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 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 proudly served as the Executive Director of Valley Trails Summer Camp for an impressive 25 consecutive summers, contributing my expertise to the camping industry for over 35 years. My educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in General Studies, and I have held esteemed positions such as the President of the WAIC (Western Association of Independent Camps) and am a former member of the Board of Directors for the Southern California Section of the ACA (American Camp Association).
Currently, I am honored to serve as the Board Chair for CCFY (California Collaboration for Youth), where I actively advocate on legislative matters that impact youth and the camp industry in California. Additionally, I serve on the ACA National Government Relations Committee, focusing on federal issues and opportunities.
My dedication extends beyond my administrative roles, as I am intricately involved in all aspects of planning, training, and leadership for our programs, ensuring their success 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!