Chuck Ackenbom
Executive Director and Founder

Chuck is the Camp Friendship Executive Director and Founder.  Chuck received his B.S. in Physical Education from West Virginia Wesleyan College.  After finishing his 5 year service in the Navy as a Navy pilot, he fulfilled his dream of starting a camp for children in a beautiful area of central Virginia.  Chuck is a true success story in the camping profession.  He served two terms as President of  the Virginias section and one term as National President of the American Camp Association (ACA).  Chuck is a multiple award recipient from national camp organizations and sections including the Distinguished Service Award, the highest award presented in the camp industry.  For almost 20 years Chuck has served on the International Camping Fellowship Board as the USA representative.
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Alina Ackenbom
Assistant Executive Director

Alina is originally from Russia, has been a member of Camp Friendship staff since 1997. She holds Masters Degree of Education from Ufa State Pedagogical University of Russia. Alina received her Basic Camp Director Course certification in 2005 and International Camp Director Course Certification in 2010. Together with her husband Chuck Ackenbom she oversees Camp Friendship business operations. Alina is the Founder and Director of Friendship Tennis Academy that offers tennis programs to children and adults of all ages and abilities, she is certified by Unites States Professional Tennis Association as an Elite Tennis Professional. Her camp tennis clinics draw junior tennis players from around the world. Alina’s passion is to educate youth and teach them many valuable life skills by providing them with quality experience both at camp and on the tennis court. Alina and Chuck are the proud parents of Nika and Tyler who love growing up at camp and making friends with campers from all over the world.

Cris Higginbotham
Camp Director

Cris has worked at camp since 2004. Originally from Puerto Rico, Cris attended Mississippi State University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he graduated with a degree, Bachelor of Fine Arts. Cris oversees our marketing and parent communication, with over over 15 years working with camps he has a wide knowledge of many areas of camp. As an excellent photographer and web designer he has been able to produce high quality camp documents, newsletters, camp videos and camp fairs materials. Cris is a former boy scout, a current member of the American Camp Association and recently became a Standards Accreditation Visitor for the ACA Virginias section. Cris has two children, Aiden and Isabella, who have grown up at camp.

Skye Ackenbom
Camp Director/Equestrian Center Director

Skye is the daughter of founder Chuck Ackenbom. She grew up at Camp Friendship as a camper, counselor, and riding instructor. As a junior, she rode at local and rated levels, showing competitively all over the country. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Skye returned to Camp Friendship as a director in 2004 and currently oversees the equestrian program and works with our team of directors to manage the day-to-day operations of Camp and its year-round staff. She is also a member of the American Camp Association. Skye brings a unique perspective to Camp leadership since she spent all of her childhood here and feels so lucky to still live in such a wonderful place. Skye loves the outdoors, animals, and working with children and is excited to continue the legacy her father built for another 50 years to come!

Sarah Holder
Camp Director

Sarah got her start at Camp Friendship in 2005, working year-round in the Equestrian Center, as the summer Village Supervisor, before progressing into the role of Assistant Director. In 2009, she left camp to pursue a career in higher education, where she could apply her camp skills to the development of college student leaders. During her time away, Sarah completed her master’s degree in higher education and is now pursuing a PhD in the same field with a focus on training and development. This passion for working with young adult staff is what brought her back to camp in 2016. She works alongside our team of directors to oversee the important work of our year-round team, and enjoys any opportunity to talk to others about the benefits of camp. Sarah’s focus as Camp Director is in staff recruitment, training and supervision. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, and going on outdoor adventures with her two very energetic dogs.