The Three Pillars of our Camp and Family Values

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

This is how we were all raised in the Chernov family, with the true values of the camp lifestyle: fostering emotional and social life skills, encouraging love of the outdoors, and creating lasting bonds that will last forever.

Birch Trail was founded in 1959 by Jerry and Pat Baer. Barbara and Richard Chernov bought the camp from them in 1985. A lot has happened at Birch Trail since our mom and dad started running the camp more than 55 years ago… The Chernov children grew up, the reigns were passed down, and we welcomed even more camp girls from across the States and internationally; girls who found their voice, developed strong friendships, gained inner confidence, and created memories to last a lifetime. My wife Erin and I took over as directors after my parents and our honored to be the second generation of Chernov's to run the camp.

We’ve lived the camp lifestyle for a long time, and Birch Trail is a family—the Chernovs, the staff and the campers. We work to create a loving, educational environment for our own three children, Raya, Miles, and Finn as well as our campers. As the ‘camp mom and dad’, we endeavor to create a place where your girls feel at home, feel cared for, and most importantly—feel ready to have fun!

Birch Trail has been in our family for two generations, and we’ve had the benefit of time, experience, and knowledge to create a program that’s truly suited to a child’s development and leadership.

With a talented and trusted team, Birch Trail functions on an incredibly high level of intention and care in everything we do, for the benefit of our campers.


The Team


Gabe Chernov



Having grown up 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 be about bringing those benefits to other children, helping them grow, develop lifelong friendships, and learn life skills. I believe this is what helps them build the resources to deal with life’s challenges.

I’ve worked at Birch Trail Camp since 1993, waterski instructor and trip leader to assistant director and now co-owner.

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

I’m an active volunteer serving on the Wisconsin Section of the American Camp Association board, Association of Independent Camps National Board, and the President of the Midwest Association of Independent Camps. I also speak at industry conventions and conferences on professional camping and child development.


Erin Chernov



I’ve always had a special place in my heart for children. I wanted to combine my love of children and my appreciation for the arts to empower young girls to grow into successful, emotionally intelligent young women.

At Birch Trail, I’ve managed Arts and Crafts, been the Maple Village Director, and taken over some of the ‘mothering’ activities (dealing with homesickness, washing teddy bears, and helping to write letters home). I have a B.A. from Marquette University and experience as a 5th-grade teacher, and I also tutor campers and volunteer at the Schlitz Audubon Nature preschool.

As an all-girls camp, there’s a particularly nurturing environment at Birch Trail for education, personal confidence, and individual growth. We place a lot of emphasis on outdoor education, the invigorating atmosphere of fresh air, pine trees, clear lake water and bird songs (and no electronic distractions).

I believe in helping children in cooperative group work to construct their own knowledge, and learn through doing. I’m so proud to nurture so many bright, happy kids in my role as director at Birch Trail.


Barbara Chernov

Camp ‘Mom’ and Birch Trail Director


I’ve always loved camp, and I’ve always loved children. I’ve worked at Birch Trail for 32 years, but even before that, I worked at another camp as an arts and crafts director. I also went to camp as a teenager.

I always wanted a large family of children, and running a summer camp seemed to be the answer to that dream!

These days, a good camp experience is needed to let kids unwind, relax, have fun, and… just be kids.

I try to set my intentions every morning to help as many kids as I can and to see the good in each and every child. It’s really important not to judge them and to make them feel seen, heard, and believed.


Emma Pucker

Assistant Director


I believe the camp experience should offer a child the chance to have fun and try new things, all while gaining resiliency, confidence, and independence.

Maura Chernov

Camp Health Center Director


I’ve been at Birch Trail since 2005. I’m a registered nurse and I oversee the camp's Health Center here every summer.



Dylan Chernov

Wilderness Trip Director


I’ve been the camp's longtime wilderness trips director for more than two decades, after my studies at the University of Alaska and working as a teacher and school administrator.

Caleb Knight

Waterfront Director


I’ve been Birch Trail's waterfront director for more than 30 years. Every summer, I travel to camp from my winter home in Hong Kong, where I work as a child psychologist.

Say Hello


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