Full-Time Team Bios
DYNAMIC ENROLLMENT & TRAVELER EXPERIENCE TEAM
Stan had a dream over 30 years ago to create a program for teens to learn and have fun through enriching travel. Actually, Stan just didn’t want to grow up. His many years at camp along with experience tutoring high school students inspired him to start our company directing our first adventure program for teens in 1983. Stan, his wife Elaine, and four friends as leaders journeyed across the USA and Canada with 40 starry eyed teens on a six week adventure, the debut of today’s American Voyageur. Since then, he has surrounded himself with a talented and passionate team, living out his dream creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our teens from around the world. Stan gets as much joy from visiting groups each summer as he does reading end of summer surveys with rave reviews from parents and participants. He takes great pride hearing about new friendships being made, languages learned, and cultures explored. Stan hires many of our senior Trip Directors, is involved in scouting new destinations, and leads our strategy and vision. From humble beginnings, who knew years later we would be operating offices in two countries and escorting trip members across six continents? Contact Stan.
You can say Mark has been around from the early days. Sitting around the kitchen table of Stan & Mark’s former camp Director, a mutual friend sketched out our first logo on the back of a napkin and Mark got his first taste of the Westcoast Connection bug. After some overseas backpacking trips and a month of studying in France gave him a taste of life on the road, Mark came on board in our 3rd summer and combined his love for summer camp with his enthusiasm for travel and was a trip leader out west. Seeing Bryce Canyon and the Canadian Rockies in the same summer and sharing it with a group of teens, he was hooked on the beauty of our National Parks. Mark directed a few more western trips on his summer breaks during law school at McGill and he knew he had to become part of Westcoast Connection. In 1990, Mark established our New York office and has worn a number of hats over the years from staff recruiting and training to writing our brochures and producing our early videos. Nowadays, Mark oversees our enrollment and traveler experience, copywriting, client communication and directs the nerve center of our summer operation, the communication center. Mark and his wife Heather have 3 children ranging from high schooler to college graduate, and when not busy with family life, he still plays ice hockey (but much slower!), loves kayaking, and whether in the Rockies, Andes or Southern Alps in New Zealand, Mark loves the mountain settings most on our itineraries and is always on the lookout for that next great hike. Contact Mark.
It was back in 1990 that Mitch brought his years of summer camp experience coupled with his knack for energizing a group from his days as a DJ to begin his career with us as a summer leader on the American Voyageur. And like so many of us he was hooked ever since, it’s just as powerful an experience for staff as it is for teens! He quickly made a name for himself heading up several western and European tours. Summers were not enough so Mitch started speaking with and meeting prospective travelers and their parents in the winter months while finishing his studies. After eight months backpacking in Southeast Asia and Australia, Mitch joined Mark in the New York office. Okay it was really Mark’s one bedroom apartment and with Mitch onboard that meant it was time for a real office. After a few years, Mitch returned to his native Toronto where he now manages our Toronto office, speaks with many teens and parents each year to share his vast knowledge of our programs and produces our brochures. Mitch oversees and drives the quality of our Community Service programs and our Pre-College Enrichment California program. Mitch loves the outdoors, skiing and water sports. Yet his favorite thing is visiting our trips each summer, coaching our Trip Directors and getting to know the teens and staff! He and his wife Wendy scouted our Thailand community service program and are excited for their own two teens to experience our summer programs! Contact Mitch.
Ira joined our family in 2002 and brought his experience in owning and running the operations of Teen Tours of America (TTA). He operates our Weston, Florida office and in addition to his expertise in trip planning and ability relating to teens, Ira spearheads our European, Language and Pre-College Enrichment programs. Among his many responsibilities Ira most enjoys managing our website development, developing marketing materials and hiring and training the best summer staff. He has a sincere passion for travel and has done the pioneering development work to create a number of itineraries in Europe, Costa Rica, Peru and Ecuador. Ira is committed to surpassing the expectations of our clients in all aspects of our enrollment process and in delivering an unforgettable traveler experience. In his free time, Ira loves riding dirt bikes with his son and in the winter skiing with his family and watching football. Speaking of football, Ira’s skill for outdoor barbeque cooking can be experienced by his friends and family at his legendary tailgates before Miami Dolphin games and by our travelers on North American Active Teen Tours when he visits them on the road. Ira’s passion for inspiring teens to achieve their goals was recognized when he was named Broward County High School mentor of the year. Contact Ira.
Jason’s foundation is deeply rooted in summer camp. He spent 20 years at CBB of Ottawa, from youngest camper to working with teens and eventually helping to run the place as Assistant Director. After years of us calling him to check references on his former staff that we were hiring, he became intrigued enough to see if we might have a need for his talents too. Sure enough in 1999, we lured him to our New York office where he joined us in meeting and speaking with inquiring families. That summer he also directed our American Voyageur. His soft spoken style, selfless leadership, tireless stamina, and legendary patience were immediately in full evidence. After a few years in New York, Jason’s phone calls with our other office led to a wonderful Westcoast “Connection” when he and Susan from our Montreal office got married in 2002 and that led to him moving back north. He has a great head for systems and somehow manages to help thousands of moving parts come together and make it look easy. He manages much of our extremely complex operations and logistics which includes about 5,000 flights a summer, our warehouse of camping equipment and its distribution to all of our western trips and Campsite Managers, and is our self taught tech guru. During the summer, you can always see him in his trademark shorts (okay during the other three seasons too) as he loves being on the road visiting our western trips mentoring our Trip Directors and leaders and lending a hand in any way he is needed. As a Company Director, Jason wears many hats but perhaps due to his love of the “camp experience,” one of his favorites is his secret planning of the surprise program at our annual Trip Directors’ training retreat. Maybe that’s also because in the last few years, his and Susan’s young kids have become part of the act too! Contact Jason.
Symon began life at WCC back in 1998 when he took his first group of teenagers out west. At the time he was living abroad teaching autistic children in London. That incredible experience on our western program inspired him to move back across the pond to take his years of experience working with kids and teens and apply it on a year-round basis. Symon’s diverse experiences include teaching nursery school kids in Canada and underprivileged students in Israel, volunteering at children’s hospitals, and living in India, Europe, the US and Australia. Due to his nomadic nature, Symon has worked in three of our offices and now calls Toronto home where he lives with his wife Carolyn and their two young children that he loves to watch giggle together. He also loves to ski, play tennis, and volunteer with a research network dedicated to improving the lives of children with developmental disabilities. He is the Director of our School and Custom groups division, which operates programs throughout the year, and he oversees our programs in Australia and New Zealand. As a Company Director you might be lucky enough to catch up with him as he visits different summer trips and shares his invaluable experience with our Trip Directors on the road. Contact Symon.
Lindsay fell in love with the recreation industry and has developed her passion working at day camps, overnight camps, and outdoor adventure programs across the country. She earned her degree in Recreation Management from UMass Amherst, with a minor in Psychology to further develop her skills with children and teens. While studying in Barcelona, Lindsay discovered her enthusiasm for travel and its profound effects on one’s perspective. After graduation, she pursued her career in outdoor education and leadership, and continued to spend her summers on the water providing a thrilling and safe environment for teens. She assumed safety leadership roles as a Lifeguard & First Aid Instructor, certified boating operator, and Water Safety Instructor. Lindsay is a valuable member of our team wearing a variety of hats: helping families choose the program that is the best fit for them, interviewing and hiring talented summer leaders, directing & supervising programs on the road, managing our communication center, and as part of our safety & risk management team. Like so many others in the company shares a passion for both camp and travel that can be seen in her big smile that wins over trip members and staff alike. Contact Lindsay.
Education and travel are what fuels Rich’s interest in the world. Rich (better known by Trip Members and leaders affectionately as Swami) has lived and traveled to every continent in the world except Antarctica… but don’t doubt that he’ll get there too one day! His passion for world travel was sparked in elementary school after he visited Africa and volunteered with his uncle who worked for the United Nations. Since then, Rich completed his Undergraduate Degree in Child, Family and Social Studies at the University of Guelph and started his Master’s of Education, focusing on experiential education and service-learning while traveling the globe. Rich loves to coach soccer, hike and play with his young sons. Rich oversees the hiring and training of our summer team of Trip Directors, Leaders and Supervisors. In his different roles as Trip Director, Supervisor, Director of Training and Development and Company Director, he has been able to help create meaningful experiences leading to lasting memories for teens and staff alike. Perhaps his most memorable Westcoast moment was arranging for his 40 Trip Members to sing a song for a surprise proposal to long-time Trip Director Lindsey Reid on Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland. Oh, and she said yes! Contact Rich.
