Jenn Jacobs, PhD.

Position: Camp founder/ director

Coach Jenn founded Camp PAL in 2011. After years of experience as a summer camp counselor, a deep commitment to the neighborhood she grew up in, and a passion for youth development, she wanted to create an educational, diverse, and most importantly, fun summer experience here in Rogers Park. The creation of Camp PAL was particularly special for Coach Jenn, as she worked with her dad, Rob MacKenzie, Camp PAL’s business partner. Under Coach Jenn’s direction, Camp PAL has expanded its influence in the community and developed an action packed curriculum for campers of all ages.

Coach Jenn holds a Ph. D. from Northern Illinois University in Educational Psychology and is currently an assistant professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education at NIU. There, she is also the assistant director of the Physical Activity and Life Skills group, an organization that conducts educational research, provides consultations and program evaluations, and trains practitioners and scholars to develop youth development programs in school and community settings around the world. Additionally, she has extensive experience with several youth programs in the Chicagoland area that specialize in life-skill building for at-risk youth. Coach Jenn has spoken at a variety of national and international conferences and has over 15 published academic articles in the area of positive youth development through sport.

Her favorite camp activities are Fitness Friday, yoga, and anything teambuilding! If you are looking for a different kind of summer camp, Coach Jenn would love to hear from you at campplayalot@gmail.com

Jamie Chrobak, M.Ed.

Position: Associate Camp Director

Coach Jamie co-founded Camp PAL with Coach Jenn in 2011 and is excited for Camp’s 7th summer. Coach Jamie is an alum of St. Scholastica Academy in Rogers Park and in 2010 graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and Art History Minor. Upon graduating, she received her Illinois Teaching License with Special Education Endorsement. Additionally, she holds her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from National Louis University with Teacher Mentor Certification. She also earned an Illinois Principal License, completed the National Louis University McCormick Center for Education Taking Charge of Change Early Childhood Leadership Program and numerous other certifications in early childhood education and safety.

Coach Jamie has 9 years of classroom experience teaching students from toddlers to first grade. She is currently a preschool teacher at the School for Little Children in Evanston, a program serving the youth of Evanston, Skokie, and Chicago. In her classroom, Coach Jamie teaches her students life skills through play-based education. She is passionate about environmental responsibility and helps her students learn to be kind members of society.

Coach Jamie loves working to make Camp PAL a place that develops youth socially, emotionally, and physically and honors the diverse culture of the community she grew up in. She looks forward to seeing returning campers and meeting new camp families, as well as working with camp staff to ensure that summer is safe, successful, and fun.

Kimberly Thurman

Position: Site director

Coach Kim has been with Camp PAL for 4 summers. In 2014, she received her Bachelor of Science degree from Xavier University in Music Education, graduating summa cum laude from the University Scholars Honors Program. While at Xavier, she taught music to elementary students in a behavioral and mental health setting as well as co-created a music exploration day-camp for students K-8. Since graduation, she has taught band and other music classes to students in grades K-12, in schools in Ohio, Indiana, and throughout Chicago. Currently, she is the band director at Golder College Prep High School in Chicago.

While music and band are Coach Kim’s first love, she can’t wait to finish up concerts and classes during the school year and spend summers with Camp PAL. She loves being able to foster relationships among campers and develop a strong sense of community at camp. Her favorite Camp PAL activities are relay races, the bug hunt, and of course, bucket drumming!

Robert MacKenzie

Position: Business manager

Call him coach Jenn’s Dad!  Rob has 37 years of professional business experience that has included corporate training, development, marketing, and sales.  He likes everything outside in all weather – especially if it involves water or a barbecue grill! One of his best experiences was serving on the Board of St. Scholastica Academy where he witnessed firsthand the extraordinary transformative process that occurred in an all-girls high school staffed by teachers that were inspired by SSA values, mission, and the venue of single gender education.  Helping at Camp Play-A-Lot gives him the same sense of fulfillment.  He is inspired by the role life skills play in making a better world.  His job at camp is to take care of the business side so that our great staff can just have fun teaching personal and social responsibility through playing a lot with the campers!

Yara Santillan, M.S.

Position: Curriculum consultant

Yara holds a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Northern Illinois University and an Illinois Teachers Certification in Physical Education. She currently teaches physical education to students at Belding Elementary, a Chicago Public School. Youth development, and using the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility Model is her specialty.  She believes that physical education is the perfect tool to develop youth into responsible members of society. Her role at camp is to contribute to the development of new curricula related to sport and play, and come guest coach each summer!

Rico Punzalan

Position: Health and Fitness Coach

Rico has been with Camp Play-A-Lot as their Fitness Friday Coach for 2 summers. He is currently a certified personal training and the Founder/President of Healthy Heart Movement on Chicago’s north shore. He serves over 30 clients in the area from the ages of 10-75 years old. He is committed to motivating and inspiring people of all ages and especially loves to work with kids to see them grow and lead by example through active and healthy lifestyles. His hobbies include working out, playing basketball, and most importantly taking his 6 year old daughter to the park.

