Staff- Working at Upcoming Camps



Year Round Team listed first, then seasonal on site staff-alphabetically by first name in each category; Occasionally someone is hired close to camp and their photo and bio is not yet here. Read about our Director Heather Mitchell on the Founding Director page

YEAR ROUND TEAM

BEN RUFFMAN-COHEN (he/him)
Administrative Manager & Registrar

Howdy! Like many of you I grew up in Berkeley and spent my teenage years as a counselor at Monkey Business after making my way through the CIT/JC ranks. I’m excited to be returning to camp after more than a decade away adventuring. During that time I lived mostly in New York and a bit in LA. My background is in filmmaking and I’ve had all sorts of strange and interesting jobs like driving a truck for a movie props company and being a mini museum repairman. I love food, cinema, and working with my hands. I live with my wonderful creative wife, our awesome toddler, a feisty senior cat, a sweet timid dog, three silly shrimp, lots of plants, and a terrarium full of isopods.

BRAD OLSON (he/him)
Operations Assistant & Works on Site All Camps

Hi! I grew up in Alaska and spent many years living (and skiiing!) in Winter Park, Colorado, and Houston, Texas, being a cook and stone-mason, before moving to the Bay Area to live with my wife, Heather, the Founding Director of this camp. It is a family business!  She suggested I help her teach in 2013 and I loved it, and am now I am on the year-round team, working in Operations, with Samantha. You might find me leading the kids in a game of medic or BINGO, a bubble dance party,  or just generally supporting them. I also make sure things are in good working order. When not at camp, I enjoy work with general handyperson projects, as well as specific ones in stonemasonry and tile. I love mountain biking, roller-blading, disc golf, cooking, playing my sax, seeing and dancing to live music, and hockey.

 

FREESIA HUTH (she/her)
All Camps Strawberry Banana Site Director or Special Guest

I was born here in the Bay Area and love it here. I’ve been dancing and performing since the age of three and teach dance to kids and adults. I have two sons that are taller than me and two dogs that I hike with and love being in Mother Nature with… she is a wonderful teacher. I was a competitive ice skater and dancer in my youth and learned that FUN is the most important factor to any physical activity. So I’ve spent the last 30 years teaching dance to kids and adults with the belief that FUN is the key to healthy living and … I believe that everyone can dance.  I currently teach dance at the Stanford Neurology Center to students that have Parkinson’s Disease.  We have a fun time as well. I am so excited to have been in the Monkey Business family since 2015 and look forward to more playing and dancing with y’all.

SAMANTHA SWOR (she/her)
Assistant Director


Hello! I’ve been working at Monkey Business Camp since 2011. During this time my kids have gone from campers, to youth leaders, and now both my children are on staff. Wow! Amazing to be in the MBC family all these years. Couldn’t have asked for better summers (and break camps!) for my family… outside, with friends, making up games, living and learning with the best counselors anywhere, it’s the best. I’ll be working on operations and curriculum, coming up to camp each day to help get things set up and teaching art over various days, and mentoring staff and youth leaders. My background is in early childhood education and I have been working with kids most of my life. I first met Heather and Stacy, the Founding Directors, while we both were teaching at Step One preschool in 1994. Time flies! I hope camp is as colorful, interesting, messy, silly, and delicious as usual. See you there!

 

ZACH BIGELOW (he/him)
All Camps Mango Coconut Site Director or Special Guest

Hi, I’m Zach. I’m a long-time staff member who began as a youth leader and recently joined the year-round team as Program Manager. I enjoy board games, spending time in nature, and stories in all of their various mediums and forms. I recently finished my education in San Diego and look forward to returning to the bay where I grew up. I’ll be a Site Director for all break camps from now on as well as summers, and I’m excited to spend time having fun with everyone whether it’s camp activities, hikes, lunch field games, or anything else.

 

“I had the best time feeling free and joyful working at camp. Monkey Business is structured so well for youth (as well as staff) to explore and connect with community. I cannot wait until next time. Bring on the fun!!”

ADDITIONAL ON-SITE STAFF

We will be updating this area with staff as we have more info.  Some former staff are listed below, as they worked recently and likely will join again soon.

AUDREY DOWLING (she/her)-Summer Sub/Mentor

Hi everyone! I am so excited to be a part of the Monkey Business staff team! I have attended Monkey Business since I was 4 years old, since 2006, beginning the summer before kindergarten. In the years since then I have come to camp every year going from a Strawberry-Banana, to a Mango-Coconut, to a CIT, then JC, Counselor, Group Leader and now a Site Director. I love playing with my two dogs, photography and baking, and I can’t wait for camp!