After completing her degree in family and child sciences from Florida State University and working to assist families in need with local Florida non-profits, Alexa joined our enrollment and client service team and was a leader on the Californian Extravaganza. Like all of us, the beauty of the western National Parks and the close knit special bonds of our western trip got her hooked. She loves speaking with teens and parents to guide them through the enrollment process, helps keep our website updated and helps design our email updates. If you are lucky to travel with her on the road next summer, be sure to ask about her more interesting hobby of diving for lobsters! Contact Alexa.
Ashley first started with WCC as a Trip Leader in 2014 when she decided to leave camp and seek out a new adventure. After leading the California Sprint and European Discovery she was amazed by the unique experiences and close relationships she made along the way. Having graduated from Western University and working in other industries, she knew her heart was set on joining our team. More recently Ashley led our Australia & Hawaii, and California & the Canyons tours. She works in our Toronto office handling client inquiries. Most of all, she looks forward to the summer when she gets to travel the world, meet new people and create more amazing memories.Contact Ashley.
Aaron lives for the summer! Aaron joined WCC after spending over two decades in the summer camping world as a camper and staff member. He has held many roles in the past including the Summer Director of an overnight camp and as the Assistant Director of one of Toronto’s largest day-camps. With his past experiences combined with a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of British Columbia, Aaron continues to share his passion of experiential education and community service with hundreds of youth. He also has a deep-rooted love of travel having gone on many trips with family, friends, and youth groups. Aaron works in the Toronto office handling client inquiries and supporting multiple WCC programs including Community Service, Pre-College Enrichment California, and Global Adventures. Contact Aaron.
Jeremy’s eagerness to join the WCC team originates in his years as a camper and counselor at various camps. Born and raised in New York City, Jeremy is more of an outdoors guy and his desire for new adventures began with his own trip back in high school. As a freshman at the University of Michigan, Jeremy spent his first collegiate spring break on a backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. He studied abroad in Australia and volunteered at a pediatric clinic in Peru. Continuing his passion for working with kids, Jeremy led three of our community service programs before joining the full-time team. As his experiences in Australia shaped him into the person he is today, Jeremy looks forward to creating more life changing summers for each and every trip member. Contact Jeremy.
Erica knows she has the perfect job considering she minored in Travel & Tourism and has an extensive marketing background. When she’s not on the phone assisting families with her extremely warm personality, she brings her smile and good nature to many of the South Florida Summer Opportunities Fairs. When not on the go around town or traveling for pleasure with her “three boys”, husband Kevin and sons Dylan and Jared, she enjoys leaving the luggage at home and helping parents and teens plan the perfect summer! Contact Erica.
Sydney joined our team as a recent graduate of the University of Western Ontario. After participating on our U.S. Explorer in 2011, she got the travel bug and knew Westcoast Connection was the right fit. She enjoys walking with her dogs Jackson and Parker, hanging out with friends and cooking. After working at day & sleepaway camps since she was 16, she is excited to continue working with teens in the summer and families during the year to create unforgettable summers! Contact Sydney.
DETAIL ORIENTED TRIP PLANNING EXPERTS
Amazingly, Lori has been with Westcoast Connection since our 2nd season! After spending 10 summers attending and working at summer camp in Ontario, and earning her BA in Psychology and working with children, Lori was recruited by Stan as our second ever Trip Director – and the rest is history! She directed our western trips and pioneered our first European itinerary back in 1990 and has since worked as a supervisor, Company Director and Trip Planner. Lori has traveled extensively, is a passionate skier and tries to head to the slopes whenever possible! Lori and her husband have two teenage sons which help her relate to the many teens she creates trips for as the architect and planner of all our North American Active Teen Tours. A former east coast gal, Lori is based on the west coast close to many of our suppliers and perfectly located to greet and supervise trips during the summer months. Trip Directors turn to her for advice and guidance. Her invaluable years of planning experience and tricks of the trade ensure our teens enjoy the most efficient and well run trips in the industry. Contact Lori.
