Leadership Rooted in History

The Heart and Soul Remains the Same

While times have changed, the core values and beliefs at the heart of Thunderbird remain the same. Our leadership lives by a deep sense of history and purpose as we grow boys and girls to confident and capable strong young men and women.

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This Home has Strong Traditions

The Thunderbird Family Legacy Runs Deep

In 1946 Gene “Speedy” Altman and his wife “Honey” established Camp Thunderbird for Boys. Honey and Speedy, a former social worker and summer camp director, dreamed of running their own camp. In 1946 Speedy and Honey visited the current site of Camp Thunderbird. Upon feeling the welcoming beauty of Lake Plantagenet they knew immediately this was the future home of their camp. Speedy and Honey purchased the property and in the summer of 1947, Camp Thunderbird for Boys welcomed its first group of campers.

In 1969 Speedy and Honey’s daughter and son-in-law, Carol & Allen “Moe” Sigoloff, helped establish Camp Thunderbird for Girls. The following year, they became the Directors of both camps and carried on the Thunderbird traditions for the next 40 years. During their four decades in camping, Carol and Moe helped advance the camping movement, playing active roles in the American Camp Association at local, regional and national levels. Central to their work was the idea that every child, no matter their background, should have the opportunity to benefit from a camp experience.

And today the legacy continues with the third generation of family owners/directors, Shari Sigoloff and her husband Michael Rawitscher. For thirteen years, Shari and Michael were Co-Directors of Camp Thunderbird for Girls. In 2023, with the retirement of their boys camp director, Shari will direct the girls camp and Michael will take on the director role at the boys camp.

Shari grew up at Thunderbird as a camper, counselor and a member of leadership, developing a keen understanding of community, friendship, positive role-modeling, and a love for the outdoors. She pursued a career as a speech-language pathologist but soon discovered that her true passion was camping. In 1996, Shari returned to Thunderbird full-time as the Director of Camp Thunderbird for Girls. Shari is the past president of the Camp Owners and Directors Association and is a 10+ year member of American Camp Association National Insurance Committee.

Michael also grew up with a passion for the outdoors and an understanding of how his own camp experiences were formative to his development. After teaching high school math for 12 years, he joined Thunderbird full-time in the spring of 2010. Michael grew up in a household of three boys, attended an all boys high school and coached high school football during his tenure as a math teacher. Moving to the Director of Camp Thunderbird for Boys is a return to a time both familiar and welcome.

Shari and Michael devote their talents and energy to ensuring that every camper has a unique, incomparable, and life-enriching experience at Thunderbird. When not calling Thunderbird home, Shari and Michael live in St. Louis, Missouri, with their two children, Daniel and Paige and their dog Riley and cat Ollie.

Beyond Staffing

The Right Kind of Idol to Look Up To; Superheroes in Counselor Clothing

Counselors are like rock stars and superheroes to our campers so we have to choose wisely. At Thunderbird we nurture leadership skills in every staff member from the kitchen to the cabins because we’re all setting examples for our campers. As a result, we have a dedicated, enthusiastic, and motivated team of leaders who act as powerful role models on a daily basis. While it’s easy to find staff for a camp, it takes an entirely different approach to find people who will inspire kids and who genuinely love what they do as much as we do. We’re not searching for workers, but for mentors, teachers, facilitators, nurturers, big brothers and sisters, and people who make Thunderbird home for our campers. At least a third of our staff have grown up at Thunderbird; these staff are integral to the continuation of tradition and spirit of camp.

When hiring, all staff have background checks, along with a combination of written and phone references and extensive interviews. Our staff come from the United States, England, Ireland, Scotland, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Columbia, and more.

We are proud of our staff return rates. Annually, about a third of our staff team is made up of counselors who have grown up at Thunderbird. We strive to bring back around 60%+ of our staff team to keep tradition and the true sense of community alive. New staff compliment this established team by bringing fresh ideas and perspectives.

Once hired, all staff attend a 9 day staff training program with continued training and feedback throughout the summer. Our commitment to physical safety and well-being is best identified through the number of training courses we offer onsite each season. Staff are handpicked to attend: Red Cross Lifeguard (two classes offered), First Aid and CPR, as well as, Wilderness Medical Institute/NOLS Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, and WFR-Recertification. We have around 30 counselors who are certified lifeguards at each camp and the majority of our staff that work with the children directly are First Aid/CPR trained. All wilderness programming staff have Wilderness First Aid or Responder Certifications.

Are you ready to choose your adventure?