Top Row: Nancy True, Dan Krhla, Jonathan Russell (Board Chair)
Middle Row: Rev. Paul Nesbit, Sarah Boston Barker, Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer (Executive for Camps and Retreats, Silver Lake Camp & Retreat Center)
Bottom Row: Cindy Cayer
Not Pictured: Rev. Kelly Hough Rogers, Alan Smith, Candy Smith, Graham Sweetnam, Kristen Vineyard
The Silver Lake Board is an advisory board to Silver Lake Camp & Retreat Center, chartered by the Southern New England Conference Board of Directors. Members are drawn from Silver Lake supporters throughout the Southern New England region and serve for a term of 3 years and can serve two consecutive terms. The Executive for Camps and Retreats, Silver Lake Camp & Retreat Center and the Executive Minister for Strategic Operations serve as members ex officio.
Jonathan Russell married Cindi Bates in 1987. Their adult children, Emma and Sam, had amazing beneficial experiences at Silver Lake where they both camped and counseled, and Emma served on camp staff and as co-dean. A long-time member, Jonathan is active in the First Church of Christ Congregational in Glastonbury, where his construction management background benefits the church campus. Cindi and Jonathan are both committed to social justice, diversity and equality, and to that end Jonathan served on the board for 13 years and as President for 3 years of A Better Chance, Glastonbury. Jonathan and Cindi love theater, traveling, reading, hiking, biking and walking together on the beach.
Graduating from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1982, Captain Russell retired after a 33-year active duty Coast Guard career. Most of his career, from 1987 – 2015, he served as faculty at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. Now a Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, he taught engineering & math and served in multiple leadership roles in the academic division, ultimately serving for 5 years as Dean and Head of Engineering. His PhD is in structural engineering, he has a Master’s degree in business administration and is a licensed Professional Engineer.
Silver Lake has been a part of Sarah’s life for as long as she can remember. Both her Mom and Dad were a part of summer staff and Sarah officially started attending as a conferee as soon as she was old enough. Sarah served on summer staff as Camp Family in 1987 and on ETF in 1988. Sarah moved away from New England and when she returned nearly 20 years later, she introduced her children to the joy of Silver Lake.
Sarah and her husband, Alex, live in Arlington, MA, with their 3 children, Evan, Lily and Ella. Sarah works as a school nurse in a middle school which allows her to volunteer as the camp nurse every summer at Silver Lake. Sarah is a member of First Church Somerville UCC in Somerville, Massachusetts and has taught many years of Sunday School and volunteered with the Children’s Choir. She enjoys music, reading, camping, hiking and spending time with her family.
When not in the Health and Welcome Center while at Silver Lake, Sarah can usually be found enjoying the peacefulness of the Waterfall Chapel. Sarah is pleased to be serving on the board so that many future youth can experience the magic of Silver Lake and learn to “Love God, Love Our Neighbor, Love Ourselves and Love Creation” in a safe space knowing they are loved just as they are.
Cindy Cayer has a lifelong association with Silver Lake. She has been connected to The Lake as a conferee, parent, dean, and had a former stint on the Silver Lake Board. She is glad to be back on the Board serving with this creative, motivated, dedicated group of volunteers. One of the things she loves about Silver Lake is the sound of children playing while they experience the joy of God’s creation. Cindy and her husband, David, enjoy visiting with friends, road trips, and spending time with their family. Their children Will and Chris are Silver Lake Alumni. She recently retired from a 34-year career in educational fundraising and currently serves as an adjunct professor at Central Connecticut State University. Cindy had had many leadership roles Plantsville Congregational Church and enjoys singing in the choir and playing in the bell choir. She had recently served on the UCC Global Ministries Board.
Kelly's love of outdoor ministry began with summers spent at Crestfield Camp and Conference Center in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania as a Conferee and volunteer. She also staffed weekend retreats for many years at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. In early adulthood, Kelly had outdoor ministry adventures with La Vida Center for Outdoor Education and Leadership as well as a stint as a Chaplain through A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (Head Chaplain for the 2003 season). By the time Kelly came to Silver Lake as a Confirmation Retreat Leader and later as a Dean - she had a deep love for all things outdoor ministry related.
Kelly was ordained in the United Church of Christ in 2007 and has spent her career serving Churches in Connecticut and New York. She hopes to bring the New York Conference into close relationship with Silver Lake and is thrilled to be serving on the board of Silver Lake. Kelly and her husband Jon live in Scarsdale, New York with their sons Sammy and Simon who are Silver Lakers themselves. They also share their home with their brilliant dog, Steven. Kelly is currently the Sr. Minister at Scarsdale Congregational Church.
