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 Toni Toni 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 (3 horses, 3 mini-donkeys, 3 snakes, 4 cats, and 2 dogs). Toni loves to make the Rockin’ E Ranch look great by cleaning the barn, fixing stuff, and taking care of the horses. 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.

Jake was a camper at Camp Ernst and worked as a counselor in 2007. He graduated from the Ohio State University, moved to California to work at YMCA Camp Whittle, then spent several years as a professional public speaker before coming back to camp to work full time at Camp Ernst in 2017. Jake loves being around the horses and has a keen eye for making sure activity areas are safe. In the summer he takes the lead on ensuring our two pools are running to keep all the campers and staff cool. One of his favorite movies is “A League of their Own” so be sure to remind him frequently, “There’s no crying in baseball!”

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 thing to do at camp is “hammock” (yes, it’s a verb) and outside of camp he loves listening to music. He looks forward to meeting new teens every summer and helping to mold them into great leaders. He loves pizza and Italian food.


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 serves as a member of the YUSA Overnight Camping Cabinet, Chair of the Ohio office of the American Camp Association, and is a Certified Praesidium Guardian for child abuse prevention. At home she is mom to twin camp counselor-college student sons and teen/professional camp director’s kid, 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 Derrick Derrick started working at Camp Ernst in 2019. His role as head of the property team is to make sure that all the parts and pieces of the 50 buildings and numerous program and natural areas are always looking good and in working order. Derrick enjoys all the people he encounters at camp as well as the challenge of juggling multiple projects. He lives in Ft Thomas with his family (including new baby Lyric!) and has played basketball his whole life. He is fully-dedicated to University of Kentucky sports so be sure to try out your best Wildcat trivia on him.


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 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!


Bio Lisa Lisa came up through Fairfield schools and Miami University, making her way to camp in 2019 after having worked in membership and the offices at the Blue Ash and Carl H Lindner YMCAs since 2010. She loves getting to know the summer staff, campers, and their families and working year-round to get camp filled up and busy with happy campers and staff. Her favorite things at camp are: her co-workers, the horses, Camelback, and the wildlife. Her #1 favorite movie is “The Music Man” so please feel free to burst into “Madam Librarian” or “Trouble in River City” while you’re on the phone with her!


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. He’s got a story for everything so he fits in perfectly here!


Bio Matt Matt started working at camp in 2019 but 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 switch to 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.

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