The difference between a good summer program and an exceptional summer program is the quality of its leaders. We know this and we take the time to recruit leaders who are responsible, compassionate, inspiring, and fun. Our leaders love working with kids and they love the outdoors. Students look up to our leaders as role models and overwhelmingly rate them as excellent. Here is some more important information about Apogee’s hiring processes, our extensive leader training program, and our leaders’ qualifications and certifications.

  • 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, 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 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 certified in CPR, First Aid, and as Lifeguards. The majority also hold higher certifications, such as Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, and EMT.
  • Apogee enjoys a very high leader return rate. Many veteran leaders return for multiple summers.

Read more below to meet some of our outstanding Trip Leaders.

To learn more about leading for Apogee, CLICK HERE.


Red Giuliano, Milan, Italy
Cornell University, Class of 2018

Trips as a Leader:
Vermont to Montreal ’16, Europe Coast to Coast ’17, Pyrenees Mountains and Coast ’18

Red Giuliano comes to Apogee with citizenship in not just one, but three countries (USA, Italy & Switzerland)! Red spent the first 13 years of his life in Milan, Italy, with his American mother, Italian father, and younger brother. From there, Red moved to Portland, Oregon where he perfected his English before his mother’s work took the family to Manila, Philippines when Red was 16. Red was extremely active at his school, the International School of Manila, as well as in his local community. In Manila, he broke two school records while captaining the track team, and also spent time at the Philippine Institute for the Deaf working with students to overcome communication challenges. Red had an opportunity to work with kids between the ages of 7 and 16 when he taught basic English and Math to refugees at the ABS-CBN Eco Village, a center for families affected by the explosion of Mt. Pinatubo, a Philippine volcano. Red graduated from Cornell University in the spring of 2018 with a degree in Economics. When Red wasn’t working on a cost/benefit analysis, he was highly involved with Cornell Outdoor Education and Outdoor Odyssey, Cornell’s outdoor orientation program for incoming Freshmen. Red has led numerous trips for students at Cornell, including multiple lake and river canoe camping trips. Fluent in Italian, English and Spanish, Red is truly a man of the world.

Emily Hoffman

Emily Hoffman, New York, NY
St. Lawrence University, Class of 2018

Trips as a Student:
Cape Cod & the Islands ’11, Caribbean Service Adventure ’12, Montana Service Adventure ’13, Europe Coast to Coast ’14

Trips as a Leader:
Coast to Quebec ’16, Montana Service Adventure ’17, America Coast to Coast ’18

Coming to us from the bustling streets of New York City, Emily Hoffman is well-versed in all things Apogee. Emily spent four summers with us as a student – she biked on Cape Cod and across Montana and Europe. She also spent time with us in Puerto Rico volunteering on service projects. A recent graduate of St. Lawrence University, Emily’s passion for the outdoors has truly blossomed. During her Sophomore fall, Emily took part in SLU’s “Adirondack Semester,” a program that took her entirely off the grid for three months, foregoing technology and running water in exchange for a better understanding of how to live simply. Back on campus, Emily studied Environmental Sociology and lived in the “Women’s Resources Center,” a house dedicated to creating a safe environment for women to find a healthy, supportive community on campus. Emily is passionate about service and working with youth. During her senior year in high school Emily traveled to Guatemala with the “Safe Passage” organization and worked with local students teaching English and the sport of lacrosse.  Beyond her travels to Guatemala and with Apogee, Emily has been to France, Italy, London and Mexico.

Alea Laidlaw, Hillsborough, NC
Wesleyan University, Class of 2020

Trips as a Leader: Costa Rica Mountains and Coast ’18

Alea Laidlaw grew up moving several times with her tight-knit family before landing in North Carolina. Growing up, Alea developed a love for volleyball, science, and creating positive change in the world. Before settling in at Wesleyan, Alea spent a gap year with an international development program called Thinking Beyond Borders, during which she traveled to South Africa, India, Thailand, Cambodia, Ecuador, and Peru for seven months while volunteering with NGOs. She’s even spent time working on Environmental Research projects at Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica through Kids Saving the Rainforest. Currently, Alea majors in Science & Society at Wesleyan and minors in Film. She spends her free time serving as an eco-facilitator on campus, tutoring Syrian refugees, working at the student-run organic farm, and illustrating for a literary magazine. Additionally, she participates in a dance club, film club, outdoors club, and club volleyball team. Alea’s devotion to community and culture doesn’t stop there – she’s spent her summers as a camp counselor at Franklin Park Zoo, has taught countless swim lessons to people of all ages, and is also fluent Spanish!