 

 

 

CAROLINE MACARAH (she/her)-Spring & Summer Camp (July 1-26)
Smoothie Site Director

Hello!  My name is Caroline Macarah and I have taught in bay area schools for the past 16 years, 13 of them at Albany schools, at all levels: elementary, middle and high school levels. My husband, daughter, Lily (dog) and I enjoy the outdoors and are regular visitors to Tilden Park trails. In our home, English, Mandarin and Tibetan languages are spoken and we enjoy making momos (Tibetan dumplings) together with family and friends. I grew up in Montana and spent a number of years studying and teaching overseas in India and Nepal. I have a passion for integrating social and emotional learning into the natural rhythm of daily activities. I have a deep love for creative movement, dance, cooking and spending time in nature. I look forward to working with campers in the coming months as a Site Director.

 

DANIEL BEYDA (he/him)-Summer Camp (July 29-August 16)

Hi! I have been part of Monkey Business for several years, first as a camper before starting as a CIT in 2019, then a JC, and I am thrilled to continue my work as a staff member. At camp, I love playing field games and other sports with the campers, playing board games and cards, and going on walks and engaging in nature activities. Working as a youth leader with Monkey Business was such a wonderful experience, and I am excited to continue to meet new people and have fun at camp.

 

 

DEBBIE ROBISON (she/her)-Summer Site Director (All summer except July 1-3)

Hi there! I’ve enjoyed living in Berkeley for the past 28 years with my wonderful, quirky family. I can’t wait to meet yours! You may have seen me around on a local beach or trail, with friends and family, exploring something new, or out getting supplies for our latest project. It was my passion for supporting my own loved ones’ learning that originally motivated me to become an Educator. 25 years later, I am still impressed by the unique strengths and gifts of each individual child and look forward to inspiring them to become their next best selves! I can already imagine some of the wacky and wonderful things we will create with our hands and hearts, celebrating each other and the joys of Summer along the way!

DEVON O’ROURKE (they/them or she/her)-Summer Site Director June 5-7 and sub/mentor

Hi everyone! My name is Devon and I am a naturalist, storyteller and musician and there’s nothing I love more than playing outside. My passions are exploring and nurturing connections with nature, noticing and following the plants and animals through the seasons, and singing together with kids and friends. I have worked with youth in nature both through weekly school programs in the Bay Area, and through the National Park Service all up and down the West Coast. I am totally in love with the East Bay Regional Parks and I am very happy to be adventuring close to home, in Tilden park. I speak beginning Spanish and intermediate French and Russian. I also happen to be a math teacher. I am super excited for camp, and I can’t wait to see familiar faces and meet some new kids and families. See you soon!

DUNCAN SLATER (he/him) – Summer Camp (June 5-7, July 8-26 & Aug 12, 13)

Hi! I can’t wait to be a part of the Monkey Business staff! I have been a part of the Monkey Business community since 2015 and, like most of the staff, began as a camper and loved the camp so much that I couldn’t just leave after I was too old to be a camper! So I stayed as a youth leader, and now a counselor. I’ve lived in Berkeley for my entire life and have always loved going on hikes and bike rides in Tilden. I currently attend Berkeley High School where I have studied French for three years. I like playing with my cats and dogs as well as spending time outdoors and can’t wait to be a part of camp this summer!

 

“As a camper I learned so much about the area I live in and the people who live here; as well as a lot about myself, my own capabilities, and my likes and dislikes. As a counselor the camp provided me with a wonderful first-time work experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. This camp is a beautiful melding of fun and education, of independence and cooperation.”

ELLA CREANE (she/her)-Summer Camp (July 29-Aug 16)

Hi everyone! My name is Ella, and I’ve grown up in the Bay, having countless adventures all around Tilden. Though I’m new to Monkey Business, I’m a seasoned camp counselor and can’t wait to jump into camp life. I’m also at a beginner conversational level in Spanish. For fun, I love to spend time outside, whether that be hiking, camping, backpacking, or just any kind of exploring. I also love to play all sorts of games, do any classic camp crafts, and, of course, have the occasional dance party! I love connecting with kids, and I’m beyond excited to start camp and make some fun memories. I can’t wait to meet you all!

