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New camp director brings varied career to job

Tim Magill, formerly of Scottsdale, Ariz., says he's not bothered by the change of seasons. Magill is the new director of the Holiday Home Camp, Williams Bay, after eight years holding administrative positions at Orme School and Camp in Arizona. He and his wife, Susise, moved to a cottage on the camp grounds in December. (click for larger version)
January 12, 2011 | 08:43 AM
Williams Bay — Tim Magill's dark suit and open collared white shirt gives him a laid-back, Midwestern appearance as he settles down behind the director's desk at the Holiday Home Camp.

He blends that with a touch of his native Arizona, in the jeans and cowboy boots he wears.

He wasn't wearing a cowboy hat when he met with a reporter recently. He didn't have to. Magill has worn a number of different hats.

He's been an educator, counselor, fundraiser, camp administrator, school administrator and successful real estate agent.

"I've had a very strange career path," Magill admitted.

That path brought the Scottsdale, Ariz. , native and his wife, Susie Magill to the Holiday Home grounds on Dec. 20.

Tim Magill will be the camp's full-time director after eight years holding administrative positions with the Orme School and Camp, a nonprofit college preparatory school and summer camp in northwestern Arizona.

He and his wife are selling their home in Arizona and now live in a modest, two-bedroom house on campus called the Peace Cottage.

"We're looking forward to changes in the seasons," he told a visitor, as snow flaked down around the campus.

He's no stranger to Williams Bay, either.

Magill said he earned a master's degree in environmental education at George Williams College in 1985. That was before George Williams became a part of Aurora University. Then, George Williams also had a campus in Downers Grove, Ill., where he spent most of his time, Magill said. But he made trips to the Williams Bay campus for outdoor education.

"I fell in love with the area at the time," he said.

The Magills were well established in the Orme School. Both held administrative positions. Susie Magill has a master's degree in special education.

Then, one day, Magill said, they sat down at their dining room table and talked about their future.

"We asked: 'Is this it?'"

"I still love Orme," Magill said. "It's a great organization with great kids."

But by now, their only child, a daughter, is in college.

And the Magills were looking for a camp experience.

"We wanted to go someplace where we felt we could make a real impact," he said.

When the Holiday Home Camp position opened up, the situation seemed perfect, Magill said. The children who come to Holiday Home are from the roughest neighborhoods in Chicago and the Milwaukee areas.

The chance to make a positive impact on their lives was too good of an opportunity to pass up, Magill said.

Magill said he and his wife were drawn to the camp when they heard the story of a young Chicago boy who, after his first year at the camp, kept calling and asking for his counselor. Of the course, the counselors leave at the end of the summer, but camp staff took the boy's calls, said Magill.

Mostly, he's checking in, Magill said. "He tells us he's staying in school and staying out of trouble because he wants to come back next year."

Magill said the story touched him deeply. And he was impressed that the chairman of the camp's board of directors knew about the boy.

It means that the board chairman is involved and keeps in touch with the staff, Magill said.

"They're doing it for the kids," he said of the board of directors. "This is a place that really cares about kids."

Founded in 1887 by Chicago industrialists, Holiday Home Camp is a nonprofit residential summer camp for at-risk youth. It sits on 26 acres in Williams Bay along the shores of Geneva Lake.

According to Magill, it remains one of the oldest accredited camps in the country still operating in its original location.

Throughout a typical summer, the camp provides age-appropriate one and two-week programs that serve more than 500 youngsters, ages 7 to 16, from economically disadvantaged communities.

Illinois and Wisconsin social service organizations refer children to the camp.

The camp provides inner city kids with a taste of country life, including swimming lessons, water games, boating and fishing. They are also planning a low ropes course for the older kids.

Additionally, up to 40 teens, ages 14-18, are accepted into the five-year Leadership Training Program.

Magill said he envisions the camp expanding its program beyond the Chicago and Milwaukee areas.

At some point, Magill said he wants Holiday Home to reach out to the local communities in Walworth County.

"We are so dependent on so many local organizations. We need to serve more of the local communities," he said.

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