The Three Pillars of our Camp and Family Values

Respect the earth and one another, because even one small act of kindness can change the world.

Wander often and wonder always, because life is meant for good friends and great adventures.

Believe in yourself, because there is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.

Our family lives by a simple motto: Be kind. Learn stuff. Have fun.

My siblings and I were raised with the values of the Birch Trail philosophy, building emotional and social life skills, fostering a love of the outdoors, and creating powerful friendships that stand the test of time.

Birch Trail was founded in 1959 by Jerry and Pat Baer, who lovingly owned and operated the camp for 26 years. In 1985, my parents, Barbara and Richard Chernov, fulfilled a lifelong dream by purchasing Birch Trail and ushering in a new era of strong, confident, fun-loving campers. A lot has happened in the 33 years that have passed since then: the Chernov children grew up, the reins were handed down, and Birch Trail welcomed an even more diverse range of campers from across the country and around the world.

I am honored to follow in my parents’ footsteps leading this incredible community. Just as I work to create a loving and educational home for my three children, so too do we insist on the highest standards of care for our campers. I endeavor to provide an experience that helps your daughter feel at home, cared for, and most importantly—ready to have fun! Because Birch Trail has been in our family for two generations, we’ve gathered the time, experience, and industry expertise necessary to create a program that supports and encourages each child’s unique development and leadership potential.

With our talented and trusted team working alongside the Chernov family, Birch Trail functions on an unparalleled level of intention and care in everything we do, all for the benefit of our campers.


The Team


Gabe Chernov



Having spent my entire life immersed in the summer camp environment, I know firsthand the benefits that a camp experience can provide: the opportunity to learn, grow, and explore in a safe, nurturing setting. I want my life’s work to focus on providing those benefits to other children, because I believe that the lessons learned at camp are what help them build the resources to deal with life’s challenges.

I’ve worked at Birch Trail Camp since 1993, first as a waterski instructor, trip leader, later becoming an assistant director, and now serving as director and owner. I’m an active volunteer having served on the Wisconsin Section of the American Camp Association board, Association of Independent Camps National Board, and I serve as the president of the Midwest Association of Independent Camps. I also speak regularly at conventions and conferences on professional camping and child development.

I believe passionately in developing in our girls a true spirit of adventure, born out of teamwork and individuality. For us, for our children, and for our campers, every summer is a new adventure.


Barbara Chernov

Birch Trail Director


Throughout my life, two things have remained constant: my love for children and my love for camp. I looked forward to my summers at camp as a young girl, and even went on to work at Wisconsin-area camps in my teens and 20s. When my husband, Richard, and I bought Birch Trail 33 years ago, we both found in this unique lifestyle our dream of having a large family.

These days, kids need a healthy camp experience to unwind, have fun, and just be kids. I wake up every morning with the intention to help as many campers as I can, and to see the good in each and every child. I believe there is nothing more important than making children feel seen, heard, and believed.


Emma Pucker

Assistant Director

For the past 10 years, I have worked at Birch Trail and in its unique environment have truly found a home away from home. I always knew that I wanted to work with children, and began my career as the director of an afterschool program for elementary- and middle-school students prior to working at Birch Trail. I believe the camp experience can offer every child the chance to have fun and try new things, all while gaining resilience, confidence, and independence.

The opportunities at Birch Trail not only encourage and support kids as they explore the world around them, but also lets them take healthy risks and build strong relationships. By taking a break from the pressures and structure of their daily lives, campers get to just be kids, and it's amazing.

My guiding principle as assistant director is to constantly look for opportunities to learn. Whether I'm walking around camp and taking in the scenery, spending time with a cabin as they find ways to make "cabin clean-up" more fun, or reading relevant articles and books, I always keep my eyes and ears open for new information.


Sara Turpen

Program Director


Sara has been working in recreation and youth development for nearly 10 years serving as a lifeguard, swim instructor, camp counselor, and more!

Before that, she attended many summer camps, youth programs, and sports leagues. These experiences led to her attending Indiana State University, where she studied Recreation and Youth Leadership. While at ISU, she had many seasonal positions that really built and shaped her passion for working with youth.

Although she had a lot of experience in many different sectors, it was difficult for her to specialize in one area until she found Birch Trail. Immediately after her first summer at Birch Trail in 2018, Sara knew she had found her purpose, focus, and passion for recreation and young women.

"I love many things about Birch Trail, but what I love the most is the freedom the girls have to enjoy just being a kids.  Without the distractions of the real world they are free to be silly!  I hope to teach independence and empower young girls during my journey working for Birch Trail."



