Our Leadership & Staff

Family Owned and Led for Three Generations

For three generations, the Popkin family has nurtured the original vision of Blue Star’s founders, Herman, Harry and Ben Popkin.

Lauren Popkin and Seth Herschthal, Blue Star CampsLauren Popkin Herschthal – Owner/Director, Following in the footsteps of her grandparents, Herman & Rosalie, and parents, Rodger and Candy, Lauren is a third generation Owner and Director at Blue Star and has over a decade of experience as a Camp Director and year-round staff member. She has spent almost every summer of her life at camp as a camper, counselor, Camp Leader, Director and now an Owner/Director. Lauren graduated from Florida State University with a BS in Anthropology and Sociology and later earned a Master’s Degree in Art Education from Pratt Institute in New York. While in New York, she taught art to underserved youth with special needs. Lauren brings a beautiful spirit along with a keen eye for detail to her life’s work.

Seth Herschthal – Owner/Director, has always been a “camp guy” and actually grew up at a nearby summer camp, having spent over ten years as a camper, staff and leadership team member there. He has had a wide range of camp and education experiences having worked for many years as a middle school English teacher, advisor, and director in both the Dominican Republic and in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He also has served on the American Camp Association’s Southeastern Board. Seth graduated from Duke University with a BA in Public Policy and earned a Master’s Degree in Education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s School Leadership program. Seth has over a decade of Blue Star experience, including as a member of our summer leadership team, year-round and Director team. He has whole-heartedly embraced the role of Camp Director/Owner and brings a wealth of knowledge, enthusiasm and heart to his work at camp.

Like Lauren’s parents, Lauren and Seth were married in the Elmore Solomon Chapel. They have two beautiful children, Eli and Rose, who make the move to camp with them from Raleigh each summer to make the Blue Star Magic happen. Lauren loves art, travel, snorkeling and chocolate. She drinks too much coffee. Seth loves North Carolina, time with family, seeing live music and running around the New Lake at camp. He drinks espresso, in moderation. Both Lauren and Seth are grateful for the opportunity to positively impact the lives of children and staff through their camp experiences at Blue Star and are dedicated to continuing Blue Star’s legacy of being a camp with a purpose.

Rodger and Candy Popkin, Blue Star Camps
Rodger Popkin (1950-2019)

Rodger and Candy Popkin – Directors Emeritus, met while students at Boston University, and began their career as Camp Directors in 1971—the day after their marriage in Blue Star’s Elmore Solomon Chapel. They have both been active in the American Camp Association (ACA) for decades, and Rodger is a past National President. Rodger and Candy are the parents of Jason Popkin (long time Blue Star Owner/Director) and Blue Star’s current third generation Owners and Directors: Lauren and Lauren’s husband, Seth Herschthal.

Meet The Team

Ben Prosser – Director, Blue Star CampsBen Prosser – Director, began his career at Blue Star in 2002 as a Ropes Course specialist. From his home country of Australia, he brings an extensive knowledge of and background in all types of Outdoor Adventure activities, Emergency Response/Management and Conservation/Environmental Management. Ben has worked in and directed various camp programs and operational areas in his time on staff including Director of Camp Craft, Director of Outdoor Adventure Programs and Director of the Wilderness First Responder program. Ben also manages all camp operations including risk management, programming, food service, transportation, staff training, camp emergency response ensuring safety by means of prevention, as well as providing a high quality curriculum in accordance with health and safety standards. Ben has traveled to every continent except the arctic and has saved all boarding passes from each flight he has taken! Ben met his wife, Louise Hardman, at camp in the summer of 2006. Louise is the Director of the Equestrian program at Blue Star, and their son, Harry, joins them at camp during the summers.

Jillian Radetsky - Associate Director, Blue Star CampsJillian Radetsky – Associate Director, started camp as a Junior and spent eight summers as a camper at Blue Star. She returned as a staff member and quickly became part of our summer leadership team, first as a Senior Girl Unit Leader and then as a Camp Leader, a position she held for six summers. Jillian has been a member of our year-round leadership team since 2012 and oversees staff recruitment, hiring, coordination and ongoing staff development. She oversees the Senior and Teen Village camps at Blue Star and is directly involved in working with campers, leadership staff and cabin counselors to provide the best camp experiences for the older camps. As Lauren and Seth’s second in command, Jillian assists and supports in all areas of camp life, including camper recruitment and parent communications. Jillian graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism. Jillian is a second generation camper. Her Dad attended Blue Star as a camper, and her grandmother worked at camp. Her grandmother actually worked with our camp’s founders, Herman and Harry Popkin, in Atlanta too. Our resident “purist,” Jillian loves Blue Star and the camp traditions (her favorite is Zimriah) that make it a magical experience and summer home for our campers and staff.

