Directors & Staff

Gary, Barbara & Steve Bloom


A Family Affair! For sixty-seven years, the Bloom family has been dedicated to enriching children’s lives through the camp experience. Gary and Steve were raised on the Playland campus and as we like to say… we have camp in our blood! Our family is incredibly excited to share our summers with you!

Walter and Pearl Bloom founded Camp Playland in 1957. Pearl and Walter’s son Gary has been the owner/director along with his wife, Barbara, for the past forty-five years. Steve Bloom, Gary and Barbara’s son, joined his parents in 2011 as Playland’s third generation of Blooms.  Steve holds a M.Ed. from Columbia University’s Klingenstein Center and an M.S. in Camp Leadership from Touro University.

Our staff is comprised of one hundred and seventy five teachers, college and high school students. Staff members are selected for their maturity, ability, experience and sincere love for children. Each group of twelve to sixteen children is led by a senior counselor and several junior counselors. The senior and junior counselors stay with the campers all day and escort the group to the different activities. Specialists plan the program. Group counselors participate at the activities creating a teaching ratio of one staff member for every four campers. Many of our counselors are Camp Playland alumni and we have a high rate of returning counselors each year. This enhances the feeling of a camp family.

Matt Dudics


Matt attended Gordon College and received a BS in Recreation and Leisure with a concentration in Outdoor Education. He has been a full time employee since 2007 and is presently one of the directors of Camp Playland. Matt enthusiastically attended Playland as a camper and grew up as part of the Playland family. He met his wife, Pina while working at camp and they have a son, Matteo, who attends Camp Playland and is a Playland Nursery School alumnus. Fun Fact: Matt and his family are Disney enthusiasts!

Kathy Lopes

kathy-lopesPreschool Director

Kathy Lopes has been a member of our staff for over 30 years. Kathy works at Playland year round as Director of Playland Preschool and Camp Playland. Fun fact: Kathy is the most wonderful baker!

Mary Garesche

Assistant Director

Mary is the newest member of the year round Camp Playland team. She has spent the last 10 years in the education setting as a teacher, coach and administrator and is now excited to embark on her new journey as a full-time, year round camper! Mary is excited to be a part of the Camp Playland team and cannot wait to meet all of the campers and staff that make Camp Playland so special! She is most excited about conquering the warped wall on the Ninja Warrior course and swimming! In her free time, Mary loves exploring new areas, hiking, running and trying new foods!

Vivi Torres

Pre-K Division Leader

Vivi is from Costa Rica! She has worked at Playland for 12 summers and her daughters, Camilla and Caterina, come to camp with her. Vivi is a Head Teacher and Assistant Director at Playland Preschool. Fun fact: Vivi has represented Costa Rica in various Olympic events and holds the current record on the 200m back-stroke!

Lynnet Karamanian

Pre-K Division Leader

Lynnet has worked at Camp Playland for 7 years and is an assistant teacher at Playland Nursery School. Lynnet graduated with a Fine Arts degree and quickly realized her love for teaching! She is now completing her Head Teacher Certificate. In Lynnet’s free time, she enjoys going on hikes, yoga, painting and spending time with her family. Fun fact: Lynnet speaks Spanish and she lived in Uruguay for 2 years!

Caitlyn VanDeusen

Kindergarten Division Leader

This is Caitlyn’s 8th summer working at Playland in the Kindergarten Division. Caitlyn is a 5th grade teacher at an elementary school in Stamford. Caitlyn is ready for another fun-filled summer taking on the role of supervisor for the Kindergarten Division. In Caitlyn’s free time, she enjoys going to the beach, going on adventures with her dog and spending time with family and friends.  Fun Fact: Caitlyn studied abroad in Ireland when she was in college.

Rachel Cuesta

Kindergarten Division Leader

This is Rachel’s 4th year at Playland.  She has been at camp her whole life as a camper, counselor and division leader.  Rachel’s two sons will be coming to camp with her. During the year she is a 2nd grade teacher in Stamford. Fun fact: Rachel has a vegetable garden at home!

Kimmy Loop

Lower Camp Division Leader

As someone who was a Playland camper and counselor for many years, Kimmy LOVES Playland! Kimmy is currently teaching in Stamford. Fun fact: Kimmy dances to at least one song each day to make sure that she is always smiling and spreading positivity!

Emma Zachary

Lower Camp Division Leader

Emma has been working at Playland for 7 years, and also attended as a child, so she absolutely adores Playland! Emma graduated with her Master’s degree in Education last year, and is teaching at New Canaan Country School. Emma is looking forward to taking on a supervisory role, and for another spectacular summer! In her free time, Emma loves to hike with her dog, hangout with friends and family, and travel. Fun fact: Emma studied abroad in Barcelona in college.

Rachel Wolfe

Middle Camp Division Leader

This is Rachel’s 6th summer at Playland and she is so excited to be back. Reachel studied Psychology and Early Childhood Education at Tulane University and teaches at Greenwich Country Day School. Fun Fact: Rachel lived in Australia last year!

Sam White

Middle Camp Division Leader

This will be Sam’s 4th summer at Camp Playland. Sam is studying for his Masters Degree at East Carolina University where he is the president of the Men’s Club volleyball team. Sam is a volleyball coach at a youth club in Greenville NC during the school year. Fun Fact: Sam is the Camp Playland ninja.

Izzy Weiss

Upper Camp Girls Division Leader

This is Izzy’s 10th summer working at Playland. She also attended as a camper when she was younger. Izzy has been teaching kindergarten for the past three years at New Canaan Country School. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Izzy is ready for a fun-filled summer taking on the role of supervisor for the Upper Camp girls. Fun Fact: her mom is Rhona from the pool!

RJ Cavaliero

Upper Camp Boys Division Leader

This is RJs 2nd summer at Playland and RJ is excited for more to come! RJ has been an elementary school teacher for 12 years and has experience with coaching and leadership in a school setting. Currently he is teaching in Norwalk and loves every minute of it. He is thrilled to come back to Camp Playland this year and can’t wait until his son is old enough to join him in a few summers. In RJ’s free time, you might see him golfing, hiking, camping, relaxing at a beach or park with his family, or watching movies. He is looking forward to seeing you all this summer get ready for some FUN!

Jon Zajdel

Aquatics Director

Jon Zajdel directs the Playland Pools. He has been at Playland every summer since he was 14 years old and on the pool staff for 15 years.  Jon was a collegiate swimmer at Ithaca College.  Jon is a history teacher at Norwalk High School. Fun Fact: Jon loves Jazz!

Matt Turek

Athletics Director


Matt Turek heads Playland Athletics and has a talented team of physical education teachers. He has been at Playland for 11 summers. Matt is a teacher in Waterbury. Fun fact: Matt played lacrosse in college!