Thank you all for a great year! Stay tuned for 2024.

41st Annual Conference – March 1-2, 2023
Atlantic Sands Hotel
Rehoboth Beach, DE

“Out is In!”

Keynote Speaker

Keynote speaker Makela Elvy
Keynote speaker Makela Elvy, wearing a pink outfit, stands in front of a forest edge.

Makela Elvy, M. Ed, (she/her) is an environmental educator and camp enthusiast who is dedicated to helping people foster community, and strengthen their connection to the natural environment via agriculture, stewardship, outdoor skills and science education. With over 8 years of experience in curriculum development and training on various culturally relevant curricula, andragogy and inquiry-based learning pedagogy, Makela still finds join in merging her personal and professional goals daily. At Cornell University, Makela works in an extension capacity through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. In this role, Makela empowers community gardeners with research, educational resources and technical assistance to help them both grow crops more effectively and efficiently in an urban setting, and enhance their community engagement. Additionally in 2020, Makela co-founded S’more Melanin LLC – A consulting company that provides resources, historical context and promotes connectivity centered around the BIPOC experience within the summer camp industry. As a notable DEI-JB consultant, Makela is committed to enhancing the user experience of summer, leisure and professional development programs. Makela’s professional experience also includes coordinating programs geared towards lessening summer learning loss, aligning elective programs with NYSSLS, environmental justice advocacy, natural interpretation and publishing a column for Camping Magazine titled “TrailMixed” which keep her grounded, as well as the years of recreational camping and outdoor exploration that keep her in awe of nature daily.

Her keynote speech, entitled “Creating a Culture of Recognition and Inclusion,” will address topics around equity and inclusion and the power of camp to create and support a safe and inclusive environment.

Maintenance Track Sessions

  • Leah Brooks, Mt. Cuba Center’s Public Programs Assistant, will present a session entitled “Native Alternatives to Invasive Ornamentals.”
  • Join State Arborist Jim Charney to learn more about proper pruning techniques, including a bonus second session walkabout to see the process in action. *CEU CREDIT*
  • Auburn Valley State Park Superintendent Pat Thompson, Brandywine Creek State Park Superintendent Shawn Heacock, and Bellevue State Park PPMTM Bob Brokus will present a session on disc golf course maintenance.
  • Former Wilmington State Parks Grounds Maintenance Supervisor Gary Laudeman is presenting a session on athletic turf maintenance and renovation.
  • Ali VanVorst, Natural Resource Management Specialist with State Parks, will lead a discussion on Invasive Species Early Detection Rapid Response. *CEU CREDIT*
  • Join Harold Holeman with the Diamond State Pickleball Club for Pickleball in the Parks and join the craze that’s sweeping the nation.

Management Track Sessions

  • You’ll definitely want to add the Parks and Recreation Trends Roundtable/Panel to your session list! With star panelists DE State Parks Director Ray Bivens, Parks Division Manager for New Castle County Kendall Summers, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Wilmington Ian Smith, and VA State Parks Director Dr. Melissa Baker, this will be sure to enlighten and educate you.
  • Plans are the order of the day, with DNREC Enforcement Chief Wayne Kline’s how-to Emergency Weather Preparedness session.
  • Delaware State Parks’ Administrator of Volunteers Karen Minner will partner with Friends of Wilmington Parks Executive Director Leslie Hubbard for a panel on the topic of grants, including how to write them and what types of grants are available.
  • ComPsych’s Jackie Hill will offer sessions on preventing employee burnout and mental health awareness for leaders.
  • Catherine Nagel, Executive Director of the City Parks Alliance, will join us with a whole-group introduction to the work of the organization followed by a break-out session.
  • Tess Charney, a Planner IV with Delaware State Parks, will present a session entitled Enjoy Your World, Leave No Trace.

Programming Track Sessions

  • Join USTA Director of Community Development Renee Lentz and the Delaware District Tennis Service Representative Kelly Rasero for Tennis in the Parks!
  • Keynote speaker Makela Elvy will present a double session entitled “Safe” Space versus Utopia, which will engage participants in the process of creating an inclusive camp environment through the process of being more than just an observer of events.
  • Looking to create an inclusive work and visitor environment? Rev. Karla Fleschman, LCSW, MDiv, TCYM, Clinical Director of Transitions Delaware LLC, is offering Transgender 101 and Trees, Trans, and Trails.
  • ComPsych’s Jackie Hill will offer a session “Managing Staff Through Stressful Situations.”
  • Jen Tozer and Sean Logue with the Professional Disc Golf Association will round out the programming track with a session on disc golf basics.

If you think our sessions look good, wait until you see the Silent Auction!