Important Staff Biographies

So many of our senior staff have spent decades at French Woods, here are a few of the faces you'll run into at camp...

Ron Schaefer In 1969, Ron established The Heldeberg Music Festival, which would later become French Woods. In the fifty-one years since Ron began this journey, thousands upon thousands of campers have passed through the wooden gates and pine trees that line French Woods’ home during the summer. Through Ron’s vision, what started as a simple music and theater program blossomed into a mecca for his branded individual choice programming. Music, Theater, Dance, Circus, Visual Arts, Horseback Riding, Sports, Magic, Extreme Sports and Cooking are all part of the comprehensive program. Ron is the heart and soul of French Woods and he continues to be involved at every level from supervising new projects and initiatives to conducting and directing musicals. Every program offering has been spearheaded by Ron’s desire to have French Woods give young people as much access to as many activities as it can. The reach of French Woods is enormous with campers attending from forty US states and forty countries.
A graduate of Brooklyn College, Ron received a degree in Music Education. His contributions to public education in New York City included a stint as assistant director and accompanist for the Brooklyn Boro Wide Chorus, Director of The District 19 Concert Band, and his eight years as Director of Bands at Shallow Intermediate High School. Upon moving the winter office to South Florida over two decades ago, Ron began his long association with New World School of the Arts in Miami. Ron also is blessed to have his children with him at camp as the Schaefer family legacy continues. Beth Schaefer is a camp director and partner, “Cat” Schaefer is very devoted to the equestrian program and Scott Schaefer is the IT director of the camp. The next generation, the grandchildren, all attend French Woods.  

Founder
50 years at camp

Beth Schaefer has taken one summer away from camp in her entire life. She has played a myriad of roles at French Woods from Head Counselor to Director of Theater and Staff Director. As the Staff Director, Beth spends countless hours recruiting, accepting applications, screening and onboarding potential staff while striving to maintain the quality of staff at camp as a whole. She directs theatrical productions at camp taking on and embracing many of the premiers and more challenging shows and making them the most sought after by our campers. Beth is an American Camping Association (ACA) member and served the association as an ACA Visitor, maintaining the standards of the ACA in local accredited camps for several years. A graduate of New World School of the Arts through the University of Florida, Beth holds a BFA degree. Beth’s husband, Michael Knauf, is the French Woods Marketing Director and during the summer oversees purchasing, tours and facilities. Their son, Tristan, has spent all his summers at French Woods!

Owner, Staff Director, Theater Director
30 years at camp

Isaac Baumfeld has been with French Woods since 1981. Originally hired as the Head of Waterfront, then Head of Sports and a Head Counselor. Working as a guidance counselor and an administrator in the New York City school system with both at risk students and honors students, Isaac’s experience was a natural segue into becoming the camp director responsible for the care and safety of all the campers (and their parents). After over 30 years with the NYC Department of Education, Isaac joined French Woods full time in 2003. Isaac holds a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling from Long Island University and trained at the Modern School for Psychoanalytic Study. In partnership with Columbia University, Isaac created programs in and trained school administrators, students and our French Woods staff in mediation and negotiation skills. Isaac’s two grown children are FW alum and his four grandchildren are now happy campers.

Camp Director
35 years at camp

Brian Worsdale,  has been on the faculty of French Woods since 1994. During the summer months, Brian leads the symphony orchestra, conducts numerous musical productions and oversees one of the largest comprehensive music programs in the country. Brian studied conducting with Jonathan Strasser of The Manhattan School of Music and trombone with David Finlayson of The New York Philharmonic. He has continued his conducting studies with Anthony Maiello of George Mason University. Brian currently serves on the faculty of The Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division and is the founder and conductor of The New York City Symphonic Band (formerly The ISO Symphonic Band.) As an educator, he taught in public and private schools in NYC and maintains an active schedule as a conductor and clinician for District, County and State Festivals as well as abroad. Founder of the acclaimed ISO Symphonic Band, Brian now resides in Pittsburgh, PA where he is music director and conductor of The Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestras. Brian leads district, region and state ensembles throughout the United States.

