Professional, Dedicated Staff Working With Children With Autism

Dedicated Expert Staff at our Special Needs Summer Camps

Our Directors/Owners

 

Douglas Smathers541326_10100744851917704_313336742_n
Camp Director & Owner

MS in Camp Administration and Leadership, University of Tourro-Nevada (in progress); Bachelor of Science in Recreation Studies, Ohio University

With a bachelor of science in recreation studies, and currently studying for a graduate degree in camp administration and leadership, Doug brings over a decade worth of experience and knowledge of the outdoors. This will be his fifth summer being the camp director at Talisman. Doug has been working with children, young adults and adults with varying disabilities most of his life. Prior to Talisman, Doug worked eight years at special needs summer camps as a behavior specialist. Additionally, Doug has been an outdoor education instructor for many years back in Ohio. Wearing many different hats, Doug has also facilitated high & low ropes courses and numerous corporate, communication, teambuilding and leadership workshops. Doug enjoys spending time in the great outdoors, hunting, riding the motorcycle he built and playing with his amazing dog, Finnegan.

Linda Tatsapaughstaff1
Operations Director & Owner

MS in Child and Youth Care Administration, Nova SE University; Bachelor of Arts in Religion, Davidson College

While working as a summer camp counselor as a college student, Linda proclaimed to a director that “I want to be just like you when I grow up!” Little did she know …. Linda worked at Stone Mountain School from its inception in 1991 to 2000, serving as a counselor, program director, human resources manager and admissions director. Although this was very rewarding, she found the high energy and fun of camp to be her passion. She transitioned to be director of Talisman Programs from 2001 – 2012.  Clearly hooked, she is back. Linda is a Red Cross instructor trainer. She thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1990, and still can’t get enough of hiking. In her free time, she gardens, cooks, swims, cycles and endeavors to get her techie teenager OUTSIDE!

 

Admissions and Office Staff

Robiyn Mimsstaff3
Admissions Director

More than 85 graduate hours in clinical and school psychology, WCU; Bachelor of Arts in psychology, UNCW

Robiyn’s love for everything summer camp started in the summer of 1998 when she found an amazing way to combine learning, fun and adventure that first fateful summer as director at Talisman.  After working several years with Talisman, Robiyn decided to attend graduate school to study clinical and school psychology. Robiyn discovered her passion for understanding and helping those diagnosed with neuro-developmental delays, specifically high-functioning autism.  Since then, she has used that experience and understanding to work with families in a variety of settings.
Robiyn shares her own adventures with her amazing husband Eddie (also a former Talisman Programs staff), her nutty boxer Knuckle and their demanding cat, Bacon. She can typically be found snowboarding, “Jeeping,” traveling to other countries or generally avoiding housework.
Robiyn looks forward to helping you find the perfect special needs summer camp program for your child!

Amanda Howellamandapic
Admissions counselor

I have been working as a camp counselor since I was 17 years old. I started off working for a summer camp in Pennsylvania and spent last summer working at a camp with children who have ADD and ADHD. What I enjoy about camp is watching all the experiences and memories each child takes from camp. Camp changed my life growing up and I think every child should get the opportunity to spend a few weeks at camp. I have a degree in Outdoor Education from Montreat College, co‐coordinated the Adventure Education Association conference in 2014 and believe that I am the BEST big sister Ashley could ever have. My family is from the northeast corner of Pennsylvania. During my free time I enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and reading. I’ a puppy raiser through the Guide Dog Foundation and am charged with raising and socializing a handsome yellow lab named Joey. Joey is about 7 months old and looking forward to the newest adventure in our lives, working for Talisman!

Maintenance Staff

Lee KisselburgLee K. - Copy
Facilities Manager

Lee is a native of the Hendersonville/Asheville area. Lee comes to Talisman with decades of experience in the manufacturing field. “Being at Talisman is like a breath of fresh air. I enjoy the camp atmosphere and watching the campers have a wonderful summer experience. I have a plethora of experience in the maintenance field, including carpentry, painting and landscaping.” Lee also enjoys camping, backpacking, caving and is an avid mineral collector and rock hound. Lee also enjoys being part of the geocaching community for creating the Tube Torcher geocache and its sequel. Lee happily shares his life with his wife, Sandi, and their two dogs, Ruger and Kimber.