 

ELSA BOARDMAN (she/her)-Summer Camp (July 29-Aug 16)

Hello! My name is Elsa and I live in El Cerrito. As a kid, I would go to Tilden Park pretty much every weekend, and my favorite destination was always Lake Anza. This is my first time working with Monkey Business, but I have loved working with kids ever since I started being a youth leader at my dance studio around age 12. I’m looking forward to meeting all of the campers this year and participating in crafts, games, and nature-related activities with everybody. I love to dance, play the flute, swim, mountain bike, and spend time with my dog. I speak intermediate French and beginner ASL, and I am beyond excited to make amazing memories at camp this summer!

 

GEMMA SHABEL (she/her)-Summer Camp (June 10-28)

Hi everyone! My name is Gemma and I have been spending my summers at Monkey Business Camp since I was four years old. Since then, I have come to camp almost every summer, first as a camper, then a CIT, a JC, and now a counselor! I love spending my time outside hiking, camping, and going to the beach. I also love playing with my pets, cooking, and playing games. I am super excited to have the opportunity to spend time at camp with all of you, see you there!

 

 

HART SLATER (he/him)-Summer Camp (June 5-28, July 29-Aug 13)
Hi everyone! My name is Hart and I have been a part of this community since 2013. I  have come to camp as a camper, CIT, and JC every summer with the exception of the pandemic. I enjoy being in nature, playing field games, hiking, teaching kids about plants, and playing guitar. I can’t wait to see everyone at camp!

 

 

 

ISAAC SATZMAN (he/him)-Summer Camp (July 29-Aug 9)

Hello! I’ve been attending Monkey Business for over 10 years as a camper, a Counselor in Training, a Junior Counselor, and now a Counselor. I love this camp and the community centered around it. My favorite activity at camp is passing down all the stories I first heard as a young camper. I have memories of eating lunch while counselors told stories from the magical worlds at the end of bowling lanes, to the wonderful creatures of Little Farm. I also love playing games like dodgeball, and banana tag with campers as well as hiking and other nature activities. Music is a big part of my life and I’ve spent time touring Europe playing at jazz festivals. I look forward to working at Monkey Business Camp and connecting with all the campers!

 

JULIA GHORAI (she/her)- (All summer except July 8-26)

Hi! My name is Julia Ghorai and I was born and raised in Oakland. I have been coming to Tilden for my entire life and some of my fondest memories are at the Little Farm and Nimitz Way. I was a Youth Leader for Monkey Business way back in middle school and was unable to return, but I am so excited to be back this summer as a counselor! I graduated from Lick-Wilmerding High School in 2023 and I am now attending Grinnell College in Iowa where I am studying anthropology and mathematics. In my free time I love to hike, camp, play my violin, and play board games. I speak beginner/intermediate Spanish. I am so excited to hang out with all the kids at camp this summer and have fun outdoors!

 

KISA IACONA (she/her)-Summer Camp (July 8-26 and Aug 12-16)

Hi all, I’m Kisa! I’m very excited to be joining the Monkey Business team again. I’m looking forward to meeting all the campers this year and the many crafts, games, and activities we will do together. For fun, I usually do sports (lacrosse, tennis, and swimming), play with my dog, and go on fun adventures with friends. I love the outdoors and am an avid hiker and beach-goer. I have been taking Spanish for about 5 years now.

 

 

 

LILLIE PLAJZER-FRICK (she/her)-Summer Camp (July 1-August 16)

I grew up spending my summers at monkey business and now I am so so excited to return as a counselor!! I’ve grown up in Berkeley and now go to Indiana University but plan to return to the bay area when I finish school. I’m majoring in cyber security and polish, which I am fluent in. I also speak some French and German. In my free time I love to go mountain biking, rock climbing, and go to the beach! Spending time outside, especially in Tilden, is one of my favorite things.

 

 

 

LIV JOHNSON (she/her)- Summer Camp (July 8-26, Aug 12, 13)

Hey guys! I grew up here in Berkeley, just like my dad. I’ve been exploring Tilden my whole life! I’m on the BHS mountain biking team, and I love the outdoors and adventuring with my friends. I love love love kids, and babysit in my free time. I started at Monkey Business as a Counselor-In-Training, then spent two years as a Junior Counselor, being on Staff is a dream come true! Some of my best memories are ones I’ve made here, and I’m excited to now help kids make their own Monkey Business memories!

