Heather Mitchell and Stacy Raye founded the camp back in 1998! They met while teaching at Step One School in Berkeley, fell in love, and dreamed up the idea of this camp while traveling for a year on a backpacking trip throughout Southeast Asia, India and Australia. Read more about them below.
Thanks for supporting a locally grown and operated, woman and LGBTQ+ led business.
Heather grew up in 1970/80s New York City, playing games, often barefoot, on the streets of Brooklyn (yes, stoopball!), and traveling daily by subway to attend Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and to explore the East Village in all of its 1980s wonder. From the age of 5 years onward, she spent entire summers in a co-op bungalow community in the Catskills, with about 40 other families from New York City. Daily lake swims and boating, games and star gazing on the grassy fields, and learning about salamanders and frogs and maple and oaks. Her father instigated a lot of community building and fun, with BINGO, movies, roller-skating and dinners. The treasured memories of both interacting with the city in all its diversity and aliveness, as well as with the natural world and intergenerational community of her summers, inspire the kind of place you will find at Monkey Business Camp programs.
Heather has traveled extensively, including 3 multi-month-long cross-country trips in a 1973 VW Bus van, named Cloud, that has made visits to camp & 2 year-long back-packing trips, primarily in Southeast Asia, where she delved into the wonders of the area and was humbled to meet so many incredible people in Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Australia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, India and Nepal.
She now loves hiking the hills of the East Bay, hanging out with her life partner, writing, and dreaming into a world where everyone thrives.
- Founder, Monkey Business Camp, including these programs (most with Stacy Raye):
- Tilden Outdoor Program, 1998
- School Break (Winter, February & Spring Programs), 2003
- Girls on the Go Program, 2004
- Pre-K program, 2009
- Boys on the Go Program, 2015
- School Break Thanksgiving Program, 2018
- Early Childhood Educator, Step One School (1990-1994) & The New School (1994-1998)
- Graduate, Angeles Arrien’s Four Fold Way Leadership Training, 2012.
- Graduate, Child Care Employee Project Speaker’s Bureau Training
- Oberlin College Alumnus, 1984-1988, having studied Women’s Studies with a History & Government Concentration, and Dance.
- Graduate & Current Participant, Embracing Embodiment Depth Circles, exploring the divine feminine, chakras, nature connection, parts work, with Heather Munro-Pierce, 2017-currently.
- Participant, Bodymystik Women’s Dance Circles with Heather Munro Pierce, 2009-currently.
- Meditation Retreats & Teachings, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, with teachers Thich Nhat Hanh, Debra Chamberlin-Taylor, Christina Feldman, Michele McDonald Smith, Julie Wester, Jon Travis, and Gil Fronsdal.
- Certified Yoga Teacher, 3HO Kundalini Yoga, 2005
- Depth Practitioner of Kundalini and Yin Yogas
Stacy was born in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, and grew up in Sacramento. She graduated from UC Berkeley, studying History and teaching Lesbian/Gay Studies. She partnered with Heather Mitchell, in life and business, in 1993, after meeting at Step One School in Berkeley, and created Monkey Business and Girls on the Go Camps in 1999. Stacy worked with children in some capacity all her life, including teaching ASL to hearing children at many local pre-schools and after-schools, including Walden, Prospect Sierra, The New School, Via Nova, Step One, The Snuggery. She loved being in creative community and social justice movements. She was the co-head of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual student union group at UC Berkeley. She was active in the anti-apartheid movement. Music and dance grounded her in possibility and wonder. She discovered the Grateful Dead in 1980 and went to many shows over her lifetime and continued after Jerry Garcia’s death to find other outlets, in Pele Juju, Michael Franti and Spearhead, The String Cheese Incident, and in music festival culture, especially the High Sierra Music Festival. She loved Shakespeare, and theater in general, poetry (e.e. cummings was a favorite), and children’s literature, especially Dr. Seuss, Margaret Mahy, William Steig, and James Marshall. Stacy believed in fun and holding guard over children to be able to experience joy and wonder. One of Stacy’s other beloved activities was world traveling, especially backpacking. She and Heather took two year long trips throughout Southeast Asia and Australia, including Nepal, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos and Thailand. One of these started with a one way ticket to Bangkok and no other plans but that! She and Heather loved staying in each place longer, to meet local people. They found a badminton racket went a long way to connecting beyond a shared language.
At the age of 48, Stacy was suddenly diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer after returning from a trip from Thailand. After 2 year courageous years with Heather and many friends and members of the community, Stacy passed away on Feb 17, 2011. She left an amazing legacy and is greatly missed, but we often share about her, and invoke her spirit to be with us and remind us of all the precious things she held dear.
She lives on in these camps and in those of us touched by her brilliant spirit.