Camping Services Branch Executive Director
Sara has worked with the YMCA since 2006 when she started as a swim instructor in her hometown, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Sara moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin to attend the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse where she studied Sociology and At-Risk Child and Youth Care. In 2013, she spent her first summer at YMCA Camp Echo in Michigan and knew camping was a special place within the YMCA movement. Sara was hired as the Executive Director for YMCA Camp Miller in March of 2019, and has since expanded program partnerships to ensure access, equity, and inclusion for campers of varying dimensions of diversity. When Sara is not scheming her next big idea for camp, she enjoys playing with her dog Udo, mountain biking on trails across the Midwest, playing in a rec soccer league, and reading among the tall pines.
Here is what Sara has to say about why YMCA camping is crucial to our youth.
"Camp is a place of discovery. Youth and adults alike can discover new hobbies, skills, friendships, experiences, an open window the the world. The vision I bring to YMCA Camp Miller is that we are a compassionate community that supports the hopes and dreams of youth and empowers them to create the communities we all want to live in. We are committed to guiding youth to be strong decision makers, safe risk takers, and empathetic friends. Our values of respect, responsibility, honesty, caring, diversity, inclusion, and welcoming guide all we do. We want camp to serve as a place for all to be themselves, have a place to belong, and become their best."
Stephani Johnston joined the YMCA Camp Miller team in January of 2020. She began her YMCA career in Duluth at the Downtown Branch in October of 2018 at the Member Services desk. During that time, she was encouraged to start her certification for GroupX classes and is currently working on her ACE and MOSSA certificates.
Stephani has an Art History & Religion degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN; but, has spent most of her time working in customer service related roles. Her first job in high school was at Valleyfair in the gift shops where she continued to work for five summers.
When she’s not working (or working-out) at the YMCA, Stephani loves spending time with her four children doing arts & crafts, hiking, and camping. She also likes to wander the Lake Superior beaches and gravel roads with her dog, Echo, looking for agates. In addition, she’s an endurance runner and can often be found on the Lakewalk or the Superior Hiking Trail training for an upcoming race.