Our Leaders

To learn more about leading for Apogee, click here.

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The difference between a good summer program and an exceptional summer program is the quality of its leaders. We know this and take the time to recruit the highest quality individuals. Our leaders are responsible, compassionate, inspiring and fun. They love working with kids and they love the outdoors. Students look up to our leaders as role models, and overwhelmingly rate them as excellent.

  • Apogee selectively recruits trip leaders from prestigious liberal arts colleges and universities.
  • We look for individuals with outstanding leadership skills and wide-ranging experience working with young people in the outdoors.
  • Every applicant fills out a detailed application and is carefully interviewed, in person, by our directors.
  • We check references thoroughly and perform a full background check (SORI, CORI, and when applicable, driving record) before offering any position.
  • Our leaders are a minimum of twenty years old. Most are between 21 and 26.
  • Leader training takes place over the course of an intensive, ten day-long program at Apogee’s headquarters in Brunswick, Maine. We work with our leaders both in the classroom and in the field to cover everything from safety and group dynamics to trip logistics and outdoor skills. Leaders also spend time reviewing student applications so they are familiar with each individual in their group before the start of their trip. By the end of their training, leaders are well prepared to safely and effectively lead their group on the adventure of a lifetime.
  • All of our leaders are CPR and First Aid/Wilderness First Responder certified at a minimum. Many hold higher certifications.
  • Apogee enjoys a very high leader return rate. Many veteran leaders return for multiple summers.

Read more below about some of our outstanding Trip Leaders.


CC Gensheimer, Sewickley, PACC
College of William and Mary, Class of 2014

Trips as a Leader:
New England Mountains and Coast ’12, Maine’s Downeast Explorer ’12, California Mountains & Coast ’13

A family-oriented world-traveler, Caroline (“CC”) Gensheimer has explored Europe, the United States and beyond. She has had a monkey perch on her shoulder in the jungles of Central America and sea-kayaked alongside whales in Alaska’s glacier-rimmed fjords. A native of western Pennsylvania and a Senior at the College of William and Mary, CC was president of her sorority and has spent time tutoring at the local middle school.  Her passion for working with young people started early when CC and her sister (renowned Apogee leader, Hannah Gensheimer) founded a successful summer camp for children in her hometown. In high school, CC was captain of her school’s varsity tennis team but always maintained an interest in the true outdoors. Her love for the outdoors blossomed over summer wilderness trips, especially a 2011 wilderness leader training program in Alaska.


Mike Lessard, Greene, ME Mike
University of New Hampshire, Class of 2010

Trips as a Leader:
Maine Mountain Explorer ’08, New England Mountains & Coast ’08, Vermont Hiker ’09, Northwest Explorer ’09, ’10, ’13, Caribbean Service Adventure ’10, America Coast to Coast ’12 & ’13

Long-time leader Mike Lessard walked into the Apogee world in the summer of 2008, when he led both the New England Mountains and Coast and the no-longer-extant Maine Mountain Explorer trips. In the three successive summers, he led Apogee’s Vermont Hiker, Northwest Explorer, and Caribbean Service Adventure trips before tackling America Coast to Coast in 2012 and once again in 2013. A 2010 graduate from the University of New Hampshire, Mike grew up in Maine where his close-knit family spent much of their time in the outdoors hiking, biking, skiing and canoeing. These activities continue to be a passion for Mike and influenced his career direction. Mike is also a serious athlete. In high school he was captain of his ski, soccer and track teams, and led his ski team to two state championships. At UNH, Mike launched a world-class Nordic skiing career and was selected for the prestigious Olympic Development Team based in Presque Isle, Maine where he spent two winters training and competing in ski races around the world. Known affectionately in Apogee circles as “Papa Mike” or “Nordic Mike,” Mike coaches ski clinics at his high school and has worked as a mentor through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. Additionally, Mike has worked as an EMT and lifeguard.


