Laketrails Staff

Laketrails Staff 2017

Meet the Laketrails Staff!

The Laketrails Staff is one of our greatest assets. Chosen for their leadership abilities, Laketrails Guides are talented college students and graduates who share a commitment for working with teens and middle school youth as well as possessing a passion for living in the natural world. Many of them first came to Laketrails as campers, so they know our program well. Serving as positive role models, the Guides have an amazing impact on the lives of the young people we serve.

Since safety is always at the forefront, our staff possess a number of health and safety certifications. All Guides are certified in Basic First Aid, CPR, and Wilderness First Aid, and most are also certified Lifeguards. Some have further qualifications as Wilderness First Responders.

Kate Krantz-OdendahlProgram Director

Kate Krantz-Odendahl

Program Director

Kate Krantz-Odendahl, Program Director, had the great luck and joy of growing up as an “island kid” at Laketrails. In remembering many of the powerful lessons from her years at camp, Kate states, “When I was 16, I saw an incomparably spectacular display of northern lights… and knew what it was to feel at once powerful beyond measure and frighteningly, beautifully, insignificant in the larger order of things. Laketrails taught me from an early age to care for the Earth, myself, and the global community through which we are all connected.” In addition to her earlier Laketrails experiences, Kate has taught canoeing for Cornell Outdoor Education, guided backcountry canoe trips in the Adirondacks, and spent time on personal backpacking and canoe camping trips in New York’s Finger Lakes and Catskills regions, Vermont’s Upper Valley, and western China where she served in the Peace Corps. She currently teaches English Language Arts at a middle school in New York City and sees how her students connect with a completely different part of themselves when they are out in nature. Kate is excited to rejoin the loving, attentive camp community and share her experiences with the youth at Laketrails.

Breanna RauCamp Nurse

Breanna Rau

Camp Nurse

As the Camp Nurse at Laketrails, Breanna Rau has one of the shortest–and most beautiful– commutes ever! Her family owns and operates Flag Island Resort, just a stone’s throw from Laketrails Base Camp. An avid outdoors-woman and no stranger to island living, Breanna is an ace with a fishing pole and also loves campfires, hunting, and hiking through the woods. She began her career in caring for others as a Nursing Assistant back in high school, graduated as a Licensed Practical Nurse and later as a Registered Nurse from St. Cloud Tech. Her nursing experiences include working with the elderly in nursing homes, assisted living, and home care settings as well as pediatric experience. While she plans to enjoy the typically spectacular sunsets and northern lights of the Angle and Islands, Breanna is especially looking forward to meeting new friends and working with the teens at Laketrails this summer.

Matt MallingerAdvertising and Media Intern

Matt Mallinger

Advertising and Media Intern

Matt Mallinger first came to Laketrails with Eagan’s Summer Science Institute when he was a junior in high school. He loved the experience so much that he returned the following year as a TA (student leader) before heading off to college at Marquette University. This summer, Matt is excited to return to camp as our Advertising and Media Intern. In his new position, he’s looking forward to applying his college studies and combining his love of Laketrails with his passion for various forms of media and brand direction. An avid camper, Matt also enjoys hiking the Midwest and Colorado as well as mountain biking and bicycle camping–anything to keep him outdoors!

Sue LemmCamp Director

Sue Lemm

Camp Director

Warroad, Minn.
Sue likes to think she has the perfect job. “My very first job was in the outdoors and then I chose working with kids as a profession. So, to be able to combine those two passions–what could be better?” Sue first came to Laketrails in 1996 and soon began working as a volunteer, Guide, Program Director, and has now been the Camp Director since 2010. Her camping experiences include numerous canoe trips in the Boundary Waters and Lake of the Woods, as well as months of living in a tent while biking north, south, east, and west across the U.S. and Canada.

A middle school teacher for 33 years, Sue has seen the transformation that can take place when youth combine their classroom knowledge with a wilderness adventure.

Being at Laketrails is a powerful experience for a kid! My favorite part of each session is seeing the change and growth that happens, and the thrill kids get in realizing that they’re loved and accepted for the amazing people they are.

- Sue Lemm

Aleksandra GurneauGuide

Aleksandra Gurneau

Guide

Milwaukee, Wisc.
Aleksandra is returning for her second summer as a Laketrails guide. Being a Girl Scout was Aleksandra’s introduction to camping and she attended day and overnight camp excursions nearly every summer while growing up, plus many family camping trips. Her favorite memory from last summer was during her first trip, when they decided to set out before dawn in order to make it to their final campsite. “We got up before the sun, packed up and headed into the void. Everything was so calm. Silently we paddled through the darkness, listening to our own slow breathing and the steady pull of the paddles in our hands. The sun slowly awoke behind us down the channel and as we steadily paddled away, we peered over our shoulders taking in its brilliance.”

