Laketrails Staff 2019
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.
Laketrails Camp Director, Sue Lemm, is a retired middle school teacher who still can’t get enough of the enthusiasm and energy of kids. At the Laketrails helm since 2010, Sue enjoys wood carving, reading, and nature photography as well as a long list of outdoor activities when she’s not in the office. She’s also a big fan of red foxes, folk music, history books, and any day the wind doesn’t blow. As an avid birder, Sue keeps an annual list of all the birds she sees. Her favorite part of the Laketrails program is when campers return from trail full of confidence and excitement over what they saw in nature and accomplished with their group. A year-round resident of Lake of the Woods, Sue has a healthy respect for the weather, but still loves the many moods of the lake. She’s looking forward to a fun summer getting to know the staff and campers.
I absolutely love seeing the transition from a little uncertainty before the canoe trips leave the island to the all-out confidence and exuberance that campers have when they return. There’s nothing so exciting as that empowerment of kids!
A big fan of the Minnesota Twins, Nate Gilson doesn’t seem to mind when they go into extra innings. As a senior at the U of MN-Duluth, Nate is in “extra innings” himself (a.k.a. semesters) after changing his major to become a Social Studies teacher. Naturally, the change was prompted by a realization of how much he enjoys working with kids. A native of Eagan, MN, Nate also enjoys playing guitar, hiking, playing frisbee, and building forts in the woods to hide from the rain. He claims gray is his favorite color, and the majestic calls of loons make them a favorite bird. When at camp, Nate thinks paddling and portaging are fun because you get to spend quality time with people while working towards a goal, talking, laughing, and singing along the way. This summer Nate is looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new awesome Laketrails people!
I am looking forward to visiting my favorite lakes and meeting some awesome people in the best place on earth!
St Louis Park, MN
Katie Belanger, Head Cook, is a high school English teacher at Benilde-St. Margaret School and loves getting to know her students and talking with them about literature. Her many hobbies include yoga, baking, gardening, reading, biking, fishing, skiing, and doing just about anything outdoors with her family. (Our staff is pretty excited about her homemade cinnamon swirl bread!) Katie also enjoys writing and has a blog about raising little boys in this crazy world. She has fun napping in forts made from blankets and pillows, and she thinks Hedwig, Harry Potter’s owl, is pretty cool. Katie relishes the zen of paddling with it’s repetition, rhythm of the boat, the soothing sound of water, and the companionship with nature. She’s looking forward to meeting the campers and having some new adventures with her family this summer.
Social Media Specialist
St Louis Park, MN
Jr. High History, Literature, and Life Skills are just a few of the subjects taught by Josh Belanger at Benilde-St. Margaret School. Serving as the Laketrails Social Media Specialist this summer, Josh enjoys young people and is impressed with how much kids know. He also enjoys a variety of outdoor activities, particularly fly fishing on the Wahkon River in the family’s drift boat. Josh fondly remembers building forts in the woods with his brother using whatever scraps they could find, and he still embraces the lessons on resourcefulness learned at a young age. He also knows the value of facing the seemingly daunting challenges that happen on a canoe trip and how it can make a positive impact in a person’s life. This summer he’s looking forward to getting away from screens and spending a lot of time in nature.
In addition to assisting in kitchen operations, Christina Efteland will tackle a wide variety of jobs around the island this summer in her new role as “Special Ops” coordinator. Among her duties, we’re hoping she’ll teach us her secret talent of doing upside-down push-ups. A math teacher at North Junior High in St. Cloud, MN, Christina loves getting to know her students, making jokes, watching them grow personally, and simply letting them know she cares. Her hobbies include riding her bike, playing ukulele, and creating ceramics and watercolor paintings. She’s a “fan” of forts made from big bed sheets and box fans to inflate a tunnel to adventure through. And, she loves the special excitement of seeing a bear or even a moose on trail. Christina is looking forward to a summer of sunshine, living sustainably, and friendships with both old and new campers.
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!
