Mike Stillson (aka Otter) – Executive Director
I have not missed a summer of camp since I was 4 years old. You may even say that I am addicted to the camp experience. I am the person that I am today because of camp. I have formed some of my closest relationships at’ camp and have been shaped by my counselors that I had as a camper, and the campers and staff that I work with as a camp professional.
Every summer I see how camp plays a strong part in our camper’s lives. To say that camp changes our campers in a positive way would be an understatement. I watch our campers grow through our activities and see how the intentional programming develops life skills, critical thinking, communications, self-confidence and so much more. Our campers are not just having “fun” at camp, but they are becoming more well-rounded individuals and better people.
There is truly no substitute for the camp experience. I believe that we offer a safe and secure program where campers are able to explore, grow, and develop into confident individuals. I look forward to seeing the smiles on their faces, and hearing their conversations and their memorable stories of their adventures with their camp friends and staff.
I have been the Executive Director of Valley Trails Summer Camp for the past 21 summers, and a professional in camping for over 31 years. I hold a BS in General Studies, and am the President of the WAIC (Western Association of Independent Camps) and a former member of the Southern California Section of the ACA (American Camp Association) Board of Directors. I also serve on the board for CCFY (California Collaboration for Youth) and advocate on legislative issues that affect youth and the camp industry. I am involved in all stages of planning, training, and leading of the programs on a year-round basis.
Aspen – Program Director
I am so excited to be joining the team this year as the Assistant Director. As a kid I vividly remember going to camp and singing songs, learning to shoot a bow and arrow (not very well), and doing arts and crafts. Something about being outside, making new friends, and having new adventures is pure magic and shaped who I am today. Later on, I went to camp in high school and got my first taste of a ropes course where I discovered how much fun it could be to push myself and cheer on my new camp friends. I can’t wait to help the campers here have life-changing camp experiences like I got to have.
I hold a BS in Outdoor Adventure Leadership and a Masters in Education from Southern Oregon University. While working as a Field Director for a small camp in Oregon I was able to plan, facilitate, and lead an adventure camp for at-risk youth. As the Lead Counselor and Board Member for the Table Rock Foundation, I was responsible for planning camp activities, working with counselors, and leading campers through team building games, hikes, and even star gazing. I have also worked as a Level II Challenge Course Facilitator in which I got to guide people from all walks of life (ages 10-80) through high and low ropes course experiences.