Meet the Team!

Posted on: May 27th, 2023 by Karen Cornies

Summer is coming!!  Meet Silver Lake’s new Program Director, the Assistant Directors and Head Cooks!

Program Director:  Karen Buschert

I am a Silver Lake alumni (summer 86) and have many fond memories of camp and of being outdoors in general. My experience at Silver Lake inspired me to pursue a career teaching people about nature through outdoor education, a long stint working for the Grand River Conservation Authority and several years on the west coast. Now I come full circle, back to the place where it all began for me! I am looking forward to running day camps and bringing the mission of Silver Lake to a wider audience, teaching kids and adults the importance of being in and experiencing our natural world.

Compliance Coordinator & Assistant Day Camp Director

I’m Jen, Kitchener Day Camp’s Compliance Coordinator and Assistant Day Camp Director! With over 21 years attending camps a

nd working in the industry, camp is part of my identity. I’m currently a graphic design student at Conestoga College, and in my free time I love exploring Ontario on my stand-up paddle board and playing weekly trivia with friends. I can’t wait to spend an incredible and impactful summer with Silver Lake Mennonite Camp!


Assistant Director Outtripping & Maintenance Director:  Shanah Hofer

Hi! My name is Shanah Hofer, I will be working as Maintenance Director and Assistant Director of Outtripping at SLMC for 2023. I’m very excited to join the SLMC team and to meet many new faces! I grew up in the Campground industry and spent over a decade working (and playing) outside. During that time, I developed a passion for working with my hands and quick problem solving. I look forward to implementing this skill set to my maintenance role.  Through my love for nature and spending so much of my time outdoors I got bitten by the outtripping bug. This bug made me become someone who highly enjoys going days without showering, carrying a pack on my back for long distances, eating dehydrated meals, making dehydrated meals, and a long list of other tasks that most people probably wouldn’t find enjoyable. I’m looking forward to the 2023 outripping season and the great hiking and canoeing trips to be had this summer at SLMC!

Assistant Director Overnight Camps:  Jonah Thiessen

What I love most about camp is working with my friends, having a great time while creating a fun environment to hang out with kids. Silver Lake has a beautiful property which makes it amazing to spend the summer working and having fun outside. I spent 5 summers working at Silver Lake and then came back as an Assistant Director.  I like playing sports (hockey, skiing, ultimate frisbee) and making music (violin, guitar, singing). I want to use my years of experience at camp to make the right decisions and choose the correct actions for camp. Being able to have an impact on the incredible staff from a supporting and directing perspective is so important, and I hope to help Silver Lake staff be the best versions of themselves this summer.

Communications & Fundraising Manager:  Jessa Braun

Hi, I’m Jessa, a former five-year summer staff member and now Communications and Fundraising Manager for 2023. I’ve always loved the way camp eternalizes our childlike spirit while also helping us grow into who we want to be. I can’t wait to meet new friends and hear others’ stories about what they value about Silver Lake, as well as their hopes and dreams for its future. Working in journalism and media for the last seven years has helped me pursue interests in writing, imaging and content creation, all of which I’m looking forward to contributing to my newest role at Silver Lake. I’m an ENFP/Enneagram 7/Aquarius who loves the sunshine, playing sports (especially soccer) and watching the NWSL, Toronto Six and Canadian women’s national soccer team.

Head Cook:  Erika Falk

What I love about cooking:  It is an honour and a joy to feed people! The thing I love most about cooking is the process. The way you start with a list or a recipe, go through chopping and measuring, it’s a flow state for me. Everything else falls away and I feel content and present (most of the time). And the end result, if you’re lucky, is delicious and nourishing to the body and soul.

A favorite recipe, I couldn’t pick just one! Recently, with a baby and with it being wintertime, I’ve been into sheet pan dinners. I make a really nice, simple chickpea confit that has red onions and canned tomatoes. You can add chicken thighs or leave it plant based and it’s very grounding, herby zingy and great with bread or rice and salad. I love a soup or casserole, something that can have a lot of veggies in it as well as beans or lentils for fiber and protein. As well, dishes where each person builds their own plate are great for feeding folks with different preferences. Lookin at you, taco salad! I’m always baking something new too, whether it’s trying herbs and seeds in my sourdough bread or a variation on classic chocolate chip cookies. I made a batch this week with coconut oil and shredded coconut instead of the usual oats. So good.

Cooking at camp is so many things to so many people, so it’s a big responsibility and I take that seriously. Food is so central, so basic but also really emotional and nostalgic, even spiritual. What we eat is what we are made of! Food and love and sunlight, all of which we are getting lots of at SLMC. The meals I’ll cook this summer will connect back to my days as a camper, and on staff all those years with the classic dishes we expect like the cookout on the first night of camp. I also hope to bring to the table (heh) as much fresh fruit and veg as possible, options for all the dietary preferences/needs that are equivalent to the main for everyone else in taste and nutrition, and plenty of fun food experiences because it’s so much more than just fuel! I love when campers get involved in cooking, so I hope we will see baking projects and kitchen sessions this summer too. I can talk about cooking, and about camp, forever so I’ll leave it at that but I’m just really stoked to be back in the SLMC kitchen and be mixing up industrial sized meals for hungry campers, staff and volunteers.

Many of my favorite memories of SLMC are at the waterfront. As much as I love the heat and noise of the kitchen and dining hall, the water is a good break from that and I recall being out in a kayak by myself as a camper for the first time as such a core memory of self-efficacy. That’s such a gift we get from camp, to be empowered to do something hard, or new, with the support of the group which makes you feel so proud of yourself. Worship at the waterfront is always so meaningful to me, as we receive the gifts of the land and water and give back our voices raised in song.

Head Cook:  Liz Klassen

What I love about cooking:  Can’t think of anything that makes people smile more than food. At camp the day is so full of activities that even children who are light eaters or “fussy” eaters are eager to see what is to eat. Cooking and meals bring out stories and form memories of camp.

Favorite recipes:  What I liked as a kid at camp: Mazzetti, chocolate oven pudding, egg boats, hot oatmeal porridge on a cold morning or after morning dip  What I like to cook: zweibach, soup, platz, willing to cook or bake just about anything that makes the staff and campers happy!

What cooking at camp means to you: My first time as Head Cook was when my son Chris was one year old – we spent the entire summer up at Silver Lake – great time. Cooking at SL is about being at the hub or nerve centre of the camp…cooks are often the (informal) welcoming committee and as we cook (and eat meals together) we have a wonderful time getting to know other volunteers and staff in a way that is so unique, with lasting memories.

Favorite memory of SL:  Well, Silver Lake is where I met my husband (Gerry Steingart) and where we made so many friends. SL draws us both back to good memories and lasting friendships that we continue to have all these years later. Memories of cooks from years gone by remind me of a number of women who came to SL to cook who at the time seemed SO OLD – I was amazed by their stamina in the kitchen and the skill and knowledge that they imparted. A few women I recalled in this category were Annie (Ma) Bergen, Marie Reimer, and Irma Kaethler – amazing women.  When I was initially working in the kitchen a good portion of time was spent cleaning up our messes (ton’s and ton’s of mixing bowls, pots and pans) NOW more time is spent on the fun aspect of baking and cooking and sending the dirty dishes to the wonderful dishwasher run by an amazing group of staff to do the clean up! Go team!!