Campers looped up in a stretchy purple band at February Camp in Berkeley

Founding Directors

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 on a year long backpacking trip throughout Southeast Asia, India and Australia. Directing the camp together until 2011, when Stacy Raye passed away, and then shifting to Heather at the helm since that time, with the support of an amazing team.

Thanks for supporting a locally grown and operated, woman and LGBTQ+ led business.

Heather Mitchell
Heather Mitchell, founding director of Monkey Business Camp, and a young girl hug and smile at the camera


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, which included 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 created 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 in the 1990s, primarily in Southeast Asia, with her wife at the time, Stacy Raye, 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 Bradley Olson, nesting in her home, dancing to live music, 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.

Embodiment Practitioner:

  • 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

“Thanks for being such a continued presence in our lives and a great leader in the community.  We respect everything you have done – you’re helping to raise so many kids with your great values.  I hope our child, now shifting from youth leader to staff, can continue to be a role model for younger kids.”

Stacy Raye


Stacy was born in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia on December 15, 1960, to her American parents who were teaching abroad.   They moved back to the States, and she spent her childhood in Sacramento, and often reminded her friends of a cross country trip she took with her mom Nancy O’Connor in a VW Bug.  This seemed to sparkle her wanderlust, which she had her entire life, loving to travel to nearby, but especially distant places.

She graduated from UC Berkeley, studying History and teaching Lesbian/Gay Studies. She was the co-head of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual student union group at UC Berkeley during 1988-1989. She was active in the anti-apartheid movement.

Stacy 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 1998.   She was known to be a devoted partner.  She and Heather spent 18 years together loving one another before Stacy’s passing and her love still permeates Heather’s life and Monkey Business Camp.

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, Kids Club at the then Jefferson School in Berkeley.  Her creativity inspired many other teachers to think outside of the box.  She wanted kids to feel freedom and joy, and also be aware and caring of those around them, and to this she brought her focus when with kids.

She loved being in creative community, including Soup and at an art table making collages with friends. 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 Indigo Girls, The String Cheese Incident, and in music festival culture, especially the High Sierra Music Festival, to which she was a devoted fan, encouraging us to create the Monkey Business Camp schedule around those dates, so we would not miss our “adult” camp time.

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. She loved reading at Monkey Business Camp’s book of the day time, and brought alive literature, much inspired by her mom, who she so loved.  She even taught the kids at camp how to sign “Time to read book of the day”.

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 with an aching arm.  After 2 courageous years with Heather and many friends and members of the community, and an amazing specialist Dr. Alice Shaw, who helped Stacy get on a targeted drug that eventually was fast tracked for FDA approval partially due to Stacy’s participation in the trial, Stacy passed away at home surrounded by Heather and a few other dear friends on Feb 17, 2011. The Grateful Dead’s Brokedown Palace was playing as she departed.

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.