Laura (Fendrick) Ross - Director of Communications, Blue Star CampsLaura (Fendrick) Ross – Director of Communications, started at camp as a Pioneer Girl and spent five summers as a camper and then returned to be on staff for four years as a counselor, unit leader and camp leader for Senior Girls. After graduating from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business she spent a couple of years in New York City working in corporate sales and marketing before beginning her career for Jewish youth serving organizations. Laura spent 7 years at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta in a few different positions including BBYO Director and Associate Program Director. She most recently worked for BBYO for 5 years as an Area Director and Associate Vice President of Programming where she oversaw global teen leadership, the volunteer advisor program and alumni engagement. Laura joined the Blue Star year-round team in 2021 as the Director of Communications and couldn’t be more excited to be back at Blue Star at her “summer home”. In her role, she is responsible for keeping parents and camp families informed throughout the year and coordinating main office operations and logistics. Laura is there to answer questions and to help families feel at ease and confident that Blue Star is taking the best care of their children while at camp. Laura lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Brian, two young daughters Maddie and Hayden, who are excited to experience the Blue Star Magic, and a sweet Goldendoodle named Sophie.

Marsha Silverman - Camp Registrar, Blue Star CampsMarsha Silverman – Camp Registrar, has been on our year-round leadership team for 25 years, making her the veteran member and a foundational part of our leadership team. Prior to her many years of experience as our camp registrar and resident “favorite Jewish auntie,” she held multiple finance related positions in various business sectors both in the United States and abroad. She assists and supports camp families through the important decision-making and enrollment process. She is there to answers questions and guide camp parents through sign-ups for additional camp activities as well as setting up funds for out of camp trips and various other aspects of pre-camp preparation. Her goal is to make it even easier to help campers do what they enjoy at Blue Star by sharing the necessary information that allows parents to arrange the details of their camper’s personalized camp experience. In the summer Marsha works out of the business office and is known to offer little treats to staff members that swing by to visit. It is actually widely known as one of the perks of being a Unit Leader at Blue Star! She also assists at camper recruitment and retention events throughout the off-season. Marsha holds down the fort at our camp offices in North Carolina during the fall, winter and spring and gets to witness all of the seasons at our beautiful camp. Marsha’s great nephews are Blue Star campers.

Rachel Hencher – Accounts Manager, Blue Star CampsRachel Hencher – Accounts Manager, has been on the Blue Star team since 2010 when she began leading our Teen Village program. Before joining the Blue Star year-round leadership team, Rachel worked as a high school math teacher at a boarding school in Raleigh, NC, and also taught math to teenagers in London for two years. She has a Mathematics degree from UNC Chapel Hill, a postgraduate Education degree from the University of London and is currently pursuing a Masters of Statistics from NC State. Rachel met her husband, Dan, at Blue Star in 2010 and together they have worked as our Teen Village Camp Leaders for six years. Rachel has most enjoyed making sure that the Villager’s capstone summer as campers is their most special camp experience yet. She loves sharing meaningful moments with the Teen Villagers and helping them to each have an individualized camp experience that is exciting, fun and memorable. Rachel’s favorite time of the week at camp is Shabbat and she loves the Friday night services in the Elmore Solomon Chapel. Rachel and Dan have three Blue Star babies: Harry, Bryony and Millie. They love the chapel at camp so much that they even held Bryony’s baby-naming there during a Shabbat service in the 2019 summer!

Louise Hardman – Equestrian Director, Blue Star CampsLouise Hardman – Equestrian Director, brings her extensive knowledge and equestrian background to our program at Blue Star. She spent five years as a Lead Instructor and Assistant Riding Director and has been our Equestrian Director since 2012. Building upon Blue Star’s fifty year tradition as an established riding program, Louise has continued to develop and strengthen the program based on equitation, good sportsmanship, responsibility and hard work. Louise brings to Blue Star over fifteen years of teaching and management experience in the equestrian field having managed equestrian programs and camps around the world! A native of England, she has a Bachelors in Science (with honors) in Psychology/Sociology and Anatomy/Physiology from Huddersfield University. Louise is very well-traveled and her favorite spot in the world is Bora Bora! Louise met her husband, Ben Prosser, at camp and they were married in 2017. Their son, Harry, joins them at camp during the summers.