Kelly McGinty, Woodstock, VTKelly
Cornell University, Class of 2013

Trips as a Leader:
Maine’s Downeast Explorer ’12, New England Mountains & Coast ’12, Montana Service Adventure ’13, Northwest Explorer ’13

Kelly McGinty, hailing from the green hills of Woodstock, Vermont, graduated from Cornell University last spring where she studied in the College of Industrial and Labor Relations, but her passion is outdoor adventure. With Cornell, Kelly led rock-climbing, canoeing and backpacking trips (including a Spring Break trip to Arizona’s high desert). Additionally, Kelly served as an instructor on Cornell’s high and low ropes course, and led two six-day multi-element outdoor adventure trips for incoming freshmen. Kelly was heavily involved in volunteering in and around Ithaca – she worked annually with the Special Olympics, teaches hockey skills through the Ithaca Youth Hockey Association and serves as a mentor and tutor in community elementary schools. All of this volunteer work is nothing new for Kelly. In high school Kelly spent two weeks building a school in the Peruvian rain forest and served as co-chair of her school’s Peer Counseling support group. When she’s home in Vermont, she enjoys hiking with her family, and spending quality time with her golden retrievers (all named after spices – Sage, Nutmeg, Cayenne, and Chili).


Nick Geisler, Groton, NYNick
Hamilton College, Class of 2014

Trips as a Leader:
Coast to Quebec ’12, America Coast to Coast ’13

A creative writing major and Senior at Hamilton College, Nick Geisler came away from last summer’s America Coast to Coast adventure with all kinds of stories. He’s a Georgia native who now lives in Ithaca, New York with his family. Nick’s childhood babysitter was Olympian and women’s soccer phenom, Mia Hamm, who may have planted the seeds for his love of soccer. After captaining his high school’s soccer team and working for years as a soccer referee and camp counselor, Nick now plays rugby and was recently elected as the President of Hamilton’s men’s rugby team. Nick served as a peer mentor in his High School’s “Creating a Safer School” program, and has been very involved with and dedicated to Relay for Life. Nick has run his own Relay team for the past three years, and was invited to be a part of the County’s Relay Planning Committee. Among other notable facts about Nick; he has a passion for tube socks.


Hannah Gensheimer, Sewickley, PAApogee Adventures Leader Hannah Gensheimer
Bucknell University, Class of 2012

Trips as a Leader:
Coast to Québec ’11, Pacific Coast ’12, Caribbean Service Adventure ’13

Given the caliber of leaders that we attract, it is not unusual to have a seasoned camp counselor join us.  It is not usual at all, however, to have a camp founder on staff. But that is exactly what we have in returning leader, and now Assistant Director, Hannah Gensheimer. Hailing from western Pennsylvania, Hannah started (with her sister, CC, another outstanding Apogee leader) a day camp for neighborhood children in 2003 and ran it successfully for eight years! And no wonder, Hannah is one of the warmest, most thoughtful, and funniest people you’re likely to run across. Her past Apogee groups and Hannah’s lifelong experiences with young people shape the perspective that she brings to her trips each summer. Hannah graduated from Bucknell University in 2012, where she double-majored in Psychology and Political Science. Hannah loves to travel and has visited a number of countries in Europe with her close-knit family and studied abroad in New Zealand. Additionally, Hannah is enormously service-oriented; she has served in an AIDS orphanage in Honduras and spent the two months following her Pacific Coast trips volunteering with children in Argentina. As busy as she is, Hannah makes time for adventure, too – Hannah spent last winter working and skiing in Colorado and, very occasionally, sky-diving over glaciers!


Shem Dixon, Avon, MEShem
Bowdoin College, Class of 2011

Trips as a Leader:
Coast to Quebec ’11, Pacific Coast ’12

Hailing from the fresh air and mountain streams of western Maine, Shem Dixon is a 2011 graduate of Bowdoin College where he majored in Biology and Earth and Oceanographic Studies. He currently resides in beautiful Brunswick, were he works as an Assistant Director for Apogee.  Prior to this, Shem spent two years working at Kieve-Wavus, a leadership school in Maine, facilitating team-building and leadership activities for students of all ages.  At Bowdoin, Shem was heavily involved in the Residential Life program.  He served as a Head Proctor, overseeing ninety first-year students and a team of resident advisors.  Before his involvement with Residential Life, Shem honed his leadership and communication skills as the President of his College House.  Shem graduated magna cum laude from his high school, where he was President of his National Honor Society and a three-sport Captain his senior year.


