News, News, News!

Fall greetings, faithful blog readers!     The leaves are changing up here in Maine, and it’s apparent that Old Man Winter isn’t far away.   But despite the colder temperatures, this time of year is treasured at Apogee HQ.   It’s a busy time of year — but we love the opportunity to reflect on the past summer as we focus on our commitment to running the safest and most engaging summer programs out there!

To the news:   we asked our 2011 summer leaders to give us some quick updates on what they’ve been up to since the end of the Apogee summer.   Speaking of updates, we love hearing from you, our alumni and prospective Alumni families, alike!   We had a number of alumni families swing by our office in the last month to say hi as they were passing through.   Please don’t be strangers.   Stop by if you’re in Brunswick – we always love hearing from those of you in “Apogee Nation!”


In the office, Kevin has been working hard with designer Ken Murphy and website developer Becky McKinnell to put the 2012 catalog and website in place.   We’re on track to hit “go” for both right around Thanksgiving.     On the home front, Kevin and Gitta have their hands full with five-year old Sam and two-year old Jack — the big news is that Sam has shed the training wheels and is now tearing up the streets of Brunswick on his bike!

Sam Cashman is all smiles on his first day of riding a bike without training wheels!

Chad, meanwhile, attended the Wilderness Risk Management Conference in Boston in early October and is concentrating on making our programs even safer and more reliable.   He is also heading up the launch of the new AAF — “Apogee Adventures Foundation,” a non-profit initiative dedicated to putting great Maine kids on Apogee trips that would not otherwise be able to go.   Chad is also leading the charge towards Apogee’s accreditation with the Association for Experiential Education, the same organization that accredits NOLS and Outward Bound.  Chad and Susan celebrated the ¾ birthday of twins Liliana and Phoebe in October — between the two girls are five teeth, lots and lots of smiles, and even more dirty diapers!

Phoebe & Liliana Olcott “pounding it out” after a delicious lunch of milk, potatoes and beets.

Kevin trying to look shorter – something Chad does not find amusing – at an office strategizing get away on Chebeague Island.

After the excitement (and associated hubbub) of watching son Chris’ baseball team emerge as Maine State Little League Champions this summer, office administrator and finance-guru Michele Amoroso is enjoying the relative calm of autumn in Maine.   Against her better judgment, Michele has become an integral part of the HQ team (and we feel very lucky to have her onboard!), and remains very active in civic organizations around Yarmouth, Maine.   (Look for her at next year’s Yarmouth ClamFest — she’s got the best steamers at the Fair!).   She also keeps Chad and Kevin well supplied with Belgian chocolate — which is nice…

Mike Lessard is living in Northern Maine skiing professionally for the Maine Winter Sports Center.   This winter, he will travel throughout the United States and Canada competing in various cross country ski events.   When back in Maine, he spends his time volunteering for different programs, including one called “Adventure Initiative,” which aims to empower high school students to become leaders in outdoor adventures.

Mia Taggart is taking a semester off from Oberlin College.   In the meantime, she left for Guatemala in just last week to volunteer with an organization called Safe Passage for two months. Mia is looking forward to returning home in mid-December to a snow-covered Maine.

Mike Lessard (indicated by the red arrow) roller skiing in Utah.  Mia Taggart and Josh Cutler (DEX) getting together for a visit in Acadia National Park in September.


Julie Levine is spending the first semester of her junior year studying psychology and Scottish history abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland.   She’s eating haggis (yum?), dancing at ceilidhs (traditional Scottish folk dances), and touring castles.   She is looking forward to many weekend camping trips in the beautiful Scottish highlands, as well as other travels throughout Europe.

Peter Scher moved to Boston after graduating from Boston College. There, he is looking for a job in the field of law and taking in everything Beantown has to offer, including plenty of cannolis from the North End. Peter will be spending the entire year in Boston, and is enjoying the exciting, post-graduate stage of his life.


Laura Armstrong’s senior year at Bowdoin College is off to a great start where she’s studying History and Teaching.   Apart from her work in classes, Laura has been acting in a performance called “Speak About It” (along with fellow Apogee leaders Nick Smith, Chris Omachi, ”˜10 & Ava Fiske, ”˜09) that travels to college campuses to educate students about healthy relationships and preventing sexual assault.

Left to right – Chris Omachi, Aviva Fiske, Laura Armstrong & Nick Smith before a Speak About It! performance at Utica College.

After his two years working with Americorps on the Gulf Coast, Pat McManus transferred into the University of New Hampshire this fall to finish up his undergraduate degree in Political Science.   Currently, Pat is focusing his studies on Chinese Foreign Policy, and is enjoying the challenges of being a student again!   Outside the classroom, Pat has been actively biking and hiking throughout New Hampshire’s coastal region, as well as in the state’s gorgeous White Mountains.

Shem Dixon is working at The Leadership School at Camp Kieve in Nobleboro, Maine this fall and loving every minute of it!   He gets to spend his time playing outside and having tons of fun. He misses being able to bike all the time though, and alas, his intense bike tan is starting to fade.   Shem is looking forward to winter and snow and all the skiing that will come with it!

Hannah Gennsheimer is having a great senior year at Bucknell University.   She has been working as a counselor at a local middle school, and has loved getting to know her new students.   When Hannah is not working, she gets to spend time riding her bike through the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania.


Rachel Fiddleman is currently a senior at Colgate University in Central New York.   After Apogee this summer, she led a pre-orientation trip to Mount Washington for incoming freshmen.   Rachel is currently writing her senior thesis in Geography.   She works for the office of admissions and is the vice president of her sorority.

