Mike Stillson (aka Otter) – Executive Director
Celebrating 25 Years of Leadership!
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 intentional programming develops life skills, critical thinking, communication, 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 24 summers, and a professional in camping for over 34 years. I hold a BS in General Studies, and am the Past 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 currently serve as the Board Chair 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.
Volcano – Director
I am excited to be starting my seventh summer at Valley Trails, fourth as a member of the Leadership Team. During my early summers at the “Ranch,” I was lucky enough to lead campers at Pioneer Village, as well as challenge them as a high ropes specialist. Although my camp life did not start until my adult years, I have always considered myself young at heart. I enjoy summer camp because I get to witness the growth of our campers through activities that challenge them physically and mentally, let their creativity shine, and build relationships that will last a lifetime.
During the school year, I work as a campus supervisor and coach softball at Saugus High School. There are times when I hear a random “Hey Volcano!” from many of my former campers. I love enjoying my spare time with my family: Lava, Baby Volcano, and Baby Lava! I am looking forward to seeing all the campers’ dirty, smiling faces this summer!
Snow Monkey – Assistant Director
I am beyond thrilled to be working my fourth summer at Valley Trails. I started working at the ranch back in 2020 and just like those who attended camp that summer, I needed camp more than ever. From there on out, my love for camp grew along with the amazing people who make Valley Trails so special. I have made so many memories here that I will cherish forever. I love seeing kids be kids here and getting to experience what Valley Trails is all about!
Outside of Valley Trails, I am a full-time student a Cal State University Northridge where I completed my Bachelor’s in Psychology. I am continuing my passion for the human mind/behavior as I will am working on my Masters’s Degree where I will be studying Educational Counseling. In my free time, I enjoy going to concerts, hikes, the beach, amusement parks, and of course being around my friends, family, and dogs. I can’t wait to be creating even more memories this following summer!
Tremor – Assistant Director
I am pleased to be returning for my fifth summer at Valley Trails. I am fortunate enough to have experienced the magic summer camp brings through the lens of both a camper and a leader. During my time at Valley Trails I have been able to share my love for camp with our campers and have watched them grow as individuals and as leaders.
In June 2021, I graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology. My passion for helping others pushed me to pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work. I am currently studying at the University of Southern California in efforts to advocate for social change and innovation. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family as well as hiking, going to the beach, or just being outside. I am absolutely ecstatic to be back at camp and cannot wait to see all of our campers!