Deer Run Camps & Retreats, located in Thompson’s Station, recently announced the addition of four new staff members to its team as well as three new board members: Ron Brown, Rick West and Gabe Lyons.
The three new board members will serve three-year terms. Each member is instrumental in helping Deer Run continue to build momentum towards achieving their strategic plan, which ultimately seeks to build and strengthen relationships in the community, among families and most importantly, with Christ.
Linda Bowen, George Moran, Hayden Nelson and Zack Stroup each join Deer Run in different capacities, but they all share that same goal, as well.
Brown, regional service engineer with Beckman Coulter, is the newly elected board chairman and brings with him more than 25 years of ministry experience. His experience working in the for the profit world, serving on other boards and leading in a ministry setting brings a unique perspective he hopes will help Deer Run continue to move forward in their vision to transform as many lives as possible for Christ. His additional background in leadership development and strategic planning will also help propel Deer Run’s ministry into the future.
“I hope to be a new set of eyes, ears and voice for Deer Run and to help move the ministry forward and in the direction of their vision,” he said. “I have appreciated the ministry for years and am glad to be a part of fulfilling its mission.”
An author and president of Q Ideas, Lyons was connected to Deer Run through his friendship with David Gibson, co-founder and CEO of the camp. This, coupled with his belief that the next generation of youth is a critical part of the church as our culture changes, is what led him to accept his position on the board.
Lyons grew up going to camps, which he says sustained him later in life, and believes that Deer Run provides a unique experience for today’s youth to reset and acquaint themselves with who they are and what they believe. He looks forward to working with an amazing group of directors and staff who he believes all bring unique experience and talents to helping Deer Run achieve its vision.
“I look forward to being focused on how we’re developing youth from a discipleship perspective and what their faith looks like,” Lyons said.
West, the current head of lower school at Franklin Road Academy, also joins the board. As a lifelong educator, he brings with him the experience of working with children in a variety of both school and camp settings and hopes to offer his insights and experience in that arena. His daughters attended Deer Run camps, and he now looks forward to helping the camp bring its mission to fruition and to sharing the excitement of what’s going on at Deer Run with his own friends and colleagues.
“I want to help Deer Run meet its maximum potential; the potential and vision that God has laid upon the grounds and in the hearts of those who work at the camp,” he said.
Bowen becomes Deer Run’s art director and lead graphic designer. She brings with her almost 20 years of experience in the corporate non-profit ministry arena. Consequently, when the door opened for this opportunity at Deer Run, the transition was a natural one for her.
“With my background in graphic design and marketing, I look forward to telling the stories of campers and retreat guests that come to visit us here in the valley as we live out our mission to provide excellent camps and retreats that inspire transformational relationships,” she said.
Liz Gibson, Deer Run’s marketing, design and communications director and co-founder, is excited for Bowen’s addition.
“She is keenly knowledgeable in brand standards and extremely gifted in creative direction and ideation,” Gibson said. “Having Linda on staff provides the much-needed leadership and skills to accomplish more than ever before with our marketing team.”
As Food Service Director, Moran, will get to utilize his over 30 years of experience running kitchens of various sizes. He has a long history of volunteering at Deer Run in various areas and also in food services. From sweeping floors in an Italian deli to being the executive chef at Vanderbilt Hospital, his experience in the food service arena is extensive.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to serve kids and to live out my faith while I work,” he said.
April Kuykendall, Deer Run COO, believes the addition of Moran brings a new level of excellence to the food services department.
“George is a go-getter and knows how to get things accomplished,” Kuykendall said. “At the same time, his relaxed and fun demeanor allows the team to laugh and have fun while accomplishing great things in the kitchen.”
Nelson becomes the camp’s new digital media specialist. He began as a summer staffer for Deer Run, and it was this experience and the support and encouragement he received through it that led Nelson to his accept his current position after receiving his bachelor’s degree in film from Lee University.
“I firmly believe that quality media can enhance any experience, and through that, inspire those who may not know much about Deer Run to come out and see for themselves just how great of a place this is,” he said.
Gibson welcomes Nelson’s addition and the creative gifts he brings.
“Hayden has an incredible artistic eye and amazing technical skills for storytelling, which propels Deer Run towards meeting key goals for communication to our community,” Gibson said.
Stroup also joins the staff as the new camps and recreation director. He graduated with a degree in recreation administration from MTSU in 2004 and has since worked for Wyndham Nashville, managing over 60 weekly resort events, as well as the YMCA, where he honed his customer service and management skills.
These experiences, coupled with his heart for ministry and love of the outdoors, are what led him to Deer Run.
“I think people forget how good it is to just play,” Stroup said. “I love sharing my joy for that with others in order to help them enjoy themselves and what God has created.”
Fred Reyes, camps and recreation senior director, said Stroup’s addition will be a big benefit to Deer Run.
“Zack is a very relational, high-level innovator who brings a tremendous amount of organization, initiative, structure and passion to our team,” Reyes said. “He is an amazing listener and is a creative solution finder in every situation.”
Deer Run is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non denominational Christian ministry that provides day and overnight summer camps for children ages 5 to 18, family camps for all ages, family and marriage weekends plus customized year round retreat facilities. Learn more by visiting DeerRun.camp or by calling 615-794-2918.