“The organized summer camp is the most important step in education that America has given the world.”  – Charles W. Eliot, President of Harvard University (ca 1922)

Unlike most staff trainers, Dr. Chris Thurber walks the walk. “Entertainers are a dime a dozen,” he says. “I live and breathe camp. You have to ask yourself, ‘Do I want my staff trained by a ‘speaker’ or an actual leader?'”

Dr. Thurber was a day camper and overnight camper before being selected to join the leadership at YMCA Camp Belknap in 1983. He has been the Waterfront Director there since 1990 and served in multiple senior staff positions. Like you and your staff, he encounters fascinating leadership and behavior challenges each season. And like you and your staff, he enjoys the gratification of witnessing how a top-flight summer camp experience, orchestrated by a highly-trained staff, accelerates the development children and adults alike.

Dr. Thurber’s work with camps includes on-site staff training, field research, writing, and the production of online educational videos. He is the co-founder, with Evan Heltay, of, the world leader in web-based training for youth development professionals. All of Dr. Thurber’s work is guided by the principles of unselfishness and leadership-by-example.


“Any organization dedicated to positive experiences for young people would be fortunate to count Chris Thurber among its advisors. Chris has taken the time to understand where Pathfinder comes from and where her leaders want to guide her. He has crafted such a supportive relationship with us; his counsel is valued by director and staff member alike. During staff training, Chris quickly won over our large, veteran crew. He used that trust to unlock shared values within the group, and offered real tools to cope with the demands of a camp season.”

– Mike Sladden, Director, Camp Pathfinder


Dr. Thurber is a favorite presenter and keynoter at international, national, and regional camp conferences. He has presented in North America, South America and Europe. Booking begins 9-12 months in advance, so please call ahead. Pricing is customized on a per-day and per-project basis. Deposits and collateral referrals are required. To schedule an event for your camp, parks and recreation department, or other youth-serving organization, contact Dr. Thurber today or call (603) 557-8100.