Dylan Chernov

Wilderness Trip Director

A childhood spent outdoors prepared me for a lifetime of doing just that—seeking both adventure and solace in the beautiful surroundings of the Wisconsin wilderness. I served as Birch Trail’s wilderness trips director for more than two decades, and now oversee many of camp’s nature-based programs, including the Explorers and Voyageurs programs, mountain biking, and the camp garden. My wife, Maura, and I raise our two young sons in nearby Duluth, Minnesota, where I work as a teacher and school administrator and Maura works as a nurse.


Caleb Knight

Waterfront Director


I’ve been Birch Trail's waterfront director for more than 30 years. Every summer, I travel with my wife, Jesse, and our son, John, to camp all the way from our winter home in Hong Kong, where I work as a child psychologist.


See what other parents (and children) are saying about us

  • I love Birch Trail’s culture of inclusiveness, acceptance of diversity, and no cliques.

    Birch Trail provides a variety of amazing and truly differentiated trips that are rich in skill building, confidence building, team building, and just plain fun and crazy-interesting venues in nature.

    I love the focus on developing friendships in a secure and nurturing environment; a place to take risks and try new things; appreciation for nature and the outdoors; encouraged to wear a tutu all summer long.

  • We love the No Mean Girls program and the emphasis you place teaching the girls to be upstanders vs. bystanders.

    Birch Trail is geographically much more diverse than other camps and I love the approach they have to problem solving.  My daughter has learned so much at camp.

    Birch Trail is different from other camp in so many ways.  The wilderness trips foster an appreciation of nature, the no mean girls program shows that kindness matters and they really focus on the growth and character building of the girls.

  • I love the laid back personality of Birch Trail, allowing campers to explore things, be flexible and stress free.  I feel like other camp are more “contrived” and un- friendly.

    Birch Trail is an inclusive, creative and nurturing environment for a girl to grow.

    A welcoming place where girls can explore their inner selves and an opportunity to experience things they don’t do at home.

  • My 9 year old said it’s a place to be herself!

    A safe environment for a girl to be goofy, try new things and develop lifelong friendships.

    The (Birch Trail) values are exactly what we were looking for.

  • A camp where you meet kids from all over the world.  They limit enrollment so it prevents cliques from schools, trips are amazing, great food, and the staff are nurturing.

    Love that my girls can be uninhibited and feel part of a community where you can be yourself.

    Birch Trail’s staff is extremely help in working on communication between girls.

  • Great focus on the outdoors and wilderness trips and building relationships in a safe environment.

    A great summer experience where girls can get away, be themselves and explore new experiences.

    We like the wide-ranging program (activities as well as trips) and the fact that the girls learn about themselves and gain self-confidence and self-esteem at camp.

  • An all inclusive girls camp with a very healthy perspective on growing and nurturing independent girls able to problem solve and push themselves out of their comfort zone.

    No judgments, silly, fun, and, carefree.

    I love the philosophy of camp and how they teach inclusivity, no mean girls and no bullying.

  • The Chernov family are second parents to my daughter.

    Builds self esteem, makes lasting special friendships.

    A fabulous place that allows my children to try new things, make great friends and become more confident.

  • Nurturing, helpful in guiding girls through challenges, respectful and understanding of the issues girls may encounter away from home and in a social environment.

    Great values, fun and safe setting, Wonderful communication with parents.

    Wonderful, warm, flexible, diverse.

  • It’s wonderful that our girls can have a fun filled four weeks with no drama.

    I love the outdoor camping experience Birch Trail offers. The philosophy of inclusion, no bullying and personal growth are exactly what we were looking for.

    Birch Trail gave my daughter the confidence to find her place and make new friends.

  • Terrific opportunity for girls to navigate adolescence without parent’s guidance.

    Birch Trail is down to earth and attracts the nice kids from all around the world.  I love the geographic diversity!

    A great outdoors community where kids have the opportunity to learn, grow, and, build relationships on their own; without the influence of parents.

  • Birch Trail is a healthy, fun, spirited environment where girls can just be themselves.

    We love how camp focuses on more than just day to day activities but promotes kindness and, open communications, etc.

    Birch Trail is a fun, inclusive, engaging, character building, and activity filled amazing summer experience for girls.

  • Birch Trail is the greatest gift we could ever provide for our daughters!

    My daughter came home with a noticeable increase in self confidence- thanks Birch Trail!

    At Birch Trail, kids learn by opting into things that they like the most and get engaged through interactive/experiential learning.

  • What I like as a parent and what my girls and their friends appreciate is the concept of the older girls participating in ensuring that the younger girls are comfortable and having fun.  You are really the only camp that makes a big-sister program work.

    Camper’s Parent