Meet the Facilitators
Live, LEARN, Play
Scott Arizala is one of the leading experts and premier trainers on kids, staff and the experience of summer camp. He earned his B.A. from Ithaca College, with a double major in Psychology and Sociology with a concentration in Gender Studies. He has been involved with camps and youth development for over thirty years as a camper, counselor, administrator, teacher and consultant.
Scott grew up at Camp Al-Gon-Quian in Northern Michigan where he spent 18 summers going from the youngest camper to the director. He went on to direct traditional resident camps, day camps, single gender camps, and is currently the Owner and Director for Camp Tall Tree, a traditional resident camp for kids with unique challenges, the National Consultant for Camp Kesem, a student-run, national organization delivering camp for kids who have been affected by a parents' cancer and Founder and Chairman of Stomping Ground, a camp focused on unstructured free play and radical empathy.
As a professional speaker and educator, he has given keynotes, workshops, seminars and educational sessions at hundreds of professional conferences, training events, and with organizations. He is currently the CEO of The Camp Counselor, and one of the most sought after consultants and trainers working with hundreds of camps and thousands of staff & administrators across the country.
He has had articles published in trade journals and on various industry websites and is a pioneering contributor to Expert Online Training, the world's leader in online training for camp staff and a principle of GoCamp.Pro an online resource for camp professionals. He is an award-winning author of the best-selling book on summer camp and youth development, S'more Than Camp and a contributing editor to Happiness, Diversity, & Autism: Practical Strategies for Inclusion.
Scott lives in Michigan with his wife, Karin and their three kids, Linnea, Desmond, and Griffin. They both grew up at Camp Al-Gon-Quian and got married in the assembly ring at Camp in 2007. Karin has her PhD in counseling psychology and is a staff psychologist at the University of Michigan, the National Mental Health Consultant for Camp Kesem, and the Mental Health Coordinator for Dragonfly Forest.
Dr. Christopher Thurber
Dr. Christopher Thurber is a board-certified clinical psychologist, educator, author, and father. He earned his BA from Harvard University in 1991 and a PhD in clinical psychology from UCLA in 1997. A dedicated teacher from a young age, Chris has taught elementary school French, undergraduate courses in psychology, and swimming and sailing to people between the ages of 8 and 80. During a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Chris worked with child burn survivors, a population he continues to support through work with the International Association of Burn Camps and the Phoenix Society. Chris now has more than 30 years of experience working with camps and independent schools.
He has written numerous book chapters and scholarly articles on leadership, homesickness and youth development. An award-winning contributor to Camping Magazine, Chris has also shared his opinions and expertise on the Today Show, Martha Stewart, CBS Morning News, NPR, FOX, and PBS. His research has been featured in Time, Newsweek, USNews & World Report, Smart Money, Parents, Parenting, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, Family Circle, Men’s Health, The New York Times, The Times of London, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and many local newspapers and magazines. In 2007, Chris co-founded ExpertOnlineTraining.com, which quickly became the Internet’s most popular and respected educational resource for youth development professionals. Chris also co-authored the critically acclaimed Summer Camp Handbook with Dr. Jon Malinowski and he designed the ACA’s homesickness prevention program, a DVD/CD set for new camper families entitled The Secret Ingredients of Summer Camp Success.
During the academic year, Chris serves as school psychologist at Phillips Exeter Academy, an independent, co-educational secondary school. He and his wife, Simonida, an analytical chemist, live in Exeter, New Hampshire with their sons Danilo, born in 2002, and Sava, born in 2004. During the late spring and early summer, Chris conducts staff training and executive coaching with dozens of camps, schools, youth development professionals around the world. He is a favorite presenter and keynote speaker at regional, national, and international conferences. All of Chris’s professional work is guided by the principles of leadership-by-example and social connection. He also believes you should practice what you preach. This is his 16 th year teaching at Exeter and his 35 st season at Camp Belknap, where he works as Strategy Director, overseeing the camp’s sustainability and environmental education programs. Chris can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is CampSpirit.com.
Steve Maguire is a professional speaker, award winning professional educator, best selling author and dad. He has been attending, working at and consulting with the worlds of summer camps and schools for over 35 years.
As a child, Steve began attending day camps growing up in Burlington, Massachusetts. These recreation department based day camps set the foundation for him that would later lead him into his love of camp as it is today. While attending as an undergrad at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH, Steve worked for four summers at YMCA Camp Coniston in Grantham, NH in many roles including general counselor, C.I.T. director and program director.
Upon his graduation from PSU in 1997, Steve began his teaching and coaching career in Townsend, MA at the Hawthorne Brook Middle School where he taught 7th grade for 3 years and coached high school football in Ayer, MA; taking a break from summer camp space.
In 2001, he was hired as the head football coach and biology teacher at Scituate High School in Scituate, MA. Steve coached the Sailors for 4 years in football as well as girls basketball. After finishing his coaching career, he was hired as the director of the Scituate Recreation Department Day camp for 4 years. During that time he also began to explore the world of professional speaking and summer camp training. In the spring of 2004, Maguire Presentations was created. He began presenting and speaking to schools, teachers and summer camps across the United States. His love for all three groups is what continues to inspire his work today.
Since its infancy in 2004, Steve’s business has grown beyond what he ever had dreamed about. He has spoken in over 35 states and to tens of thousands of summer camp staff, teachers, parents and students. He has worked with over 750 different organizations in the past 13 years while keeping a loyal base of year to year, more than satisfied customers.
In 2013, Steve earned his Masters Degree in Curriculum Design and Instruction from Fitchburg State University in Fitchburg, MA.
Steve has written two books. One for educators: Go Turnstone: 23 Ways to Improve your School Relationships. (2015) One for Summer Camp Professionals with Directors’ Camp colleague Sarah Kurtz Mckinnon: NOT The Way You Have Always Done It: A Book of Camp Tips and Tricks.
Steve is a master presenter. His camp and teacher trainings consistently end with standing ovations from his audience members. His energy, passion and humor combine for a tremendously powerful and engaging experience for all who are present.
In the fall of 2016, Steve began his 20th year teaching. He currently teaches multiple science electives (Meteorology, Astronomy, Oceanography and Ornithology) at Scituate High School in Scituate, MA. He also resides in Scituate with Jess, his wife. They are the proud parents of Nolan (7), Emmitt (5), Greta (4) Scotia (2) and their Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Frances. (10)
Sarah Kurtz McKinnon
Sarah Kurtz McKinnon graduated cum laude from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2008, earning her degree in political science and journalism. Although she had a passion for writing, she had another passion, and that was changing lives through the power of summer camp. In 2009, she earned the opportunity to become one of the youngest YMCA camp executives in the country, taking the helm of Ann Arbor YMCA Camp Al-Gon-Quian at the age of 23. Sarah served as the director of Camp AGQ for nearly six years. During that time the camp saw incredible growth with a 40 percent increase in positive annual net for the program and nearly $1 million in capital construction improvements. Her dynamic and creative leadership approach took an already great camp to another level of excellence, receiving recognition at the national level for the camp's success.
Sarah left Camp AGQ in 2015 to start Kurtz McKinnon Creative with the goal of helping other camps and camp professionals reach their full potential. She is a partner at GoCamp.Pro, a faculty member with Expert Online Training and is a sought-after facilitator, presenting in more than fifteen different states (and Canada!) for audiences as large as 500 people. She recently co-authored a book for camp professionals with Steve Maguire, entitled Not the Way You Have Always Done It and, with Jack Schott, founded The Summer Camp Society, a collaborative, community-based education program for emerging camp professionals. Sarah is pursuing her Master's in Business Administration at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, where she is a fellow in the +LAB at the Center for Positive Organizations.
Sarah lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her husband, Robert (a licensed builder and carpenter), and their Brittany Spaniels, Ranger and Marley. Robert worked at Camp AGQ in the years before Sarah arrived, and they met via mutual camp friends. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys tennis, reading and art. Sarah is also a volunteer board member for the Washtenaw Camp Placement Association, a local non-profit that sends kids to camp who otherwise would never have the opportunity, and serves as the director of the Siblings Program at Camp Tall Tree.
After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in industrial engineering, Jack packed up his bags and hit the road with Laura Kriegel. What they thought would be a month long road trip turned into three years of living on the road researching summer camps and learning spaces. They made incredible friends, learned more than they could imagine, and found a talent for speaking and sharing ideas. After years on the road, Jack and Laura, founded and now run Camp Stomping Ground, help other organizations fill their camps, and continue work with other camps to bring more kids to better camps. Jack is also a co-founder of The Summer Camp Society.
A note from Jack:
"I struggle to sit still, follow rules, and do what I am told. My teachers struggled with me but camp brings the best out of me. I work with camps get more kids in the door and help them be ready for kids like me.
Usually my bio says something about the research project Laura and did after graduating from college. We spent about 2 years traveling the country visiting summer camps, speaking at conferences, and diving deep on the power of summer camp.
But, let’s be honest, I just wanted to see the country, and summer camps have beds you can sleep in. I thought we would be on the road for a couple months, drive to the West coast, and see the Redwoods. Then I would get that engineering job my degree was designed for. It wasn’t till we met Dan Weir, at Frost Valley, and he told us to get our act together that we started thinking summer camp could be a career. He helped us see that our little road trip could be a stepping stone to something more.
On road, I fell in love with the unique opportunity camp has to re-imagine what is possible for kids. I became obsessed with creating culture, change, and community at camp. Since pulling off the road, Laura and I started Stomping Ground, an overnight camp where we get to do just that.
More is possible. I can’t wait to get to know you better and help you accomplish your dreams."