Jake O'Connor in front of the GaGa Pit

Jake O’Connor

Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
University of Iowa

Jake O’Connor is the Program Director at Camp Bear Creek. He grew up at camp as a camper, a summer staff member, and is now on the year-round staff. He says, “My favorite part of my job at Camp has been building relationships with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise and being able to have a Christ-centered community.”

Jake grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He went to the University of Iowa where he studied Civil Engineering. God had a different plan for his life, though, and after his summer staff experience at camp, as well as a summer spent serving with YouthWorks, Jake felt called to full-time ministry. After college, Jake worked at Bettendorf Presbyterian Church for five years as the Director of Christian Education. He was in charge of all of the programming for preschool through college students, including the midweek program, youth group, Vacation Bible School and summer mission trips. That job prepared him well to step into his current role at Bear Creek.

In 2015, Jake met his now-wife Dawn when both of them worked on summer staff at camp together. They married in 2019 and live in DeWitt with their dramatic and crazy dog, Zoey. Dawn is an elementary school teacher and also loves being a part of the camp community. In his free time, Jake likes spending time with family and friends. He’s always looking for an excuse to get outside, and really enjoys disc golf, hiking, or a good bonfire. He is also a sports fan and enjoys watching hockey and football. Jake has an adventurous side as well, and loves to try things like whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and zip lining.

Being part of the team at Camp Bear Creek has been a long-time dream of Jake’s. He says, “I grew up coming to Camp Bear Creek each summer. I attended Camp for 10 years as a camper and 5 years on staff. Bear Creek provided me with a place to make my faith my own and to build a community of some of my best friends. Now, I am excited to continue to be a part of the Camp community and to provide the same opportunities for future generations to grow closer to God. I am also excited to spend time in nature, where I best connect with God.”

Jake’s favorite Bible passage is Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”


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A group of kids posing for a picture at summer camp in Iowa.