Our Guides/Summer Camp Counselors are the key ingredient to success for Lasting Adventures. Although we all come from different backgrounds, we all share a passion for Adventures, Yosemite, and sharing it with others in a way that will create memories to last a lifetime. Our Yosemite guide staff is a young and energetic group who all understand the importance of risk management. Some of our guides have grown-up in the program having started as a youth participant themself. While others have been selected for the backgrounds and experiences they have with youth and within the outdoor environment. It’s common to have Guides with off-season jobs of being a teacher, counselor, or other youth professional. Many of our Guides reside in the Sierras year round. On most trips you will get the privilege of meeting more than one Guide and maybe even a Junior Guide in training.
Our Guides come together for a week long staff training each year. We bond as a team through fun activities, setting goals, and debriefing. This is essentially the same Adventure Based Programming model we facilitate on our youth, group, school, and corporate adventures. Our staff training week also covers Wilderness Ethics and Leave No Trace Principals, Risk Management and Emergency Protocols, Yosemite History, Positive Youth Development, and the basics for providing outstanding customer service in the back-country. Through the connections we create during our staff training, and through their shared passions, it is common for our Guides to spend their off-time together (usually in the Tuolumne Meadows vicinity). During the summer our team works, lives, and plays together!
On every youth trip (not exceeding 12 participants) there is a ratio of at most 1:6, but in most cases the ratio is 1:4. Each trip will also have at least one male and one female Guide/ Counselor as necessary.
Through our Guide Service, on day trips and backpacking trips, we will staff each adventure with 1-2 experienced Guides who bring with them significant Yosemite backcountry experience. Ratios will not exceed 1:6; usually less.
Every leader has, at least, certification in Wilderness First Aid and C.P.R., and every overnight trip has at least one leader trained as a Wilderness First Responder or as an Emergency Medical Technician. All leaders have completed a background check.
Looking to join our team? Check out our Employment Page.
Scott is the Founder and Executive Director for Lasting Adventures, Inc and has been facilitating the Yosemite High Country Adventure since 1997 in which he has personally logged over 5,000 miles as a guide in the Yosemite backcountry. As both a credentialed school administrator and counselor, Scott has well over 25 years of experience working with youth. Scott attended Sonoma State University in California where he obtained both his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Masters in Counseling. Scott holds certification in Basic Backpacking Awareness, is certified as a Wilderness First Responder by the Wilderness Medicine Institute of the National Outdoor Leadership School, and he is trained as an Outdoor Emergency Care professional. In addition to actively leading and guiding the Yosemite High Country Adventure and through community collaborations and support, Scott has also successfully developed many other youth development programs; and he is also a requested presenter on these topics. When not in Yosemite, you might be able to catch Scott on the slopes snowboarding in Tahoe.
Director of Programs
Otto Ross is a High School English Teacher from Tucson, Arizona who fell in love with Yosemite and backpacking during annual trips to the valley with his family as a child. As he grew older, he continued returning yearly to John Muir’s “range of light” to backpack in the high country. Otto also spent a month volunteering in the park during 2009 and completed the 2,660-mile Pacific Crest Trail as well as the 250-mile John Muir Trail in 2014. In Tucson, Otto enjoys backpacking, rock climbing and mountain biking. He guides students on hiking trips at his school and is a Wilderness First Responder certified through the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute.
Administrative & Marketing Coordinator
Amelia comes to us with an extensive background in not only the outdoors, but also with administration, marketing, and summer camp experience. After graduating from UC Davis in 2012 with a double major in Communication and Sociology, Amelia spent two summers at YMCA Camp Orkila running their Horseback Riding Program and season in between working for the Children’s Ski School at Northstar in Tahoe. During her second year at Camp Orkila Amelia made a promise to her friend to hike the Pacific Crest Trail the following summer. Without any previous backpacking experience she completed the 2,668 mile trail in 2014. It was during this trip that she first visited Yosemite. Freshly off the JMT she did not think there could be any natural wonders left to impress her in California, but after just a day in Yosemite summiting Cloud’s Rest and Half Dome and standing under the mist of Nevada Falls as she hiked down to the valley, she understood why words alone could not describe the magic of this place. After the trail Amelia returned to her home in San Diego continuing a job she had as Sales and Marketing Coordinator for a corporate event planning company. During this time she gained invaluable experience learning business management and marketing strategies. She looks forward to investing all that she has learned throughout her professional and personal life into the success and growth of Lasting Adventures!
Guides/Summer Camp Staff
Pietra Brettkelly is a Mainer with a Kiwi twist. She embraces the rugged and thrives on adventure. She grew up exploring the coastal tide pools and frolicking in the woods. Pietra attended Phillips Exeter Academy, where her increasing passion for science and photography fueled her love for the outdoors. While earning her Environmental Science and Geography degrees at University of Auckland in New Zealand, Pietra spent every weekend guiding rafts down gnarly waterfalls, whitewater kayaking, and backpacking amidst volcanoes. Recently, Pietra roamed the beautiful landscapes of Iceland and Norway. One of her proudest accomplishments is the Teardrop camper she built from scratch last year. When she finished building, she hit the road and has been exploring the west on road trip and backpacking adventures. This winter she taught kiddos how to ski in Vail, Colorado, and took up ice climbing. She went to Alaska in the spring for some mountaineering and to become a Wilderness First Responder. Pietra is extremely excited to be working for Lasting Adventures and to explore Yosemite and the Sierras this summer!
