Thomas V.


My name is Thomas and I am SO STOKED to be working camp this summer! This will be my first year at Camp Augusta, but my fourth summer working at camp.

A few quick factoids to set the stage:

  • I’m 25
  • I grew up in Kansas and have heard every Oz joke (try me)
  • I studied zoo science and field biology at Friends University
  • I’m a trained zookeeper and
  • I live in southern Colorado, twenty minutes from the New Mexico border
  • I love lists!

A bite of history
Once upon a time, I was pursuing a career in zookeeping. I worked at a number of facilities, including the Great Plains Nature Center, Standard Reptile Company, House in the Wood, Exploration Place, and even the illustrious PetSmart. I love working with the weird and wonderful, and my years in exotic husbandry were full of incredible stories. But something was missing.

When a zoo fails to do anything meaningful in the realms of conservation or education, its whole existence becomes a pointless display without context. Years ago I realized that I felt like I myself was one of those meaningless zoos: full of excitement and wonder, but with no real direction or reason to be. I took my first camp gig my senior year of college and while I’d attended camp as a kid, this was the first time I’d had a real sense of what it meant to directly inspire the same awe and excitement that had driven me to study zoo science in the first place. As much as I loved zookeeping, I realized: camp was my calling.

Just for fun…
Growing up in Kansas I had to make my own entertainment. So what can you do for fun in the middle of Kansas? Well, I turned to the boundless outdoors. Here’s some of the things I did as a bored midwest kid:

  • Caught and studied the bullfrogs, snapping turtles, muskrats, fish, and countless insects at the creek across the field
  • Pierced my nose in a freak fishing accident
  • Raised a brown recluse named Frank
  • Learned how to make aquarium filters, and put that skill to use building filters for enclosures at school, the local nature center, and my personal tanks at home
  • Learned basic wildlife rehab
  • Wrote constantly
  • Developed a thorough obsession with owls

Kansas couldn’t contain me for long. My adventures continued when I moved to Wisconsin pursuing camp jobs, and then to Trinidad Colorado. Nowadays my shenanigans include:

  • Exploring state parks
  • Breeding rats and buffalo leeches
  • Biking with my dog, Lina
  • Building aquaponics systems
  • Reading wayyy too many books
  • Working on my own book!
  • Learning to play the banjo
  • Coming to Camp Augusta!

So you’ve just learned you’re in my cabin? WOOHOO!!!
I’ve got three requests for you:

  • If you were a cryptid, what would you be? I’m going to ask this, so be prepared!
  • What are your three best stories? These can be personal experiences or stories you’ve heard, factual or fictional. If you’re comfortable with telling them, I’d love to hear them!
  • Bring a riddle if you have any! We’ll see if we can stump each other.

A cryptid, if you don’t know, is a creature that people claim to be real but hasn’t yet been verified to exist. Some famous examples include sasquatch and the Loch Ness monster, but platypus, giant squid, African unicorns, coelacanths, komodo dragons, king cheetahs, and gorillas were all once considered cryptids!

If I were to be magically transformed into a cryptid one night, I’d probably end up as a jackalope. I have many things in common with these fearsome critters:

  1. I hail from the midwest
  2. I can be found in both vast plains and towering mountains
  3. I’m attracted to campfires
  4. I’m excellent at hide and seek
  5. I’m very small (only 5’4”!)
  6. I love singing at night, and
  7. I’m full of boundless energy!


My Trusty Sidekick
Joining us in the cabin will be my best friend, side kick, and foot warmer, Lina! Her favorite food is cabbage and she loves hiking, intercepting hugs, hunting laser pointers, and being a huge goober. She’s super soft and loves being pet.

Lina is my trained service dog, so if you see her in her special working vest it means she’s on duty and not available to play or cuddle. Don’t worry, though – she’s not always in the vest!

Well, that’s about all for now! I’m counting down the days until camp. I can’t wait to hear your stories, embark on new adventures, and discover the impossible with you. This summer is going to be incredible.

Venture on!

If it takes four rat catchers to catch four rats in four minutes, how many
rat catchers would it take to catch 40 rats in 40 minutes?