Katlyn Severson, RN, works as a nurse at LifeCare Medical Center in Roseau, MN when she’s not caring for the campers at Laketrails. No matter what season of the year, she finds something fun to do outdoors–fishing, hunting, riding horse, skiing, and snowmobiling. As a young kid she loved making the classic blanket-and-furniture fort and snuggling in to watch a movie. Scooby Doo was a childhood hero as he helped his friends solve mysteries and catch bad guys. A former college volleyball and softball player, Katlyn has also spent time coaching as she loves to help young people learn new things and watch them grow individually. She and her husband have a baby son and live in the rural Roseau area. She’s looking forward to spending the summer on beautiful Lake of the Woods and meeting new people.
Riley Blauvelt, returns to Laketrails after spending the winter and spring teaching biology at the Cathedral of New Ulm. He loves forming connections with students, and when not in the classroom, Riley enjoys reading, snowboarding, playing catch, the humor and wit of Bugs Bunny, and any time spent with family and friends. When in the woods, he particularly enjoys watching deer, and on trail Riley appreciates paddling near shore so that you can experience nature up close. This summer he’s looking forward to living a simple lifestyle outdoors, working hard, and creating some once-in-a-lifetime memories for his campers.
I think paddling and portaging is a way to get more immersed in nature. The effort gives an extra special feel to reaching your destination.
Council Bluffs, IA
Grace Cox, from Council Bluffs, IA, is a Biology student at Iowa State University who can do wall sits for a really long time! When not making those quads burn, she enjoys ice cream, conversations about coffee, howling at wolves, and knitting. She also dreams of someday riding elephants in Thailand. Grace loves the fun of singing camp songs and the sense of accomplishment you get while paddling and portaging. She’s looking forward to a summer of meeting people on the island and making delicious pita pizzas to share around the campfire on the canoe trips.
Tenzin Dhondup hails from Edina, MN and is a student of Environmental Geo Science at the University of North Dakota. He enjoys traveling, biking, listening to podcasts, and reading in his spare time. Someday he hopes to hike through Denali National Park in Alaska. Tenzin’s favorite forest animals are squirrels because they’re so adorable and cute–(and if you don’t like them, you must be crazy)! A secret talent he possesses is the ability to sing the whole song of Alphabet Aerobics. Tenzin believes there’s always an awesome adventure waiting just up ahead, and this summer he hope to enjoy those adventures with good people while making life-long connections.
When she’s not guiding canoe trips for Laketrails, Elizabeth Efteland of Minneapolis, MN is an actor in the Twin Cities, doing lots of theatre, some film work, and even directing. Her many hobbies include telling stories, juggling, trail running, writing, hiking, and reading with her grandma. Hummingbirds hold a special place in her heart as does Tigger because he really cares about his friends. When it comes to paddling and portaging Elizabeth likes to work hard as a team to accomplish a goal, and she appreciates the chance to move slowly and soak in the beauty of nature. This summer she’s looking forward to meeting new campers, singing, sunshine, and campfires
A recent graduate of the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, Bridget Erickson of Warroad, MN holds a degree in Business, specializing in Entrepreneurship. Bridget revealed her creative spirit at a young age by building teepee-style forts in the woods and has now moved on to playing bowling on trail using rocks and water bottles. Among her many hobbies she includes photography, yoga, interior design, and furniture restoration. And, rumor has it she plays a mean kazoo! This past year her travels included the beauty of the South China Sea and the wonders of Viet Nam’s villages, rivers, and jungles. This summer Bridget is looking forward to living the simple life back on the island, and she hopes to meet a moose in a bog!
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!
Grand Forks, ND
A student at the University of North Dakota, Kelby Goulet has a close connection to Laketrails–literally. She grew up just a few miles away from camp at Angle Inlet, MN, the northernmost point of the state. With the spirit of the fierce little pine martens that she loves, Kelby competes as a track athlete for UND. While she hopes to someday be a pilot, her other interests include fishing, water skiing, kayaking, and exploring with her dog, Kaiser. She’s even walked along the edge of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. This summer she’s anxious to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones, make pita pizzas, go portaging, and enjoy all the storms and star gazing she can.
