Meet our New England Mountains & Coast, Maine Coast Junior, and Coast to Quebec Leaders!

With the 2016 Staff Training getting underway in a mere six weeks (an absolutely shocking thing to believe for us in the office!), the time has come to start introducing this year’s stellar slate of staffers to the world! Over the next month and a half we are going to post bi-weekly on our summer crew – a mix of Apogee’s finest returners and some unbelievably amazing new members of the Apogee family. While each Apogee staffer is unique, there’s a common thread among them all –  they’ve got fantastic experience with kids, they’re fun and dynamic, and they’re ready to dive into an incredible summer. And without further ado, we’re pleased to present…


Apogee is thrilled to have Andrew Bloniarz join our team this summer to lead our New England Mountains & Coasts and Maine Coast Junior trips! Although he grew up in the suburbs of Long Island, NY, Andy has spent countless weeks exploring the great outdoors with the Boy Scouts. He has also led pre-orientation trips for incoming freshmen at Williams College, where he recently wrapped up his sophomore year. Andy’s many interests extend beyond the outdoors. He has a deep love for music – he played the cello, piano, saxophone and bassoon at various points in his illustrious musical career (which includes performances at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall!). On top of it all, Andy is learning Russian, crushing miles as a member of the Williams Cross Country Team, and volunteering with two children’s organizations near Williams – the Williamstown Rural  Lands Foundation and Hopkins Memorial Forest. Both organizations have allowed Andy the opportunity to work regularly in the outdoors with kids between the ages of 5 and 13. You may think, “Andy does so much – how can he keep track of it all?!” Interestingly, this Eagle Scout is a big fan of photo-journaling and has even documented 1,389 days throughout high school! We can’t wait to see him put his photography skills to good use capturing his Apogee students’ smiles throughout the summer!


Miami’s own Julia “Jules” Godinez is a rising Senior at Mount Holyoke college, where she is double majoring in Economics and History with a minor in Archaeology. In Miami, Jules spent most of her childhood kayaking, boating and diving with her parents and sister. While she loves the ocean, Jules also enjoys hiking, cycling, and exploring some of the most beautiful places around the world. Julia has hiked the Inca Trail, cycled parts of the Tour de France, and last summer, Jules’ adventurous spirit took her all of the way to Easter Island where she taught archeology to local high school students as well as took them hiking all over the Island. When she’s on campus, Jules puts her 13 years of Girl Scouts experience to good use by leading weekly hikes for the Mount Holyoke Outing Club. She is often up before daylight so she and her fellow hikers can soak in the beautiful sunrise – but she spent this Spring studying abroad and taking in the sunrise down in the Cloud Forest of Costa Rica!. Jules is always full of energy and ready to plan (and embark on) an adventure. Her biggest passions include being outside and sharing her love of nature with others, all of which will serve her students well on this year’s New England Mountains & Coast and Maine Coast Junior trips!


Michael Kravitz is a traveling man – both domestically and internationally! Not only has Michael traveled throughout the US, he also spent two months in France where he honed his French language skills (and he managed to bump into freestyle skiing legend Glen Plake while hiking through the Alps)! His hiking expertise will come in handy on this year’s Maine Coast Junior trip, as will the extensive time he spent on (and building) trails last summer while leading teen trail crews throughout the White Mountains with the Appalachian Mountain Club. Currently finishing up his Sophomore year at Middlebury College, Michael is a member of Midd’s Cycling Club and recently had the honor of joining Middlebury’s competitive Ski Patrol. Michael is also a proud gear head – he works in the Mountain Club’s gear room on campus and has also turned many a wrench as a bike mechanic in his hometown bike shop in New Haven, CT. Michael’s wealth of knowledge about all things cycling will come in handy as he looks forward to biking over the Canadian border with his Coast to Quebec students this summer!


Winchester, Virginia’s Jessica Villarreal is one of the elite few who can say she’s hiked Huayna Picchu – the mountain that rises above Peru’s Machu Picchu! Jess’ history of hiking and outdoor adventures extends to her native Virginia and much further abroad to South Africa, where she recently spent a semester. Jess counts a hike up Table Mountain and her education in surfing among the highlights of her time in South Africa. Back in the States, Jess is currently an active member of the Outdoors Club at the University of Virginia, where she is wrapping up her Senior year. While majoring in Anthropology, Jess has taken on additional leadership roles as the rock gym’s Climbing Advisor, where she responsible for leading weekly climbing trips, and as an officer for the college’s burgeoning Slacklining Club. Off campus, Jess extends her enthusiastic personality into the Charlottesville community by teaching mindfulness to elementary school students on a weekly basis. Jess is also working on learning her fourth (!) language (in addition to English, she speaks French, Zulu and is currently learning Spanish). She is excited to put her French to the test this summer as she bikes north on our Coast to Quebec trip. She’ll also, of course, have an opportunity to practice her best Maine accent as she looks forward to adventuring with our younger students on our Maine Coast Junior trip, as well!