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Get to know the People at Camp Tree Song!

Camp Tree Song Staff and Story

a person posing for the camera

Jenny Gruhn, Naturalist and Pack Leader

& How Camp Tree Song began

I grew up in North Carolina being in awe of the natural landscape and its plant and animal life. The more I learned the names and habits of species, the more the outdoors became a place of refuge and deep understanding about the ways of life. Due to my love for teaching field ecology to young students in my graduate studies, I became president of the Young Scientist Program at Washington University in Saint Louis. This is when I had the opportunity to build elementary and middle school curricula about natural history and conservation, complementing a Teaching Certificate gained during my PhD. Years later, I started Asheville Hiking Tours as a way to share my passion for nature to guests from around the world. We presently guide hundreds of kids each year around Pisgah National Forest, Dupont State Forest and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. As a parent to a boy interested in everything outdoors, I created a camp that my son will love and that I am thrilled he can attend. Camp Tree Song is my chance to fully indulge children in the magic of our mountains so that we may inspire a next generation of kind and conscious stewards to our cherished planet.

a person wearing glasses and smiling at the camera

Tiffany Paul, Naturalist and Pack Leader

I am a veteran homeschooling mom of three with nearly two decades of experience developing and leading creative and educational classes, co-ops, and camps for children. I have been devoted to supporting families for most of my life in many capacities including working as a doula, parent educator, and teen mentor. I am also an artist and folk herbalist with ever-growing knowledge of edible and medicinal plants. I spend my time mostly outside; growing flowers, hiking, playing with my kids, and being dazzled by everything in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My greatest joy in working with children is using my own passion for the outdoors to help them discover their place in nature, which I believe will create a more peaceful world for future generations.

Cuba Gooding Jr. standing in front of a tree

Brooks Coker, Naturalist and Pack Leader

Growing up in Northwest Arkansas, my most memorable outdoor experiences occurred among the bluffs, peaks, and rivers of the Ozark Plateau. I had the opportunity to attend various summer camps as a kid, and the Ozark Natural Science Center stands out as having the most impact on my fascination with the outdoor world. Over the past eight years, I have gotten to experience camping as a counselor, program director, and assistant director with a few different types of camps. Before moving to Asheville this past year, I helped direct the summer camp program at Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. I had a wonderful time working with ages 8 to 12. It was rewarding and exciting to lead campers of that age into activities such as kayaking, rock scrambling, dip netting, and more. In that role, I honed my passion for leading leaders. I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to help create a safe and exciting space for campers to experience the Blue Ridge Mountains this summer.

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Eli Adams, Logistical Coordinator and Contact Person

I’m passionate about the great outdoors and deeply love the forest, and I’m here to introduce young explorers to the wonders of nature. My journey began at Florida Southwestern, where I immersed myself in studying Florida Ecology, learning about the diverse ecosystems that make the state unique. Inspired by my studies, I ventured into the estuaries of South Florida, where I spent countless hours with the Sanibel Sea School and had the incredible opportunity to share my knowledge and passion with eager young minds. We explored the brackish waters together, paddling among the manatees and playful dolphins. Through hands-on experiences and interactive learning, I helped children discover the magic of the natural world around them. Now, I’m thrilled to bring my expertise and enthusiasm to Camp Tree Song. From forest hikes to wildlife encounters, I’m dedicated to creating unforgettable experiences that ignite every camper’s lifelong love for nature.

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Gibbon and Marie Pender, Campus Property Owners

We and our four children are living out our dream of owning and enjoying land in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. “Blackjack Farm,” as we call it, is a unique property protected by large tracks of forest on all sides. We are thankful to Camp Tree Song for providing the opportunity to share our sliver of some of the most scenic lands and most diverse ecology in all of Western North Carolina.