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Camp Jorn YMCA names Ellie Orbison as new director

Ellie Orbison

Ellie Orbison

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Updated: March 12, 2014 3:39AM

Officials for Camp Jorn YMCA in northern Wisconsin announced a new executive director this month, a move that follows months of controversy after the longtime executive director was let go this past summer.

The governing board named Ellie Orbison to take over the helm. She has 20 years of YMCA camp management experience and was the former development and alumni relations director at nearby Camp Manito-wish. She previously managed resident YMCA camps in Wisconsin, Colorado and New York.

“We are incredibly fortunate to find someone of Ellie’s professional caliber for Camp Jorn YMCA,” says Camp Jorn board president Richard Ribando. “Her experience in managing YMCA camp budgets, building relationships, administering staff and successful fundraising makes her the perfect fit for us.”

Camp Jorn YMCA is on the shores of Rest Lake on more than 70 acres in a pine forest in Wisconsin’s Northern Highland State Forest. The Lake County Family YMCA purchased the land in 1952, and in 2007, the camp purchased the title from the Lake County YMCA and became an independent YMCA camp. Since then, both the Waukegan and Vernon Hills YMCA facilities have gone out of business.

Today, Camp Jorn draws a large number of campers from Lake County and many board members reside in the county.

Concerns at the camp arose in August when longtime Executive Director Dennis Lipp was dismissed by the board and offered a severance package. The board said they wanted to go in a new direction.

Larry Kilpatrick, a board member who served on the hiring committee, said Orbison has the right talents and skills to keep Camp Jorn a success.

“The fact that she’s from the Wisconsin area, and incredibly familiar with the YMCA camp programming and fundraising, means she’ll be able to hit the ground running this January,” he said.

Her qualifications include serving as executive director of a 1,500-acre, $1.3 million camp operation on behalf of the YMCA of Greater Rochester, where she hired and trained seven year-round staff as well as 90 seasonal staff.

She also served as director for YMCA of the Rockies Camp Chief Ouray.

Her fundraising skills will also come in handy. Her 120-person volunteer staff at Camp Manito-wish raised more than $500,000 for its annual fund drive campaign.

“As a passionate camping advocate committed to YMCA’s mission and values, I’m excited about the opportunities and challenges at Camp Jorn” said Orbison, who lives in Presque Isle, Wis.

She said she is looking forward to get to know Camp Jorn alumni and staff over the next few months.

This will be the camp’s 61st year of operation.

Though most campers come from Illinois and Wisconsin, it has welcomed campers from Japan, Spain and other countries.

Its mission is for all who engage in Camp Jorn YMCA experiences to recognize and develop value in themselves and the world around them.

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