2021 Nature Summer Camp Staff

Camp Directors 

Jeff Mazur, (he/him) Co-Director

Jeff is answering the call of the wild – to inspire others to be better stewards of our planet through helping children and adults more deeply connect to the natural world. This is Jeff’s third year as camp director and at the Hitchcock Center. During the school year, Jeff teaches our Homeschool II Program, Nature Play Afterschool Program, and teaches to classes that visit the Hitchcock Center on field trips.

Prior to joining the Hitchcock Center, Jeff worked for Mass Audubon as a teacher/naturalist at Drumlin Farm, Arcadia and Habitat Sanctuaries and created his own afterschool program called “Into the Woods” for the Lexington Montessori School. Jeff brings to his teaching a deep-felt gratitude for the earth, an innate and also continuously growing ability to experientially engage others in the wonders of nature, and his own wellspring of curiosity and delight at the surprises that unfold around us each day. When not at the Hitchcock Center, Jeff can be found in the woods keeping a keen lookout for mushrooms, swimming at Puffer’s Pond, biking or tending his garden.

Aemelia Thompson, (she/her) Co-Director 

Aemelia is excited to return for another summer of outdoors fun at the Hitchcock Center Nature Camp. Aemelia graduated from Hampshire College with a license in early childhood education and now works as a full time educator at the Hitchcock Center. When not at work she spends most of her time outside with her dogs, Bean and Eko, who share her love of getting dirty and working hard. In all weather they spend their days running, hiking, swimming, and seeking out the lessons and therapeutic effects of nature. She’s looking forward to having a wonderful time with all the campers and all the flora and fauna they come across! 

Front Row L to R: Jeff Mazur, Eva Rocheleau, Monya, Benny Kleinman-Eddy, Tara Borgilt Back Row L to R: Aemelia Thompson, Paul Nelson, Ben Wetherbee, Claire Sullivan, Heather Welty

Counselors 

YOUNG NATURALISTS

Claire Sullivan (she/her)

Claire is very excited for her first summer as camp staff at the Hitchcock Center. Growing up in Eastern Massachusetts, some of  her favorite childhood memories are from camp at a nearby nature sanctuary. In past summers, Claire has worked at a summer camp in her hometown. She is currently on summer break as a student at UMass Amherst, pursuing a double major in Environmental Conservation and Studio Art. Claire loves to start the morning with a trail run. On her days off, Claire can be found hiking, reading, making jewelry, painting outdoors or taking a spontaneous trip to Vermont. 

Heather Welty – (they/them or she/her)

Heather is excited and ready for their first year as a camp counselor with the Hitchcock Center. After a long year of remote-working, they are looking forward to getting some fresh air and experiencing the excitement of learning and exploring the outdoors with young people. After graduating with a B.A.S. in cognitive psychology and critical social theory from Hampshire College, Heather moved to Easthampton, MA where they spend their time exploring bike paths and trails, hiking Mt. Tom, and working with young people from across the state through their role as a Youth Facilitator with GLSEN MA (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network of Massachusetts). Heather is passionate about creating authentic learning experiences that recognize the ingenuity and agency of young people. In the past, they have worked as a Youth Counselor in their hometown of New Bedford, MA, as well as a co-researcher at UMass Dartmouth, where they worked on programs that develop equitable teaching practices in science and math classrooms. Heather is most excited about building connections with young scientists and hopes to see a ton of “Aha!” moments this summer as campers make sense of the world around them with their own minds and hands.

Ben Wetherbee (he/him)

Ben is thrilled to be returning this year to the Hitchcock Center as a counselor! Originally from the Boston-area, he grew up attending nature camps, hiking trails through forests, fields, and wetlands, and hunting for insects, fungi, and amphibians. His experiences at summer camp inspired him to love nature, conservation, and education. He has since worked as an intern with the US Fish and Wildlife Service working on local conservation projects ranging from endangered beetle rearing to migratory fish studies. He has also worked at a number of other nature camps and has taught violin and art to children. Outside of camp, you can find him playing fiddle music, making art, dancing, singing, and exploring the best ponds, rivers, and mountains Western Massachusetts has to offer.

ECO-INVESTIGATORS

Paul Nelson, (he/him)

Paul is excited to begin his first summer at the Hitchcock Center. He is a microbiology major at UMass Amherst who is planning to get his Masters in Education.  Before coming to the Hitchcock Center, Paul has worked extensively with children as a camp counselor, sailing instructor, tutor and after school teacher. Paul loves working with children and showing them the scientific wonders around them, helping them learn to think critically and act with respect for others. Paul enjoys cross-country skiing, camping, reading, and playing video and other games with friends.

