About Sarah Kurtz McKinnon
Sarah Kurtz McKinnon graduated cum laude from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2008, earning her degree in political science and journalism. Although she had a passion for writing, she had another passion, and that was changing lives through the power of summer camp. In 2009, she earned the opportunity to become one of the youngest YMCA camp executives in the country, taking the helm of Ann Arbor YMCA Camp Al-Gon-Quian at the age of 23. Sarah served as the director of Camp AGQ for nearly six years. During that time the camp saw incredible growth with a 40 percent increase in positive annual net for the program and nearly $1 million in capital construction improvements. Her dynamic and creative leadership approach took an already great camp to another level of excellence, receiving recognition at the national level for the camp's success.
Sarah left Camp AGQ in 2015 to start Kurtz McKinnon Creative with the goal of helping other camps and camp professionals reach their full potential. She is a facilitator of Directors' Camp, a faculty member with Expert Online Training and is a sought-after facilitator, presenting in more than fifteen different states (and Canada!) for audiences as large as 500 people. She recently co-authored a book for camp professionals with Steve Maguire, entitled Not the Way You Have Always Done It and, with Jack Schott, founded The Summer Camp Society, a collaborative, community-based education program for emerging camp professionals. In 2018, Sarah earned her Master's in Business Administration, graduating with high honors from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. At Ross, she served as a fellow in the +LAB at the Center for Positive Organizations and co-wrote a case study about staff motivation that was published by the Harvard Business Review.
Sarah lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her husband, Robert (a licensed builder and carpenter), and their Brittany Spaniels, Ranger and Marley. Robert worked at Camp AGQ in the years before Sarah arrived, and they met via mutual camp friends. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys tennis, reading and art. Sarah is also a volunteer board member for the Washtenaw Camp Placement Association (a local non-profit that sends kids to camp who otherwise would never have the opportunity), Recycle Ann Arbor, and serves as the director of the Siblings Program at Camp Tall Tree.
What the pros are saying about Sarah Kurtz McKinnon
“Sarah is the ultimate camp professional and expert consultant. From her years as an outstanding camp director, she has been in the trenches and has done exactly what it takes to create the gold standard program. She is one of the few experts I would have train my staff.” - Scott Arizala, Summer Camp Consultant, Trainer & Executive Director
“Our training was fun, it was interactive, and it was meaningful. We are now halfway through the summer and I still see and hear the counselors singing the songs and playing the games she taught us.” - Jen Hay, Youth Development Director, Monroe YMCA
“While coaching staff I was able to easily reference the tools Sarah provided and watch them put their new ‘tricks of the trade’ into action as they emerged as confident leaders.” - Kaleena Escallier, Senior Director of Youth Development, McGaw YMCA
"We loved having Sarah join us for part of our staff training! She is incredibly knowledgeable, fun and professional and was a joy to work with!" - Lindsay Hildebrandt, Program Director, YMCA Camp Arbutus Hayo-Went-Ha