Artistic Director and Conductor
25 years at camp

Anne Mcalexander has spent ten summers at French Woods Festival, choreographing dozens of productions over the years. Holding an MFA in directing from Ohio University, Anne became the obvious choice to head up our theater department in addition to dance. Anne is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre at the University of Kentucky, where she most recently directed and choreographed Cabaret and teaches all levels of Musical Theatre Dance and Acting Technique Anne has an M.F.A. in Directing from Ohio University where she directed Cabaret, Failure a Love Story, Stop Kiss, and the world-premiere of Vessel and Stitched with a Sickle and a Hammer. Anne has served as Associate Artistic Director at Summer Repertory Theatre Festival in Northern California, (directing/choreography credits: West Side Story, Clybourne Park, Nice Work if You Can Get It, Tartuffe, Jeffrey Hatcher’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Forever Plaid, Chicago, Merrily We Roll Along, South Pacific, La Cage Aux Folles, 9 to 5, The Wedding Singer, Hairspray, The Full Monty, and Mame). Other directing and choreography credits include Parade (Boston University), Ragtime (Fiddlehead Theatre, Boston), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Belmont University, TN), Damn Yankees (SUNY Fredonia). Anne was the choral, theater, and dance instructor at Tuxedo Park School in Tuxedo Park, New York, taught in several New York City area schools as a teaching artist with Wingspan Arts, and has choreographed at various high schools in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Performance credits include A Chorus Line (Cassie), Sweet Charity (Charity), Beauty and the Beast, Guys and Dolls, and Chicago.

Head of Theater and Dance
10 years at camp

Michael Knauf  joined camp in 2004 as head of fine arts and video, Michael was instrumental in raising the level of our many creative art shops and also the building of a separate video arts building. Trained in the visual and technical arts, Michael developed interactive programs for schoolchildren about science and technology for the Miami Museum of Science and trained educators to use technology in the classroom. He had a career in photography and was a graphic design instructor at the International Fine Arts College. Michael received his BA from the University of Miami and an MBA from Nova Southeastern. Married to Beth Schaefer (Owner and Director), their son, Tristan, has spent all his summers at French Woods!

Head of Marketing, Purchasing and Facilities,
16 years at camp

Errick Nnko has been a part of the Administrative team for over twenty years. Hailing from Tanzania, Errick initially worked at French Woods in the kitchen. Ron Schaefer saw something very special in Errick and in a short time, he learned the ‘books’ and became Ron’s business confidante. Errick now represents the “front of house” at camp and in the winter office as he works with parents who have come to love and rely on him as they hand over their precious children to French Woods each summer.

Office Manager
20 Years at camp

Rose Robinson FWF Program Director and Executive Director for the Hancock-French Woods Arts Alliance, has been with French Woods since 2010. Having worked prior as a Florida CPA for over 25 years in both the public and not for profit sectors, she brings that expertise to the programming, scholarship and fundraising aspects of her second career. At camp, Rose enjoys the perfect combination of “behind the scenes” with “hands on” by overseeing the daily scheduling of camp activities and records, visiting activity areas and helping campers select and sign up for their daily activities. The program department also administers the HFWAA, a 501c 3 public not for profit, by both financially and emotionally supporting counselors who are dedicated to a career in the arts. A full-time member of the administrative team, Rose advocates for the diversity of camp families and spends much of the winter recruiting campers. Rose’s love of camp was instilled at a young age and she spent many years volunteering at the Levis Jewish Community Center in Boca Raton first as camp, finance and program chairpersons and then as president. Rose holds a BBA degree in accounting from Florida Atlantic University.

Program Director
20 years at camp

Robson Sater hails from Brazil. He started out as a camper for many years and then joined the staff in 2007 in both Circus and Fitness. Soon after that it was apparent that Robson could be relied upon to do almost any job at French Woods and do it well. He has worked with all ages of our campers and currently is the oldest boys Head Counselor. Additionally, he is Isaac’s assistant at camp and has raised the bar to what a rising star should be. As a member of Administration, Robson is the “go-to” person for any question or concern, for anything that needs to be done now. He is a favorite of both campers and parents. Robson is an American Camping Association (ACA) member and served the association as an ACA Visitor, maintaining the standards of the ACA in local accredited camps. Robson was awarded both a BBA and MBA from Florida Atlantic University.

Assistant Director and Boys Head Counselor
14 years at camp

Darryn Lawson hails from Johannesburg South Africa and joined French Woods in 2000 as a member of the Waterfront staff. As he rose through the ranks with a promotion as Director of Waterfront, Darryn became a first responder trainer and continues to train our staff in emergency response, first aid and CPR. He holds Certifications as a Certified Safety Director and an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor and Lifeguarding Instructor Trainer. He is responsible for the logistics and coordination of transportation for staff and campers and works closely with parents as well as with State of New York Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Conservation. Darryn also overseas facilities management including housekeeping, laundry, security and safety and communication. During the winter months, Darryn works as an assistant to the Staff director, conducting interviews and recommending staff hires. A graduate of Brooklyn College, Darryn is enrolled in a Master’s degree program.

