Sincia Liu, Founder & Executive Director

For Sincia, Camp Tuku is the product of a long-lasting dream. Sincia was first introduced to a residential children’s summer camp at the age of 20, when she worked as a waterfront and bunk counselor at Trails End Camp (TEC) during her summer break while attending Rutgers University. She enjoyed the camp experience so much that she returned to TEC for two additional summers. Inspired by the bond and friendship that she built with the kids and the other counselors, Sincia vowed to someday start her own camp. After leading a successful 25-year career as an executive in the staffing and consulting business, she decided that it was time to pursue her other passion.

As someone who believes in the power of meditation and a healthy diet and lifestyle, Sincia’s vision for Camp Tuku combines the benefits of nature with an integrated program that cultivates a healthy mind, body, and heart. Her goal is to create a fun and joyful experience for campers while equipping them with tools that they can use to enrich their lives for years to come.

As a physician, Sincia’s husband, Tim, shares her passion for a healthy and adventurous lifestyle. They reside in Peoria, Arizona with their two children, Arwen and Anderson, their dogs, Sam and Mochi, and Puccini the cat. They can’t wait to embark on the Camp Tuku journey together!

Susan Kaiser Greenland, Mindfulness and Meditation Advisor

Camp Tuku - Susan Kaiser GreenlandSusan is an internationally recognized instructor of mindfulness and meditation to children, teens, and families. She is involved in the design of Camp Tuku’s mindfulness and meditation activities to create a one-of-a-kind experience for our campers.

Susan’s work in the areas of mindfulness and meditation has been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and Parents. She speaks widely at prestigious institutions and meditation centers in the United States and abroad. In fact, she helped pioneer activity-based mindfulness for young people and published two leading books titled, “The Mindful Child” and “Mindful Games”. In addition, she has recorded a series of brief guided meditations for grownups entitled Mindful Parent, Mindful Child.

Susan worked as a corporate lawyer from 1988 to 2005 representing the ABC and CBS networks. During that time, she co-founded The Inner Kids Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that taught secular mindfulness in schools and community-based programs in the greater Los Angeles area. Susan was on the clinical team of the Pediatric Pain Clinic at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, co-investigator on several UCLA research studies on the impact of mindfulness in education, and a collaborator on an investigation of mindful eating for children and caregivers. To learn more about mindfulness and meditation practices for children and families, feel free to sign-up for Susan’s newsletter at www.susankaisergreenland.com and follow her on social media.

Paige Niezelski, Director of Programming

Paige is excited to contribute her skills in camp programming to making Camp Tuku a fun and deeply enriching experience for campers.

Paige graduated from Slippery Rock University with a double major in Political Science and Philosophy in 2013. Since then, Paige has worked in 4 countries teaching and coordinating camp programming. For the last two summers she has served as the Program Director for WorldStrides Global Camps in Shanghai China.

Currently Paige develops and directs enrichment programming for inner city children at the Indochinese American Council and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania. Paige’s international experience has given her an appreciation for meditation and the spiritual practices that surround it. She is excited about making these practices accessible to children. Her camp experience has also led her to an appreciation of the uniqueness of every child, and the joys of providing them with new and engaging experiences.

When not implementing and designing programming, Paige enjoys meditation, reading, piano and browsing Etsy looking for antique household items.

Rachel Weir, Director of Operations

Rachel holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and recently graduated with a Master of Public Administration from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. 

 

Rachel’s passion for education first ignited when she served as a Teach for America Corps Member in rural North Carolina, where she taught high school English and Journalism after college. But it wasn’t until living in the frigid (-30 degrees Fahrenheit) northeastern parts of China as a Princeton in Asia Fellow that Rachel realized the important nexus between education and peacebuilding. 

 

Since then, Rachel has managed several after-school programs serving international and at-risk populations and has directed summer camp operations in Shanghai, China. Today, Rachel’s academic and professional interests include effective leadership and management for peace education, cultural exchange, and people-to-people diplomacy. 

 

In her spare time, Rachel enjoys searching for affordable flights and traveling on a shoestring. To date, she has traveled to over 35 countries and hopes to one day visit all 195. 