Matt Clark grew up camping on the island of Kauai where he enjoyed splendors such as the Na Pali Coast. Matt attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa and graduated in 2013 with a degree in finance. Matt has spent much time in the outdoors including on season as a deckhand on a commercial fishing vessel in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Matt is a certified Wilderness First Responder and he is passionate about hiking, sking, snowboarding, surfing, and all other things outdoors.
Michael Cox was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and grew up hiking and camping in the White Mountains of Arizona. His love for the outdoors as a kid drove him to pursue an education in Parks and Recreation Management. Michael graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2016 with an emphasis on Outdoor Education and Leadership. In the summer of 2015 Michael spent his time with the Boy Scouts of America as an Assistant Director in their Mountain Biking program. In 2012 he encountered the magnificence of Yosemite while on a road trip throughout the west coast and fell in love with the towering granite walls and vowed to return every year and explore something new in the park. Michael’s main goal in working with Lasting Adventures is to leave every participant he encounters with a new found love for nature and knowledge for conserving Yosemite for years to come. Michael enjoys Backpacking, hiking, Skiing, Mountain biking, photography and just being outside in nature. Safety is always on his mind is a Wilderness First Responder certified through NOLS WMI and is a Leave No Trace Master Educator.
Waverly Davis starting backpacking at age eleven with her family in the Eastern Sierras and around California. She started visiting Yosemite with her family and fell in love with Tuolumne Meadows on a thirty mile backpacking trip from Tuolumne to Yosemite Valley. Her greatest accomplishment thus far in the outdoors is summiting Mount Whitney five times, although she has many more goals to accomplish. She loves being able to unplug from her daily life and disappear into the wilderness, with only the elements to worry about. She started guiding with Lasting Adventures last summer and had an amazing time sharing her love of the outdoors with new people. Her favorite outdoor activities are backpacking, rockclimbing, and snowboarding, although she also loves to surf and slackline! With an entire summer of guiding ahead of her, Waverly is beyond excited to get back in the wilderness and share her knowledge and love of Yosemite with everyone!
Rachel is a Pacific Northwest native, who grew up hiking, fishing, skiing, and backpacking with her family in the Cascade Range. After graduating high school, Rachel went for a gap year in Southeast Asia and in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where she worked on several volunteer projects. After this year exploring, Rachel moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, to attend university and to explore the American southwest. She graduated with her Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Studies and a minor in Biology. Ever since her first visit to Yosemite, Rachel has been enchanted with the Sierra and the wondrous foothills that prelude the majestic range. Her favorite part of working with Lasting Adventures is the connections she gets to develop with participants along the trail. Her favorite memories are the long conversations while putting in the miles, silly evenings at camp, and witnessing individuals grow into their most authentic selves while facing challenges as a community in the backcountry. It is her passion to playfully explore this incredible world and to assist others on their personal journeys of the wilds within. She has recently finished her second, post-university gap year. The first half was spent exploring the western United States, and the second half backpacking in Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia. She is very happy to be returning to the States to spend another season in Yosemite, and excited to see what this marvelous path of life has in store for her!
Nolan Fisher was born and raised in beautiful Truckee, California where he grew up developing an intense love for the outdoors along with all the recreational opportunities it has to offer. On any given day you can find Nolan enjoying a variety of outdoor activities including fishing, hiking, skiing, and most recently; mountain unicycling! Currently, Nolan is pursuing a degree in Parks, Hospitality & Recreation at California State University, Chico and completed his Wilderness First Responder in early May 2013. This will be Nolan’s second summer with Lasting Adventures and we are excited to have him join the team!
Kyle was introduced to the outdoors when he was 10 years old doing various day hikes with his dad and grandpa. His love for the outdoors continue to grow when he became a boy scout participating in various outdoor activities. His first big backpacking trip was at age 15 when he did a 50-mile trip in Desolation Wilderness. After this trip he was hooked. A couple years later he went to Philmont Scout ranch where he did a 90-mile backpacking trip. Kyle is now a student at Chico State where he studies Biology. He is involved in many sustainability efforts and works for Adventure Outings, a student lead outdoor program. His favorite outdoor activities include backpacking, rock climbing, stand-up paddle boarding and sea kayaking. Kyle’s greatest experience in the outdoors in through hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail last summer. Kyle is excited to begin his first season with Lasting Adventures!
Kirsten Heaps has grown up all over the western United States from Oregon to Colorado and has found her home in the Sierra Nevada. She’s always had a love for the outdoors, but developed her passion for hiking and backpacking in recent years. As a teenager, Kirsten spent her summers as a Junior Counselor at a church sponsored camp and loved working with the youth there. She worked the summer of 2015 in Yosemite National Park where she began her backpacking adventures with her husband Will, and has been crazy about it since. Outside of backpacking and hiking, Kirsten enjoys canyoneering and taking lots of long road trips across the United States. She has her Wilderness First Responder certification and looks forward to leading and educating youth in beautiful Yosemite.