Finnegan Camp DogFinnegan

Woof Woof, Finnegan here! I am Talisman’s camp dog and mascot. I am an Australian Blue Heeler, and I just turned fourteen years old (doggie years) last August. I love camp! This is my 4th year at camp, and I am looking forward to another fun filled summer. I am currently in training and my goal one day is to be a licensed therapy dog.

Years on staff: 14 (doggie years)

Super Power: To remember where I buried all of my toys and bones

Favorite Camp Activity: Fetch


Summer Camp  Team

 

CoryGreeneCory Greene:  Assistant Director

North Carolina has been home for me for 16 years. I have spent over 16 years in education and wilderness therapy.  I work in special education in the Buncombe County School System.

Years on staff: 5th
Major: Political Science
Super Power: The ability to control the weather, so we could have all sunny days at camp.
Favorite Camp Food: Corndogs

Eleanor Clark : Sight Program Manager

Howdy everyone! I’m Eleanor Clark and I’m from St. Louis MO and am thrilled to be coming back for my second year at Camp Talisman. I graduated from Fontbonne University with a bachelor’s in Special Education and am pursuing my masters in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Applied Behavior Analysis at University of Louisville. I can’t wait for another summer of belting out campfire songs, jumping in the pool, and going on adventures!

Years on staff: 2
Major: Getting my masters at University of Louisville in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis.
Super Power: Teleportation
Favorite Camp Food: Hotdogs

Spencer Purcell : Foundations Program Manager

Hey all! My name is Spencer Purcell. I’m originally from small-town Wisconsin but have lived in Chicago for most of my life. Though this will be my third year working with Talisman, I have been working in the camp system for six years. There is no other place that Id rather spend my summer than western North Carolina. I full hearty believe in the Talisman mission and can’t wait for this summer to get started!

Years on staff: 3rd
Super Power: Constant Caffeination
Favorite Camp Food: Pita Pizza

Blaire Bibbins:  Insight Program Manager

Hi, my name is Blaire and I am from San Diego California. After graduating from Long Beach State, I began working for a non-profit helping at-risk and homeless youth. I have two pet bunny rabbits, I am on a kickball league, and I have a rock collection.

Years on staff: 1
Major: Currently working on Master’s in Occupational Therapy
Super Power: Fly
Favorite Camp Food: S’mores

 Benjamin Limes : Teens Program Manager

My name is Ben. I’m from London, OH. I go to school at Ohio University. A couple of interesting things about me are that I am a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and my favorite thing about the outdoors is to explore, especially in the mountains. I enjoy fishing, hiking, and camping on my days off.

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Outdoor Rec. & Education
Super Power: Breathe underwater
Favorite Camp Food: Campfire pies

Carly Johnson : Young Adults Program Manager

Hey! My name is Carly Johnson and I am from Paris, TN. Some of my favorite things to do are to play with my pup, Coast, go fishing at the lake, and spend time with friends either listening to music or being outside. I can’t wait for camp this summer and to see all the returners and new campers! It’s going to be a great summer!

Years on staff: 2nd
Major: Special Education
Super Power: Flight
Favorite Camp Food: Taco in a bag

Summer Camp Counselor

Camper PhotoAaron Schoonover

Hello all! I am a current student at Ohio University/ an aspiring adventurer. Originally from southeastern Ohio; I love spending my summers in Asheville, NC. My favorite outdoor activities are: kayaking, canoeing, camping, and tree-house building. My favorite color is green; and my favorite animal is a moose. Cheers!

Years on staff: 2
Major: Outdoor Recreation and Education
Super Power: Teleportation
Favorite Camp Food: Tacos

Avery Soltys-Gilbert

I am a junior at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. I love to be outside in the sunshine and to get down and dirty meaning, I don’t mind getting a little sweaty and playing in the dirt.

Years on staff: 1
Major: Psychology
Super Power: Time Travel
Favorite Camp Food: Hotdogs

Benjamin Parr

Years on staff: 1
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Benjamin Short

Years on staff: 6th
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Celia Calhoun

Years on staff: 1
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Foster Chauncey

My Name is Chauncey Foster. I am from Hampton, VA. I like to explore new cultures and write.

 

Years on staff: 3rd
Major: Biology/Spanish
Super Power: Morphing
Favorite Camp Food: Pizza

Dalton Barrier

My name is Dalton Barrier. I am in my senior year at Tusculum College and graduating in May. I am from Lynchburg, TN. I’m very outgoing and always up for an adventure. In my off time you will most likely see me on the lake.