Pam’s first experiences in camping were at a YMCA where she shadowed campers with special needs. She then went on to be a counselor and run the CIT program. In 2001, she joined us as a Food Director on our very popular California & the Canyons and helped out behind the scenes in the Communication Center. Her talent for helping to support Trip Directors on the road while assisting parents with an empathetic ear led to her becoming a fixture in the summer office. After graduating from McGill with her teaching degree, Pam taught during the year and became an increasingly valuable member of our summer team. She joined us full-time in 2006 with her penchant for detail as a planner helping to ensure incredible European, Australian and Global Adventure programs. Having planned trips from South America to Asia and across all our program types, she now focuses her attention on managing our Planning department and supporting our meticulous planners. She also heads up one of our two summer Communication Centers and serves as a summer Company Director. Outside of work, Pam is a “curler” having played competitively for over 20 years, going as far as the Nationals, and coaching Special Olympics curling. She is also a soccer player, coach and while we don’t call her a “soccer mom” around the office, her four adorable children will surely be getting her soccer talents passed on. Contact Pamela.
From his first taste of WCC as a participant on our American Voyageur in the summer of 2002, Brandon knew the moment he got home that he wanted to work for us one day. He honed his counseling and leadership skills working at a traditional summer camp in Ontario, Canada and 5 years after his own Trip Member days, he joined our family as a Trip Leader on the very same itinerary. In the fall of 2009, Brandon joined our full-time team where he now manages many operational aspects of our business from our online forms to our flight database. He also plans enriching and adventurous Community Service and Language programs in Costa Rica. He is our reliable go-to-guy for many things technical, and a whiz at creating the highlight video montage we all enjoy at our annual meeting. Brandon oversees our photo department where he reviews 70,000+ beautiful photos after every summer, so if you want to win the photo contest, he’s a good guy to know! Outside of the office Brandon manages a minor league hockey team, and enjoys adventure travel with friends and family. Contact Brandon.
After catching the travel bug as a teen, when touring Europe as part of a music group, Sandi has since visited 27countries and 5 continents including living abroad in Japan and Australia. She uses that first-hand experience as an enthusiastic trip planner!! Sandi grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, not too far from the Canadian Rockies and studied theater in the Fine Arts department at the University of Alberta. She has worked with youth as a program planner at summer camp, taught English while living overseas, and shared her theater and programming skills as the children’s production coordinator in her local church community. Sandi brings together her knowledge and excitement for travel with her attention to detail and plans our Global Adventure, Teen Tour and On Tour programs in Europe. She puts together amazing and unique itineraries and is thrilled to pass the bug on to young travelers and inspire them to continue exploring the globe. Contact Sandi.
Emily’s passion for travel was ignited as a teen after embarking on a community service trip to Peru. During college, she enjoyed her time as a resident assistant, helping guide first year students in the transition to life away from home. Her encounters and friendships with the international student community motivated her to set out on her own journey and she finished her communications degree abroad in Melbourne, Australia. Following graduation, she helped lead hundreds of university students on weekend ski trips, solidifying her desire to pursue a career in the student travel industry. She initially joined Westcoast helping to organize the thousands of forms received in the Forms Center and as a Trip Monitor in the Communication Center. She was delighted to join the Trip Planning team in 2015 and have the opportunity to bring her energy and enthusiasm to every itinerary she plans. Emily plans all of the North American community service programs as well as the Pre-College Enrichment program in Montreal on the campus of McGill University and in California on the UCLA campus. Contact Emily.
After picking up a surfboard for the first time some years ago in Central America, Chris knew that the beach would forever be a special place. Recently he visited Tofino, British Columbia on a surf trip and was left in awe by what his own country has to offer. Chris has taught swimming, led high school trips, organized camping and skiing trips with Dawson College and McGill University, and hiked the volcanic giant Cotopaxi in Ecuador. He brings his love of travel and organizational talents to the Trip Planning team. He plans all travel and community service in Peru, Thailand and Vietnam, along with our Global Adventures in Greece & Italy. With his additional experience working as an administrator in emergency rooms and years of lifeguarding, he adds greatly to the safety reviews of vendors and locations. Contact Chris.
Michelle was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa and after university and a business career came to the USA, started raising her family of three children and becoming very involved in their schools. Lo and behold, she befriended Lori who recognized Michelle’s sharp eye for detail. That combined with Michelle’s travels and love for visiting many interesting cities and historical sites in the U.S. made her a perfect fit for our trip planning team which she joined in 2004. Who would have thought that a girl who grew up in a country of cricket matches would be planning our Major League Madness Baseball Tours? She is intricately involved in a myriad of details involved with managing over a thousand North American suppliers and of course she also serves as an in house go-to person for our South Africa Community Service programs. Contact Michelle.
