We've Hired Our First Employee

Date published: April 13th, 2016 | By Matthew


We’ve hired our first employee!

Meet Maddie Fortelka (in a hat, with a chicken). She started last Monday, Apr. 4th. She’s already training with Susan and Louise, and planning for this summer.

Please help us make her feel welcome. Her email address is maddie@longacre.com.

Maddie is full-time, year-round. She’ll be a big kid, too, but the reason her hiring is “news” is because she’s in the office with us. Like all the time.

Obviously, mom has had employees before, so this is not a new thing for her, but Louise and I haven’t, and it feels pretty big. Plus, Maddie makes it four people in the office and that’s more than we’ve ever had before.

Maddie’s information is now up on the website next to ours. Here’s her bio:

"Maddie was raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She was a farmer at Longacre several years ago and she considers that summer to be one of the most life-shaping experiences she has had. In 2011, Maddie returned to the farm as a big kid, wanting to facilitate growth and build community with teens, the same way she experienced it at Longacre years prior.

"Maddie graduated from Colby College in 2012 with a bachelor’s in Human Development, which combined her passion for developmental psychology and education.

"After college, she headed west from Maine to Jackson, Wyoming where she skied, hiked, enjoyed the many splendors of the rocky mountain wilderness, and was the nanny of four wonderful children.

"One year later, Maddie returned to New England to get her Master’s in Education from Antioch University New England. She is certified in both elementary and special education. She loves to cultivate learning environments where each child feels safe and accepted and believes that in this manner, children can better challenge themselves and experience growth.

"After nearly eight years away from home, Maddie longed for the rolling hills of central Pennsylvania, so she and her husband Mark (who you will probably encounter around the farm) bought a house one mile from the farm. Maddie now works full time at Longacre. In the summer, she runs social support and co-leads group with Matt.

"When she is not involved in those two things, you can probably find her sneaking in a cuddle with a pig, horse or chicken, or tagging along on a hiking trip. One of her favorite things just might be teaching farmers about the many rare and intriguing behaviors of chickens … or perhaps taking a farmer on a hiking trail for the first time or … there are just too many fantastic things to choose."


We have known Maddie for many years. Her first summer / only summer as a farmer was in 2004 (her maiden name is Caplan). And she’s been a big kid for four summers.

Maddie and her husband Mark moved to Perry County in January. Actually, last week they closed on a house! They'll live on Orchard Road near the drama barn — not on Robinson Road, the one that takes you to the drama barn, but on Orchard Road, the one that runs into Marion and Dick’s pond. They’ll live up that road, closer to Skyline.

Mark and Maddie met here in 2013. That was Mark’s first summer at Longacre Camp. (We’ll save the story for another time.)

Quickly, I want to share with you my first memory of Maddie.

It was 2010, November. I had just started in the office part-time. Mom, I remember, was in an ongoing conversation with an overachieving 19-year-old former farmer. This young woman was banging our door down to be a big kid the following summer — in November, mind you. The problem, and the reason mom was hesitating, was because the young woman would only be 20-years-old by Day 1 of camp, and our minimum age is 21 because of insurance and driving the vans. Mom didn’t want to say no flat out, though, because the young woman was super organized, super with it, and if we couldn’t find enough staff by May or June she’d make a really great big kid. Well, by like February Maddie had worn mom down. By that time, Susan had come up with a ton of excuses for bending the rules, and Maddie was hired (she just couldn’t drive our vans).

That was my first impression! Maddie is persistent. And she likes to plan. So on the directors page we are calling her The Planner.

This summer, Maddie will run our social support team. That team makes sure the kids have great summers and hit their goals — a giant responsibility. The big kids on that team check in with other staff, check in with kids, check in with parents, and coordinate all the information. It’s overwhelming. Running social support used to be Susan’s responsibility, and Susan’s pride. Now Susanis on Maddie’s social support team — and the symbolism makes my eyes water. (Maddie will also run Group with me.) Anyway, we just wanted to let you know that we are proud to introduce this wonderful young woman to you. We're lucky to have her. And we're excited to watch her grow and come into her own.

Please don’t forget to make her feel welcome. Let's fill up her email inbox. Just tell her a story or something :)