The difference between a good summer program and an exceptional summer program is the quality of its leaders. One of the main ingredients to the “secret sauce” of what sets Apogee apart from other organizations is our incredible leaders. We hire people who are not only committed to the success of our students, but are also responsible, compassionate, and just plain fun.
Simply put, our leaders love working with kids and they love the outdoors. Students look up to our leaders as role models and overwhelmingly rate them with the highest marks on end-of-trip surveys. Here are a few more details and important information about Apogee’s selective hiring processes, our extensive leader training program, and our leaders’ qualifications and certifications.
- We look for individuals with outstanding leadership skills and wide-ranging experience working with young people in the outdoors.
- We hire leaders from all corners of the United States who come to us from a range of backgrounds including top colleges and universities and related industries (teachers, wilderness therapy instructors, coaches, etc.).
- Every applicant fills out a detailed application and is carefully interviewed by our directors. We conduct multiple rounds of interviews before hiring our leaders and are able to be highly selective – we hire approximately one out of every ten applicants.
- We check references thoroughly and perform a full background check (SORI, CORI, and when applicable, driving record) on every staff member.
- Our leaders are a minimum of 20 years old, and most are between 21 and 26.
- Leader training takes place over the course of an intensive, two week-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 files before the start of the program so they are familiar with each individual in their group. 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 certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR. Many of our leaders also certified Lifeguards and also hold higher wilderness certifications, such as Wilderness First Responder or EMT.
- Apogee enjoys a very high leader return rate. Many veteran leaders return for multiple summers.
Read more below to meet a few of our outstanding Trip Leaders.
MEET OUR LEADERS
Leader Name: Grace Warder (she/her/hers)
Hometown: New York, New York
School: Bates College, Class of 2020
Major: Environmental Studies
Positions with Apogee: Europe Coast to Coast ’22, Summer Assistant Director ’21, Pacific Coast ‘18
Certifications: Wilderness First Responder & CPR
Favorite Outdoor Activities: Sledding, walking on the beach, watching the Portland Sea Dogs baseball team win, and of course, biking!
Recent life highlights: Last year, Grace watched the birth of a lamb and went backcountry skiing (not simultaneously…) – both for the first time!
When she’s not cheering on the Sea Dogs, you can probably find Grace: Canoeing, playing frisbee, kayaking, eating pizza with pineapples on it, or playing with other peoples’ dogs.
Some other reasons Grace absolutely rocks: She teaches high school environmental classes in Maine, and studied subsistence farming for a semester in Nepal. During her time in Nepal, Grace’s personal goal was to eat a minimum of three dumplings (momos) every day. She succeeded.
Leader Name: Mac Behrhorst (he/him/his)
Hometown: Evergreen, Colorado
School: Hamilton College, Class of 2023
Past Trips: Alaska Mountains & Coast ’22
Certifications: Wilderness First Aid & CPR
Favorite Outdoor Activities: Skiing, biking, fishing, hiking, and paddling
Recent life highlight: Mac completed the Adirondack 90 Mile Canoe Race!
Where you can find Mac when he isn’t sending it down river: Playing lacrosse or strumming guitar to his favorite bluegrass tunes!
If you aren’t convinced yet that Mac is great, here are some more reasons: He volunteers with youth adaptive winter sports athletes, he has summited five of Colorado’s 14’ers, and growing up, his family raised (and still does!) bees, chickens, and goats.
Leader Name: Nellie Simmonds (she/her/hers)
Hometown: Northfield, Massachusetts
School: Vassar College, Class of 2023
Past Trips: Alaska Mountains & Coast ’22, Pacific Coast ’21
Certifications: Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Lifeguard, CPR
Favorite Outdoor Activities: Paddle boarding, hiking, and running
Recent life highlights: Hiking on Mt. Kilimanjaro during her semester abroad in Uganda (at a wildlife conservation!)!
Where you can find Nellie when she isn’t on the trail: She loves listening to podcasts of all sorts, but especially science-oriented ones and adding to her art collage journal.
Nellie has a million great qualities, so here’s a few more: In addition to being conversational in Swahili, Nellie is also an expert traveler and is comfortable hostel-jumping across many countries (most recently in Portugal and Spain). Oh, and she must be good at running because she has captained both Cross Country and Track and Field teams! Last, but certainly not least, Nellie has worked as a camp counselor, a ceramics instructor, and as a mentor for an academic summer program for disadvantaged youth of color.
Leader Name: Kaia Roast (she/her/hers)
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
School: Whitman College, Class of 2022
Past Trips: Alps Explorer ’22, Maine’s Downeast Explorer ’21
Certifications: Wilderness First Responder, Lifeguard & CPR
Favorite Outdoor Activities: Hiking, backpacking, backcountry and cross-country skiing, kayaking, climbing, ultimate frisbee
Recent life highlight: Kaia went on a skiing road trip through Idaho, Montana, and Washington with her mom!
Where you can find Kaia when she’s not hiking around the West: Tearing it up on her rollerblades, hula hooping, or making homemade pasta! She can also quote the entire Incredibles movie.
Fast Facts about Kaia: Kaia has been playing ultimate frisbee since she was nine years old and has coached the sport for more than six years in Seattle! She’s also been a part of a service group that helps maintain safe trails and create new ones. Kaia has also served as a hiking trip leader and gear rental shop employee through Whitman’s Outdoor Program.
Leader Name: Ben Curry (he/him/his)
Hometown: Las Cruces, New Mexico
School: Colorado College, Class of 2025
Major: Environmental Science
Past Trips: Northwest Explorer ’22
Certifications: Wilderness First Responder, Lifeguard & CPR
Favorite Outdoor Activities: Mountain biking, backpacking, hiking, and photography.
Recent life highlights: Ben got to spend a lot of time downhill mountain bike racing!
What Ben loves to do when he is not busy mountain biking: He loves making videos! One of Ben’s all-time favorite pastimes is filming and editing videos. He is also an avid photographer.
Other reasons why Ben is the best: Ben spent three weeks camping in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. He works as a videographer for the Colorado College Athletics Department and has worked as a photographer for the last five years. Ben has also spent several years volunteering for a program that promotes exercise, healthy youth development, and a sense of community through walking and biking to school!