"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.
Jeff Orsburn - Program Coordinator
Jeff has been with Chapel Rock for three summers and the Aspen Creek Outdoor School for 3 seasons. Jeff loves working with youth of all ages and being outdoors is one of his greatest passions! Originally from Prescott Valley, Arizona, Jeff is a graduate of Grand Canyon University with a Bachelors degree in Communications and Christian Studies. His hobbies include most anything physically active such as hiking and mountain biking, and Jeff also enjoys playing the guitar in his free time.
Greenbriar Bragg - ACOS Staff
Greenbriar has spent a large part of his life outside exploring nature and wild places around the world, and grew up in Prescott, Arizona. He first learned his love of the outdoors and his desire to share it with others on a ten-day Outward Bound backpacking trip when he was 12. The time he spent in nature only grew, until Greenbriar graduated from Prescott College with a degree in Adventure Education, which led him to many wild places and a desire to share nature with others. He has worked in outdoor education in Arizona, California, and the British Virgin Islands. Greenbriar loves being outside and travelling, especially by bicycle and kayak, and is excited to be part of the Aspen Creek Outdoor School team.
Tori Heinonen - ACOS Facilitator
Tori comes from the frozen lands of Minnesota where she has spent most of her life. For many summers, she was a leader at a camp in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, where she developed a passion for the outdoors. She received bachelor’s degrees in sociology and anthropology from St. Olaf College, where she also played ice hockey. For the past few years, Tori has been traveling around the world to places including Norway, Micronesia, Costa Rica, and Colombia. A lover of dogs, the ocean, rain, traveling, and all things food, she is excited to share her enthusiasm with the world.
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.
Isaac Tamayo - ACOS Facilitator
Isaac is from the great state of Texas, but has moved to Prescott to pursue a master's degree in counseling at Prescott College. He is excited to work with students outside. He spent time as Philmont Boy Scout Camp, working on the ropes course. He is currently studying Arabic. One of Isaac's most inspiring outdoor spaces is Canyonlands National Park in Utah because it feels like being in a sea of giant castles.
Matt Valente - ACOS Facilitator
Matt Valente is a conservation scientist and educator from Tennessee that now calls Prescott home. Matt holds a B.S. in Botany from Auburn University and a Master's in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Tennessee. He has been sharing his passion for understanding and appreciating the natural world for more than 10 years as an educator at the middle school, high school, and college level. In his free time, Matt loves to spend time in the outdoors hiking, biking, and paddling, or at home cooking delicious food and playing the mandolin.