Cyd Ponce – Director of Mindfulness

Cyd Ponce is a Educational Support Teacher at a Waldorf School in Southern Arizona.  Her work centralizes around body and sensory integration as a means to deepen the capacities of her students.  Cyd has always been drawn to working with children.  It was through health, fitness, mindset practices and building a relationship with her own well being that she was inspired to peruse a path towards providing that opportunity for children.  Cyd enjoys fitness so much that she is working on being a Group Fitness Instructor to work with adults as well.

Cyd is a wife and mom to their eight year old daughter, Liv.  The three enjoy the local music scene in Tucson.  Cyd’s husband is a drummer by profession.  She is inspired by rhythm and percussion  and although she doesn’t consider herself musical she has learned that rhythm supports life and breathing, the fundamentals of meditation.  She includes some rhythm work into her own practices and teaching methods.

As Camp Tuku’s Mindfulness Director, Cyd is excited to experience a like-minded community and make memories; not just for the campers but herself as well.

Jess Leiter – Director of Innovations & Sustainability

Jessica was born in North Dakota, grew up in Northeast Ohio, and moved to Arizona after graduating college with a degree in education. While in college, she volunteered as a counselor for Youth for Christ. This experience fostered a desire to work with young people.

Jessica has been an educator for 13 years and has loved teaching science. Throughout her career, she facilitated labs and STEM activities that encouraged hands-on learning, cooperative collaboration, and problem solving. She also organized STEM Days on her campus for the students in 1st-8th grade. In 2020, she co-coached the Vistancia Elementary Odyssey of The Mind team.

As an educator, Jessica attended and facilitated lessons at camp with the fifth grade team at Friendly Pines in Prescott. She loved this experience, particularly watching the students become more independent and discover new areas of strength and confidence.

She lives in Peoria, Arizona &  loves Mexican food, riding bikes on sunny days, and traveling with her husband and two daughters. She’s very excited to see what creative and innovative solutions the campers will think up this summer!

Andrea Moore, Director of Innovations & Sustainability

Andrea graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2003 with a B.A. in Special Education and in 2006 from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a M.ed. in Special Education. Throughout her career, Andrea has worked with children of all ability levels and knows how to differentiate her teaching to meet the needs of all children.

Andrea has over 13 years of teaching experience, including teaching students with severe/profound disabilities, children with autism, and children with learning disabilities. Andrea is involved in several committees within her school. She is part of the leadership team for her school, the lighthouse team, and was recently selected for a leadership apprenticeship. She has also coached for several years, coaching her son’s soccer and baseball teams.

As a child, Andrea loved her experiences at camp. She went on to work at several day camps as a young adult and spent a summer in Maryland working at Camp Accomplish as a counselor for children with and without special needs.
In her free time, Andrea enjoys spending time with her family, running, and exercising. She is an avid Chicago sports fan and enjoys watching the Chicago Cubs and Bears.

Andrea resides in Peoria, Arizona with her husband, Mike, two sons, Ashton and Rylan, and their cat, Rizzo. As a family, they enjoy traveling, hiking, swimming, and spending time together.

Henry (Frankie) Brun, Director of Sports

Frankie has dedicated his professional career to his passion of sport. After his time in the United States Air Force and earning his Bachelor’s degree in Sports Communication from Alma College, he stepped into the college coaching ranks developing some of the most nationally competitive track & field programs at the intercollegiate level over the past decade.

Frankie has over 15 years of summer camp experience, working in roles ranging from cabin counselor and sports instructor to senior administrator and director in leadership development. He enjoys being able to see children grow through exploring new experiences and knows the best part about camp is helping every child find what they are passionate about.

Growing up in New York, Frankie is a huge sports fan and loves watching the New York Knicks, Mets, Jets and NYCFC. He is a music junkie and loves a good vinyl record.

Frankie lives in Wichita, Kansas with his partner, Teresa, and their playful boxer, Chidi.

Emma Maruska – Director of Arts & Crafts

Emma Maruska joins Camp Tuku for Summer 2022 bringing with her a courageous heart and steady hands.  She has a breadth of knowledge regarding student enrichment programming and skill development through craft.  