Eva Rocheleau, (they/them)

Is excited to be back for their second time at camp with Hitchcock. Eva works as an educational support professional in Northampton. Before that, they studied education and sociology at Hampshire College. Eva loves working with children especially in the arts and sciences and is an aspiring classroom teacher! In  their free time, Eva enjoys playing music, doing paper mache arts and crafts and spending time outdoors.

Monya Relles, (they/them) 

Sessions 1, 3 and 5

Monya loves backpacking, farming, and writing poetry in trees, and they have been getting their clothes muddy for as long as they can remember. Monya has nine years of summer camp counselor experience but their favorite summer camp by far has been the Hitchcock Center where they started working in 2019. Monya is especially interested in integrating environmental justice and climate change education into their lessons. You can almost always find them dancing or in the woods.

Aemelia Thompson, (she/her) 

Sessions 2 and 4

Aemelia is excited to return for another summer of outdoors fun at the Hitchcock Center Nature Camp. Aemelia graduated from Hampshire College with a license in early childhood education and now works as a full time educator at the Hitchcock Center. When not at work she spends most of her time outside with her dogs, Bean and Eko, who share her love of getting dirty and working hard. In all weather they spend their days running, hiking, swimming, and seeking out the lessons and therapeutic effects of nature. She’s looking forward to having a wonderful time with all the campers and all the flora and fauna they come across! 

NATURE EXPLORERS

Tara Borgilt (she/her)

Tara is delighted to be returning as a summer camp counselor at the Hitchcock Center. She loves exploring the intricacies of the natural world, and looks forward to sharing her excitement and curiosity with the campers. Tara was born in the foothills of the Rouge Valley in Southwestern Oregon and grew up camping, skiing, picking up bugs and critters, backpacking, and climbing to high places with her family and friends. She is passionate about encouraging deep relationships to place, and grateful to have the opportunity to do so herself in this new part of the country. Since moving to the Pioneer Valley, Tara has been at the Hitchcock Center as a co-counselor for Summer and April Vacation Camp and as a Volunteer. She has a BA in Spanish from Reed College in Portland, OR. She enjoys writing, mending broken things, going on night bike rides, and spying on the birds and squirrels with binoculars from her bedroom window. 

Benny Kleinman-Eddy  (He/Him/They/Them) 

Benny is a Studio Art major at Smith College, with plans to become an art educator.  He grew up in Amherst stomping through the woods and looking under rocks.  He has spent his adult life finding new ways to guide children through life, by providing childcare for families, working with larger groups of kids in summer camp and in the classroom, and by studying theory of education in college.  He is passionate about providing a nurturing environment for kids to experience the joy of exploring the natural world, asking new questions, and expanding their understanding of the world around them.  Benny lives in Northampton with his life partner, a French Bulldog/Beagle mix, and two hedgehogs.  

LEADERSHIP TRAINING CAMP

Peter Lamdin, Environmental Educator (he/him)

Peter has been involved with the Hitchcock Center, off and on, since 1975 (when it was The Long Plain Nature Center). He helped run summer camp and did school programming, before becoming a classroom teacher at the Fort River School in Amherst in 1980. When Peter retired (or “expired” as one young Fort River student put it) in 2013, he was able to return home to Hitchcock, once again doing programs in elementary schools during the school year, and starting Leadership Training Camp during the summer. Peter continues to work on Leadership Camp, but has re-retired from elementary school programming, and can be found birding, biking, skiing, gardening, playing guitar, and grand parenting when he can, given that his grandchildren live in California. 

Monya Relles, (they/them) 

Monya loves backpacking, farming, and writing poetry in trees, and they have been getting their clothes muddy for as long as they can remember. Monya has nine years of summer camp counselor experience but their favorite summer camp by far has been the Hitchcock Center where they started working in 2019. Monya is especially interested in integrating environmental justice and climate change education into their lessons. You can almost always find them dancing or in the woods.

Camp Support

Colleen Kelley, Education Director

We are very lucky to have Colleen assisting us with camp this summer. Colleen is going on 34 years of being part of the Hitchcock Center staff, and has worked on just about everything here, from camp to school residencies to homeschool to afterschool to her all-time favorite program, Nature Discovery Preschool! All that experience has led to her current role as Education Director, in which she provides leadership and support for the education staff, Hitchcock’s Living Building project, professional development programs, college interns and loads more. In her spare time Colleen loves to get moving outdoors, from swimming to running to cycling to hiking!

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment