Meet Karen Hale



Meet Karen Hale New Director of Camp Nakanawa!

Dear Nakanawa Family and Friends,

We are delighted to announce that Karen Rathgeber Hale (TR 80) has agreed to serve as the next Director of Camp Nakanawa. Karen’s long tenure as Head Counselor and deep connection to camp, combined with her business experience, make her an ideal choice. The next years will be ones of transition and change as we retire and camp segues to a non-profit. It is incredibly reassuring to us to know that Karen will be the person to guide camp through these coming summers. She will officially begin her transition to directorship in the fall of 2021, and plans to make camp her permanent residence.

Karen first came to Junior Camp from Houston in 1974. During her Tent Row summer, she was elected Captain and then selected as Lady of the Cup, an award presented to her by “Mitch.” A graduate of Texas A & M, she returned to Senior Camp as a cabin counselor intermittently from 1982 to 1999, and led many activities including Softball, Climbing Wall, Horseback Riding and Sailing. Since 2000 Karen has served as Head Counselor in either Junior or Senior Camp, making her one of the longest tenured head counselors since “Wally” Hall. During this time she has led both Two-Week and Four-Week sessions. She has provided continuous, strong leadership in Senior now for 14 summers, helping guide us through challenges that include dealing with technology, enrollment, staff, and COVID-19.

Karen, with her late husband Chris, operated a successful business in Salado, Texas, for over twenty years. Karen also served as property manager of their own 17-acre property and her family’s 500-acre ranch. She has worked on numerous boards and was a civic leader in her community. Her background in marketing, graphic design, social media and photography are yet another asset. She has acquired an intimate working knowledge of every aspect of camp operations, from the location of fuse boxes to the recipe for frozen fruit salad. She knows the history of Nakanawa from A to Z, understands the lineage of our four-generation camp families, and has been a key part of TIES and our great alumni volunteers. A section on leadership in the Centennial History reads: “Karen, valued for her upbeat personality, always takes time to listen. She works to ensure camaraderie between the Junior and Senior staffs. An avid outdoorsman, she encourages a love of nature and adventure. Karen brings a sense of fun and playfulness to Senior Camp to counteract the pressures that fill the lives of today’s teenagers. She values the transformative nature of camp and the role Nakanawa plays in shaping the characters of young women.”

After working so closely with Karen for over 40 years, we know that she will provide that rare combination of warmth, humility and strength. She inspires us and those she leads with her caring attitude, wise counsel and sensitivity to the needs of others. Her dedication to the values of camp and her generous and giving personality shine brightly to all. Rest assured that Karen is committed to the continuation of “Nakanawa being Nakanawa.”

We would like to send a special “Thank You” to the Search Committee led by Donya Boylston Rose, Shelly Duer Landau and Margaret Hawkins Matens, with Holly Ivey, Kelsie Costello Wagner, Barbara Keith Brown Payne, and Lizzie Mills Murthy, all Nakanawa alumnae. The committee spent countless hours reviewing applications to help find the person who would lead Nakanawa into its second century. We are grateful for the professionalism and inclusiveness of the search process and the high standards that were set. We were awed by the number and strength of the applicants, especially given the short time frame of the search. The common thread among those who applied was their abiding love for this camp and the desire to see Nakanawa transition successfully to new leadership and governance. It is indeed a testament to the impact Nakanawa has had on so many lives that such an impressive group of women were willing to consider undertaking the unique challenges and way of life that come with being camp director.

Nakanawa’s 102nd summer was a wonderful, memorable one. We feel blessed that we were able to complete our sessions safely. We look forward to starting work on our new camp home and to keeping in touch with all of you who have been a beloved part of Nakanawa and of our lives. One of the benefits of Karen Hale’s many years at camp is her multitude of lifelong camp friends. We know that many of you who have come to know and love Karen will be celebrating with us as you receive this news. We trust that Karen will be able to count on the same outpouring of support that we have received over the last four decades.  If you would like to contact Karen, her email address is: