Our Team

We can't wait to get to know you and your family this summer! In the meantime, here's a little introduction to a few members of our team (if you can't tell, we LOVE superheroes!).  

Say Hello!

You can email us or reach us via phone at 919-287-1763.

Camp Director: Dan Gilson

Dan Gilson

Superhero code name: Captain America

Years as a camp counselor: 14 years (6 years as a camp instructor, 1 as assistant director and 7 as director)

About me: Boston College is my alma mater, and I received my B.A. in Human Development and M.A. in Counseling Psychology there. During the school year, I also serve as director of the Durham Academy Extended Day program and enjoy running around with the kids and playing as much as I can. I am married with four daughters (two of whom go to DA). We enjoy spending time together outdoors, camping when we can, traveling when we can, hanging out with friends, neighbors and our chickens, eating, gardening and relaxing in the yard.

At camp, I love to play dodgeball with the kids during Before Care and After Care and run around during the day and barge into camps to see what's going on. Summertime at DA is my favorite time of year — starting the day with bubbles, music and fog at the car line and getting to see all of the happy and excited kids hop out of their cars is just awesome!

Random fact: Elephants are the only mammals that can't jump.

Contact info: 919-287-1763, email

Assistant Camp Director: William Edwards

William Edwards

Superhero code name: Cable

Years as a camp counselor: 16 years

About me: I grew up in the mountains of Tennessee with two younger brothers and attended The University of the South – Sewanee (B.S.). After spending 12 years working with development organizations such as the Peace Corps and the United Nations in California, West Africa, the Solomon Islands, and Turkey, I relocated to North Carolina to pursue a career in education. Since 2004, I have been teaching biology at Durham Academy Upper School, as well as working as the assistant director of DA Summer Programs with a focus on our sports programming. My two sons, Jed and Zeke, as well as my daughter, Stella, have also been a part of Summer Programs with me, serving as campers, camp helpers, and Summer Programs staff over the years.

Summer is a great time at DA — I love the positive energy and enthusiasm that our campers bring to Summer Programs. I am also continually in awe of the level of expertise and professionalism that our lead counselors bring to their individual camps. One of the highlights of camp for me has been running a Dodgeball Camp with my sons. I look forward to being a Big Kid with all of our Summer Programs campers this summer!

Random fact: While living in West Africa, I had a monkey named Kumba that would ride on my motorcycle with me when I traveled to outlying villages to work with farmers.

Assistant Camp Director: Jennifer Thornton

Jennifer Thornton

Superhero code name: Black Widow

Years as a camp counselor: 2 as a camp instructor, 11 as assistant director

About me: I attended Whittier College (B.A.) and California State University, Fullerton (M.A.). I come from a large family, with two older sisters and a brother. I am from California (and visit family often), so I love to spend time on North Carolina's coast.

I love to read, organize and scrapbook, so I particularly enjoy our crafty camps. I love working at DA because it so much fun to see our return campers every year attend our camps. I am looking forward to meeting all of our campers this year and helping everyone to have a fantastic summer at DA.

Random fact: I have traveled all over the United States (the only state I have left to visit is Alaska).

Camp Office Assistant: Casey Williams

Casey Rogers

Superhero code name: Wonder Woman 

Years as a camp counselor: 10 years

About me: I attended Elon University and received my B.A. in Elementary Education. I teach  first grade in Cary during the traditional school year and absolutely love my job. I have one younger sister (Lauren — was also part of the DA Summer Programs staff!) and an Italian greyhound named Meucci. My hobbies include cooking, mountain biking and running. I absolutely love the beach and spend as much time there as possible.

One of my favorite camps to visit each year is Cooking for Kids. :) I always get so excited for the start of DA Summer Programs and can’t wait to see all of our returning campers as well as new friends. It is truly the greatest place to spend your summer!

Random fact: I am an alumnus of DA — Class of 2010!

Volunteer Coordinator & Before and After Care Coordinator: Zakia VanHoose

Zakia VanHoose

Superhero code name: Lupita (Nakia) 

Years with DA Summer Programs: 3 years as Volunteer Coordinator & Before Care Coordinator

About me: I received my B.A. in Parks and Recreation Administration and minored in Recreation Therapy. During the school year, I serve as the assistant director of Durham Academy’s Extended Day Program and as the Extended Day Program Coordinator at the Middle School. I am married with a beautiful big girl named Sadie (proud dog mom). My family enjoys traveling, bowling, playing basketball, volleyball, cookouts, watching sports and cooking shows.

Random fact: I tried to be a pescatarian. It lasted two weeks.