Laura Aragon, Bethesda, MDApogee Leader Laura Aragon
College Of William and Mary, Class of 2013

Trips as a Leader:
Cape Cod and the Islands ’13, Vermont to Montreal ’13

A proud Maryland native, Laura Aragon grew up just outside of Washington, DC.  She’s a 2013 graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she studied Psychology. At William and Mary, Laura tutored with a program called College Partnership for Kids, which provides academic assistance to elementary school aged students who are struggling in school.  Laura spent her Junior spring semester satisfying her itch to travel. Over the course of her semester, she visited fourteen European cities, and spent time teaching English to elementary school students. Laura has worked as a camp counselor, primarily teaching swimming skills to kids ages three to thirteen, and has also worked as a lifeguard. Laura loved getting to spend her summer biking around Cape Cod with her groups and swimming at the beautiful beaches along the way!


Jack Messerly, Vadnais Heights, MNLeader_Profile_Jack
Hamilton College, Class of 2014

Trips as a Leader:
Maine’s Downeast Explorer ’12, New England Mountains & Coast ’12, California Mountains and Coast ’13

Minnesotan Jack Messerly is, if you will forgive the pun, a Jack-of-all-trades.  A Senior at Hamilton College in upstate New York, Jack studies math and philosophy.  When he’s not untangling the mathematical theory of knots, however, you might find him spinning tracks as a DJ at Hamilton’s radio station, leading campus tours for prospective students, or out on the rugby field (Jack serves as Captain of Hamilton’s formidable rugby team). Additionally, Jack has led incoming freshman on a weeklong, pre-orientation backpacking trip for Hamilton’s Adirondack Adventure program. Back in Minnesota, Jack was the President of his Junior and Senior classes and deeply involved in community service. Jack also served as the Captain of his high school’s varsity hockey team, making him a natural as a counselor at ice hockey camp over several summers. Not all-work-and-no-play by any stretch, Jack has amused many with his free-style rapping – often while wearing the stuffed-moose hat his Apogee students gave him as a parting summer gift.


Anna Minckler, Fort Lauderdale, FLAnna
Lafayette College, Class of 2013

Trips as a Leader:
New England Mountains & Coast ’10, Montana Service Adventure ’11, Northwest Explorer ’11, America Coast to Coast ’12, Europe Coast to Coast ’13

A new graduate from Lafayette College, Anna Minckler was born on Kauai, Hawaii and has loved the outdoors from day one. After stints in California and Michigan, her family settled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where she has now lived for nineteen years. Anna grew up biking to the beach to swim, surf and skim board, passions that continue to this day. A natural educator, Anna enjoys being a positive role model for young people and thrives on the energy and imagination kids bring to everything they do. Playing Ultimate Frisbee and reading are among Anna’s long list of healthy addictions. She also enjoys hiking with the Lafayette Outing Club and spends hours paddling her sea kayak when home in Florida. Giving back is important to Anna; she has served many hours helping to clean up and preserve Florida’s fragile ecosystem. Outside of her summers with Apogee, Anna spent a semester at sea in the Southern Pacific Ocean. She loves to share stories about sailing from one palm-dotted atoll to another, encountering docile manta rays, confronting rising sea levels, and listening to the melodious sounds of nesting Red-Footed Boobies in the trees. She hopes one day to combine her passions for travel, teaching and service by joining the Peace Corps.


Josh Cutler, Messery, FranceJosh
University of British Columbia, Class of 2014

Trips as a Leader:
Maine’s Downeast Explorer ’11, Montana Service Adventure ’12, Northwest Explorer ’12

He grew up in Uganda and Eritrea, he calls the shores of Lake Geneva home, he attended high school in Wales, and he is a Senior at the University of British Columbia. Josh Cutler is our international man of mystery.  Probably the only person you’ve ever met who has actually been chased by a hippo, Josh is remarkably down to earth. An avid sailor and adventurer, Josh has taught safe-boating in South Africa, served as a camp-counselor in Italy, trekked through New Zealand, practiced wilderness rescues in Arizona, and worked in an orphanage in the Sudan. At school, Josh has been taken leadership positions with Greenpeace, a boat-building club, and Amnesty International. The oldest of four boys, Josh takes every opportunity he can to work with young people. His Apogee students have benefited from Josh’s outstanding leadership, his compassion and his truly global perspective.


