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We are Tall Turf, Mighty Mighty Tall Turf!

A collection of Camp Tall Turf Staff recollections​

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Each person that steps foot on the Camp Tall Turf property leaves with a story to tell.
In the summer of 2020, we interviewed previous staff members to gain insight into how their experience at Camp Tall Turf changed their lives. 

Faith Journeys …

Impact on racial relations …

Impact on choosing a career …

To learn more about the journeys of previous Tall Turf Staff, please click their picture to read their full interviews. 

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Suki Brasser
Kitchen Staff, Counselor

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“By the end of the summer the staff really felt like brothers and sisters. Last summer we had a 50 year reunion, and some of the people I worked with back in 1970 were there. When we got back together it was like we hadn’t missed a beat.”

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Pastor Joel DeMoor

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“Some of my favorite memories from Tall Turf are the late nights I spent debriefing with the staff. Coming together at the end of the day wasn’t a requirement, but we needed it to understand the traumas and joys of what we’d been through that day. We had to lean on each other.”

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Meikea Bonnema
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“Tall Turf threw me right into situations where I needed to take leadership, and that was really good for me. Stepping out like that helped me grow in my confidence exponentially. I also learned how to delegate responsibility to my campers, because that’s part of leadership too.”

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Barbara Timmermans


Kitchen Staff, Counselor, Family Camp Director 


1974-1976; 1984-1991

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“I met a lot of spiritual mentors at Tall Turf who exemplified faith-filled leadership. Those are still strong friendships that I continue to learn from.”“I met a lot of spiritual mentors at Tall Turf who exemplified faith-filled leadership. Those are still strong friendships that I continue to learn from.”

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Ari Parks
Camper, Leader in Training, Counselor 

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“Working as a leader-in-training gave me a spark to work with kids. Right now I’m studying elementary education at Jackson State University. Tall Turf really helped me find my calling.”

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Denise Fase
Kitchen Staff, Counselor, Program Director

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 “My first summer working at Tall Turf was when my relationship with God started. What’s really special about that is it happened in a place that truly represented the kingdom of God.”

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Sinclair Hargrave

Camper, Leader in Training 

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“After experiencing Tall Turf, I had a lot of hope—hope for myself and for the next generation. At Tall Turf I realized everybody’s spiritual walk is different, and it’s not supposed to be linear. Tall Turf gave me new ways to worship and pray.”

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Rev. Ricardo Tavarez


Service & Leadership Training Coordinator 



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"I started to feel that God was calling me to acquire leadership skills and bring them back to my community so I could train leaders. When Tall Turf asked me to be a mentor for teens, it took a couple of weeks for the reality to set in that this was the opportunity to live into my calling. I got to put into practice what I had been longing to do for years. I got to shape an upcoming generation of leaders—and in turn they shaped me into a better leader." 

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Michael John Franklin


Camper, Counselor, Health Officer, Program Director, Staff Devotions Leader




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"We became family because we had to lean on each other on tough days. After a few days, you’ll be looking crazy because you haven’t shaved. You’ll be smelling funny because the shower in the cabin stopped working. You’ll be itchy from mosquito bites. There’s a natural growth that happens, but when you add God into it there’s a speed growth."

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Alicia I. (Brown) Swift


Camper, Kitchen Staff, Leader in Training, Counselor 



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"Working at Tall Turf helped me to develop so many people skills and communication skills. I have learned to work beside many different types of people." 

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Steve Timmermans 


Family Camp Director 




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"White folks like me were growing up in really homogeneous environments. Tall Turf gave me the first opportunity to have friendships cross-racially. I realized how important it is to live life with a diverse community. Tall Turf gave us a yearning to be part of the solution."

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LaShone  Manuel


Leader in Training, Leader in Training Mentor




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"At Tall Turf I realized I wanted to work with young people.  Young people often struggle by themselves because they don't feel like they have anybody to talk to. Now I work as a career coach at Calvin University, and I’m also a youth pastor at my church. I’ve been doing youth ministry since Tall Turf.

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Lydia Verstrate 




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"(My experience) causes me to pause and wonder how much more my perspective and understanding would have been enlarged and stretched had I come to Tall Turf as a little girl." 


Noemy Parra-Cano


Leader in Training 


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"Accepting my calling has been greatly accelerated because of Tall Turf and its people."

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Justin Aurich 


“While Tall Turf has taught me be to a good leader, even more importantly they have taught me to be a Christian leader. One of the biggest ways I have seen God work through Tall Turf is in the ministry of reconciliation. Throughout the past 9 years I have been involved in Tall Turf I have built strong friendships with people from many different cultures and backgrounds. By doing this Tall Turf has broadened my very small perspective of the world and has also taught me more about who God is.”




Camper, Firehouse Kids, Junior Leader in Training, Leader in Training 


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"(Tall Turf has) given me a better understanding of racial reconciliation—challenging me to think about different perspectives. It’s brought me deeper in my faith & leadership through challenging me to step out of my comfort zone. I’ve taken the skills I’ve learned at Tall Turf and put them into practice in my everyday life."

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