Will Heaps started his outdoor education in Appalachia, found his passion for adventure in the Rockies, and found his home in the Sierra Nevada. Thanks to parents that booked campsites instead of hotel rooms to save on travel expenses, he is quite comfortable laying his head close to the ground to sleep. Along the path to becoming an Eagle Scout, Will learned the outdoor survival skills that have given him the confidence to leave behind the craziness of civilization and live in the wilderness. Will began camping as a child, backpacking as a teenager, and climbing/canyoneering in college. He graduated from BYU with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation and worked near Zion National Park as a therapist. Discovering that his heart yearned to spend even more time in the wild, he left behind the life of a therapist and went full time into guiding with Lasting Adventures during the summer of 2015. Will loves being a guide because it affords him the opportunity to invite others to share in the experiences that have given him the hope to carry on through difficult times. When your life is simple enough to fit all necessary possessions in a backpack, you have plenty of room left to fill yourself with happiness and adventure.
Kai Kelly found solace growing up in the desert canyons and peaks surrounding his home in Arizona. He was first introduced to Yosemite through Lasting Adventures in 2013, working as a volunteer and returning in subsequent years as a guide and summer camp counselor. He is positively stoked to return again to teach, and be taught, in the most awe-inspiring place on our blue planet! Kai is a certified Wilderness First Responder and currently resides in beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona where he attends college and spends his free time climbing, slacklining, and snowboarding.
Jenna Levy is a Colorado native that has spent the past six years exploring California. After earning a BS in Environmental Science from Chico State in December of 2014, she then moved to Lake Tahoe to join the skiing industry at Alpine Meadows. After a short season on the snow, she turned her attention toward education and started working as a naturalist at an outdoor education school for 6th graders. She enjoys combining her affinity for the outdoors with helping kids connect to their surroundings. Jenna first encountered Yosemite in August of 2014 on a six day backpacking trip. During that time she explored Tuolumne Meadows and was blown away by the grandeur of the park, the joy of exploration and connections built with friends on the trail. She received her Wilderness First Responder from NOLS in December of 2015. When she’s not exploring the trail she can be found playing soccer, running, skiing at Lake Tahoe and just generally goofing off with friends.
Graham Mitchell grew up in the beautiful Puget Sound where he pursued a plethora of activities such as backpacking in the Olympic National Park, and kayaking in the Salish Sea. His exposure to the outdoors as an adolescent instilled a fascination with his natural environment. Graham has shared his passion through outdoor education, volunteering and guide work. As he grew older, he began leading kayak and dive tours of his home, Bainbridge Island, and has also guided kayak tours in Portland, Oregon, where he graduated from Lewis and Clark College. In addition to his love of backpacking, Graham is a bluegrass fanatic and enjoys rock climbing and kayaking.
Peter Nocka first visited Yosemite in March of 2014 and was blown away by the spectacular granite faces and beautiful valley floors. Helping others experience this landscape through Lasting Adventures was the perfect opportunity for someone who has always loved sharing his passion for the outdoors with others. He spent his summers traveling through the Ontario wilderness by canoe before moving from Massachusetts to Portland, Oregon to attend Lewis & Clark College. In Portland he worked for his school’s outing club, ran the ski and snowboard club, and worked for Portland Kayak Company. In the summer of 2014 he traveled abroad to Japan to conduct research on (and summit) Mount Fuji. After graduating in December of 2015 with a Bachelor’s in Economics and Environmental Studies, Peter spent the spring of 2016 working as a ski instructor on Mount Hood.
Kimball Stewart has been an outdoor enthusiast since his first hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire as a six year old. His passion for environmental stewardship and outdoor leadership has led him to pursue a variety of jobs, including work with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation and the Appalachian Mountain Club. Kimball began working for Lasting Adventures in 2015 and is returning for another season after gaining a deep appreciation for Yosemite and all it has to offer. Sharing his love of Yosemite with others is his favorite part of the job. In addition to backpacking, Kimball enjoys mountain biking, running, and knitting. He is also certified as a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician through the Wilderness Medicine Institute.
Ross Dakin lives in Palo Alto, CA where he is delighted to be able to combine his passion for the outdoors with his experience as a Silicon Valley professional to provide ongoing technological advice and support to Lasting Adventures. Ross is a state licensed EMT, has AIARE Avalanche 2 certification, and volunteers in a medical capacity with the National Ski Patrol, American Red Cross, and Medical Volunteers for Disaster Response in Santa Clara County.
2016 Lasting Adventures Staff
“The students will find in you a favorite leader and best friend. You must gain their devotion and respect; patience is all-important. Combine it with a sparkle of fun, capacity in discipline, and an ability to adapt it to the play of the students you are directing. Their capacity for imitation is as great as their capacity for hero worship. Play with them, watch them, guard their health and safety each moment, inspire their interest, win their esteem and you have helped a young person, won their love and gained a personal joy greater than which there is none.”
Unknown Outdoor Educator, 1925