About

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

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.


Vernon Brewer

Treasurer


Jay Harel

Secretary
Sunnyvale, CA
JayJay Harel works as a product manager in Silicon Valley. He is heading up our Marketing Task Force. His team is ensuring there’s up to date information online, building new and interesting content in our newsletter and Facebook page and finding new ways to promote our camps. In his spare time, Jay likes traveling, flying airplanes, and spending time with his kids (who can’t wait for this year’s Camp Quest West to start!).


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.


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.


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!


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).


Chris Lindstrom


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.

Brian Parra

President
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.


Tucker Phelps

Oakland, CA
Tucker
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.


Kaitlin Pike

San Francisco, CA
Kaitlin
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.


Megan Pike

Megan Pike is our Development Lead. She is a consummate youth development professional, having worked with youth in public and private schools in a variety of roles including substitute teacher, basketball coach and tutor.

Megan’s camp resume is equally impressive, having spent 6 years working at camps from North Carolina to San Diego. She is really a jack of all trades having worked in camp horse divisions, small groups, leadership programs and even done maintenance work. This broad experience lends itself well to the needs of a growing organization like ours, still developing our institutionalized knowledge base.

Megan has a special talent for observing body language and sizing up situations which started in high school where she was trained as a mediator for peer conflict resolution. Having worked with horses and dogs, she has a keen sense for moods and warning signals, a sense that has been enhanced by her martial arts training. She has used this skill to good effect working with at-risk children. This expertise puts Megan in a great position to overhaul staff training and mentor Camp Quest West staff.


Neil Polzin


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.


Philip Starner

Vice President

Philip

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.


 

Office Staff

Jenny Conley – Virtual Office Administrator

JennyJenny is the newest member of the Camp Quest West family and is joining the CQW family as our Virtual Office Administrator. Jenny will be coordinating communication between board members, staff, volunteers, and families. She prides herself on being a “Jill-Of-All-Trades” and therefore will fit in perfectly in this new position.

When not immersing herself in all things Camp Quest West, Jenny works as a Front Desk Manager and Web Administrator for Dance & Cheer Stars in Manteca, CA. She herself has no rhythm, but she enjoys assisting others in finding a dance style that calls to them. Jenny also is raising a tiny human being and encouraging him to be a loving and empathetic freethinker (she thinks he has the free-thinking worked out…maybe a little too much for a three-year-old). Jenny, her husband, and their son are animal nuts and have aspirations to own a “Dalmatian plantation” of sorts, but with mutts of all shapes and sizes.

Jenny also enjoys good old sequential art and you can find her at her local comic shop on Wednesdays! Jenny is looking forward to bringing her mutli-tasking, computer savvy, and general warrior princess mojo to Camp Quest West and help it to grow and flourish in years to come!