Meet our Leaders

Dennis Pieper 

Dennis Pieper is a retired Lutheran School and Special Education Teacher. He holds two master’s degrees, in special education and school administration. Dennis has led professional development workshops, and served as special education and faculty team leader, teacher advisor for student teachers, and a mentor for new faculty members. Dennis and the rest of the Pieper family have run the Special Friends Camp in Fenton, Michigan, for 30 years. The original camp is sponsored by the Michigan District of the LCMS and remains an annual summer camp for adults with developmental disabilities to minister to people with special needs and their families.

Joshua Pieper

Josh has been a part of Special Friends Camp ever since Dennis took over as director 30 years ago. While only being 6 months old at the time Josh has grown up around camp which has had a large impact on his life and led him to pursue a degree in Special Education. After growing up in the camp, Josh became the Head Male Counselor in 2014 and stepped into the role of Assistant Director after obtaining his bachelor’s in Special Education in 2017. Josh transitioning into the Director role and is heading up expansions of the ministry.

When not at camp Josh is the director of a day program for Trinity Services (a company that services adults with cognitive disabilities and mental illness).

Emily Pieper

Emily has been a part of Special Friends Camp ever since Dennis took over as director 30 years ago when she was only 5 years old. As Emily grew up around camp she has taken on various roles including Music and Technology Coordinator and Head Female Counselor. While not at camp Emily is a Physical Therapist Assistant.


Amanda PIeper

Amanda has been a part of Special Friends Camp ever since Dennis took over as director 30 years ago when she was only 7 years old. As Amanda grew up around camp she has taken on various roles including Director of Health and Medication, helping make sure our campers medical needs are met. Growing up involved in camp-inspired Amanda to become a Psychologist. When she is not at camp Amanda works as a Psychologist for Trinity Services (a company that services adults with cognitive disabilities and mental illness).


Valerie Pieper – Camp Mom

Valerie has been an integral part of Special Friends Camp ever since Dennis took over as director 30 years ago. As his wife, Valerie has supported and grounded Dennis throughout the years, but beyond that she is the glue that keeps camp together. Throughout the years Valerie had been Head Female Counselor, Meds Director, Arts & Crafts Director, snack provider, Counselor in Training Supervisor, and occasional mediator. Valerie is now a retired Teacher but has never stopped teaching the campers and counselors how to be wonderful human beings.