Our Team


Paul Averette
Director of Campus & Facility Operations
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With more than 20 years of experience with residential and commercial builders in the Raleigh area, Paul is excited to connect his building know-how with the growing campus of New Life Camp. As a Raleigh native, he attended Millbrook High School and NC State University. His family affectionately calls him “the Mayor” because he’s never met a stranger. Paul and his wife Gretchen live on a farm where they enjoy time with their three teenagers and a menagerie of animals. Paul recently managed the construction of the new worship center at Providence Church where they are actively involved and where his wife Gretchen is the children’s director. Paul is known for his servant heart, hard work and ability to make everyone laugh.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.  – 1 Thessalonians 5:11


Dr. Jeff Beckett
Executive Director
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After serving for over three decades in faith-based ministries as a pastor and a two-time church planter in Texas and North Carolina, Dr. Beckett is thrilled to join the New Life staff.  He was most recently the pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Apex, North Carolina for the past 21 years. Jeff has been married to Kathy for 37 years and they have four children and one grandchild.

For Jeff, focusing 24/7 on connecting people to new life in Jesus Christ and helping them develop into devoted followers of Christ is the most important and exciting task on the planet!

Around camp he gets to utilize his love for team building, organizational leadership, and development to help New Life Camp be the amazing place we all know and love.

Dr. Beckett has a B.A. in Political Science and History from Texas A & M, Commerce, a Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, and earned his Doctor of Ministry from SWBTS as well. Dr. Beckett also taught and coached Football, Baseball, and Basketball at a 3A school in North Texas.

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  Romans 6:4


Connor Brantley
Director of Marketing & Engagement
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Connor began serving at New Life Camp as a Summer Camp speaker. Little did he know that God would end up opening a door for him to join the NLC Team full-time. Connor graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Bachelor’s degree in Theology. He then worked at a local church in Raleigh as a Student Pastor for several years before he accepted a role here at NLC. He loves NLC and is very excited to do ministry here.


Katlyn Carney
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Katlyn fell in love with camp ministry when she started working at Camp Gilead, FL in 2012. In 2018 she joined the CBM National Internship Program. After the program was over, she felt God calling her into full-time ministry. In 2020 Katlyn accepted a temporary position within CBM to help start a new area in Utah. Since her days in the internship, she has loved New Life Camp and is excited about working with the ministry to see children come to know and accept Christ as their Savior.

Mary Gifford

Mary Gifford
Director of Development
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Mary Gifford’s passion for fundraising and development comes out of a deep desire to see Jesus heal and restore hurting and broken people and to see the gospel proclaimed. She comes to New Life Camp with 15 years of prior experience in ministry and nonprofit development both nationally and internationally. She brings her skills of donor discipleship, strategy, communication, event planning and project management to our team. Mary is passionate about ALL having the opportunity to know that we are seen and loved by our Creator. She relishes the chance to invite others to be an instrument in the Father’s hands through generosity, prayer and volunteer engagement. Mary is first a wife to her wonderful husband of 12 years, Mike Gifford, and mom to 4 little boys, twins who are 10, a feisty 7 year old and a little guy who is 4. She enjoys traveling, being with friends and family and reading good books. She and her family attend the Summit Church in Raleigh. Mary has a B.A. from Florida State University where she majored in Political Science.


Emileah Hawkins
Temporary Staff HR Manager
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Emileah was first called to ministry in 2016 at the age of 18.  She started exploring different parts of the ministry and fell in love with the idea of working at a camp.  Emileah first came to New Life Camp in the summer of 2018 as an intern through the CBM National Internship Program.  She knew this was where God was calling her.  The following summer, Emileah returned as part of the summer staff.  In November of 2019, she moved from Tennessee to be a part of the staff at New Life Camp.  She loves seeing the impact that camp has on kids.  One of her favorite things is watching children understand and come to know Jesus.  Many lives are changed because of camp and Emileah is excited to be a part of helping NLC run.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever in honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8


Jason Herbert
Athletic Director
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Jason started attending New Life Camp as a camper at an early age, and has since served in numerous positions, such as LIT, Summer Staff Member, Next Level Staff, Leadership Staff, Custodian, and Director of Program Staff. Jason’s primary role is to help plan and coordinate our athletics camps and programs including Storm and Next Level. Jason graduated from North Carolina State University in 2020 with his degree in Sports Management. Jason’s interests include playing basketball, spending time with friends and family, and cheering on Duke basketball, NC State football, the Carolina Panthers, and the Boston Red Sox!


