"If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in."
~ Rachel Carson
The magic of a great outdoor education program does not come from the place or the curriculum but from the people that make everything happen. The ACOS staff teach, mentor and support students during their camping experience, allowing them to create life long connections with the natural world and their peers.
Outdoor Education instructors
Kelly Wood – Executive Director
Kelly draws on nearly 19 years of experience at Chapel Rock to work with staff and guests to create outstanding educational and retreat experiences. Kelly graduated from Prescott College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Outdoor Program Administration and started working on the ropes course in '99. In his current role he manages staff, oversees operations, works directly with The Diocese of Arizona, and ensures every guest has a great experience. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family. The outdoor space that he draws inspiration from is our very own Aspen Creek City Trail. He has been accessing it from his front yard for 18 years now with family, pets and friends. It's a wonderful place to experience nature in a suburban environment.
Sarah Vincent - Director of Outdoor Education
Sarah is an east coast transplant, who grew up with an appreciation for the out of doors, a natural affinity for science, and the support of amazing communities. With a B.S. in Earth Science from George Mason University, nine years of teaching and facilitating in the field of outdoor education, and over 300 nights spent out under the stars of the Southwest; Sarah is excited to share her enthusiasm with visitors. Whether it is working with the Aspen Creek Outdoor School, facilitating on the ropes course, or just saying hello in the dining hall, Sarah enjoys seeing and fostering the connections made at Chapel Rock. Connections made with the outdoors, each other, and within us. Sarah likes bluebirds, dragonflies, ice cream, campfires and spending time with loved ones.
Joseph Stanczak - Challenge Course Manager
Joseph grew up in New Jersey getting the experience to explore the outdoors in the western part of the state, as well as upstate New York. He spent 10 years being inspired in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North and South Carolina. He loves spending time on top of the climbing tower helping students get to the top and expanding their challenge/growth zone. He earned a Recreation Management degree from Appalachian State University. He spent a summer working at a camp in Russia. He is married and has one son.
Erin Nixon - Program Coordinator
Erin was born and raised in southern California. She earned her bachelors of science in Zoology at Washington State University. (GO COUGS!) She loves all living things (especially animals) and has a passion for science education. When shes not at camp, she could be reading, exploring, volunteering at the local zoo, or spending time with her family (which includes a wonderful bearded dragon named Cricket).
Courtney Bellissimo - ACOS Facilitator
Originally from Philadelphia, Courtney spent the last ten years traveling and has taught in seven different states and three different countries. Her passions are climbing and spending time at the beach. Courtney received her M.S Ed. from the University of Miami through the Community and Social Change Program.
John Pigaga - ACOS Facilitator
John is originally from the greatest city in the world, Boston. After 20 years in various professional roles ranging from Financial Advisor to Restaurant Manager, he elected to make a major career change that reflects his passions – teaching, working with children and being outside. After decades of coaching various sports and raising three amazing children, John relishes the opportunity to share his various life experiences and them corresponding lessons learned with inquiring young minds. If you are looking for John on his free time, more than likely you will see him walking off trail through the woods with a large, playfully bounding dog by his side. If you do spot him in the woods, there is a good chance he may be smelling a tree.
Malorie Smith - ACOS Facilitator
Malorie is from North Georgia just shy of the Appalachian Trail. She graduated from Piedmont College with her B.S. in Psychology in 2017. A natural space that inspires her is hiking alongside rivers that may lead to great waterfalls. Malorie lived abroad in Spain for two months and is currently earning her Masters in Counseling from Prescott College.
Cameron Cotner - ACOS Facilitator
Cameron hails from the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. He went east to the Rockies where he studied Resource Conservation at the University of Montana and garnered a love and appreciation for wide open spaces, towering trees, and colossal mountains. Then, Cameron went even more east to Ethiopia where he spent time mentoring students and facilitating youth camps. Cameron enjoys the outdoors which inspires him to live, learn, and grow with his friends, family, coworkers, and students. He also likes snowflakes, tacos, large piles of leaves for jumping in, and fish (for looking at, catching, and sometimes eating).
Jules Galan - ACOS Facilitator
Jules is originally from New York and lived there until given the opportunity to play lacrosse at the University of Tampa in 2014. She earned her B.S in Public Health and Wellness and hopes to continue her education. Jules has always had a passion for nature and the outdoors where she spends just about all of her free time. She aspires to help students learn and grow while they take steps to become the best version of themselves possible. She also really loves her dog, Roo.
Gwen Lyons - ACOS Facilitator
BGwen recently moved to Arizona from Vermont and is excited to explore the Southwest! She has been working in the education field since graduating from the University of Vermont in 2006 with a B.S in Environmental Studies. Gwen recently became a license middle school science teacher., but has chosen to ditch the traditional classroom for now. Gwen loves working with students, sharing her excitement and enthusiasm for science and the natural world. She is an avid outdoor adventurer, which is why she decided to pursue a graduate degree in Adventure Education from Prescott College. On any given day you can find Gwen hiking or trail running with her dog Odin. She also loves kayaking, camping, backpacking and is getting more into climbing here in Prescott.
Merissa Monk - ACOS Facilitator
Merissa is a Prescott native. She is attending Prescott College to pursue her degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Adventure Education. Merissa has a deep passion for running and all things running related. She plans to run at least a half marathon in every state. In her free time you’ll see her hiking, running, walking, and exploring with her family in the beautiful Prescott forest.
Jody Nauhaus - ACOS Facilitator
Bio Coming Soon...
Kajal Patel - ACOS Facilitator
Kajal grew up in Northern Arizona and has loved the outdoors her whole life. She came to Chapel Rock for a high school caravan and is thrilled to be a part of the community as an Outdoor Facilitator. Kajal graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.A. in Communication and a minor in Theatre in 2015. She has lived in cities like Pheonix and Brooklyn but missed having nature in her backyard. She returned to Prescott to be closer to nature and her family, who have lived here for eight years. Kajal has always considered herself to be a kid at heart and is excited to adventure alongside Chapel Rock’s guest for this upcoming season!
Casee Scott - ACOS Facilitator
Casee comes from right here in the Four Corners area. She graduated from Northern Arizona University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Global Sustainability and minors in Biology and Spanish. She has a passion for the natural world, working with plants and agriculture, as well as working with our future leaders or who some may refer to as children. When Casee grows up she wants to be a farmer. Also, when she gets big she wants to open a mindful sustainability school for young minds, where she runs the farm to school program and gets to work with the students in the garden. She enjoys spending time hiking, biking, walking outside with no shoes on, and spends the majority of her free time taking care of her plants which need lots of love and attention.
Danny Taber - ACOS Facilitator
Bio Coming Soon...