Meet Our Team

Our dedicated year-round team of leaders works hard 12 months a year to make your Camp Ernst experience top-notch.

Bio GraceGrace started working at Camp Ernst in the summer of 2015 and became full time in 2017. She graduated from William Woods University in Missouri (her home state) with a degree in Equine Administration. Grace and her horse Pebbles love trail rides, especially on the Yellow Trail. She enjoys teaching campers and staff random horse facts as well as useful ones. Her favorite day of every summer is the Opening Campfire for week 4, when she gets to wear her 4th of July-themed costume and decorate the horses in red, white, and blue. Grace is a talented artist and has mapped out all the miles of our camp horse trails!


Bio ToniToni came to Camp Ernst in the fall of 2018 after many years of being a stay at home mom and working on her own and others’ farms. She graduated from NKU with a degree in biology and loves spending time at home with her family and all their animals (horses, mini-donkeys, snakes, cats, and dogs). Toni loves to make our camp home look great by organizing and maintaining equipment, and mowing beautiful lines into the lawns. You can also find her helping at the ranch with lessons, trail rides, and barn chores. Toni is a nature lover so be sure to ask her to identify some trees and flowers when you’re out on the trail with her!

Bio JimJim has worked his magic at Camp Ernst since 1997. Prior to that he was a carpenter at a local winery. Jim enjoys working outside and can often be found cutting down trees, chopping wood, and keeping camp neat and tidy. His favorite part of his job is teaching the crew how to build things. Over the years they have built trash can sheds, fences, picnic tables, friendship benches, Adirondack chairs, and much more. His favorite place at camp is the swimming hole at Gunpowder Creek and he enjoys reading, bicycling, hiking, and ice skating.

Bio David David started working at Camp Ernst in 2019 after having grown up in Alabama, graduating from Auburn, and working at several other camps around the country. His favorite place at camp is the ropes course and outside of camp he loves running, hiking, and listening to music. He looks forward to meeting new teens every summer and helping to mold them into great leaders. He loves pizza, Italian food, and messy kickball.



Bio Eli Elizabeth “Eli” Cochran is passionate about helping young people find achievement, belonging, and relationships at camp. She loves talking to camp families about the benefits of camp, raising money, coming up with crazy innovations, making baby steps in Inclusion work, and riding her bike around to visit program areas. She is a certified Forest Therapy guide, serves as a member of the YUSA Overnight Camping Cabinet, Co-Chair of the Not-for-Profit Council of the American Camp Association, and is a Certified Praesidium Guardian for child abuse prevention. At home she is mom to twin grown up sons (Josh and Geoff) and current camp summer staffer, Kara. Eli and her extremely supportive husband Cameron met as camp counselors in the 90s and have made Camp Ernst their family’s home since 2003.

Bio Megan Megan started out as a camper, has been working at Camp Ernst since 2004 as a counselor and unit leader, and came on staff full time in 2013. Prior to that she taught kindergarten and second grade and still has a soft spot for children’s books and the hilarious things kids say. Megan is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and has learned to keep her office stocked with M&Ms and juice boxes for performing one of her many superpowers: counseling and pep talks for the camp counselors. She loves hanging out with campers and staff in the summer and giving back to the place where thousands of kids find their spark every summer. Her all-time favorite movie is “A League of their Own” and favorite place to vacation is Disney World.


Bio BryanBryan (known to many camp alumni as “Lincoln”) is a good sport in the joke that he’s been at camp since its founding in 1928, when in reality he has worked summers at Camp Ernst since 1973, with a brief hiatus in the 90s. He spends the school year teaching English at NKU and then moves out to camp each summer, where he enjoys early morning runs along all the camp roads. All year long he researches camp history, presides over monthly Camp History Chat zoom calls, and keeps camp’s documents up-to-date for our American Camp Association accreditation. His favorite place at camp is the Temple of the Trees. Bryan wrote our 90th Anniversary History booklet in 2018 and is working on the 100th Anniversary book for 2028, so send him your camp stories and pictures!


Emily has worked at Camp Ernst since 2015, waking up each day to help kids learn about hard work, compassion, and patience through working with the horses. She graduated from NKU with a degree in Psychology and previously worked as a veterinary assistant. Her favorite parts of working at camp are creating equine education programs and getting to know our camp families, especially at family camp. Emily loves to stay busy and lives for camp lunches in the dining hall, especially Dino Nugs Day! Emily is quick to laugh and has never met a stranger, so please stop by the Rockin’ E Ranch and say hello!


Bio Javier Javier grew up in Mexico City and came to the United States more than 30 years ago. He famously ran “Javier’s Mexican Restaurant” in downtown Cincinnati, where his mole sauce and friendship were second-to-none, and also was a cook with Cincinnati Public Schools before joining our camp team in 2019. He loves working with the crew in summer and has taught hundreds of teenagers how to wash dishes! Javier has a son and a daughter in college, plus a Chocolate Lab named Coco. Javier enjoys staying active playing soccer and taking walks around camp. Stop in for a chat because he’s got a story for everything!


Bio MattMatt started working at camp in 2019 and has been part of the Y for most of his life, having grown up in Leader’s Club. Prior to working at camp he was an audio visual tech. Making camp look beautiful and the working outdoors is Matt’s favorite part of his job. He enjoys the camaraderie of the camp community, and when taking a break from the lawnmower, Matt can be found snacking on some Orange Chicken in Javier’s kitchen. Matt lives in Newport with his wife and two children, and their gecko and dog.

Sam spent most of his career as a pastor and still brings that empathetic, listening ear and passion for people to his work every day. For the past several years he has been working at other YMCA facilities and is thrilled to have joined the camp team in Spring 2022. His positive attitude and teamwork spirit have helped him fit in quickly!

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