On January 31, 2022, we had to say goodbye to our friend and Overnight Camp Director, Christopher Thomasson, who passed away unexpectedly. It is hard to express how large a hole Christopher left; every day it feels like only yesterday he arrived at Trail Blazers. We felt so lucky to have found him.
We gathered to remember Christopher on March 5, 2022.
Here are some of the notes people left. Each captures perfectly the kind of man Christopher was. We miss you, friend.
Here is Christopher’s obituary, written by his brother Kevin:
Christopher Lee Thomasson, 45, passed away on Monday night, January 31, 2022 at his home in Brooklyn, NY. Chris was born on October 25, 1976 in Bowling Green, Kentucky; son of Bobby Owen Thomasson and Reita Ann Thomasson.
Christopher graduated in 1994 from Jac-Cen-Del High School in Osgood, IN. He attended the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY and graduated with an undergraduate degree in Theater in 2001. From there, Chris went to Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, NY to obtain his Master of Fine Arts degree in directing.
Christopher leaves behind his girlfriend, Megan Kennelly of Brooklyn, NY, his mother, Reita Ann Thomasson of Bowling Green, KY, brothers Kevin (Glenda) Thomasson of Moores Hill, IN, Keith Thomasson of Versailles, IN and Clark (Pamela) Thomasson of Eau Claire, WI., Adam Miller (Carrie Blake) of Brooklyn, NY. One Aunt, Bernice Keown of Florida, numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Christopher was preceded in death by his Grandparents, Byrnes (Dorthy) Clark of Russellville Ky, Richard (Hattie) Thomasson of Guthrie Ky, Father, Bobby Owen Thomasson of Osgood, IN and Sister, Kimberly Ann Jacobsen of Sacramento, CA.
Christopher had such a zest for life. His energy, enthusiasm, and positive attitude radiated light wherever he went. He never met a stranger. His smile was infectious. Christopher was a small-town boy, but after moving to New York, he loved the big city and the opportunities that lay ahead, so he then decided to make Brooklyn his home.
At present, Christopher worked as Overnight Camp Director under Riel Peerbooms at Trail Blazers Camp in Brooklyn, NY and Montague, NJ. Prior to that, he was Associate Director under Denny Rosen at Camp Ojibwa for boys in Eagle River, WI for 19 years. While doing all this, Christopher also spent 10 years as Holiday Operations Manager at Macy’s Santaland in New York City and 10 years as Associate Artistic Director at Boomerang Theatre Company. He loved the theater and traveling. He also loved a good bourbon and a fine cigar with friends and family. He played his guitar almost every day, but his passion was the kids at the camps where he worked, and all the friends he had made in his lifetime.
Family and friends may gather from 3:00-5:00 P.M. (Central Time) on Tuesday, February 15, 2022 at Young Funeral Home. A short service will follow at 5:00 P.M. A meal will be provided afterwards at a location to be determined.
Young Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements, 1600 Nashville Rd, Russellville, KY 42276, 270-726-4150. Memorials may be given to the funeral home in honor of Christopher to Trail Blazers Camp or Camp Ojibwa for Boys.
Enjoy the rest of this page with some more reflection on our beloved camp director.
We had not had a chance yet to see the full magic that was Christopher. His first year at camp with us was in 2019, and he had only just gotten a taste of Trail Blazers. Then the pandemic hit, and 2020 and 2021, as brilliantly as Christopher managed them, were not true camp years, not for us and certainly not for Christopher. The summer of 2022 was going to be his year.
More then anything, Christopher was a camp person. For him, it was all pretty simple: He deeply believed camp can change lives. It is what made him so at home at Trail Blazers.
Here is is recording a video for one of our funders, SCOPE. As usual, Christopher outdid all of us with his sleek video.
Anyone that met him, knows this: Christopher had an uncanny ability to make you feel at ease. Always a joke and a story at the ready, he would quickly break the ice and get you to talk. And then he would listen, really listen. You would know this when, weeks later, he would reference one of the things you talked about.
He had a true ability to see people for who they were and accept them. It is what made him such a great camp director, and an even more amazing person to be around.
Here he is at a local event in Maple Street Community Garden – the photo was shared by one of our parents.
Christopher spent three years with Trail Blazers, two of those years were pandemic years. If it ever stressed him out, you wouldn’t have known. Meeting after meeting, plan after plan, pivot after pivot, Christopher smiled and went back to work.
Opening camp in 2021 after COVID mandates forced closure was one of the hardest things we ever had to do, and the first few weeks of camp were challenging to say the least. I was amazed how Christopher moved through it, it all seemed easy for him. But it wasn’t easy at all, he shared later. It was just another typical thing about him – he would not burden you with his challenges, ever.
It is hard to overstate how special it was to have Christopher on our team. You could always count on him to lighten the mood with a joke, in fact, we counted on him to deliver at least one joke per meeting – often perfectly timed and not expected.
“Anything else to report?” I asked one meeting. Christopher responded, “Did I mention my friend Frog had some car trouble?” “Oh no,” we said, “What happened?” “He got toad,” Christopher answered. “TOAD!” Get it?
One of his favorite jokes was his standard response to anything in camouflage print – he acted like he couldn’t see it. It was camouflage, after all!
The summer of 2021, Christopher’s last summer, was special. The team that summer was a special group of young people, and there is no doubt they lived through one of the hardest summers Trail Blazers ever experienced, due to the unique pandemic environment. But there is also no doubt it was Christopher’s deep well of experience, patience, and kindness that got them through. I sat in the back of the room at the end of the summer as staff debriefed with him. His entire focus was on getting each staff member to be proud of what they had accomplished. It was never about him.
Christopher, in just three years at TBC, made an impact many others did not make in a lifetime. I think one of the reasons for this was his connection to TBC’s history. As with his previous camp, he was very interested in the ties that bind us. Under his guidance, a new Alumni Engagement Committee thrived. If you didn’t see it before, check out the Alumni page – one of the many projects he poured his heart into.
Another highlight was the re-inventing of the Labor Day Family Camp/LL Camp – this is where Christopher was really at home. He saw family camp as an extension of the regular summer camp and an essential way to connect with parents and families.
In 2019 we tested out a new and expanded version of Family Camp with over 65 people in attendance for an extended Labor Day Weekend. Here he is during the weekend’s talent show. I don’t think his performance required any practice on his part, he was always ready to perform.
If nothing, Christopher was so much fun to have around. Here is the team in 2019 for Halloween – take a guess at who he is, or who were are supposed to be.
Thank you, our dear friend, you will be missed by so many, this summer at camp and forever. We are thankful for the time we got to spend with you.