Graduation Edition – Amani


Four of our 2019 Summer Program Staff are graduating this month! Since graduations will be so different this year, we wanted to celebrate this milestone with them here.

Mtipe Koggani AKA Amani graduated from Eden Theological Seminary on Friday night, May 15. It was a virtual ceremony – which was different – but it did allow friends and family from around the world to join him! Hailing from Tanzania, Mtipe graduated with a Masters of Theological Studies. Due to the current health crisis, his plans are still in the works. He was accepted at Princeton University Graduate School, but is also exploring the possibility of a one-year commitment to Deaconess Anne House in St. Louis, which is part of the Episcopal Service Corps.

Mtipe is a gifted musician who sings, plays the piano and now the ukulele. He brought his years of successful experience working with children, youth and young adults in ministry settings to DuBois Center. Mtipe’s goal for his time at camp was to immerse himself in another culture and work with young people from backgrounds very different than his own. Though nervous at first, especially about the horses and the lake – he embraced the experience. He even learned to ride and swim at DuBois Center and now enjoys both immensely! In fact, one of his favorite memories from last summer was a dock to dock swim – which he completed. He also loved playing on the water mat with campers and staff!

Mtipe worked with every age group at DuBois Center from the youngest campers and their adults in Just You & Me Camp to high schoolers in X-Plore and related well to all of them. Mtipe is one of the most positive, gentle and kind people I have ever met; many, many others echoed this sentiment as well. His camp name is Amani, which in Swahili means peace. This is especially fitting for two reasons – PeaceWorks was our theme last summer and Mtipe embodies the word.





Graduation Edition – Minnow


Four of our 2019 Summer Program Staff are graduating this month! Since graduations will be so different this year, we wanted to celebrate this milestone with them here.

Bailey Reichert AKA Minnow will be graduating from Illinois Wesleyan University with a Bachelors of Science in Biology and a minor in Psychology. Illinois Wesleyan has postponed graduation until August, so she is hoping to actually walk with her class – live and in person. Bailey is moving to Carbondale and plans to finish some prerequisite courses before applying to an accelerated nursing program. After a year in that program, she will have a second Bachelors – this one in Nursing.

Bailey attended summer camp at DuBois Center in 2016 and then spent most of the summer of 2017 volunteering as a counselor. She joined our summer staff team in 2018 and returned in 2019 as our Waterfront Coordinator. When asked about a favorite memory from last summer, she couldn’t pick just one. She especially enjoyed returning to the rustic cabins for a week of counseling during High School Week and the evening of wacky relays at the waterfront. Bailey loves to sing, dance and act! Spending time with the horses and at the waterfront are two of her favorites activities, but she’s also a fan of candle times, crafts, creek walks, water games and almost anything DuBois! One of the many gifts Bailey brought to our staff was her organizational skills.

In addition to a heavy course load and work schedule, Bailey served on the Executive Council of her sorority – Kappa Delta – for three years and as the president for 2019. These experiences only served to strengthen her administrative and leadership skills. Bailey’s attention to detail, creative program planning, and the care she extended to campers and staff were an asset to our team.





Graduation Edition – Twig


Four of our 2019 Summer Program Staff are graduating this month! Since graduations will be so different this year, we wanted to celebrate this milestone with them here.

Laura Renken AKA Twig graduated last Saturday with a Bachelor of Science in Education from Eastern Illinois University. The current health crisis has slowed her job search, but Laura hopes to have her own classroom in the fall. She is certified to teach grades 1-6. Laura is an active member of Salem UCC in Alhambra. When not at school or camp, she sang in the praise team choir and volunteered for VBS.

Laura was a camper at DuBois Center for a number of years and then a counselor in training. 2019 was her third summer on staff. She is also a regular volunteer at our Father-Son and Mother-Daughter Retreats. Laura’s favorite memory from last summer was leading a candle time in the basement of Oak Lodge during staff training. “We all sat around and talked about the reasons DBC was home to us and why we wanted to make it home for others. It was a beautiful moment and I feel like it really helped us get to know one another on a deeper level.” Laura is known for her commitment to our campers, her fun and quirky personality, infectious smile and LOVE of creek walks.

The vintage photo is from Laura’s second year as a camper in 2007.  She’s the one in the blue hat. The second photo is from ten years later – her first summer on staff. In the third she’s hosting and learning from a mission group. Last, but definitely not least, the featured photo is of Laura on a creek walk – no surprise. Laura is quite the artist when it comes to shale tattoos! She specializes in mustaches, beards, and even eyeliner and lipstick. Her favorite, though, is writing her camp name.





Graduation Edition – Sparrow


Four of our 2019 Summer Program Staff are graduating this month! Since graduations will be so different this year, we wanted to celebrate this milestone with them here.

Kristian Avise-Rouse AKA Sparrow will be graduating from Illinois Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Music Education. This fall, he will be joining the team at Pinckneyville District #50 as a Junior High Band Director and High School Choir Director. Kristian grew up at Eden Theological Seminary and St. Paul UCC in Columbia. He has always been active in his schools and communities – playing in bands, singing in choirs, acting in plays, participating in sports and volunteering at church and elsewhere. Kristian was a camper and retreat participant at DuBois Center for years before his first summer on staff in 2016. He attributes much of who he is as a person to his weeks as a camper and his first summers as a counselor.

Kristian once commented that his favorite part of summer camp is “the love!” He is continually amazed by all the campers, staff and volunteers who bring and share their love for each other and DuBois Center. His favorite memory from last summer was when Crazy Jam was on the beach and everyone made crazy sandcastles. Walk with us through memory lane from 2013 and Kristian’s first summer as a high school camper, to his first summer on staff in 2016, to time with the horses – always a favorite activity and finally connecting with campers.

Throughout the years, Kristian’s big heart, engaging smile and gentle coaching as a peer and supervisor have had a significant impact on campers and leaders alike. CONGRATS Sparrow!