Maine Coast College Essay: Meet Master Instructor, Jaed Coffin

Ah, yes – it is officially spring time (or so we’re told up here in Maine where there is still a good foot of snow in the backyard…). For many of us, spring means warmer weather, spring-break trips and blooming flora. While the season inspires many of us to get outside and into our flip flops, for many high school Juniors this time is overshadowed by SATs, college visits, and the initial steps of college applications. Well, rising Seniors, have no fear – Apogee is here with a solution for some of those initial college application anxieties! Our Maine Coast College Essay (MCCE) program is an eight-day program that allows twelve students to enjoy beautiful coastal Maine, work with informed and fun instructors, hone interviewing skills at Bowdoin College, and leave the program with two polished college essays. And MCCE is still 100% an Apogee program – so we will have plenty of time to get to know one another and enjoy Maine’s natural playground. We’ll spend afternoons hiking, swimming, sea-kayaking, performing community service, and walking the cobblestoned streets of charming Portland, Maine.


Jaed Coffin

Last summer, Apogee successfully piloted the MCCE program with the help of two terrific Apogee leaders; Bowdoin’s Director of Admissions, Whitney Soule; and our master instructor, Jaed Coffin. This year, we are thrilled to have Jaed onboard to guide our MCCE students over their eight days in Maine. Jaed, a Maine resident and father of two, has a passion for working with youth and has years of experience instructing at the high school and college levels. A graduate of Middlebury College with an MFA in Creative Writing, Jaed is a professor of English at the University of New Hamphsire. Jaed has a resume made for MCCE – he is the author of two personal memoirs about his experiences as a monk in Thailand and a boxer in Alaska (not a lot of folks have both of those activities in their background….), he has taught at Bowdoin and the Stonecoast MFA programs, spoken at over 20 colleges around the country, and run writing seminars at over 30 high schools. Jaed also uses his gift as a teacher and writer to give back; he is heavily involved in the Telling Room, a literary program for international multilingual high school students in Portland, Maine. He is also the author of numerous published articles and essays (check out this one about his crazy night with Justin Timberlake). In short, Jaed is the perfect instructor for Apogee’s MCCE program.

Jaed Coffin

Jaed working with a 2014 MCCE student.

Our MCCE program is fun, it’s intense, and it bears fruit. Participants of last year’s MCCE program have received offers of admissions from some of the best universities and colleges in the US – including Georgetown, the U.S. Naval Academy, Harvard, Bates, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, and the University of North Carolina (and, not to excessively toot horns, but we should mention that UNC offered our MCCE alumnus the prestigious Morehead-Cain Scholarship – a merit-based, four-year scholarship). We are very excited for another successful summer, and know that, with Jaed’s terrific help, this year’s MCCE students are bound to have an experience they will never forget.

*Scholarship opportunities may be available – please inquire with Apogee at 207.725.7025 or

Our Leaders Off the Trails

Check out what a bunch of our superstars leaders have been up to since their Apogee trips this summer!

It looks like PC’s Kate Lemly is the new handy-woman in town! Kate is currently working with AmeriCorps as a construction crew leader in New Orleans for Habitat for Humanity. She has been coordinating volunteers, and is getting plenty of hands-on experience. Side note – is that a skeleton hanging from the wood? Spooky.

Kate Lemly (Pacific Coast '14)

Kate Lemly (Pacific Coast ’14)

CQ’s Mike Vercillo, a New York native, has new stomping grounds now – and they just so happen to be in the hills of Tuscany! Since September, Mike has been working as a Farm Intern for the Spannocchia Foundation in Tuscany. Mike’s Apogee students raved about his amazing cooking skills this summer, so we can’t even imagine the amazing Italian delicacies he is whipping up now!