Ezra Ward-Packard, Lake Geneva, WI
Carleton College, Class of 2020

Trips as a Leader: Coast to Quebec ’17, America Coast to Coast ’18

Ezra Ward-Packard’s love of cycling started early – not in life, but at 4:30 AM. The second of five children growing up in Wisconsin, Ezra woke up with his brother before sunrise to bike five miles to their grandmother’s house to watch Team USA play in the 2002 World Cup; Ezra remembers this as the moment he fell in love with cycling. However, Ezra wasn’t satisfied just watching high-achieving athletes on TV – instead, he decided to become one himself. After high school, Ezra spent three years as a semi-pro cyclist, racing 213 times in fifteen states and five countries, and seeing the world and living with teammates from seventeen different countries. Off his bike, Ezra is a hard-working student at Carleton College, where he majors in Cinema and Media Studies and minors in Educational Studies. Ezra is also an avid hiker – he has taken on three solo hiking and backpacking trips and checked off twelve national parks throughout South Dakota, Utah, Colorado, and Arkansas. Ezra recently spent a winter break with All Hands Volunteers, where he devoted two weeks to mucking, gutting, sanitizing, and rebuilding some of the 60,000 flood-damaged homes in the Baton Rouge area. Ezra also loves working with kids – he has served as a residential counselor at a camp for young people with Type-1 Diabetes and has helped coach and counsel young cyclists at Team Novo Nordisk’s Talent Identification camp.

Chandler Smith

Chandler Smith, Yarmouth, ME
Colby College, Class of 2018

Trips as a Leader:
Vermont to Montreal ’16, Europe Coast to Coast ’17, America Coast to Coast Support ’18

Although Chandler Smith’s family now resides in Yarmouth, Maine, he and his family spent a fair amount of time living abroad. Along with extended stints in England and Poland, they called Melbourne, Australia home for six years where Chandler played cricket and quickly developed a hybrid American-Australian accent (which he has sadly since retired). Chandler has completed multi-day whitewater rafting trips, covered a variety of terrain by foot in Scotland and the US, and spent two weeks camping, climbing glaciers, and hiking in New Zealand. A recent graduate of Colby College, Chandler was very active on campus, where he was a member of Class Council, engaged in student government, and served as a peer mentor. Chandler led pre-orientation trips for incoming freshmen and also serves as a youth mentor in the Waterville, ME community. Chandler spent the six summers preceding his time with Apogee splitting his time as a camp counselor and coaching youth soccer – a job he’s well qualified for as a member of the semi-professional soccer team, the Portland Phoenix! While athletics are a major part of Chandler’s life – he was on the varsity Colby’s Men’s Soccer team and was an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at the college – he is a passionate, self-described “shameless dancer.”


Addie Irvin, Birmingham, AL
Franklin & Marshall College, Class of 2018

Trips as a Leader:
Maine’s Downeast Explorer ’17, Northwest Explorer ’18

From Birmingham, Alabama, to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Addie Irvin absorbs her surroundings and picks up new hobbies and interests from the many places she’s lived and traveled. Growing up in the heat of Birmingham, Addie was a gymnast, softball coach, and avid Alabama Football fan. When she headed north to study at Franklin & Marshall College, she picked up a love for nature and the outdoors; during her time at Franklin & Marshall, Addie studied Biology, served as President of the Outing Club, and was a member of the Environmental Action Alliance Club. Before her first summer with Apogee in 2017, Addie spent the previous two summers in Canon City, CO, where she worked as a whitewater raft guide and fell in love with the rushing water, bighorn sheep, and vast canyons of Colorado. As a whitewater guide, Addie frequently worked with groups of young students, facilitating fun bonding and prioritizing their safety as they navigated the rapids together. As if she didn’t already have a wide variety of cultural experiences within the US, during her time at Franklin & Marshall, Addie spent a semester studying abroad in Bocas del Toro, Panama. There, she studied tropical ecosystems, learned to surf, and taught herself to play guitar. While she was in Panama, Addie also facilitated a Spanish/English language skill exchange with Panamanian children.