Our Mission

Camp Quest provides an educational adventure shaped by fun, friends and freethought, featuring science, natural wonder and humanist values.

Values we teach: integrity, empathy, creativity, critical thinking, and community.

Our Vision

Camp Quest envisions a world in which children grow up exploring, thinking for themselves, connecting with their communities, and acting to make the most of life for themselves and others.

We blend world-class science and critical thinking interactive activities with a traditional all-American outdoor camp experience. It’s the scientific method paired with campfires and s’mores!

Read more about our goals and values here.

Feel free to contact us with feedback or questions. You can also contact the task force leaders with questions regarding their focus area. New volunteers are always welcome!

Financial Information

Camp Quest West is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Our 2015 Financial Statement and 2016 Budget are available for review.

Camp Quest West is the California affiliate of Camp Quest, Inc.

Board of Directors

Brian Parra

Oxnard, CA

BrianBrian Parra, the President of the Board of Camp Quest West, began volunteering in 2009 and joined the board of directors shortly afterward. At camp, he has served as Program Director and Camp Director of the Southern California Camp and brings ten years of experience working at and running summer camps for the Boy Scouts of America. He founded the Ventura Atheists and has been a member of the board, newsletter editor, and first office administrator for Atheists United, a Los Angeles-based secular non-profit organization.

Brian has a degree in English Literature, runs a small event production company providing professional audio services and entertainment consulting for local businesses, and works for the local high school district. He writes a blog and records a weekly interview-style podcast about the local music, comedy, and art scene of Ventura County and various aspects of Humanism and the non-religious movement.

He enjoys camping and cooking for his family.

Chris Lindstrom

Courtney Koegle

CourtneyCourtney has been an enthusiastic volunteer with Camp Quest West since 2015, after fortuitously coming across an ad for the organization on a Facebook feed. Since then, she has served in several roles including cabin staff, program staff, and LT Director. Her shared vision of creating a world where people approach life through an evidence-based lens, whilst thinking critically about the information presented to them marries beautifully with the Camp’s philosophy.

Courtney spends her time outside of camp dedicated to the pursuit of teaching. She is a junior high school science teacher who dedicates her life to inspiring young people to pursue STEM fields, including science and engineering. She has a passion for robotics and is the coach for her junior high’s Science Olympiad team. Camp Quest West allows her to further this goal while exploring her love of nature. In her free time, she passionately pursues happiness and adventure with her wonderful husband and beautiful son.

Joel Layton

JoelFormer President of Atheists of Utah and Salt Lake Valley Atheists and co-founder of Utah Coalition of Reason (UCORE). Atheist since three hours after conception and an Atheist-in-a-foxhole veteran who grew up in a Freethinking household. Now retired and writing unpublished novels in Reno NV with my four-year-old son and three stepdaughters, Significant Other and her Ex-Husband. (Don’t ask).

Kaitlin Pike

San Francisco, CA
Kaitlin Pike, in partnership with fellow Camp Quest West board member Tucker Phelps, directs the NorCal Leadership Track program for high school aged campers. The Leadership Track focuses on counselor-in-training programming, leadership and social responsibility. Kaitlin is a professional marketer by day and has worked with a range of companies from Fortune 500s to bootstrapped startups, large & small-scale events, and print & digital media. She also runs the popular Meetup group, SF Nightowls, in San Francisco.

Kasey Gibbs

Kasey Gibbs retired from the US Air Force the end of 2014, where he worked as a Health Care Manager and an First Sergeant (personnel manager). Upon retirement, he immediately started looking for other ways to serve his community and volunteered as a Camp Quest West Cabin Counselor in 2015. He volunteered as the NorCal Asst. Cabin Director in 2016 and NorCal Cabin Director in 2017. He has been married eight years with a beautiful ~2 year old daughter and a step son,​​ who is a Buddhist Monk in Thailand. Kasey has a Master’s in Human Relations and is pursuing a Ed.S. in School Psychology.

Liz Shoemaker

LizLiz began volunteering with Camp Quest West in 2012, and has served on the board since 2013. She also serves on the Camp Quest National board. She teaches science to 7th, 8th, and 9th graders in the Sacramento area, and loves especially astronomy and biology.