Director of Operations and Transportation
20 years at camp


Eric Scoblionko is a consummate camp professional having owned and directed a camp in Maine for 25 years. At French Woods since 2009, “Scobes” is a year-round team member. When not speaking to new campers, he heads up Model Hobbies and Trains during the summer. Scobes graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA and MS in Education. In addition, he worked in Admissions and Development at Penn. Scobes works with our oldest campers on college visits, advising, applications and essays.

Recruitment
11 years at camp

Carolyn Stock-Chapin is the driving force behind French Woods’ Counselor-in-Training (CIT) program, having been a Head Counselor for the last 20 years. Carolyn also coordinates our Tutoring program and works with Isaac to make sure that every camper has the best experience at French Woods! During the school years, Carolyn is a Band/Jazz Ensemble Director and the Music Coordinator of The American School in London. Carolyn also is currently the Board President of The Association for Music in International Schools. She has conducted and been a featured clinician at multiple music festivals and conferences in many countries around the world. Carolyn holds a B.M. in Music Education from Western Michigan University and a M.A. (Arts Administration) and M.M. (Music Education) from the University of Oregon. 

CIT Director
20 Years at camp

Mike and Bronyn Baker have been at French Woods for over twenty years. Coming to us from New Zealand, they are able to enjoy the best of both worlds running Circus Arts for All Ages in Auckland, NZ during their summer (US winter) and spending our US summers with us at French Woods. Offering over forty different circus acts in 3 different venues at French Woods, what you notice first is the level of strict safety and extraordinary ability of both Mike and Bronwyn. From cyr wheel to unicycle, stilts to Chinese pole, silks to Spanish web, flying trapeze to juggling fire, they focus on teaching techniques to campers that are used by circus performers on the ground and in the air. Bronwyn Baker, who is originally from South Africa, became involved in Circus work while furthering her dance career in New York. Mike Baker trained and performed in the USA, Asia and NZ. He has coached at Club Med Circus School as well as running their independent workshops in NZ.

Heads of Circus and Jr Circus
25+ years at camp

Larry Denburg has spent his summers at French Woods since 2008. His classes are popular and range from grand stage illusions to sleight of hand,  including a “trick of the day” option that has campers going home with a collection of magic tricks. Larry has been performing professionally for more than forty years. He loves teaching and sharing his knowledge with others. He’s particularly proud of the fact that several of his staff (and campers!) have gone on to have careers in magic. Larry is President of the oldest magic club in the country, where his peers awarded him "Magician of the Year". He has been honored with numerous awards and trophys for his work. Larry is a founding member of the “Canned Laughter” Comedy Improv Troupe, and brings a lightning quick wit to every performance. His endless energy and enthusiasm makes the French Woods magic department one of the most popular areas on campus.

Magic Department Head
12 years at camp

Mark Chapin, , has been on summer staff at French Woods since 2008. His driving philosophy is to get campers into bands knowing that most of them may take music lessons at home, but do not have the opportunity to play and also perform in a band. At French Woods, Mark divides campers by ability and chosen genre and with a staff person to coordinate creates scores upon scores of bands each summer. Mark has been a freelance guitarist and private music instructor for nearly 20 years, as well as a guest clinician at music events around the world. He holds a Bachelors of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of Oregon and is currently the Theatre Technician and Manager at The American School in London.

Rock Shop Department Head
10 years at camp

James Robinson has been at French Woods since 2006. James creates an atmosphere at the French Woods Fieldhouse that is competitive yet not cut-throat. Campers that choose team sports at French Woods have the opportunity to participate in inter-camp games and also to receive individualized coaching that could bring them to the next level of their sport when they return to school in the fall. During the winter, James is a basketball coach at iHoopla. A former European professional basketball player and coach. James has held positions as a group facilitator, public school teacher and real estate professional. He is a graduate of Fordham University. 

Sports Department Head
14 years at camp

Would you like to know more?

Call or email us to talk to a camp director... 
(607) 637-8400 / admin@frenchwoods.com

Address

199 Bouchoux Brook Rd
Hancock, NY 13783

Contacts

Email: admin@frenchwoods.com
Phone: (607) 637-8425
Fax: (845) 827 0302

Winter Office

PO box 770100
Coral Springs, FL 33077