Kindle is my home away from home...the one place I fit in and where I feel like I belong.



Improving the quality of life for children, young adults and families through year-round recreational experiences, educational programs, and support services.


Project Kindle’s primary purpose is to serve those with serious illnesses, special needs and other life challenges by provide cost-free camping programs, year round support and advocacy and to offer innovative peer-based HIV/AIDS education for young people ages 12-24.


Our vision is to offer the young people we serve a chance to build a stronger future, one in which they believe in themselves, and where they have the leadership and character to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others.



Project Kindle, formerly known as Camp Kindle, was established in August of 1998. Eva Payne, the Founder and Executive Director saw a need and decided to fill it.  There were very few programs being offered for youth infected or affected by HIV or AIDS, especially in the Midwest. The organization began by serving children and adolescents through a cost free, one-week summer camping session held in Nebraska for children in the Central U.S. Camp Kindle continues to offer this therapeutic, recreational and educational session annually. In 2005, Camp Kindle expanded to another location in Southern California serving youth who live in the Western U.S. Each week long session serves up to 100 young people every summer.

In 2004, the organization began its peer-to-peer speakers’ bureau known as SPEAK OUT. This program was developed out of the desires of the Camp Kindle’s participants to share their stories with the general public, especially other young people in hopes to reduce stigma and raise awareness. Today SPEAK OUT reaches thousands of students both in the United States and Internationally.

The Students Affected by AIDS Scholarship Fund was created to support young people impacted by HIV or AIDS who wanted to attend post high school education. The scholarship helps to cover books and tuition.

The “I know” initiative completed its first phase in 2008 with the completion of the ‘i know’ book and DVD. The book is a compilation of Camp Kindle participants stories, photos, and drawings. The DVD focuses on one campers story as he tells it during a week of camp. This free resource is made available to health educators and students around the world.


After years of renting camp facilities, Eva and the other Project Kindle staff became frustrated with facilities that could not meet the needs of their camper population. Few camp facilities were handicap accessible. Most did not have available dates suitable for the program needs. The “nice facilities” had costs beyond reasonable expectations for a nonprofit. Sites which had available dates and were reasonably priced often were so run down, they did not even have flushing toilets. The Project Kindle staff had to do something. The team looked into purchasing a campsite for their one week session, but it did not make sense to own a camp and only operate it a few weeks out of the year. Eva knew other nonprofit’s which hosted camp programs must face similar challenges. The idea for Kindle Ranch was beginning to form.

Kindle Ranch came to full realization after visiting a camp in Texaswww.campforall.org in 2007.  This unique model of a full service camp facility for a network of nonprofit’s resonated with the Executive Director.  Camp For All was extremely helpful and supportive of Eva’s desire to build a similar camp in Southern California. Eva later visited another camp with a similar purposewww.campjohnmarc.org and with the feedback and knowledge shared from these two camps, began working on the concept of Kindle Ranch. Eva spent the next year building the Project Kindle board and setting the foundation for Kindle Ranch. In 2008, Project Kindle was selected as the primary beneficiaries of Northwestern University Dance Marathon. This student group raised over $500,000 for Project Kindle – some of which was earmarked as a lead gift for Kindle Ranch. In 2009, Project Kindle secured a consultant to help with a needs assessment and build out the strategic plan for the success of Kindle Ranch. In 2010, Eva spoke with Camp Twin Lakes in Georgia www.camptwinlakes.org (the last of the three only 100% accessible camps in the United States that follows a model of nonprofit collaboration). They shared valuable materials with the Project Kindle staff. Eva and the architectural team visited Camp Twin Lakes in 2011. Throughout 2010 and 2011 many nonprofit’s aligned themselves with Kindle Ranch as either a potential campsite user group (once the site is built) or in a design advisory capacity. The Medical Advisory Board took shape and a larger group of donors and Campaign Committee Members joined the cause.

Since its foundation Project Kindle has gone on to be recognized by the former Governor of the State of Nebraska, Mike Johanns. The organization has been featured in local and national media including:  E!, MTV, TeenNick, DirecTV, Family Circle Magazine, and in the Associated Press. Eva Payne has been recognized for her dedication to the cause as a national finalist in both the 4th and 5th annual Volvo For Life Awards, L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth honoree, DirecTV Hometown Hero, a Los Angeles Business Journal Women Making a Difference honoree and a Helpful Honda Honoree.