Aleksandra is a junior at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, double majoring in Graphic Design and German Studies, with a minor in Marketing. She was on the swim team in high school and likes photography and rock climbing and “anything to do with water.”

I am really looking forward to meeting new people, canoeing a ton, being around water and nature, and having fun!

- Aleksandra Gurneau

Bridget EricksonGuide

Bridget Erickson

Guide

Warroad, Minn.
Lake of the Woods has been Bridget’s backyard all of her life. Growing up in Warroad, she says she spent summers in the water, running around in the woods, and fishing on the lake with her dad as far back as she can remember. Last fall, Bridget led a backpacking trip on the Superior Hiking Trail for the College of St. Benedict, and she spent spring break camping in Badlands National Park, So. Dak.

Bridget says her favorite memory from last summer was watching her campers grow. “Everyone grew in some way — maybe they learned a new skill, grew in friendship with their trip mates, learned to better appreciate the outdoors, or became a master at paddling and portaging. This is the strength and beauty of a canoe trip — growth is inevitable. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to help facilitate and witness this growth in others. I’m thrilled to continue this work and the life of a voyager during my eighth summer at Laketrails.”

Bridget is a sophomore at St. Ben’s, majoring in Global Business Leadership, with a concentration in entrepreneurship, and a minor in French. She also likes running, cooking and baking, slacklining, interior design, DIY projects, reading, and fishing.

I am looking forward to getting back on the water after a long winter, taking on the challenge of the difficult trips Lake of the Woods has to offer, and helping others fall in love with the outdoors!

- Bridget Erickson

Christina EftelandGuide

Christina Efteland

Guide

Eagan, Minn.
Christina’s love of the outdoors is inherited. Many family members played a role in introducing her to nature and encouraging her to explore lakes, shores and woods. Christina said there was special trip last year that included a night on Massacre Island. The name may not sound inviting, but the island provided a place to be up above the lake where she and the campers could watch small storms on the horizon and the sunset. “We decided we would silently watch the sunset for a least three minutes, but most of us stayed there for closer to 20 minutes – which is a long time for middle school students!” Christina said a Laketrails trip creates lasting friendships. “You share a new and unbreakable bond with those whom you share tiring paddles, delicious meals, mosquito bites, sun burns, arduous portages, laughter, impossible riddles and everything in between — it is all part of the journey and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Christina will graduate this spring from University of Northwestern, St. Paul, Minn., with plans to be a middle school math teacher. She also loves ceramics and music (she plays the ukulele!). This is Christina’s second year on staff, and she was a Laketrails camper twice during high school.

I am looking forward to everything about this summer – adventures, the unknown, sunshine, rainy days, starry skies, canoeing, trail food, being silly, making memories – I can’t wait!

- Christina Efteland

Cole GrottingGuide

Cole Grotting

Guide

Minneapolis, Minn.
Cole joins the Laketrails staff this year. He is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, majoring in Environment and Sustainability. While he is new to Laketrails, Cole has been camping and canoeing for years. His first canoe trip was in middle school with his Dad, “and I’ve grown to love it more and more over the years.” Like most campers, he has a favorite site. “There is a campsite on an island on Quill Lake in Voyageurs National Park that is probably the most relaxing place on earth.”

Cole’s other interests include rock climbing, running, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, playing music and he says he has recently gotten into photography.

I am looking forward to making new friends and getting to go on amazing canoe trips all summer.

- Cole Grotting

Emma McLarnanGuide

Emma McLarnan

Guide

Victoria, Minn.
This will be Emma’s eighth year at Laketrails, her second as a guide. Spending time at her family’s cabin at Fox Lake (near Detroit Lakes) and visiting Lake of the Woods and Laketrails even before she was old enough to be a camper, has made being in nature well, second nature to Emma. Her favorite Laketrails memory involves a portage into Love Lake. “We stopped to take a break, only to realize we had stopped in a patch of wild blueberries! After feasting on the blueberries for awhile and collecting enough to add to our pancakes in the morning, we continued on to the lake which, when we reached it, had a beautiful rainbow over it.”

Emma is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, majoring in Environmental and Outdoor Education. This year year she has been on the UMD climbing staff as the Office Supervisor has also earned her Wilderness First Responder certification. Besides a canoe, Emma loves paddling a kayaks, slacklining, and hiking — in fact, she spent spring break on a six-day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail.

I am looking forward to making new friends, having new trail experiences and spending more time on Lake of the Woods.

- Emma McLarnan

John KoetsGuide

John Koets

Guide

Edina, Minn.
As a kid, John says he watched lots of “inspiring nature documentaries” and knew he had to experience it all first-hand. His favorite Laketrails memory from last year was a trip to Lake of the Bays. “That trip was full of running from storms, challenging portages, wonderful memories and plenty of bogs.” John’s other interests are whitewater paddling, rock climbing, bogs and other wetlands, cool plants, shiny rocks and pancakes.

