Karen (Kully) O’Keefe (S1990)

Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska

Current City: Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Contact Info: pkokeefe@comcast.net

Cabins: Clubhouse

Role: Counselor

Education: B.S. Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University, 1991

Occupation: Stay-at-home mom and JollySigns Creator

Spouse: Patrick O’Keefe

Children: Connor (age15), Abby (13), and Ben (10)

Where does your story with camp begin?  How were you first introduced to Camp Lake Hubert? My Camp story begins with attending Camp movies in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1978!  Both my older sister (Julie (Kully) Faryniarz (1978, 1979)) and older brother (David Kully (1978-1982, S1986)) signed up on the spot!  That seems so long ago, but I remember it well!

Did any of your family members attend or work at camp? My older sister, Julie, went to camp for two years, my older brother David, went to camp for at least five years (and worked as a counselor), and my younger brother, Danny Kully (1983-1989, S 1991-1992), went to camp for seven years and was on staff for two summers.

What are a few of your favorite memories from your days at Camp Lake Hubert? I have many strong memories during my summer as a counselor at Camp Lake Hubert.  After leaving the dining hall after each meal, there were two paths that would take me back to the Clubhouse cabin.  I could walk through the woods or walk along the lake.  I always chose the lake.  To this day when asked which is my favorite; mountains, ocean or lake, I always choose lake – and don’t forget, I live in Colorado!  I also remember going on my first Boundary Waters canoeing adventure in 1990.  My campers were such a blast and up for anything, it was the best!

What are some of the things you learned at camp?  Favorite activities? I have always been an arts and crafts lover, so I loved working with campers in that area; candle making, beading… you name it, I loved it.  But I really loved the time I spent on Lake Hubert sailing.  I was not an experienced sailor when I got to camp but by the time I left, I was very confident and comfortable teaching the basic sailing skills to my campers.

What is your favorite camp quote, and when was it from? My favorite camp saying is CFAB – Camp Friends are Best.  Think about it… the campers are away from their families, home, friends from home, and they are on their own.  They are who they are.  When friendships are made like this, they stick.

What was your favorite camp meal or dining tradition? I loved the dining hall.  All of the counselors and campers eating and singing together – that’s another favorite camp memory!  And I loved the pizza.  If you asked my kids the same question, they would all agree “squirty chicken” is their favorite.

What are you up to now?  Tell us about your family life and interests. After graduating from Colorado State University, we lived in Washington, D.C. for 10 years.  We moved back to Colorado in 2002.  Our children, Connor (age 15), Abby (13), Ben (10) keep me very busy with their stuff, and I love it!  We ski, snowboard, and snowshoe in the winter, but like most families with kids these ages, we spend a lot of time doing what they are doing: soccer, running, guitar lessons, school activities.  Just when you think you’ve had enough of the carpooling, meetings, soccer tryouts, music recitals, they get to go to camp.  The timing of camp can’t come at a better time for them.

Your three children attend camp now.  What is it like to be a Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert mom?  Skipping ahead, about 24 years later, I am beyond thrilled that our kids can go to camp.  It’s a family tradition.  My sister, brothers, niece, and nephews all love Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert.  We are so lucky to be able to provide this for our kids.  I’ve had many people say, “I can’t believe you’re sending your kids away for four weeks.”  To which I respond, “it’s their favorite place on earth and I get them for the other 48 weeks a year.”  Of course I miss them like crazy, but I know they are so happy and having experiences we could never provide them here. 

What are your children looking forward to most about this summer at camp? They can’t wait to reconnect with their camp friends.  Connor (2010-2014) earned his American Archer last summer which was quite an accomplishment and commitment, so this summer, he hopes to focus on Sailing and Windsurfing.  Abby (2011-2014) fell in love with Windsurfing last summer, so she plans on spending a lot of time focusing on that again this summer.  Ben (2013, 2014) is determined to earn an award in Archery.  He also loves the Wilderness activities – hey, you never know when you’ll find yourself in a survival situation and he wants to be prepared!

Is there anything in particular you would like to do or accomplish while your children are away? I know their time at camp will fly by, so my husband and I are creating a list of fun things to do so we can make the most of it, too.  We will start by celebrating our niece’s (former CLH camper) high school graduation and spending a few days on Cape Cod.

What are some of your outside interests? I like to play tennis, golf, ride my bike, walk my dog, and work on house projects.  I started making hand painted wooden signs a couple of years ago and have actually sold quite a few. On a whim, I picked up some fence planks one day, pulled out our sander and some paint and JollySigns was created.  I love rustic looking wooden décor and love making things.  After receiving really positive feedback from my friends, I put some of my creations on Etsy.  I couldn’t believe it when someone actually bought my first sign!  My creations can be found on Etsy.com and my shop name is JollySigns.  My biggest seller is my wooden Colorado flag.  When the kids returned home from camp last summer, I had a sign hanging outside their bedroom doors- Lake Hubert, Minnesota 981.8 miles (the distance in miles we are from camp).   I’ve made some for camp family and friends and they are a huge hit!

Do you have a mentor you look up to or creed that you live by? Work hard and be nice.