Posie Holmes, Concord, MA Apogee Adventures Leader Posie Holmes
University of Virginia, Class of 2015

Trips as a Student:
Coast to Quebec ’06, Montana Service Adventure ’07, Northwest Explorer ’09

Trips as a Leader:
Coast to Coast to Québec ’13

Posie Holmes first embarked on Apogee’s Coast to Quebec trip as a student in 2006, and she was thrilled to spend the summer of 2013 – as a leader – once again pedaling along Maine’s beautiful coast and through the north woods to the green farmland of Quebec.  Posie is a Junior at the University of Virginia, where she’s studying Business. At UVA, she plays club soccer on the school’s nationally ranked team, and serves as the club’s fundraising chair. In the winter, Posie works as a ski instructor for kids of all ages at Mount Sunapee, a resort not too far from her home in Concord, Massachusetts. Posie has worked with kids for many years now – as a ski instructor, a soccer coach, and as a freshman orientation leader for her high school. Posie is a seasoned bike-tourer and outdoor adventurer: she has bicycled from Amsterdam to Barcelona and considers Glacier National Park and the Swiss Alps to be among her favorite places in the world. Additionally, Posie is well-versed in the Wide World of Apogee, as she participated in three Apogee trips as a student: Northwest ExplorerMontana Service Adventure, and of course, Coast to Quebec.  Last summer’s Apogee groups found Posie to be a natural adventurer – and a masterful and enthusiastic camp cook.


David Cutler, South Portland, MEApogee Adventure Leader David Cutler
Bates College, Class of 2012

Trips as a Leader:
New England Mountains & Coast ’10, Montana Service Adventure ’11, Northwest Explorer ’11, America Coast to Coast ’12, Europe Coast to Coast ’13

A native Mainer, David Cutler graduated from Bates College in 2012, where he majored in Ecology and minored in Education.  At Bates, David spent his time hanging from the rock wall, volunteering at area elementary schools, and, on winter weekends, heading up to the mountains to ski.  Dave is an experienced leader.  In high school, he co-captained his lacrosse team and, through the Bates Outing Club, he led several pre-orientation trips for incoming freshmen. David loves to travel and spent one memorable semester studying abroad in Amman, Jordan – in the midst of the “Arab Spring.” In addition, David recently spent five weeks in Mexico, as well as seven weeks sailing and boat building in Nova Scotia.  He is also an avid Ultimate Frisbee player and is a certified EMT.


Mia Taggart, Freeport, MEApogee Adventure Leader Mia Taggart
Bates College, Class of 2014

Trips as a Student:
Pacific Coast ’07, Coast to Quebec ’08

Trips as a Leader:
Coast to Quebec ’12, Pacific Coast ’13, Northwest Explorer ’13

A proud and enthusiastic native of Maine, Mia Taggart is both an Apogee alumna and leader.  In 2012, Mia had a decidedly adventurous year off of school.  She spent the fall in Guatemala, working as an art teacher at Safe PassageSafe Passage serves to educate and support children whose families live off of the municipal garbage dump. Mia then spent the winter months splitting her time between working at Apogee in the office and volunteering as an assistant Nordic ski coach at the Freeport, Maine Middle School.  She spent her spring in Italy working as a farm intern at the Tenuta di Spannocchia in Tuscany, a 13th-century estate that practices sustainable farming (and plays host to our Tuscan Service Adventure groups).  At Spannocchia, Mia became quite skilled in the art of finding and harvesting wild asparagus.  Now back in the States, Mia is loving life as a Junior at Bates College.  A woman of wide, deep interests, Mia loves to sing, cook, sculpt, ski, bike, and hike.


Apogee Adventures Leader Phil DuvalPhilip Duval, Pittsburgh, PA
Cornell University, Class of 2015

Trips as a Leader:
New England Mountains & Coast ’13

Philip is a Junior at Cornell University, where he is studying Mechanical Engineering. Philip is a Pittsburgh native who is now enjoying his residence in Ithaca, New York, and taking full advantage of the wilderness that surrounds Cornell. Philip works as an Outdoor Education Instructor at Cornell, where he regularly holds outdoor skills classes for fellow students. A Wilderness First Responder, he has also worked as a high-ropes facilitator at Cornell’s rope course, leading groups through the course, and helping to to moderate team-building activities.  Philip is a co-president of Cornell’s Yoga Club, and practices yoga daily. Philip loves to spend time outdoors, especially hiking, and has experience backpacking and mountaineering in the White Mountains and Adirondacks. Full of zest for life, Philip loved sharing his Downward Facing Dog and his best bowline knot with his New England Mountains & Coast groups last summer!


