM

Chris Webb

Assistant Site Manager

Chris works year round to maintain the grounds and site and to keep the farm animals happy and healthy. He especially enjoys the spring planting season and having a role in Gwynn Valley’s farm to table practices. In the summer, Chris works with Team Maintenance and helps in several different program areas including farm, kayaking, and Camping and Nature Skills. Chris started working at Gwynn Valley in 2011, and in 2015 moved to Colorado to work on a production farm for three years, and taught at a Waldorf preschool. After his work in Colorado, Chris and his wife, Camille, moved back to western North Carolina, and Chris joined the Gwynn Valley year round staff. Chris received his undergraduate degree in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education at Brevard College. Chris is passionate about experiential education, land conservation, and environmental sustainability. He is excited to share his interest and knowledge about agriculture and the outdoors with today’s youth. In his free time, Chris enjoys playing in Pisgah National Forest with his wife and son.

chris@gwynnvalley.com

Dale Robertson

Farm Manager

For forty years, Dale has dedicated his career to managing and caring for Gwynn Valley’s beautiful site and  to the importance of sustainability and conservation practices. He is a licensed contractor and keeps all of our buildings in tip top shape. Having been raised on a farm, Dale pursued his education in agriculture at NC State University and completed his MS in Agriculture at Clemson University. His passion is farming and education. In 1982, Dale started the Farm program at Gwynn Valley and oversees its growth and management and is committed to introducing and teaching youth about agriculture and life on a farm. He is also responsible for renovating our 1890’s grist mill along with creating the mill program and its curriculum. Dale has trained, mentored, coached, and inspired many staff throughout the years in milling and farming!

dale@gwynnvalley.com

“Every time I return to Gwynn Valley, I find new inspiration to try my best at whatever I do, to appreciate the simple joys in my life, and to remember my sense of adventure.”