Years on staff: 1
Major: Athletic Training
Super Power: Teleportation so I can travel to amazing places.
Favorite Camp Food: Hotdogs

Daniel Carr

Years on staff: 1
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Eric LaPointe

Years on staff: 1st
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Ian Walker

My name is Ian Walker. I am a Senior at Tusculum College where I am graduating this May. I am from Small town called Norton, Virginia. I love to have fun, being outside, and meeting new people. I’m very spontaneous and up for anything. I am outside most of the day doing numerous activities.

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Athletic Training
Super Power: Super sonic speed so i can move from place to place faster.
Favorite Camp Food: Corndogs

Jesse Haefner

Hey! I’m Jesse and I am from Wisconsin. I am currently a sophomore at UW-Madison. I plan to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy. I like to play sports in my free time! I love to hike, swim, and drink milk! I am excited to be coming back to Talisman!

Years on staff: 2nd
Major: Rehabilitation Psychology
Super Power: To speak every language
Favorite Camp Food: Pita Pizza

Jill Fischer

Hello! My name is Jill Fischer I am from Pittsburg, Kansas. In my spare time you will more than likely find me doing something outside, I love music and books, and have an extreme love for traveling.

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Psychology with a minor in developmental disabilities
Super Power: to Fly!
Favorite Camp Food: S’mores

Joan Arenas

I’m Joan Sebastian Arenas Hernandez. I’m a full university student from Colombia. There are many facts about me that are really interesting, Basketball is one of my favorite sports. I love playing the guitar, singing,  arts, nature, camping and going to the mountains to walk.

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Languages
Super Power: Flying
Favorite Camp Food: Anything

Josh Bloodworth

I’m Josh, I am originally from Lawrenceville Ga but made it to the North GA mountains four years and haven’t left since! I love cheese dip, newts, and being outdoors doing everything I can.

Years on staff: 4th
Major: Art with a focus in psychology
Super Power: To communicate with animals
Favorite Camp Food: Chicken/Tuna, Mac & Cheese

Key Cook

I’m Key, I am a student at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. I am originally from Stoughton WI, a small town about ten minutes from Madison. I enjoy playing rugby and fishing in my free time.

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Marketing
Super Power: Teleportation
Favorite Camp Food: S’mores

Kristen Johny

My name is Kristen Johny. I say I am from Berrien Springs, MI but I have lived all over the place. I have been signing American Sign Language since the age of 3 and that has given me many different opportunities. I have a brother with Autism which has led me to go down the path I am now.

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Elementary Education
Super Power: Fly, I love to travel
Favorite Camp Food: I am not sure what my favorite camp food will be.

Madison Brooks

My name is Madison but I go by Maddie! I am from Nashua, New Hampshire, and I go to school at Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts. I was named after the capital of Wisconsin, I love to travel, and both my parents are educators.

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Special Education
Super Power: Fly
Favorite Camp Food:

Madison Grimes

My name is Madison and I am from a small town in central Indiana. This fall I will be entering my senior year at Hanover College where I am majoring in Elementary Education and minoring in Spanish and History. This is my second year at Talisman and I am looking forward to making many more great memories!

Years on staff: 2nd
Major: Elementary Education
Super Power: Time Travel
Favorite Camp Food: Pita Pizza

Madison Lindsay

I am a senior at Ohio University and I am from Maumee, Ohio. I love climbing, swimming, hula-hooping, writing, arts & crafts, and snakes are my favorite animal.

Years on staff: 2nd
Major: Outdoor Recreation/Education and Environmental studies certificate
Super Power: The ability to talk to animals or flying!
Favorite Camp Food: Fruit, fruit, and more fruit

Madison-Grace Fennell

Hey! My name is Madison-Grace and I am from Peachtree City, GA. I am currently a student at Georgia Southern University and I am working towards a degree in recreational therapy. A few of my favorite things are: warm weather, Chick-fil-a and Lynyrd Skynyrd. When I was a child, summer camp was always the highlight of my year and I am SO excited to have the opportunity to help create that experience for these campers this summer!