Ben Hooper – Operations/Transportation, Blue Star CampsBen Hooper – Operations/Transportation, is from Melbourne, Australia, and has been a part of the Blue Star team since 2011. He got his start working as a counselor in Juniors, but has been a part of many different areas around camp since. Ben has worked in Granny’s Camp Store, as the Tennis Director, as a Trip Leader helping to ensure the safety of all campers while off-site, as a part of our Programming Team to creatively plan and execute camp-wide events, and more! Ben began working full-time for Blue Star in 2021, and he now oversees all transportation to and from camp for campers and staff, helps to hire our summer staff and helps to run all general operations across camp. Ben is also responsible for Blue Star’s Training Institute providing training, certifications and implementing safety measures for all camp staff. Ben loves to travel (he has visited 29 different countries!), hike, snowboard and he is an avid sports fan. He has spent many winter seasons working and snowboarding all over the world, including multiple winters in Whistler, Canada, Niseko, Japan, and Aspen, Colorado. Ben is able to use his vast experience with traveling and customer support in his role at camp to provide support in all aspects of camp life to camp parents, campers and staff alike.

Matt Matt “Fish” Eisenman –  Pioneer Boys Assistant Director, has spent almost his full life at Blue Star. After ten years as a camper, he has worked at camp for 20 summers, holding a variety of roles and responsibilities. He earned a doctorate in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Southern California in 2021. He also holds a BA in English and Theater from Emory University and an MA in Literary Studies from Georgia State University. In the “off-season,” he is a Grade Level Dean and English Teacher at The Walker School in Marietta, Georgia. At camp, Matt works with campers, counselors, and leadership staff to facilitate positive growth outcomes and a safe, fun experience for all members of our Blue Star community. During the off-season, Matt helps with leadership development, camper recruitment, and summer planning. He earned his nickname, “Fish,” his first summer at camp as a Junior because he was a great swimmer and loved the water. He met, proposed to, and married his wife, Dana (Rookies, Juniors and Pioneer Girls Assistant Director), at camp. They were married in Blue Star’s Elmore Solomon Chapel. Their children, Reid and Sophie, join them at camp during the summers.

Dana Eisenman - Rookies, Juniors and Pioneer Girls Assistant Director, Blue Star CampsDana Eisenman – Rookies, Juniors and Pioneer Girls Assistant Director, was a long time Blue Star camper and loves that she has been able to spend her adult years at her “forever home.” During the summers, Dana’s role is to ensure the safety, happiness, and health of the Rookies, Juniors, and Pioneer Girl campers. Additionally, she works with the counseling staff and leadership team members to help facilitate their relationships with the campers, helping to ensure all campers feel known, needed, and cared for. Dana also works closely with parents to help with campers adjustments to camp and ensure positive outcomes. During the offseason, Dana works on camper recruitment, camper engagement, and summer planning, while also communicating with current families. Dana holds a B.S. in Psychology from Trinity College and a Masters degree in Counseling from Wake Forest University. Professionally, Dana is also a child therapist in private practice in Atlanta. For Dana, camp is a family affair as she met her husband, Matt (“Fish”), at Blue Star. They got engaged at camp and were married in the Elmore Solomon Chapel. She is a second generation Blue Star camper, and her children, Reid and Sophie, love spending their summers at camp!

Caring Counselors and Skilled Activity Specialists

Guiding campers to make friends, take on new adventures, and develop their confidence and skills is the mission of the Blue Star staff. All Blue Star staff members understand the importance of the role they play in their camper’s lives, and they approach their jobs responsibly and with caring hearts. Activity specialists share expertise in their skill areas and create progressive curriculums that help to make electives challenging and fun. Camp leaders and counselors guide campers throughout their summers, encouraging them to build relationships and self-esteem. Their commitment to and love for children supply the energy needed to make the “summer magic” happen.

We provide children with two of the most essential developmental assets: roots and wings.  A strong sense of identity, coupled with the confidence to be open to new experiences, is a winning combination for developing healthy, secure young people.