Celeste Honaker
Business Manager
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Celeste joined the New Life Camp staff in 2010. Having worked as a CPA in both public and private industry, she feels blessed to be serving the Lord at NLC. “We have different gifts according to the grace given us, let us use them.” Romans 12:6. Celeste is married to Bill Honaker, and they have been blessed with two children, Nathan and Katie. Celeste loves to visit the Dining Hall on Taco Tuesdays, and if she were a camper, she would go to Paddle Boats whenever it was open!

 “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” – Matthew 6:30


Nicosia Merkerson
Campus Operations Assistant
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Nicosia has been at New Life Camp for 2 years under facilities. He was previously at the North Carolina Museum of Art for 10 years. Born and raised in Raleigh, NC, Nicosia enjoys sports, and film. He is married to Emily with a son, Julian, and a daughter, Daffodil Sophia.


Aaron Miller
Director of Programs
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Aaron was a camper at New Life Camp.  After a few years of serving on summer staff, he was asked to be the summer program director.  At the end of that summer, he felt God’s call to apply as a full time missionary.  He graduated from Tennessee Temple University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, coming to serve full-time at camp in 2000.  The activities Aaron began have transformed New Life Camp into a wonderful place for children all year long.  Aaron has been coaching high school basketball for 10 years as well as running camps and leagues. Aaron is married to Laura, and together they have two sons, Liam and Grayson, and a daughter, Claira. If you see Aaron around camp, you should challenge him to a game of Ping-Pong!

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8


Nathaniel Miller
Director of LEARN, IT & Web Coordinator
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Having come here as a camper, LIT, and summer counselor, God impacted Nathaniel’s heart through New Life Camp’s ministry. After graduating from Tennessee Temple University with a bachelor’s degree in Bible, it was a dream come true for him to join the full time staff in 2003. One of his greatest delights is the story of the Bible and teaching campers and students to engage this story so that it can transform their lives. He oversees the ministries of LEARN and Bible Teaching as well as IT and multimedia operations. He won’t stop talking about BibleProject‘s videos and podcasts and how excited they make him to continue reading the Bible broadly and deeply.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” – Colossians 3:16


Trisha Price
Media Design Coordinator
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While attending college at Tennessee Temple University, Trisha was introduced to New Life Camp.  During her summers, she worked as a camp counselor. Trisha graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 2001. She then taught third grade for two years in her home state of Ohio. God called her to New Life Camp in 2003, joining the full-time staff in 2004. Trisha is currently living in Ohio while working remotely for New Life Camp. She is thankful that God brought her to a wonderful place where she loves to serve. Trisha enjoys painting, drawing, and spending time with her family and dog (Raleigh). When Trisha is at camp loves watching storms from the Staff Office porch, and you will always hear her laughing when Beatrice takes the puppet stage.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33


Bo Roberts
Assistant Executive Director/Accreditation
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Bo spent his career of over thirty years as a YMCA professional, in particular with their resident camps, Sea Gull, Seafarer and Kanata. During a trip to Moldova as part of a team with a “dream to build a camp for youth,” Bo met Greg Burton and consequently fell in love with New Life Camp. He drove our American Camp Association accreditation process and formerly served as Alumni Coordinator.  He earned a Bachelor’s degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Bo and his wife Helen have been married 38 years and have three children: Graham, Hart and Lucy. If you need advice on any topic, Bo likely has a great story to share with you!

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12

“Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am He, I am He who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”  Isaiah 46:4


Sam Smith
Rentals & Scheduling Coordinator, Assistant Program Director
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Sam started attending New Life Camp as a camper when he was a child, later serving as an LIT and summer staff member. In 2014, Sam joined our full time staff. Sam serves by helping to plan and prepare for our summer camp programs as well as coordinate rentals throughout the year. Sam graduated from Liberty in 2016 and married his wife Hannah in 2018. Fun fact: he has visited 6 out of the 7 continents!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6

Former Directors

John Dorman

Greg Burton

Bob & Debbie Johnson

Bob Johnson, Sr.

Board of Directors

New Life Camp has a rich legacy of sharing the love of Jesus Christ with children and youth. Members of our Board of Directors share a commitment to this mission based on personal and family experiences.  They give their time and resources to steward the mission and govern the strategic direction of the camp.

Bill Peterson
Board President

Frank Lassiter
Vice President

Joey Hart

Ed Dillon

Hank Keleher

Amy Martin

Marc Mills

Shannon Scott

Sharon Stone

Bob Touchton

Frank Tyndall

Want to learn more?
Contact the New Life Camp Board of Directors.