This will be John’s fifth year at Laketrails. He is a junior at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, majoring in Environmental Science, with a focus on wetland ecology and aqueous geochemistry.
“I am looking forward to getting back out on the lake and showing just how incredible Lake of the Woods is to all my campers.”

I am looking forward to getting back out on the lake and showing just how incredible Lake of the Woods is to all my campers.

- John Koets

Justin KurtzGuide

Justin Kurtz

Guide

Mankato, Minn.
Justin may be a Laketrails newbie this year but he is quite familiar with camping and the outdoors. He grew up in an “outdoor-loving family, out in the country on a river, surrounded by woods.” His family’s cabin in the Black Hills of South Dakota meant that he was out hiking before he could walk, piggybacking on his parents’ shoulders. He has also made several trips into the BWCA.

One of Justin’s favorite outdoor memories is from last July when he hiked to the top of Rubicon Peak in the Sierra Nevadas twice — once with Izzy the springer spaniel and two days later with a friend. “I loved looking up into the towering trees on the hike up. And the views of the vast, dazzling water of Lake Tahoe and the snow-capped mountain peaks only got better as we got higher.” Justin is completing his freshman year at the St. John’s University, majoring in biology with a minor in philosophy. He also likes to kayak, cross-country ski, hunt, fish and “reading all sorts of books.”

I am looking forward to boatfuls of fun with everyone at camp! I can’t wait for new experiences, meeting new people and learning new things from one another.

- Justin Kurtz

Karl GoreckiGuide

Karl Gorecki

Guide

Rogers, Minn.
The family cabin near Grand Rapids is where Karl fell in love with the outdoors. “Some of my first memories are being out on the lake fishing or camping in the woods near there.” This will be Karl’s second summer as a Laketrails guide. “One of my favorite memories from last summer was getting to Brocket Lake and having a feast while relaxing next to and in the waterfall at the campsite. I cannot wait to get back to the island and live the simple life again!”

Besides paddling, one of Karl’s “greatest passions” is trail running. He also enjoys rock climbing, cross country skiing and mountain biking. Karl is a sophomore in the Environmental Studies program at Bemidji State University, where he also works at the Outdoor Program Center as a trip leader.

I am really looking forward to showing kids what nature has to offer and how we can preserve it, not only at Laketrails, but everywhere.

- Karl Gorecki

Kasi CoxGuide

Kasi Cox

Guide

Council Bluffs, Iowa
After two years as a Laketrails camper worker, Kasi will be a guide this year. She grew up fishing and camping with her grandparents and credits an uncle for sending her to Laketrails for the first time as a camper. “It is where I discovered my true love of the outdoors.”

Every Laketrails trip offers a special memory or a favorite part, Kasi says, but four years ago she signed on for one of the camp’s longest and most challenging trips — paddling around the Aulneau Peninsula. “It was during that trip where I really appreciated the beauty of the outdoors and made the most fantastic memories. It made me realize that if you work hard for something it is always worth it.”

Kasi is a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, studying psychology. She loves to paint, draw and take photos, play volleyball, go fishing and explore the wilderness.

I am looking forward to making some great memories and enjoying nature with all the wonderful people who come to Laketrails.

- Kasi Cox

Kirk PearsonGuide

Kirk Pearson

Guide

Warroad, Minn
This will be Kirk’s first year as a guide but he brings four years of experience as a Laketrails camper (two of those as a camper worker) and many years in the woods catching fish in creeks and hunting grouse and deer. Kirk says his favorite memory of the outdoors is of a Laketrails trip. “Last year I went on a camper worker trip to Nestor Falls. We did a night paddle, saw parts of Lake of the Woods Laketrails never see, and spent a lot of time with some great people.”

Kirk is a freshman mechanical engineering major at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Besides canoeing, he enjoys photography and rock climbing.

I am looking forward to meeting cool new people and seeing rad new places on Lake of the Woods

- Kirk Pearson

Nate GilsonGuide

Nate Gilson

Guide

Eagan, Minn.
Nate says he fell in love with the outdoors, where else? As a Laketrails camper! Nate’s favorite memory from last summer is proof that even when things don’t go according to plan, a canoe trip in Lake of the Woods is always a fun adventure. “On our trip to Brocket, it was gray, rainy and windy nearly the entire time. Despite the weather and being stranded by winds for a whole day, we had a great trip. On our final night, it took us around four hours to make stir fry as we fought to keep the fire alive in the rain – that stir fry was the most rewarding meal I have had in my life!”

Nate is a junior at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, with a Social Studies Education major, with an emphasis on history. He is a huge baseball fan, especially the Minnesota Twins. And he is big on music, especially Yes, Genesis and Rush. This will be his third summer guiding at Laketrails.

I am looking forward to visiting my favorite lakes and meeting some awesome people in the best place on earth!

- Nate Gilson