Emma has always been a maker.  Working with her dad on creative projects as a child, she found a spark for thinking through her hands.  Upon attaining her BFA in Craft from Oregon College of Art and Craft, she began to think about how she would share her love for materials and making with children.  

As a Practical Arts Waldorf teacher, Emma guides students in grades 1-8 through the process of creating objects we so commonly purchase and consume.  What does it feel like to make and use one’s own coffee cup, wooden spoon, washcloth? Using one’s hands to create beauty is perhaps one of humankind’s simplest and most soul-connected skills. 

Chef Mark – Culinary Director

Mark Williams was born and raised in Phillipsburg, NJ and ever since he was 11 years old, he was in the kitchen learning from his mom.  As a child, the first thing Mark made from scratch was a funnel cake.  Upon graduation of high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army for 7 years.  “The military was a great foundation and it taught me discipline, integrity, teamwork, and selfless service, Mark said.  It was my trip overseas to the Republic of Korea, when I immersed myself in food culture and enjoyed some of the most amazing food I ever tasted, that got me interested in culinary school.”

Mark attended Luzerne County community college and received a degree in Hospitality and Culinary Arts Management and been working in the ever so changing service industry for over 7 years.  “Food is life, food sustains us, and most importantly, food is a gift that should be shared.”  Mark never tires of making delicious and nutritious food.

Currently, Mark works as a Kitchen Operations Manager for a non-profit organization called American Rescue Workers located in Williamsport, Pa. Mark runs the entire day to day food service operations, feeding 70 homeless shelter residents and staff with donated food products that are at the end of their usable shelf life. Being successful in this challenging role takes motivation, creativity, knowledge, and hard work every single day.

Alan Frank – Wilderness Exploration Director

Alan Franks is currently a Staff Sergeant in the US Army where he leads soldiers in land navigation and effective teamwork. Alan holds a B.S. in Media Studies with a focus on Business from the University of Kentucky and is a diehard Kentucky Wildcats fan!

When Alan is not in the field training with his soldiers, he enjoys hiking the mountains of Hawai’i, surfing, and camping. Passionate about playing sports, the outdoors, and all things wilderness.

Alan is extremely excited to work with Camp Tuku campers this summer as part of our Wilderness Program.

Timothy Rider, MD., Camp Physician

After earning his Doctor of Medicine degree from Temple University School of Medicine in Pennsylvania, Dr. Tim has been practicing family medicine for over 25 years. He is a board-certified physician in the State of Arizona, where he has been practicing at Abrazo Medical Group in Peoria since he and his family moved back to the Valley from New Jersey. Dr. Tim cares for patients of all ages, providing a range of primary healthcare services and treating a variety of conditions, from seasonal illnesses to chronic diseases.

Dr. Tim works closely with our Healthcare staff and the leadership team at Camp Tuku to develop health and safety protocols to ensure that our campers and staff stay safe and healthy before and during camp. 

When he’s not practicing medicine, Dr. Tim enjoys traveling, biking, hiking, and paddle boarding with his family. He is passionate about healthy eating, and is naturally curious about space and science. On the weekends, you’ll often find him curled up enjoying sci-fi movies and documentaries with his children. Dr. Tim shares Sincia’s passion for camp and is excited to meet the campers!

Nicole Madera, PA., Camp Physician Assistant

After receiving her master’s degree as a Physician Assistant at Nova Southeastern University in South Florida, Nicole has been practicing dermatology for over 17 years. She currently practices in Arizona with All Dermatology and stays up to date on all disease states and first aid through continuing medical education. Nicole enjoys caring for infants all the way to geriatric patients, specializing in all things skin. She is adept at all wound care, rashes, surgeries, and beyond. 

Nicole works closely with the leadership team at Camp Tuku in developing and ensuring the safety and health protocols established, will protect the safety of our campers and staff. 

When she is not working, she enjoys being active; working out, cycling our neighborhood trails, and adventuring with her family. She’s a world traveler and open to new ideas, philosophies, foods, and ways of life. Nicole is excited to reignite her childhood days of the camp experience and will use her compassion for caring for all of our campers.