Who We Are

Joe Harris, Director

Joe is the nephew of Riverlea founder Betsy Umstead and has been the director of Riverlea since 2001. Joe worked as a counselor during Camp Riverlea’s first summer and has remained involved ever since. He holds a BA and MAT from Emory University and a MPA from Georgia State University and began his career as a teacher. Along with directing Riverlea, Joe is now an investment adviser in Atlanta, where he lives with his wife Fran during the school year. Joe is an avid golfer and started Riverlea’s golf program.

Amy Harris, Business Director
Amy Harris-Ambrosio is the great-niece of Camp Riverlea’s founder, Betsy Umstead. Amy attended Camp Riverlea from 5 to 12-years-old, was an Orc (Counselor in Training), and a counselor. She has a BA from Emory University and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Georgia. When she is not helping families at Camp Riverlea, she is a mom to her 2-year-old daughter and works part-time as a Sales Administrator at a home building company. Amy is bilingual in Spanish and enjoys spending time in nature and practicing yoga.

Ben Harris*, Program Director
Ben is a Durham native and first went to Riverlea when he was six years old. Ben has a long history with Riverlea: Ben black and white head shothe was camper for seven years, an Orc for one, a counselor for seven more, Assistant Program Director in 2014, and has been Program Director since 2015. This is Ben’s 22nd summer at camp. In addition to his deep love for Riverlea, Ben brings to camp a multidisciplinary academic background and more than 10 years experience working with kids of all ages in various contexts and capacities (and countries!). Outside of camp, he works as a teacher, tutor, and academic coach with elementary, middle, and high school students; does qualitative data analysis and coding; and also does chainsaw, tree removal, and regenerative forestry work. Away from work, Ben is a college sports fan and loves to cook. *Not related to Joe or Amy.

Rachel Allen, Program Director

Rachel is returning for her fourth summer at Camp Riverlea and her second year as a Program Director.  Previously, she served as a tennis/golf counselor in 2014 and 2015. Rachel graduated from UNC-Wilmington with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a Master’s of Arts in Teaching in Secondary Science. She is a certified teacher in North Carolina for middle and high school science as well as middle school math. During the school year, Rachel is a middle school science teacher in Jacksonville, NC. Prior to becoming a full-time teacher, she was a museum and environmental educator in Wilmington. In her spare time, she enjoys going to the beach, reading, discussing how to improve the public education system, cooking, and spending time with friends. 

Phillip Smith, Volunteer Manager

This will be Phillip’s 13th summer at Camp Riverlea. He attended Riverlea as both a camper and Orc, and joined staff in 2015. Phillip was an archery counselor for four years before becoming Volunteer Coordinator in 2018. Phillip graduated from Cedar Ridge High School in 2016, and is currently a rising senior at UNC studying Economics and Computer Science. During his free time, Phillip enjoys sports, running, and skiing.

Julia Reich, First Aid Manager
Julia has worked at Camp Riverlea since 2016 as a general counselor before becoming the First Aid Manager. Interested in sustainable energy management, she studies Environmental Science at UNC Chapel Hill. She likes to hike in NC forests and swim in the lake or ocean, where you will most likely find her on the weekends. Her favorite animal is the alpaca, although she melts every time she sees a puppy


Nearly 40 well-qualified and energetic young people serve as counselors each summer. They are passionate about working with children, sharing their skills and knowledge, connecting with the campers, and making them feel special. Many counselors are former campers and Orcs who work at Riverlea for multiple summers, and many more are new to camp and bring with them exciting new ideas, interests, and talents. All staff members participate in pre-summer online training and a week-long orientation and training session before the start of camp. We are lucky to have such a diverse and dedicated group of counselors!

Interested in joining the Riverlea team? Check out our employment and volunteer opportunities!

A camp tradition for Durham area children

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