My Vision for Camp Champion



Most of my adult life has been focused on mentoring youth and young adults through the complexities of financial literacy and the successful repayment of federal student loans. What I have realized during this 30-plus-year journey is that the root of the epic student loan default problem is extremely complicated and intertwined with bigger societal challenges. To address these issues, over the last few years, my Champion team and I have expanded our outreach programs to include additional tools for students’ success that plant seeds of knowledge through life skills courses, mentoring, and other resources. We want to provide solutions to the alarming issues that our societal evolution has created including the following:

• A massive decline in respect for self and others
• Incredibly complex social interaction issues
• An epidemic of bullying and violent behavior
• Skyrocketing suicide rates for teens and young adults
• A lack of personal accountability existing at many levels
• The deterioration of the family structure
• An overabundance of entitlement attitudes/expectations
• An almost nonexistent sense of community and belonging
• The alarming fact that our children aren’t learning essential life success components

The effects of problems like these have infiltrated multiple aspects of daily American life. Today the definition of at-risk youth has expanded to include every child because they are exposed to so much through social media. Our children are no longer buffered from the ugliness of the world. They often joke about the “zombie apocalypse” and perhaps this has already taken hold when we consider that many people are already emotionally numb and incapable of empathy—to themselves, to others, and to the world around them.

My passion for making the world a better place for children stems from growing up in an extremely abusive home where my brother died as a result of his abuse just two weeks before he turned four. We endured mental, emotional, sexual, and physical pain that no child should ever have to experience. I learned to use these experiences as a source of strength in supporting positive changes in the world that empower kids, like me, to gain self-esteem and find direction.


Nature is necessary. I believe what helped me get through my childhood was growing up in the mountains of Montana. When I needed to get away from the chaos of yelling, drinking, smoking, and violence, I would run into the woods, and the beauty of nature comforted me. I heard the sound of the birds, bees, and forest animals instead of yelling. I smelled the forest trees and flowers and the fresh air around me instead of cigarette smoke and alcohol. I felt the earth below my feet, which grounded me. I sat for hours, clearing my mind and dreaming of where I would go and what I would be as I sat on a rock by majestic Flathead Lake, listening to the water splash against the rocks. Being in nature is a method to calm yourself even when the world is ugly or chaotic. It clears away the negativity that entrains us and replenishes our spirit. Nature also challenges us, and we must respect it. This is true whether we are skiing down a mountainside, climbing up a mountain ledge, encountering a wild animal, or seeking shelter from a storm. As beautiful as nature can be, she can also be dangerous and deadly. If you don’t respect her, she can bite you when you aren’t expecting it.

Very early in life, I realized that when you clear your head, get away from the phone and television (that’s all there was back then), and allow yourself to listen, you will be given insights about who you should be, where you should go, how you should handle situations. You will be guided to do what is in your highest and best interest. For some, this may come more naturally than for others, but it is something that, I believe, everyone can learn to do. Some may relate to it as meditation. Camp Champion is the perfect location to help kids use techniques, like I did, to find ways to cope with the anxieties in our world today.

During my journey, even with the pain, I found hope. My relationship with God is the cornerstone of who I am. I love God with all of my heart and strength and appreciate there are many church camps available. My focus is to help those youth who do not have access to a camp of any kind. The kids who have never gone to camp are our top priority; however, all are welcome at Camp Champion. I taught Sunday school for many years, and I have always taught that religion is like a pair of shoes—some people like tennis shoes, others like cowboy boots, and others like high heels. It doesn’t really matter which pair of shoes you wear as long as you walk down the best path for you. Our goal at Camp Champion is to get the kids walking down their best path.

The remarkable combination of extreme abuse and positive experiences I had while growing up planted the seeds of my personal direction and purpose. Those experiences prepared me to rise up and envision Camp Champion—importantly, it also saved me from what might otherwise have destroyed me. This is my inspiration for Camp Champion. Our programs will include lessons experienced in nature to lessons that empower our visitors to believe they can overcome the challenges they face. I believe that we can provide a safe environment for people to face their challenges, overcome fears, share their struggles, cultivate empathy, develop supportive relationships, and learn to use wisdom while trusting others. These experiences seem unreachable for many, but this is part of what will make Camp Champion unique.


In 2020 we purchased land and buildings with a spectacular view of the mountains and Flathead Lake for our training facility/camp for empowering kids, personal development, and corporate training will open. While still remodeling and developing the property are underway, we have a lot of work to do, AND classes will begin in 2021!