Leadership Team

Willowgrove Full Time Staff

Meet our new Executive Director, Johnny!

Dear Willowgrove Community,

As the new year approaches, we are encouraged to reflect on where we have been and dream about where we hope to go. What better time of year to ask ourselves the hard questions of “Who do we want to be?” This new decade fittingly brings about a time of transition, change and new directions, and so it is with great excitement that I announce my service as Willowgrove’s next Executive Director.

My role will begin this February, 2020, but I have already begun to meet with Miriam Reesor who has kindly offered to mentor me and assist me throughout the transition stages. Miriam has done an incredible job at overseeing this organization throughout her tenure, and I am honored to take up the torch from this place of stability and strength.

For those of you who are familiar with Theatre of the Beat, I leave the company in great hands, and although I leave my founding role as Artistic Director, I will still be involved in a limited capacity as the Community Liaison. However, I am very excited about this transition, and feel ready and energized to take on a new challenge.

Willowgrove is home for me. I grew up as a neighbour to the Stouffville property, which means it’s been a part of my life for as long as I could ride a bike. I have explored every haymow, corn maze, creek bend and trail. I have fed its animals, cleaned their stalls, collected eggs, worked as a camp counsellor, cut grass, planted trees, and scrubbed toilets. I have created curriculum, trained staff, taught lessons, and overseen programming. And so, I am excited to return to this familiar place I have known for so long, to reencounter its many spaces through fresh, and hopefully more mature eyes.

I, like undoubtedly many of you, know first-hand the ways these spaces and their staff can change us in unsuspecting ways. It’s those simple, warm-clay moments where the foundations are formed that support the growth of our young people for the rest of their lives. Even the mightiest tree will slowly lean towards the sun when given the opportunity. And that’s what Willowgrove offers: a warm, nurturing culture for our seedlings to lay roots, it provides those unassuming yet profound moments possible when passionate people encourage support and growth in the great outdoors.

This is what excites me about overseeing the many amazing programs at Willowgrove and Fraser: the chance to invest in and continue to shape the culture of these places that teach another way to exist in the world.

Thank you for entrusting me with this gift. I look forward to meeting with you soon.

Sincerely,

Johnny Wideman

Executive Director-elect,

Willowgrove Inc.

Marie Mehak, Outdoor Education Center Co-ordinator

    Marie has been a teacher in the Willowgrove Outdoor Education for over 10 years and in the past year took on the role of coordinator. In addition to her passion for working with school classes in the out of doors, Marie is also a supply child and youth worker for the York Region board of education.

    To contact Marie: mmehak@willowgrove.ca

Jason McDowell, Fraser Lake Camp Director

    Jason McDowell is the Fraser Lake Camp Director. Jason has a long Fraser Lake history. His Grandfather, Emerson, was the founder of FLC in 1955. His parents met while working at Fraser Lake camp and Jason has been a camper and senior staff at Fraser Lake Camp. Jason is excited about the opportunity to give leadership to Fraser Lake and sees a lot of possibilities for the future of the camp. He is committed to providing a safe and fun summer camp experience for the children and youth at Fraser Lake Camp. [/p]
    To contact Jason: jmcdowell@fraserlakecamp.com

Brian Drudge, Facility Director

    Since taking over as Facility Director in 2003, Brian has overseen the construction or refurbishment of many of the key buildings on both Willowgrove properties. Brian grew up, and continues to live, on a farm adjoining the Willowgrove property and worked that farm for many years in addition to building custom wood furniture.
    To contact Brian: brian@willowgrove.ca

Shirley Gilham, Program Coordinator

    Shirley first joined the Willowgrove team as a part-time Outdoor Education instructor in 1988. Since then Shirley has become a vital part of the Willowgrove staff team, giving leadership to the Outdoor Education program and wherever else she is needed.
    To contact Shirley: shirley@willowgrove.ca

Carey Yeoman, Seasonal Facility Assistant.

    Carey has been part of the Willowgrove family for many years with a variety of roles including as a teacher in the Primary school, a teacher in our Outdoor Education program, as a keeper of our flower gardens, and since April 2019, as an assistant to Brian in keeping our property looking great.

Julie Reesor, Bookkeeper

    Julie works in the Willowgrove office three days a week. In addition to bookkeeping, Julia is responsible for the Willowgrove Facility Rental program.
    To contact Julie: julia@willowgrove.ca

Maeyken Jones, Willowgrove Day Camp Director and Willowgrove Office Manager

    Maeyken comes to Willowgrove with a long history of working at Fraser Lake Camp. Her roles there included lifeguard and several years as assistant director. More recently she has worked for "Campbrain" the data base company we use for our online camp registration and payments.

    To contact Maeyken: mjones@willowgrove.ca

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Miss the farm? During COVID-19, Willowgrove is doing our part to minimize the spread of novel COVID-19 by severely reducing our programming. However, we are excited to offer a brand new Family Camp Rental program that meets Public Health's recommendations and allows for cohorts/families/bubbles to join us on-site. Click the link for details.

Miss camp? As both Willowgrove Day Camp's and Fraser Lake Camp's summer programs have been suspended for 2020 we will be offering a one-of-a-kind, daily Camp@Home program in order to provide children with a supervised camp community experience this summer. Click the link for details.