Mason Moss (VM) is enjoying his senior year at Bowdoin College.   He is completing his Economics major and Theater minor and is exploring potential employers for the fall of 2012. During his free-time, Mason likes training with his Track & Field teammates, leading campus tours, and leading Bowdoin Outing Club trips. He recently led a white water rafting trip in Maine’s Aziscahos Valley (gesundheit!).


Jillian Blouin started her junior year at Colby College by leading a canoe trip for the freshman orientation. Now she is enjoying her organic chemistry class (much to her surprise) and spending free weekends gallivanting around Maine with the Outing Club.   Jillian plans to go abroad for the spring semester and is waiting to hear back from a program about traveling to Brazil, Vietnam, and South Africa to study global health.

After graduating from Bates in May, Sam Polak has begun to explore the new and exciting opportunities of the post-college world. For now, he is living at home in West Hartford, Connecticut, but has plans to move to Seattle before Thanksgiving. Though he had hopes to become a Christmas tree farmer’s apprentice (as he informed his Apogee students), he has instead been helping the local high school soccer program, playing in an adult soccer league, and doing some substitute teaching.   He will take the awesome memories of the summer to the spectacular trails of the Northwest.


Josh Cutler is keeping himself very busy at College of the Atlantic this fall.   He’s conducting an independent study entitled “The Philosophy, Psychology and Physiology of Running,” which is keeping him out on the trails and attending lots of running-related events.   He’s been rock climbing and sailing a lot.   Believe it or not, he finds times for classes, too!   In January, he is going to set out on a NOLS semester in Chile, Patagonia.

Nora Theodore has been spending quite a bit of her time in the Franklin & Marshall College library studying for her classes. This semester, she is taking classes in chemistry, ecology, philosophy, and business. Ecology has been her favorite class so far because she is studying a beautiful zooplankton called Daphnia! Nora is looking forward to October break and to backpacking a portion of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania!


After spending last spring in Jordan, David Cutler is back at Bates College and really enjoying the start to his senior year.   He’s been occupied by a lot of work so far, but has been able to relax a little bit by doing some hiking, and playing a lot of Ultimate Frisbee.   Later this fall he’s planning a trip up to Acadia National Park for a few days to do some exploring with friends.

David Cutler (second from the left) and friends posing with Patrick Dempsey (of Grey’s Anatomy) at the recent  Dempsey Challenge in Lewiston/Auburn, ME.

Anna Minckler has been busy applying for a spring semester at sea with the SEA Semester program.   If accepted, she will spend six weeks studying oceanography and maritime studies in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and then six weeks on a ship in the Pacific Ocean conducting research.   She is enjoying the fall semester at Lafayette and can’t wait for the leaves to start changing.


Heidi Kamp is enjoying the perpetually sunny skies over Kingsville, Texas, where she is getting her master’s degree in English with cross-theory in Art History.   She is also working as the Graduate Assistant Volleyball Coach at Texas A&M Kingsville.   Between finding time for coaching, she is getting involved with the art club, making time to see some friends, and dreaming of Puerto Rico every night!

Wyatt Lonergan is now working and living in Shenzhen, CHINA!   He’s excited to have started a new job that requires him to travel around China and Asia.   He has been proudly sporting his Apogee shirt all over the continent.   He’s looking forward to coming back to the states in December to reunite with all his friends and family whom he misses dearly.


Anna Hager is loving her last year at Amherst College.   She had a great trip to Montana at the end of the summer to do Geology research.   Bighorn sheep, rattlesnakes, moose and bison (and lots of rocks, of course!) were all on the agenda. Now she’s busily examining the rock samples she brought back to school.   In her free time, she’s training for a marathon in late November.   She misses Apogee, and hopes everyone’s doing well!

Anna Hager banging on some rocks during an Amherst College Geology Department field trip to Montana in August.

Lucas O’Neil (PC) is back at Bowdoin College for his senior year. He is picking up where he left off and continues to perform on any stage he can. He is still leading his improv comedy troupe (Kevin just saw their act last weekend!), performing stand-up, playing a leading role in the theater department’s play and working as a head proctor for Residential Life. In his spare time, he dabbles in classes.

Andy Janiga is currently at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine — go Andy!   His courses are intense, but he’s really enjoying it. He’s had some fun adventures exploring the Philadelphia area in his first few weeks of school.

Clockwise from Left: Julie Levine (CI) with a friend during a semester studying abroad in Scotland.  Andy Janiga (PC) during his U. of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry “White Coat Ceremony.”  Pat McManus (CQ) in a red wool cap hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains with friends.

We haven’t heard much from Danika Robison this fall because she’s currently on a semester long NOLS Outdoor Educator program in Wyoming!   She’s rock climbing, backpacking, and whipping her hard core wilderness skills into shape in Wyoming’s Wind River Range!


Cait Bradley is teaching Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus as a full-time teacher at the Williston Northampton School in Western Massachusetts.   In addition to teaching, she’s an assistant coach for 39 members of the boys cross country team and is a dorm parent for the freshman girls.   She reports that she’s not getting very much sleep but is having a great time.

Nick Smith applied to medical school in June and is in the early throes of the interview stage (the final stage of the application process!).   He is currently taking medical science courses as a graduate student at Boston University.   In his spare time he is an actor with Laura Armstrong, Chris Omachi, ’10, and Aviva Fiske, ”˜09 in “Speak About It” (see Laura’s entry, above, for more about the play).


Pete Lauro is starting off his senior year at Hamilton College with a bang. He’s playing two club sports: rugby and marathon canoe racing, but definitely misses his bike. He’s looking forward to a fun last hoorah at Hamilton and figuring out his post-graduation adventures for next fall.

Emily Weir is back at work at the National College Advising Corps in Lancaster, PA, writing grants to help low-income student from rural Pennsylvania go to college.   She’s in the process of applying for master’s programs in higher education administration, and is considering attending graduate school next year.