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Day Camp Directors

We are the Directors of the Thomas School Day Camp,
and these are our stories.

Nancy Thomas
Owner and Director

Nancy’s parents, Bill and Fran Thomas started the Thomas School of Horsemanship in 1943, and in 1952 founded the only Long Island day camp to offer children all the joys of camp as well as a full riding program.

“I feel so fortunate that I knew when I was 16 that I wanted to be the Camp Director. I knew that who I had become as a camper was so powerful that I was a truly effective counselor as a result. I have spent the past 45 years creating the environment for both campers & staff to become the best people they can be for their mutual benefits. It is wonderful to know how successful our alumni are in their adult lives. We know that the confidence, leadership, communication & responsibility they enhanced at camp are working for them now.”

Nancy takes great pride in the multi-generational community that she has fostered at TSH. Many camp alumni remember their time with us so fondly that they return to work with us, and send their own children to camp as well. This full circle of family and friends helps us offer those same wonderful experiences to a whole new generation.

Shannon and Mom August 2015

 Shannon Cleary





Janine Ortiz- photoJanine Innes Ortiz

Camp Director

Janine Started as a camper in 1977.  Having filled almost every position at camp (Jr. Camp Director, Sr. Camp Director, CIT Director, Horse Science Director, Jr. Camp Ride Director) and taking in consideration her boundless energy, creativity, and leadership skills this made her the natural choice for Camp Director as Nancy begins her retirement.

Claudia Stewart
Program Director

Claudia has a degree in Physical Education, is originally from Argentina, and came here in 1997. Lucky for us, she now calls Thomas School her home. Claudia was so creative and well organized for all her years on the sports staff that she is now our Program Director. She schedules our day to day activities as well as organizing our Special Day schedules.

Claudia met and married Mike Stewart, a past camp director at Thomas School, and their daughters Kayla and April are now campers.



Caryn Yakacki
Year Round Ride Director

Caryn has been riding since the age of 6 and began teaching with us as an assistant instructor at the age of 14. She is now not only a show team instructor but a senior camp ride director, helping to manage the horses and instructors throughout the year. Her dual passions of music and horses make her a very sensitive and intuitive trainer and teacher. Caryn graduated with her B.M. in Music Education in 2013 and now can be found teaching and riding the horses in between running her music lessons business across Long Island.


 Ilyana Fox
Jr. & Sr. Camp Director

We are so lucky to have Ilyana returning to Thomas School. She was a camper and a CIT and has always been drawn back to Thomas School. She is happy that the stars have aligned and she is now able to be here as our Jr. & Sr. Camp Director. Ilyana works as an Occupational Therapist with a specialty in Pediatrics during the school year. She is now able to be back to give her own two children and all of all of Camp the positive experience that she had as a child .

Cara Cara Midwinter

 Sr. Camp Assistant Director

Cara started at TSH taking riding lessons at 10 years old and then decided to spend her summers at TSH, starting as a Welsh Pony, continued as a CIT and then worked as a counselor! Since that first day she began lessons, she felt that TSH was her home. Cara goes to The Catholic University of America where she is studying Nursing! She continues to come back not only because of the horses, but because of the incredible people that she has met over the years! Cara is looking forward to an amazing summer filled with friendships, fun activities, and this new chapter at TSH as an assistant director!


Erica Waleski
Jr. Camp Assistant Director

Erica has been at TSH for 7 years. She started as a CIT and then as a counselor in Junior Camp. She goes to Chestnut Hill College where she is a biology major and runs cross country and track. She is so grateful to be at camp every year and loves seeing the joy camp brings everyone. Being the third generation in her family to attend Thomas School of Horsemanship, she sees first hand what a positive impact camp and riding can have. 2018 will be the best summer yet!



Lisa Harman

CIT Director

Lisa has a masters degree in Special Education and teaches in NYC during the school year. She feels so lucky to be able to spend her summers enjoying her camp friends. That includes the horses! She loves  what Thomas School has added to her life so much that her two children are campers as well. Lisa says her children have grown so much and become better people thanks to Thomas School!  “It’s a special place for all of us!”





 Ben Fox
Sports Director

Ben has so much to offer us at Thomas School. He is a certified High School Science Teacher. He has coaches JV Lacrosse and Varsity Golf and is a Guilliard trained musician. How wonderful that he married into the Thomas School Family.




 Jeanine Alvarado
Jr. Ride Director

  Jeanine has been part of the Thomas School Family for more than 25 years.  She first joined the Thomas School Family as a camper, and then as CIT. In Jeanine words “Thomas School is such an amazing place—that’s why I accepted the position as Riding Director for junior campers, and why I return every summer.  It’s also the reason why I enroll my two children in summer camp here every summer.”   During the school year she works as a Special Education Teacher for the New York City Board of Education. She graduated from Centenary College with an Associate’s Degree in Equine Studies and a Bachelor’s degree in English. She then obtained my Master’s Degree in Special Education.  She has always had a passion and love for horses, and as she put it “I can’t imagine spending my summer anywhere else.   I am so lucky to be able to combine my love for teaching and my love for horses here, and I can’t wait for another amazing summer!” We are so glad to count her as part of our leadership team!


unnamed   Gayle Estrada

   A&C Director

Gayle has been proudly calling Thomas School her second home for over 15 years. She has been riding since the age of 4 and first came to Thomas School as a Wilson Tech student. She progressed to working as the Assistant Barn Manager and now the Arts and Crafts Director. She is a New York State certified Chemistry, Biology, and Earth Science teacher currently teaching Chemistry and Advanced Science Research at North Babylon High School. She was excited to start the Thomas School STEM program. She met and married Fernando Estrada, former Maintenance Manager at Thomas School, and is honored that their daughters, Isabella and Liliana, get to call Thomas School their second home too.