EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – David Zaleon
As a Director, Teacher, Researcher, and Counselor, David’s professional background has centered around both fostering individual growth and creating environments that are conducive to personal development. From the operation of a 200+ member camp retreat for urban youth in the Northeast,
to the hands-on mentoring of teens dealing with gang realities in the Southwest, to research on substance abuse in colleges all around the country, David has taken on a multi-dimensional approach to individual welfare.
While receiving his B.A. in Psychology and Communications at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, David worked within the college community addressing such issues as worker’s rights and advocacy for the homeless. He continued his socially oriented work in New Mexico as a residential counselor for court-appointed teens and appeared as a guest commentator on Albuquerque radio.
David has extensive experience with youth encompassing all ages and backgrounds. At the elementary level he taught ESL and provided model instruction to new teachers in a private academy in Brooklyn. In Washington, D.C. he guided high school students through week-long programs addressing government, poverty, and a broad range of social concerns. His work with the college population brought him all over the country interviewing students for a key study funded by The National Institutes of Health on the issue of substance abuse.
The camp experience and its potential for growth in children has been an integral part of David’s professional life for over two decades. Throughout his 12 year tenure at The Open Hearts Camp, David has continued to marvel at the internal strength and resilience of the camper population. Focusing heavily on the health and safety parameters of this highly specialized camp, David has been determined to create a holistically enriching program while addressing the multitude of safety angles intrinsic to this present-day cardiac population. The current incarnation of The Open Hearts Camp reflects his utmost concern for preparation, health maintenance, and sustainability.
The Open Hearts Camp’s very favorable staff-to-camper ratio reflects our utmost concern for safety. In the unique, tight-knit environment of the Open Hearts Camp, it is essential to staff our program with exceptional individuals. The delivery of the multi-dimensional program, as well as the establishment of a safe, comforting, and supportive atmosphere hinges on the efforts of a well-trained summer counselor staff who are college-age or older. These mature and devoted staff members are selected by our year-round executive director with 12 years of experience at M.O.H.C.
A full-time Registered Nurse is on-site at all times, dispenses all medications, and is available to provide any necessary medical care for campers 24 hours a day. In recent years, we have been fortunate to recruit talented Nurses from hospitals and schools in our region and beyond, all of whom are well versed in pediatric care. Our Nurse’s take great care to thoroughly review each camper’s medical file in preparation for each session, allowing for a very clear understanding of current medical history and needs.