Mike Vercillo in Italy

Mike Vercillo (Coast to Quebec ’14)

NEMC’s Midge Cross, a Junior at Tufts University, is back on campus where she is balancing weekend adventures like completing presidential traverses with preparations for studying abroad in Ghana next semester. Right now she is working on a research project on the Shortfin Mako shark, and practicing for her fall Kiniwe show (the Ghanaian drumming group she is involved with!).

Midge Cross (New England Mountains & Coast '14)

Midge Cross (New England Mountains & Coast ’14)

Apogee’s musical talent continues with CSA’s Will Robertson.  Will is back in his home state of Minnesota where he recently started a freelance music composition and arranging business. On the side, he has been singing in a professional choir and coaching a cross country ski team at the local high school. Needless to say, Will is staying busy!

Will Robertson

Will Robertson (Caribbean Service Adventure ’14)

VM’s Abby Dalzell is spending her semester in Madagascar, and has recently taken a trip to a rural village where she got to interview traditional healers. On top of her studies, Abby has also enjoyed getting to know the local people and food. Here she is picking lychees, a tropical fruit we certainly didn’t have in our lunchboxes today!

Abby Dalzell

Abby Dalzell (Vermont to Montreal ’14)

NWX’s John Swords is definitely making a “splash” during his final year at Bowdoin. When he’s not playing basketball for Bowdoin’s team or working on his Senior Honors Thesis, you’re bound to find him exploring Maine’s wilderness. And John is nothing “short” of adventurous. At 7 feet tall, he’s even willing to attempt white water, stand-up paddle boarding (to ill effect, as you’ll see below…). Please forgive the puns.

John Swords (Northwest Explorer '14)

John Swords (Northwest Explorer ’14)

CQ’s Emily Sherry, a recent Hamilton College graduate, has headed south to work with Outward Bound. Emily is living in Florida and working with OB’s At-Risk Youth program leading 20-28 day canoe trips and providing support to other trips. She has gotten to work with some amazing young people, and see alligators, manatees, dolphins, and monkeys (didn’t know they were Florida natives?)!

Emily Sherry (Coast to Quebec '14)

Emily Sherry (Coast to Quebec ’14)

PC’s Matt Monahon is a recent transplant to our nation’s capital where he is now working for Federal Realty Investment Trust, a real estate development company. In his free time, he has been mountain biking and taking camping trips with friends in Virginia.

(Pacific Coast '14)

Matt Monahon (Pacific Coast ’14)

The adventure doesn’t stop! Here is CI’s Emily O’Connell doing the Y-M-C-A on a camel in Morocco (just kidding)! A Junior at William & Mary, Emily is currently studying abroad in Seville, Spain, and making plenty of time to travel, grow acquainted with the local customs, and even hike Spain’s beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains!

Emily O'Connell in Spain

Emily O’Connell (Cape Cod & the Islands ’14)

PC’s Jeanne Barthold is loving her Senior year at Colby! From school work to the slopes (Jeanne is one of Colby’s Ski Team Captains!), she is staying very busy. Although the majority of her time spent in the mountains will be on skis this winter, Jeanne made time to hike with friends through Maine and New Hampshire before it got too snowy. Here is a photo of Jeanne at the top of Katahdin this fall!

Jeanne hiking

Jeanne Barthold (pictured on the right, Pacific Coast ’14)

And then there’s Jack Messerly and Izzy Janzen! Both Apogee veterans and also 2014 Hamilton College graduates, Jack and Izzy are now in Boonville, CA where they have been spending their days milking goats, feeding chickens and pigs, herding sheep, and harvesting lots of vegetables in a community garden. Above is a selfie of their “evening commute.” Can’t imagine what their morning commute looks like!

Jack and Izzy in Boonsville

Jack Messerly (Alps Explorer ’14, California Mountains & Coast ’13, New England Mountains & Coast ’12) & Izzy Janzen (Northwest Explorer ’14, Maine’s Downeast Explorer ’13)

ACC’s Ally Bolger just finished her second term at the Ecology School in Saco, Maine. Here is a photo from a day called “students’ choice” where the class decided to do “nature spa day!” She now has a couple of weeks off before heading to New Hampshire to work as a ski instructor. Ally has spent her free time this fall climbing Katahdin, exploring the White Mountains, and visiting Cape Cod.

