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Camp News

Ohana Update

By Jenn Merritt

Dear Ohana Friends,

Rick leading Ohana campers in 2023, sporting a favorite item from his crazy hat collection.

Every year when I see hints of the leaves beginning to change color, I think to myself, “it’s too soon!” It feels like camp ends one minute and the next, the kids are heading back to school and I’m pulling out my fleece jacket. It’s a time of transition, bringing with it a healthy and familiar mix of emotions—excitement, anticipation, melancholy.

I felt a similar blend of emotions when Rick Frey informed me of his intention to step down as Ohana Camp Director to focus on his family. It was a joy watching Rick in action at camp, seeing the staff and program thrive under his leadership. Rick’s a valued member of our Foundation team; his thoughtful voice has enhanced our team and our work. I am grateful to Rick for his many contributions to Ohana and while I’m sad to see him go, I fully support him in this decision.

Thankfully, Rick is not going far, and I look forward to seeing him regularly around the Upper Valley. When he is not caring for his own family, Rick will be enriching the lives of local students as the new fifth-grade classroom teacher at the Marion Cross School in Norwich, Vermont. The opportunity to return to his roots as an educator in this ideal teaching role was serendipitous and offers a more traditional schedule that works best for Rick and his family right now.

Rick shared this note:

“I’m incredibly thankful I had the opportunity to return to the Aloha Foundation community and join the Ohana family back at the beginning of 2022! Over the past two full seasons, I learned so much about the rich traditions, transformational experiences, and pure joy that is emblematic of Ohana for campers and staff. It’s difficult for me to step away from Ohana because of family responsibilities, but there’s no doubt that I am a better person today because of my deeply meaningful time there.

Observing families of all kinds reconnect away from the distractions of the outside world, immerse themselves in nature, play games, create art, sing songs, and join in Ohana magic has been profound for me at this point in my life. My commitment to my family has been strengthened because of my Ohana experience, and focusing my efforts on taking care of my mother will become my primary objective moving forward. While my role will change, my commitment to the mission and future of Ohana remains steadfast. Words cannot express how much I have loved working side by side with Gretchen Grote, Steve Trage, and the Ohana team. I will support this upcoming transition in any way I can and I will always cherish my connections to the Aloha Foundation community.”

Rick has moved to a part-time schedule and will be with us through the end of October to oversee Ohana’s closing work weekend and several other important events.

Over Rick’s three decades at the Aloha Foundation, he has dedicated himself fully to every moment and every summer to ensure our campers know the power of camp. For that, we thank him.

We will be launching a search for a new Ohana Director later this fall and look forward to sharing more information with you.

Warm regards,


Vanessa Mendillo Riegler, Executive Director