Dan lives in Goshen, CT with his wife Reverend Sara Krhla, Church of Christ, Congregational, Goshen, UCC and their children, Ryan, Lauren and Evan. Dan spent his teenage years at Boy Scout camp as a counselor and staff member. Dan came to Silver Lake later in life. He and his family first came to SLCRC as Family Camp attendees, and he later served as a co-dean for Steam Team with Sara. When he's not serving as a Deacon or Faith Formation Co-Chair at Goshen Church, he works as a manager and software & database developer for tradeshow technology. Dan enjoys playing music, both in worship and out, and being outdoors both by himself and with his children. Dan seeks to support social issues by learning, teaching and being active in groups that advocate for justice.
Paul Nesbit serves Southwick Congregational Church and First Congregational Church of Westfield as pastor. Paul holds a BA in Psychology from Westfield State University and an MA in Pastoral Studies from the former Washington Theological Union. He has also completed post graduate work in Education at Springfield College. A former (now retired) full time educator, Paul lives in Springfield, MA with his husband, Mark, and their dog, Bob.
Growth of programs through Extravagant Welcome has been a mission of love for Paul. In his work with Wilbraham United Church, he has oversaw the growth of a Vacation Bible Camp from 97 to 154 campers and an increase of 60 to 130 volunteers in a five year period. In the name of Extravagant Welcome, the camp has been able to include members from 17 churches in the area from almost every Christian/Catholic denomination. In joyful hope to facilitate growth in his new churches, Paul looks forward to continue to with the Board as he hopes to spread the good news of Silver Lake to the Massachusetts Associations of the Southern New England Conference.
Alan is a member of the Bridgewater, CT Congregational Church and currently serves as Chairman of their Board of Deacons. Alan received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Lafayette College and has been an active board member and officer for numerous not for profit and community service organizations including Lions Club International, The Bridge to Independence and Career Opportunities (TBICO), Funeral Consumers Association of Connecticut, Ronald McDonald House of CT, CT Special Olympics, and Regional Hospice of Western CT. Now retired, his career was distinguished by over 35 years as a Business Development and Strategic Account Management executive. Alan resides in Brookfield, CT with his wife Candice, their daughter Annie being a proud Silver Lake alum!
Candice lives in Brookfield, CT and attends the Bridgewater Congregational Church. Daughter Annie attended the camp at Silver Lake for several summers, and the Smith family held a family reunion at the retreat center. Candice was an account manager with Honeywell for 42 years and is now happily retired. She enjoys hiking adventures (Camino de Santiago), writing, cooking, and spending time at their Vermont home.
In 2012, Graham Sweetnam did not want to go to camp, but after his first week with Bon Voyage, he could not stay away. Graham was a conferee until age 15 when he became a CIT for the summer of 2014, then Camp Family in 2015, followed by three years of ETF and a final summer serving as ETF coordinator. He has experienced all levels of camp staff and is now looking forward to continuing his connection with Silver Lake through a broader view. Currently, he is a college student at Stonehill College (Congregation of the Holy Cross) in Easton, Massachusetts, where he studies Marketing. He is also a lifelong member of the First Congregational Church of Woodstock, CT. His favorite place at camp is the waterfall chapel, which he helped to renovate in 2018.
Nancy Collins True grew up in Lakeville, and started as a conferee when she was nine years old, attending through high school. After graduating from Bates College, she moved to Mansfield, MA and waited for the day her children would be old enough to go to Silver Lake. Nancy has been a dean and counselor for several summers, and both of her children Ally and Colin have been on summer staff. She loves that Silver Lake is such a life-changing experience, where everyone is loved for exactly who they are. She appreciates the opportunity to see God’s love in action in so many ways every time she sets foot on the property.
An active member of Trinitarian Congregational Church in Norton, MA, Nancy has served on most committees, been a church delegate at the local and state level, and was Office Manager for several years. She was Superintendent of Sunday School for lucky-13 years, and especially loved leading the middle school youth group. She works in the office of the middle school in Mansfield but has summers off to be at camp whenever she can. In her free time, she’s a fan of traveling, getting outside, and reading a book while sitting on a Cape Cod beach. Her favorite recent vacation was walking coast-to-coast across Scotland with her family. She’s also the alpha for her Wheaten Terrier, Barkley.