Ally Bolger

Ally Bolger (America Coast to Coast ’14, Pacific Coast ’13)

CQ’s Pete Cutler, a notorious world-traveler, is looking fierce and enjoying a little bit of downtime as he recovers from shoulder surgery. But the second he’s healed up, he is off to Cameroon to join the Peace Corps. Rest up, Pete!

Pete Cutler (Coast to Quebec '14)

Pete Cutler (Coast to Quebec ’14)

And then we have DEX’s Marino Leone. For those who do not know Marino, he is one of the most unique people out there! Here is a shot of Marino spinning a LED “poi” (don’t worry, we had to look it up, too). This past semester he has been running a club that spins LED poi, hula hoops, juggling balls, and flow staff. Additionally, he has been doing plenty of rock climbing as well as working with a psychology grad student at Cornell!

Marino Leone

Marino Leone (Maine’s Downeast Explorer ’14)

NE Support Super Hero Annika Nygren is finishing her fall semester of her Junior year at Amherst. At school, Annika had a successful field hockey season and made plenty of time to get outside, including a sunrise hike to Pioneer Valley! Even more exciting is her upcoming agenda – she is getting ready to spend four months in Madrid to study abroad in January! Buen viaje chica!

Annika Nygren

Annika Nygren (New England Support ’14)

AX’s CC Gensheimer has switched out her hiking boots (at least during the work week) for more professional attire, and is taking DC by storm. CC is working at IBM as a financial consultant, and on the weekends has been exploring the city, trying new restaurants, and cooking up some delicious concoctions of her own! Your new office looks just like the Alps – right, CC?

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CC Gensheimer (Alps Explorer ’14, California Mountains & Coast ’13, New England Mountains & Coast ’12)

A Junior at Hamilton College, Alex Doig may be the most active outdoorsman you’ve come across in a while. He has been actively whitewater kayaking, back-country telemark skiing, and he is planning to sea kayak off of Cape Cod Sound and Martha’s Vineyard over Thanksgiving. Oh yeah, and he is currently in the process of climbing all of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks – pictured above is Alex at the Summit of Giant Peak. Simply put, we’re impressed.

Alex Doig

Alex Doig (New England Support ’14)

CMC’s Emma Perkinson (in a post-hike stretch) has been enjoying teaching middle school history at the Pine Cobble School in Williamstown, MA, as well as coaching a very fun and successful field hockey season this past fall! When not with her students, Emma has been exploring the wild Berkshire Mountains with her roommate and fellow Apogee leader Julie Levine!

Emma Perkinson

Emma Perkinson (California Mountains & Coast ’14, New England Mountains & Coast ’13)

ECC’s Christine Reighley is having a great semester back at Bentley University in Boston! This fall, Christine has loved not only embracing her love of cooking and photography, but also sailing; Christine is the president of Bentley’s sailing team, and she has spent the majority of her weekends at sailing regattas throughout the fall! Now that sailing is done for the season, Christine is getting excited for winter sports, including skiing and competitive snowball fights.

Christine Reighley

Christine Reighley (Europe Coast to Coast ’14)

DEX’s Erin Leddy is a Senior at Bowdoin College, and an active member of the Outing Club. Erin has spent her semester hard at work, getting in plenty of time with her studies and pondering the future of what lies next (as so many college seniors do!). Still making time for fun, here is a photo of Erin on her birthday this year!

Erin Leddy

Erin Leddy (Maine’s Downeast Explorer ’14)

Since graduating from Bucknell University last spring, VM’s Reuben Atkatz has been busy traveling around the United States and embracing his love of the outdoors. After finishing up his summer in Vermont, Reuben and Apogee all-star, Pete Cutler (featured above), traveled cross-country from Maine to Washington state, taking pit-stops to visit friends and explore local sights. Reuben has recently moved out to Utah where he will be working and skiing for the winter!

Reuben Atkaz and Pete Cutler

Pete Cutler (Coast to Quebec ’14) and Reuben Atkatz (Vermont to Montreal ’14)


Holiday Hoodies and Water Bottles

In our humble opinions here at Apogee, nothing quite captures the spirit and magic of the holidays like our very own 100% cotton Apogee hoodies. And you know what? Spiced apple cider and eggnog (not usually at the same time, however) just taste better when quaffed from the finest Apogee water bottle we’ve been able to offer in years. Read on to find out how you and yours can be snuggled up by the fire this holiday season with Apogee’s finest accoutrements! (Pictures of both are below…)

HOLIDAY HOODIE:  This year’s Holiday Hoodie is the very same American Apparel pullover cotton fleece hoodie issued to our leaders in advance of the summer season. Our staff loved the rich Navy color emblazoned with Apogee’s logo in a contemporary hi-viz green. It is no exaggeration to say that you’ll find an Apogee sweatshirt on at least two members of our office staff on any given day – they’re that comfortable.

Hoodies are available for $50, shipping included. Sizes run from XS to XXL. Note that the hoodies are unisex.


Yes, yes, they’re gorgeous in their own right, but don’t you think Shem and Hannah look just a bit better in their Apo hoodies?

WATER BOTTLE:  Like other organizations, we may be guilty of saying “this year’s x” is the best “x” we’ve ever offered a bit too often… Well, this time – when it comes to the water bottles, at least – it’s really true!  These are in fact the best water bottles we’ve ever offered. We are delighted with the way these puppies came out, they’re 32-ounce, wide-mouth Nalgene bottles (BPA-free, of course) – they’re crystal clear and they light up with that gorgeous Apogee Red coloring.  We know you’ll find they’re perfect for Apogee trips – but they’re great sitting next to your computer or in the lunchroom.

The bottles are yours for $18 each, shipping included.


Crystal clear and ready for you – the Apogee Water Bottle…

HOW TO ORDER:  To order your hoodies and water bottles – just let us know sizing and number info by sending Chad an email at or calling us at 207.725.7025.  Very important note:  To get yours for the start of Hannukah, we need your order by noon on Wednesday, November 26 (just before you put that pumpkin pie in the oven for the next day…).  All other orders must be received by noon on Monday, December 8.

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Ain’t no party like an Apogee hoodie party!

Catch the Early Bird!

Look – look – up there! What is it? It’s…It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!

Nope – it’s even better! It’s Apogee’s once-a-year Early Bird a-flyin’! The Early Bird – more popular than Pharrell’s “Happy;” more useful than duct tape; more fun than a party with Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton, and Tigger (of Winnie the Pooh fame); and almost as short-lived than a fruit fly in seventh-grade science class – is in the air only through November 16.

The Early Bird: We know – you’re chomping at the bit for the details. Wait no more, friends! Here’s the deal: If you apply for a 2015 Apogee program and pay the $795 trip deposit before the end of the day on Sunday, November 16, we will discount your tuition by $250 (reflected on the final invoice sent in the spring).  Additionally, as long as we have room, you are welcome to switch programs at any point; and if, after applying, you decide that a trip just isn’t right in 2015, you’re welcome to a full refund anytime before December 31.

Application: When the sweet siren song of the Early Bird proves irresistible, our application is here:

Trip Updates: We’re coming off of our most successful season ever in 2014 – and we’re looking forward to even more in 2015. You can read about our two newest programs and updates to our classics here.

Contact: Please be in touch anytime with questions about our hiking, biking, service and writing trips; our outstanding leaders and staff; or the decision tree that led to using “Happy” instead of “All About That Bass” in the paragraph above – we’re easy to reach at or 207.725.7025.

Early Bird Photo

Some of our distinguished early birds.