John Koets returns to Laketrails after a year away, and this time he’s a proud graduate of the U of MN-Duluth, holding degrees in Environmental Science and Biology. When not creating beautiful canoe paddles, John enjoys whitewater kayaking, birding, star gazing, and making music. Always a fan of the snow and cold, he loves snow forts and once climbed aboard a rogue iceberg floating out to “sea.” (Actually, it was in Lake Superior, but it felt the same.) John loves it when he unexpectedly sees a snowy owl as they remind him to stop and appreciate the beauty of nature. This summer he’s excited to show his campers some of his favorite spots on Lake of the Woods.
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.
Sauk Rapids, MN
Gavin Kreutzer is an experienced paddler of the Canadian wilderness and also a student at the U of MN-Duluth studying chemical engineering. He loves sports, doing puzzles, hiking, and spending time outdoors. And, he’s got some great specifications for classic teepee-style forts–they should be made with good sticks, moss, and located in a nice wooded area. Gavin enjoys the simplicity, effort, and rewarding feelings that go with paddling and portaging and sometimes likes to distract himself with the lyrics of old songs. This summer he’s looking forward to getting back out on trail and meeting new people.
An avid explorer of life’s highways, Quin McIntire of Portland, OR, returns to Laketrails ready for riddles, songs, and adventures on Lake of the Woods. When not paddling a canoe or pedaling his bicycle, Quin delights in playing his saxophone and doing hand percussion with wacky items. His cycling adventures include riding his bike 100 miles through the Mojave Desert in a day and doing “wheelies” for excitement. His favorite forest animal is the grey squirrel because he likes the way they shake their bushy tails. This summer Quin is looking forward to some night paddling, learning his campers’ middle names, and seeing some wildlife on the lake.
Studying Communication Sciences and Disorders, Grace McLarnan of Victoria, MN is a student at the U of MN-Duluth. She hopes to someday be a speech-language pathologist and work in a school system so she can be around kids. A paddler for many years, Grace also enjoys rock climbing, reading, and hiking, and she dreams about taking a crazy road trip out west, visiting all the national parks along the way. She loves deer, s’mores around the campfire, and playing the piano. This summer Grace is looking forward to new adventures on the lake and meeting lots of new and amazing people along the way.
A Mechanical Engineering major at Penn State University, Zara Meyer of Zimmerman, MN loves to read, draw, and spend time outdoors. She hopes to someday backpack across Europe while soaking in its many cultures; then find a job as an engineer for Volkswagen. Zara enjoys the curious, goofy Scooby Doo, the playfulness of otters, eating ice cream, and organizing things to make a lot of stuff fit into small spaces. (You can expect a well-ordered canoe from this Laketrails Guide!) Zara is looking forward to meeting new people and a summer of experiencing the rewarding challenges of paddling and portaging at one of her favorite places in the world.
Apple Valley, MN
Josie Rogers of Apple Valley, MN is a hard worker as evidenced by her double major in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the U of MN-Twin Cities. When she’s not studying, Josie enjoys playing rugby and soccer, listening to music, reading, and hiking. She shares a curious love of honey with Winnie the Pooh, and also possesses the ability to make perfect paper snowflakes. When the wind is blowing and the paddling is tough, Josie thinks about how she’ll eventually be rewarded with calm winds and a beautiful sunrise or sunset. This summer she’s looking forward to hearing the birds sing in the woods, spending quality time on the lake, and meeting new people.
Not too many people can perform a rap song about swimming, but it’s one of the many talents of Samantha Schmitz of Pendleton, OR. A Health and Fitness major at Portland State University, Sam would like to one day be a program director of campus recreation. When she’s not working at the pool, she enjoys dancing, photography, camping, cooking, and baking. A fan of Snoopy and his flying doghouse, she also loves lemon bars and paddling past beautiful, untouched islands. This summer Sam is looking forward to meeting new people and having a fun time back on Lake of the Woods.
An adventurous bicyclist, Sam Seacrist of Portland, OR, will be peddling on the last leg of his journey back to Laketrails this summer. While ravens and crows tend to impress Sam with their intelligence and clever antics, he also appreciates Patrick Star’s ability to live in the moment and not take himself too seriously. Sam loves mountain biking, hiking, camping, and whistling. And, when it comes to canoeing, just ask him about his exciting canoe trip this spring along the south coast of British Columbia. This summer he’s looking forward to seeing gorgeous Lake of the Woods again, meeting some great people on the island, and being in a “Laketrails state of mind.”