In 2012 Project Kindle went beyond its HIV/AIDS camps to include a weeklong day camp for children with chronic and terminal illnesses, disabilities and other health complications.  Kindle saw a need in the community to reach out to children who live with various life challenges and offer them a chance to experience camp.  Kindle also began the Camp2U program in 2012 which brings the full camp experience to children who cannot attend a traditional residential or day camp experience.  

Today the organization now provides three week-long summer camping programs, semi-annual mini camping sessions, year round support, holiday and birthday recognition, scholarships, HIV/AIDS awareness & education, and mentorship. 


3rd Annual Camp Kindle Day Camp Staff & Campers June 23-27th

10th Annual Camp Kindle West: Campers: July 14-20Staff: July 12-20

16th Annual Camp Kindle in NE: Campers: July 28-Aug 3 Staff: July 26-Aug 




Eva Payne
(aka Leaves)
Founder and CEO
eva [at] projectkindle.org
877.800.2267 ext. 702

Eva began Project Kindle in 1998 during her senior year at the University of Nebraska. She is married with six children and resides in Southern California. Eva has received recognition for her work with children impacted by HIV/AIDS as a finalist in the Volvo For Life Awards, L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth, Los Angeles Business Journal, and DirecTV Hometown Heroes. She has also been featured in several publications including Family Circle Magazine. She is currently earning her Masters of Science in Leadership and Management. Eva uses her creativity and visionary outlook to support the Kindle staff in executing Kindle’s mission.

Erin FitzGerald
(aka Catfish)
Program Coordinator
erin [at] projectkindle.org 877.800.2267 ext 706

Erin came to Project Kindle as a camper through the Camp Kindle program. She has been apart of the organization since its inception. Erin was first a camper, then at 16 became a counselor-in-training and at 18 became a camp counselor during the summer. While earning a degree in Video, Film and Television at College of the Canyons, Erin works full-time for Project Kindle helping to coordinate the SPEAK OUT program and co-direct Camp Kindle. She has facilitated SPEAK OUT in CA and IL. She is very close with her family, enjoys a good television show and baking chocolate chip cookies.

Fox (Matt) a graduate of Northwestern University (2010 Radio, Television, Video and Film major), joined the Kindle team in the summer of 2009 after learning about the program through Dance Marathon. He attended both Camp Kindle sessions and made an immediate impact. He has helped capture Camp Kindle is its best moments and turn the footage into amazing short videos. If we need a video made, Fox gets it done!

Mandy Nickolite, MA, EdS (aka Little Grape)
Vice President
mandy [at] projectkindle.org
877.800.2267 ext. 705

Mandy started volunteering for Project Kindle in 1999 as the Camp Director. She earned her Masters in Counseling from Doane College and her Education Specialist degree from the University of Nebraska. She is currently a school psychologist in Lincoln, NE. She spends her free time with her son and husband. Mandy oversees character education program at Camp Kindle and manages the Psycho-Social Team.

Chad Payne (aka Bear) Associate Director
chad [at] projectkindle.org 661.257.1901

Chad has been a volunteer with the organization since 2000. He is married to the organizations Founder and CEO. Chad has served in various capacities from the Camp Kindle archery instructor, to the ropes course facilitator, lifeguard, travel coordinator, and camp spirit leader. Chad attended Brigham Young University where he studied Spanish, while participating in various sporting events as the school’s mascot, Cosmo. He has spent many years as a Boy Scout leader. Chad currently works full-time for WAXIE Sanitary Supply and currently devotes any free time to helping Kindle with camper/admin communication, Project Kindle development and offering overall guidance to allow the organization opportunities to reach its goals, while meeting its mission and vision.

Tami Seeger
(aka Delish)
LIT Director
tami [at] projectkindle.org

Tami has been with Project Kindle for several years. She has volunteered at Camp Kindle as the CIT Director and most recently as the LIT Director. She also worked on video production for the camp session and organization. She graduated from California State University of Northridge. She is an expert at social media networks!!