LAKE WYLIE — For the second time in three years, Camp Thunderbird is looking for a new leader.
Bobby Harris is out as executive director, replaced by interim director Brad Rippetoe. Rippetoe has been with camp for more than a decade, serving most recently as director of operations. Molly Thompson, spokeswoman for YMCA of Greater Charlotte, said Harris resigned “to explore new opportunities.”
“Under Brad’s direction, the camp will run all services as usual,” Thompson said. “There will be no change in offerings.”
Rippetoe came 13 years ago from a Texas camp to lead the environmental education program at Camp Thunderbird. He spent five years there and another six as resident summer camp director prior to the past two as director of operations. Rippetoe sees his role as to “serve as a resource for each of our directors during this time of transition.”
“I have been fortunate enough to have been heavily involved with each of our departments at camp including resident and day camp, environmental education, conference and retreat as well as leading in the areas of food service and facilities,” he said. “We have a strong team with each of the departments led by very capable and veteran directors.”
His role in operations should help as camp enters the “very beginning phases” of a master site plan Rippetoe said will “set a course for the next 20 years and beyond.”
“The facility and its buildings will surely see vast improvements and upgrades over these next few years, but the mission of the camp will remain the same – serving our families, our campers and our community,” he said.
During the past summer, Harris spoke of successes at the camp. Children came from 30 different states and 10 foreign countries.
Day camp brought up to 125 children a day, many from the Lake Wylie area.
“We are also providing meaningful camping experiences to those children that cannot afford the experience,” Harris said in July.
There aren’t significant changes planed to summer camp, environmental education or other programs as a result of the director change, Thompson said. There are no other positions being added or dropped.
Harris came to Camp Thunderbird in 2010 to replace outgoing director Andy Kane, who led the camp for 12 years.