Apogee Adventures Leader Izzy JenzenIzzy Janzen, Wyndmoor, PA
Hamilton College, Class of 2014

Trips as a Leader:
Maine’s Downeast Explorer ’13

From Philly and proud, Isabel (Izzy) Janzen is a Senior at Hamilton College, where she studies World Politics. Last Spring, however, found her far from the hills of Clinton, New York, as she studied abroad in Cameroon. Her program in the heart of Africa fed her interests in the many facets of foreign aid. As part of her semester program, Izzy spent a month living and working on a womens’ community ginger farm. Back at Hamilton, Izzy co-captains the womens’ rugby team, and plays intramural basketball. Izzy has spent several summers working with kids of all ages in very different settings. She has worked as a camp counselor at a day camp in her home state of Pennsylvania, and last summer she worked as an analytical writing tutor for the Higher Education Opportunities Program, a for incoming freshmen who need extra academic preparation before entering Hamilton. Izzy is outdoorsy by nature, a trait sparked by countless camping trips she took with her dad growing up. She’s brought her love of the outdoors to Hamilton, where, as a Wilderness First Responder, she leads outdoor adventure orientation trips for incoming freshmen with Hamilton’s Adirondack Adventure program. Last summer, Izzy loved exploring the very best of Maine with her Downeast Explorer groups.


Apogee Adventures Leader Jeremy Cronon

Jeremy Cronon, Madison, WI
Bates College, Class of 2013

Trips as a Leader:
Pacific Coast ’13, Northwest Explorer ’13

Born into a family of outdoor enthusiasts, Jeremy Cronon is no stranger to the wilderness. Growing up in Wisconsin, Jeremy traveled with his family to raft the Grand Canyon, took a 10,000 mile road trip in the American West, and spent summers swimming and paddling on Lake Superior. Through all of his travels, Jeremy has developed quite an adventurous spirit. Before graduating from Bates College last spring, he spent a year studying in Barcelona, and was able to travel throughout Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Hungary. At Bates, Jeremy majored in History and worked as a teaching assistant, served as Safety Director of the Outing Club, and played Ultimate Frisbee on the club team. Additionally, Jeremy is certified as a Wilderness First Responder, has been skydiving in New Hampshire and completed a National Outdoor Leadership School course in Wyoming. Before joining Apogee, Jeremy spent six summers working as a sea-kayak guide on Lake Superior – sharing his love for the outdoors and of adventure with folks young and old. Last year, Jeremy was thrilled to spend his summer on the Pacific Coast and Northwest Explorer trips.  He loved working with great young people and bestowing upon them his knowledge of Elvish (seriously!).


 

Laura Armstrong, Scarborough, MEApogee Adventures Leader Laura Armstrong
Bowdoin College, Class of 2012

Trips as a Student:
Cape Cod & the Islands ’04, Montana Service Adventure ’05

Trips as a Leader:
Coast to Coast to Québec ’11, Tuscan Service Adventure ’12

Seasoned veteran Laura Armstrong is well known at Apogee.  Laura grew up in Scarborough, ME and was a member of our Cape Cod & the Islands and Montana Service Adventure trips as a student in 2004 and 2005.  Laura graduated from Bowdoin College in 2012 and majored in Latin American Studies and History.  While at Bowdoin, Laura was very active in the College’s Outing Club and served as a trip leader.  One of the highlights of Laura’s college career was the semester she spent studying in Chile, where she spent time hiking and exploring the breathtaking Patagonia region in the south of the country.  Laura spent most of 2013 in Costa Rica on a Fulbright Scholarship, a highly selective teaching position she was awarded.  Laura’s warmth and enthusiasm are evident to everyone she meets, and her Apogee students love her wonderful perspective on life and interest in the wide world.