 

 

 

MIRA SHAH (she/her)- Summer Camp (July 1-3 & July 8-26)

Hey everyone! I’ve lived in Oakland my whole life and have been attending Monkey Business since I was a little kid. Since my first summer at Tilden with Monkey Business, I’ve looked forward to coming back every year and I’m so excited to return to camp as a counselor! I enjoy playing games, doing arts and crafts, and exploring in nature with the campers. I look forward to meeting you this camp season.

 

NAIMA ECKHARDT de CAMARGO (she/her)
Summer Camp Sub

Hello! My name is Naima and I grew up in Berkeley. My dad is from Germany and my mom is from Brazil, so I was raised speaking both languages and visiting my family outside of the United States. I graduated from Berkeley High in 2018 and now attend UCLA where I study art. I love drawing, listening to music, singing, and dancing. I worked at an art camp for a couple of years before starting at Monkey Business and really enjoy spending time with children of all ages. Monkey Business is such an amazing camp and community and I look forward to getting to spend time together!

 

 

MILO BAKER (he/him)

Summer Camp Site Director (June 5-July 3)

Hey y’all! Thrilled to be joining the team as a Site Director. I’ve been a part of the Monkey Business family since 2008, evolving from a camper to staff member in the years that followed. My time spent as a camper helped spark my love for the outdoors. I’m super excited to lead some nature hikes and show campers the hidden wonders of Tilden Park! Outside of MBC, I am finishing up my college education as a Sociology major, while also working within the OUSD’s after school programs. When I have time, I enjoy experiencing different countries and cultures. Through my travels and education I’ve been able to pick up a bit Spanish and French. To go along with my travel itch, I’m also an avid cyclist. Most of my free time is spent exploring Bay Area roads and leading community events with my cycling team.

OLAF DIETZ (he/him)-Summer (June 6-28)

Hi everyone! I’m in the Class of 2024 at Berkeley High School. Ever since my sister and I began going to summer and winter camps, they have always been the highlight of my year. So, I am excited to be a part of the staff at Monkey Business and share experiences my younger self would have loved! In my time as a Monkey Business youth leader, I enjoyed reading, playing board games, and going on hikes with my group. I am a relatively fluent Spanish speaker, and currently in my second semester of AP Spanish Lang. Outside of camp, I spend my time running in Tilden to train for cross country and distance track. See you all out there.

 

 

OLIVIA BECKETTI (she/her)-Summer  (June 5-July 26)

Hi there! I’ve been at Monkey Business Camp since 2012, first as a camper, then a youth leader, and on the staff team since 2019. You’ll usually find me helping kids with art or luna sticks, singing songs, being silly, and having lots of fun with campers! Also, I am a beginner in German language. I can’t wait to see you all at camp!

 

 

 

PATRICK BECKETTI-Summer Camp (July 1-Aug 9)

Hello everyone! I’ve been a part of the Monkey Business community since 2013. I started out as a camper, then a youth leader, and now a counselor. In my free time, I enjoy playing ultimate frisbee, playing with my cats, or hanging out with friends. I’ve made so many memories at camp over the years, and I’m so excited to make some more! I can’t wait to see everyone at camp!

 

 

 

SARAH RHODES (she/her)-Summer (June 10-28)

Hi! I have been going to Monkey Businesses every summer since I was 5, became a youth leader at 10, and am now a staff member. At camp, I love dancing, reading, and playing games, but my favorite things are teaching crafts and being silly. I am passionate about working with kids and trying new things. Some of my happiest memories come from my time at Monkey Business, and I look forward to making more this year!

 

 

 

SEAN KIMBREW (he/him) – Summer (June 5-28)

Hello Everyone! I started working at Monkey Business Camp as a CIT (counselor-in-training) during the summer of 2022. Ever since then, I have really enjoyed the fun atmosphere that Monkey Business Camp provides and have been inspired to return during winter and summer break camps. At camp, I enjoy playing board games, exploring nature, arts and crafts, and performance-based activities. In my spare time, I enjoy reading and listening to music. I look forward to making new memories at camp this summer.

 

 

WILL SCHOLAR (he/him)-Summer (all summer except July 29-Aug 9)

I’ve been at this camp going back many years starting as a camper, becoming a Youth Leader, and now on staff. In my free time I enjoy listening to music, playing games, rock climbing, and hanging out with my pets. I’m very excited for camp to begin and I can’t wait to meet everyone.