Mike Koegle

MikeAfter embarking on his first volunteer opportunity for Camp Quest West in the summer of 2015 at the behest of his beautiful bride, Mike Koegle soon realized that the mission and vision set forth by CQW aligned perfectly with his mantra of creating a future citizenry of informed, incredulous, and fiercely compassionate, empathetic leaders.

With 15 years of classroom instructional experience, Mike realizes that phenomenal feats of human ingenuity and compassion can take place when young people are equipped with critical faculties and the components of inquiry. He aims to give tomorrow’s leaders the necessary skill set for success by igniting a passion for the natural world, with his instruction in equality and humanistic values, and through the pursuit of intellectual honesty and excellence. Mike’s professional pursuits, personal passions, and Camp Quest West’s philosophy go hand-in-hand!

Neil Polzin

Philip Starner

Vice President

Philip Starner began board membership in 2014 and is looking forward to a bright future with Camp Quest. Philip has a background with the Boy Scouts of America as an Eagle Scout and looks to bring these experiences in development of Leadership Training (LT) program and to the Free Thought Curriculum on the Curriculum Development Team (CDT). Philip was also honorably discharged from the U.S. Army which also shaped his passion for leadership while working with the LT program at camp.

Philip is an IT contractor and is currently hard at work creating apps for Apple’s iPhones and other devices. He has worked in Hollywood since 2002, and has co-authored a technical book in the industry titled “Programming HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc – The HD Cookbook”.

Philip has a strong passion for camp and wishes to bring the magic of camp to the children of today. With a strong emphasis in Science and Freethought there is no better place than Camp Quest to apply this passion.

Rachel Tracy

Rachel Tracy is a lifelong learner and thrilled to be on the board of a great organization. Parent, educator, office worker, stage manager, curriculum planner – basically she coordinates and make connections for people.
In her “down time” she tries to read, sleep and enjoys music, tv shows and movies.

Ross Blocher

Burbank, CA
RossRoss Blocher has been a Program Staffer at Camp Quest West SoCal for the past five years, and a frequent member of the Curriculum Development Task Force.
Ross is co-host of the popular investigations podcast Oh No, Ross and Carrie! in which he investigates fringe religious groups, alternative medicine, and spirituality – all so you don’t have to. He has been an investigator for ten years with the Independent Investigations Group in Los Angeles, examining and testing paranormal claims. You’ll find him at a number of secular and skeptical groups around the greater Los Angeles area, including Sunday Assembly and CFI-Los Angeles.
Professionally, Ross works at Disney Animation Studios as a Training Project Manager, and loves that atmosphere of creativity and inspiration. He’s also a fan of running, hiking, hacky sacking, movie watching, reading, and the number 47. His son Andrew joins him each year for camp.

Sitar Harel

Ithaca, NY
SitarSitar Harel is studying engineering and philosophy at Cornell University. He grew up in the Bay Area and attended Camp Quest West as a camper every year since he was eleven years old. He was an LT for three years and became a staffer when he turned eighteen in 2015. As a new addition to the board, he hopes to help make Camp Quest West even better than it was when he was a camper.

Trevor Lynn

TrevorTrevor has been volunteering with Camp Quest West since 2016, as both a Program staffer and as a member of the Curriculum Development team. By day, Trevor is a student at UC Davis working toward his Bachelor’s degree in physics; by night, he is a proud trombone-wielding member of the Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh!, actor and sometimes stage manager, and a reliable source of quirky science facts. He is also one of the few church-going Atheists in existence, as he is also a practicing Unitarian Universalist.

Tucker Phelps

Oakland, CA
Tucker Phelps assists in the management of the NorCal Leadership Track (LT) program, helping prepare our high school campers for the larger adult world ahead of them. The LT program focuses on leadership through example, community service and open discussion among peers. For his 9-5, Tucker provides Data Analysis and Loss Prevention for an online retailer, protecting the company and customers from Credit Card and Identity Theft. In his down time he can be writing out plots, puzzles, traps and deadly riddles for his monthly table-top gaming group.

Vernon Brewer