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Recreational Therapy
Super Power: Telekinesis
Favorite Camp Food: S’mores

Marianne Carpio

Hi, I am Marianne. I grew up in Manila, Philippines but I have been living in Baltimore, Maryland for eleven years. I am studying Nursing at Notre Dame of Maryland University. In my free time, I enjoy cooking and baking. I also enjoy hiking!

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Nursing
Super Power: Teleportation
Favorite Camp Food: S’mores

Marina Weissman

Years on staff: 2nd
Major:
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Mark Chalberg

I’m from Central Texas, but have spent the last seven years between Colorado and New Mexico. My favorite hobbies are eating bacon, competitive shooting, and shenanigans.

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Recreation and Outdoor Education
Super Power: Being rich, like batman!
Favorite Camp Food: Scrambelcakes!

Mary Neill

I’m Mary Jo and I am from Gainesville Florida. I will have just finished my first year at the University of Florida when camp starts. I attended Talisman for the past 2 summers, and am stoked to be coming back this year as a part of the staff. I enjoy riding horses and tae kwon do in my free time among other things.

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Economics
Super Power: Mind reading
Favorite Camp Food: Tortillas

Megan Kiehne

I’m a soon to be graduate student ready for another adventurous summer at Camp Talisman. I’m from a small town in Southeastern Minnesota, called Lanesboro. I love traveling, spending time with family and friends, and going to movies.

Years on staff: 2nd
Major: I am graduating this spring with my Bachelors in Communication Disorders and continuing to pursue my masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling.
Super Power: Fly! I love to travel and this way i could get from one place to another faster. Plus awesome views!
Favorite Camp Food: S’mores over the fire

Natalie Lager

My name is Natalie Lager and I am from Wichita, Kansas. A couple interesting facts about me are that I have only flown once and that I love traveling.

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Bachelor’s in Psychology and will be beginning a Master’s in School Psychology in August.
Super Power: Teleport
Favorite Camp Food: Any form of pizza

Ryen Parno

I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon but am currently studying at North Carolina State University. I work for the universities Outdoor recreation program and have recently started to love climbing. I studied abroad last Spring (2016) in Cape Town, South Africa.

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Biological Sciences
Super Power: Ability to fly
Favorite Camp Food: Pickles

Sarah Williford

I am from the greater Atlanta area. I am currently a college student pursuing a degree in Special Education. I grew up going to summer camp and I love the fact that Talisman strives to bring a summer camp experience to children that may not otherwise be able to have one.

Years on staff: 2nd
Major: Special Education
Super Power: Teleportation
Favorite Camp Food: Fresh eggs from Mr. Doug’s chickens

Shannon Profita

I’m Shannon, I am 25 years old and I grew up in Westchester County, NY. I have lived in eastern NC for almost 8 years after coming to East Carolina University. I am a singer, actress and lover of adventure and all things outdoors. Sunsets are just about my favorite thing ever and I joke that I am part plant because sometimes it feels as if I run off photosynthesis! I’m just a fun-loving goofball that enjoys people who can laugh at themselves. Laughter is one of life’s best medicines!

Years on staff: 1st
Major: Family and Community Services – Early Intervention
Super Power: Fly
Favorite Camp Food: To be determined, but i love food.

Billy Hoyle

My name is Billy and I’m originally from Marion, NC, but now I live in Asheville, NC. I’ve worked in many industries, but camp is without a doubt my favorite. I’ve been a forest ranger in Southeast Alaska, a naturalist for Disney Cruise Lines, an instructor in wilderness therapy, a rock climbing director for the Boy Scouts, a Zipline guide, and a ropes course manager. Of all the things I’ve ever done, camp hold the deepest spot in my heart, and for as long as I can, I’ll keep coming back for more.

Years on staff: 3rd
Major: Recreation Management and Sustainable Development
Super Power: Talking to animals
Favorite Camp Food: Pita Pizzas

 

Talisman Description1

  • Does your child have ADHD, autism or Asperger’s syndrome? Are you looking for something fun for them to do over the summer holidays, making connections with like-minded people in a nurturing, loving environment? Here at Talisman, we believe that every child deserves the opportunity to embark on summer adventures, worry-free. We’re home to only the most passionate, dedicated directors who develop deep-seated bonds with your children, keeping parents in-the-loop every step of the way. Whether your child is 8 or 17, it’s our job to show them just how fun and inspiring summer can be, with delicious food, enthralling activities…and beyond! Give us a call today at 855-588-8254 to unlock your child’s full potential!

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