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.

Fran Harris, Business Director

Fran has served as Riverlea’s business director since 2001. Fran earned a BA from Emory University and spent her career as a certified public accountant. When she’s not at camp, Fran continues CPA work in Atlanta. Joe and Fran’s two daughters attended Riverlea as campers and worked as counselors.

Ben Harris*, Program Director

Ben graduated cum laude with Honors from Whitman College with a BA in Childhood Studies. He 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 for the 2014 summer, and became Program Director in 2015. While on staff, Ben was usually a nature counselor, but also worked as a general counselor with Hobbits, Baggins, and Dobbers (campers ages 5-7). This is Ben’s 20th summer at camp. In addition to his deep love for Riverlea, Ben brings to camp a multidisciplinary academic background and about 10 years experience working with kids of all ages in various contexts. Outside of camp, he spends his time teaching, tutoring, and working as an academic coach with middle and high school students. *Not related to Joe or Fran.

Annie Giarla, Program Director

AnnieadshotAnnie is back for her 17th summer at Camp Riverlea. A graduate of Durham Academy, Annie is also a graduate from Rhodes College (Memphis), where she is double majored in Environmental Science and Education. A vegetarian since age 6 because of her love of animals and nature, Annie was a nature counselor at Camp Riverlea for three years before becoming Assistant Program Director in 2014 and Program Director in 2017. She is a certified literacy tutor who teaches Junior Kindergarten. Annie enjoys sports and outdoor activities of all kinds.

Marissa Minnick, Volunteer Manager

Marissa’s first summer at Camp Riverlea was in 2013, when she worked in the kayaking and canoeing department teaching campers how to paddle and increase their confidence handling watercraft on Yonder Pond. Marissa remained in the kayaking and canoeing department for three years, until 2016 when she spent a summer in Boone, NC while completing her Master’s degree in Elementary Education at Appalachian State University. Marissa now works as Camp Riverlea’s Volunteer Manager to support camp’s volunteers. Marissa holds a North Carolina teaching license and will be a first year teacher with Durham Public Schools this fall.



More than 30 well-qualified and energetic young people serve as counselors each summer. They are passionate about working with children, sharing their skills and knowledge, and connecting with the campers. Many counselors are former campers and Orcs who work at Riverlea for multiple summers, and all staff members participate in a week-long orientation and training session before the start of camp. We are lucky to have such a 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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