From a young age Nadia loved travelling and discovering new places. Her sense of adventure and curiosity led her to move to China for a summer without speaking a word of Mandarin. Twenty years later (about 15 of them in China), she worked with special needs kids, taught English, worked for summer programs for kids, picked up a Degree in Chinese Language & Culture, and for several years, she worked in study abroad in Beijing, for both college and high school-level American Students. Also, she’s now pretty fluent in Mandarin! Nadia’s mission is to spread the love for learning abroad, both inside and outside the classroom so it was a logical next step for her to join our Planning team and preparing our Pre-College Enrichment programs and course offerings in Barcelona, Florence, Montreal & Los Angeles. With her own passion for education that led to graduate degrees in Environmental Impact, Geography & Urban Studies, it’s little surprise she strives to prepare WCC students to be successful in their post high school years and to gain a taste of college life away from home. Contact Nadia.
After 10 years at sleepaway camp, including 4 years as staff, Brittany’s love of camp and travel led her to begin her WCC career as a Trip Leader on our California & the Canyons in 2008. After a second summer out west, she was a Trip Leader on our Backpack France & Switzerland program in 2010 and relished her summers working for WCC so much that she hoped to return if ever possible. After graduating from Concordia University with a B.A. in Communications and a minor in Sociology, she worked for five years in entertainment, touring live shows, and three years at a company focused on teambuilding for students. Her organized nature and extensive experience in logistics led her back to WCC full-time where she is thrilled to be part of the Trip Planning team. Brittany plans Global Adventures in Greece & Italy, and Community Service in South Africa and the Dominican Republic. Contact Brittany.
After earning her Bachelors in Communications and her MBA from McGill University, Donna worked for several years in consumer product marketing and in healthcare. But it was her love of summer camp from her younger days as both a camper and staff, and passion for travel that brought her to join the WCC team. As the parent of two boys, she combines her mother’s intuition, knowledge of camp and travel, and her extensive business experience to help our planning department provide teens and staff with well-researched and detailed itineraries. Contact Donna.
MASTERS BEHIND THE SCENES: FINANCE, ACCOUNTING AND ADMINISTRATION
Guido van den Bogaard
Guido was born and raised in The Netherlands where he completed university and started his career in accounting. His passion for travelling brought him around the world discovering new cultures including an international exchange program with an Australian firm in Melbourne. It was also pretty special to see kangaroos and koalas in their natural habitat. Additional adventures included trips to Malaysia and Singapore. Climbing Kota Kinabalu in Borneo to the summit (towering at 13,435 feet) feet during the night to see the sun rise was a once in a life time experience. But one trip changed his life most. Visiting Ecuador and the Galapagos he saw many lizards and shared beaches with many sea lions and seals. In this magnificent setting he met his significant other Sandrine, a Canadian who shared the same passion for traveling and after a few years in The Netherlands they moved to North-America with their two boys. With his CPA and CA designations, and 20 years of international accounting experience and wanderlust in his heart, it was most fitting for him to land at an international travel company. Guido is our controller, making sure that while so many of us are busy playing and having fun, the very complex accounting and finances are running smoothly. It is no easy task juggling Euros, British pounds, Swiss francs, Peruvan nuevo sol, Costa Rica colons, Thai baht, and dollars (US, Canadian, Aussie & Kiwi)! His efficiency, systems and attention to detail helps trip Directors and Leaders focus on the students in their care and making sure they enjoy a lifetime experience. Contact Guido.
It seems like we attract summer camp junkies and Susan is part of that dedicated group of people who have a history and love for camp combined with teaching. Susan enjoyed 14 years at sleepaway camps including nine summers as staff. While a teacher for 10 years, she started sharing her summer talents with us in 1990 and after leading several western and European trips and helping support groups from the Communication Center, she joined us full-time in 1999. Her conscientious and meticulous approach helps keep the office humming smoothly, everything from our database, credit cards, welcome aboard packages, and pre-departure information packages. Outside of work she’s pretty busy with her husband Jason (see above) and their two adorable kids who love stealing the show at our annual Trip Director training weekend. Contact Susan.