Liam Rocks

Position: Team Leader

Coach Liam has been with Camp PAL for 3 summers. In 2017, he graduated from St. Ignatius College Prep High School, where he served as co-captain of the varsity volleyball team, played in the honors percussion ensemble, and was a member of the National Honor Society.  He will attend Xavier University in the fall where he plans to major in Social Work and participate in the University Scholars Honors Program. He plans to pursue social work in a high school setting and is passionate about working towards social justice.

Coach Liam loves walking down the street from his home to Camp PAL and working to better Rogers Park and Chicago. He enjoys working on the PAL team and seeing what unique skills and talents each coach brings to camp. His favorite camp activities are soccer, the talent show, and “decathlon.”


David Nguyen

Position: Team Leader

Coach David has been with Camp PAL for 7 summers. In 2017, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Valparaiso University in Criminology. While at Valparaiso, he played basketball for the university team as well as intramural teams, and served as treasurer for the Intramural Advisory Council. Coach David plans to pursue a career as a Chicago Police Officer and eventually work as a federal agent with the FBI, DEA, or US Marshall.

Coach David is a Camp PAL pro, and loves spending summers in Rogers Park where he grew up. In fact, Coach David attended school at Rogers School, our camp site. He loves anything sports related, especially basketball, flag football, dodgeball, and tag in the park.

Malina Tang

Position: Team Leader

Coach Malina has been with Camp PAL for 4 summers. In 2017, she received her Bachelor of Science degree from DePauw University in Biochemistry with a minor in French. At DePauw, she served as president of the Oxfam Club, captain of the DePauw Cheerleaders, parliamentarian of the X-Cell Dance and Step Team, and was a member of the Lota Chi Chapter of the French Honor Society Pi Delta Phi. Coach Malina plans to work in a research lab or as a nursing assistant until she goes back to school to pursue pediatric medicine.

As a future pediatrician, Coach Malina loves working with the campers at PAL. She considers safety and fun top priorities at camp and strives to give our PALs the amazing summer camp experience she never had growing up. Her favorite Camp PAL activities are recycle city, sharks and minnows, and freeze dance!

Stacy Hilder

Position: Power PALs Team Leader

Coach Stacy is excited to join the Camp PAL team this summer. In 2013, she received her undergraduate degree in Urban Elementary Education from Michigan State University, where she also received her Masters degree in Curriculum and Design in 2016. She currently teaches 6th grade math at Shoesmith Elementary School, a Chicago Public School in Hyde Park.

Coach Stacy can’t wait to meet the Power PALs. She loves working with junior high students, getting to know them, helping them learn more about themselves, and spending lots of time laughing together. She is excited to integrate her skills and knowledge with Camp PAL’s social and emotional learning curriculum and play lots of getting to know you games.

Elizabeth Dudzik

Position: Team Leader

Coach Elizabeth is excited to join the Camp PAL team this summer. She is a Rogers Park native and grew up just down the street from our campus at Rogers School. In 2016, she graduated from Loyola Academy High School and is currently a student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign working towards a degree in Speech and Hearing Science. At UofI, she is a member of Illini Service Dogs, a volunteer organization that trains mobility service dogs to be placed with individuals with physical disabilities. She also served as a Morale Captain for the Illinithon Leadership Team, working to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network and St. John’s Children’s Hospital.

Coach Elizabeth plans to continue her education in graduate school to eventually become a Speech-Language Pathologist in a school or clinical setting. She is passionate about helping children improve their language, articulation, and social skills. Prior to joining Camp PAL, Coach Elizabeth has worked as a nanny and lifeguard and loves spending summertime outside, swimming, and playing games.

Kelly Lowndes

Position: Team Leader

Coach Kelly is excited to join the Camp PAL team this summer. She is currently a student at Loyola University where she is pursuing a degree in Secondary Education and English, and has made the Dean’s Honor Roll every semester. She hopes to become a high school English teacher after graduation.

Prior to joining Camp PAL, Coach Kelly served as a lead counselor and lifeguard at Camp Tekakwitha in Williamsburg, KS. As a future educator, she believes learning can happen anywhere and is excited to make learning new things fun at Camp PAL.

Lindsey Clementz

Position: Team Leader

Coach Lindsey is excited to join the Camp PAL team this summer. In 2017, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with endorsements in English as a second language, reading, middle grades science, and International Baccalaureate certification from Loyola University, graduating Summa Cum Laude. At Loyola, she was a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit Honor Society, received the elementary education award, served as president and community outreach chair of the Future Teachers Club, worked as a private tutor for an English language learner, participated in service projects throughout Rogers Park and Chicago with Alpha Phi Omega, and completed hundreds of clinical hours in elementary schools throughout Chicago. She is currently seeking a position as an elementary school teacher in Chicago.

Prior to joining Camp PAL, Coach Lindsey worked at various summer camps in Iowa. She loves building relationships with campers, seeing their talents shine through different activities, and is excited to meet the campers at PAL.

(773) 875-2587
campplayalot@gmail.com
Philip Rogers Elementary School
7345 N. Washtenaw Chicago, IL 60645