Zipline catches up with alumni of the A/U Ranches and DiscoveryBound: Cameron Douglas, Rich Ling, Courtlyn Reekstin and Trace Schmeltz.
Cameron came back to the A/U Ranches in 2020 after having been away for a few years, and it was an unbelievably special experience on so many levels. As a lot of other things in Cameron’s life didn’t work out the way he would have hoped, it meant the world for him to be able to come back to the A/U Ranches – the place where he feels most at home.
The unique circumstances of youth camp summer programming in 2020 was extra special. Cameron loved the opportunity to have local day campers and to share the beauty of camp beyond our traditional sphere.
Cameron has also participated with the DiscoveryBound (DB) 20s/30s program quite a bit – from the trip to Austin a few years ago, to the Zoom calls more recently. He appreciates that DB has expanded to help people like himself, who grew up going to DB Outreach events, to stay connected with old friends and make new ones.
After spending the last couple of years in Washington, D.C., working for the federal government, Cameron is embarking on a new adventure as a visiting faculty member of the Principia College history department this spring. He was a history and political science double-major at Principia, and while his career up to this point has been more on the political science side than history, history was always what he found himself more passionate about. “I am very excited for this new chapter,” Cameron says.
Rich was a camp counselor during the 1980s in both summer and winter programs, including as a Conqueror counselor.
In the late 1980s, Rich moved to Norway after getting his doctorate in sociology. In Norway, he met his wife. They have two daughters who are now both living in London. Rich worked for many years as a researcher at a Norwegian telecommunications research institute. In 2008 he became a professor at IT University in Copenhagen, and in 2013 he became a professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, where he now works.
Rich and his wife live in Oslo when he is not in Singapore. They have a cabin in western Telemark, Norway, where they take hikes up to Hardangervidda National Park in the summer and go skiing in the winter.
When Courtlyn was in eighth grade, her mom convinced her to attend a national DiscoveryBound (DB) event at the A/U Ranches. While hesitant at first, Courtlyn loved the event (the people, the supportive Christian Science atmosphere, the activities) and made many new friends. After attending, she decided to apply for the DB National Leadership Council (NLC) program and found this group was transformative in her life.
While in NLC, Courtlyn attended the A/U Ranches for the first time, and it kicked her in the butt! Her summer at the A/U Ranches pushed her way outside of her suburban comfort zone – from peaking a mountain to mountain biking to running four (miles) on the fourth (she had never run more than a mile!).
After her summer at camp, it only got harder in the NLC program with the various adventure activities her class did together each summer, and a few times she considered quitting. But with the support of her classmates, Courtlyn grew to love the program – and the outdoors along with it. Now, Courtlyn loves to hike, swim, bike, ski and spend time outside. She’s since become a runner, too, and has plans to run a marathon. In fact, she peaked a mountain during Family and Friends Getaway at the A/U Ranches last summer and loved sharing camp activities with her mom and brother.
While in the NLC program, Courtlyn valued the opportunities she got to develop her leadership skills. She earned her Congressional Gold Medal and has since held various leadership positions during her time at Principia College, including president of her freshman house, member of the Public Affairs Conference board and a residential assistant in freshman housing. She’s used what she learned in NLC to better enable others to act, be a stronger listener, lead humbly and be open-minded.
Two of Courtlyn’s favorite experiences in the NLC program were her third-year class service trip to Peru and her fourth-year internship at The Mother Church, where she currently works as a promotion and events specialist. She loves the collaborative nature of the work and that she gets to be both strategic and creative.
Courtlyn graduated from Principia College in January 2020 with a degree in mass communications. Following her freshman year, she took a gap year to join a professional performing arts group, The Young Americans. After graduation, Courtlyn interned for the Quaker Oats account at PR agency FleishmanHillard in Chicago, followed by her position at The Mother Church. She is currently living and working remotely in Orange County, California, and will be moving to Boston sometime in 2021.
When she’s not working or spending time outdoors, Courtlyn loves to travel and is looking forward to going on the 20s/30s Iceland trip with DB Outreach this fall. She has met some of her closest friends through DB Outreach and NLC and cannot wait to share more memories with them.
Trace’s Adventure Unlimited experience began in college when, motivated by stories of the mountain and river exploits of his Principia College house brothers, he joined Challengers staff at Sky Valley. From his first day at the A/U Ranches, Trace was hooked. He spent each college summer on staff – both at Sky Valley and Round-Up – building life-long friendships, deepening his relationship with God and learning character-shaping lessons in the Ranches’ loving and principled environment.
After camp, Trace went on to law school; he has practiced law in large law firms for the past 24 years. Those who know Trace are not surprised to learn he is a trial lawyer, engaged in daily debate and passionately representing his clients. His practice involves civil and criminal financial fraud under the securities and commodities laws, foreign corruption and general commercial disputes. The principled and loving environment from which he learned and grew at the A/U Ranches informs how he advises his clients and (mostly) respectfully disagrees with his adversaries.
Today, Trace is at home outside of Chicago, Illinois, where he, his wife Christen, their three boys (Will – 16, Finn – 13, and Keane – 10), and their Goldendoodle, Ivy – named for the ivy adorning the brick walls of their “second home,” Wrigley Field – live, work and play. The family has made the pilgrimage to Buena Vista, where they rafted the Arkansas River, enjoyed breakfast at the Evergreen Café and inspired the boys’ love of adventure by touring the A/U Ranches. They undoubtedly will be back.
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