Instructors

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Instructors - Alive Outdoors

The ALIVE Outdoors instructors are comprised of highly qualified experiential educators.

They have been contracted for their expertise, their leadership qualities, their qualifications, their pedagogical approach and their enthusiasm for working with young people in the outdoors. They are all trained in first aid, CPR and risk management. Instructors on the water are all certified lifeguards. Many of our instructors have their Wilderness First Aid certification- an 80 hour first aid course.

Together our united goal is to enhance the lives of all the students we work with, helping them become richer individuals. Caring for each participant’s well-being is our number one priority, closely followed by our commitment to help young people recognize their inner potential. The ALIVE instructors unite with the seasonal Outdoor Centre staff of our partner operators to facilitate a meaningful outdoor education program. The school's teachers are responsible for night duty, and for helping maintain a high level of energy throughout the duration of the program.

MEET SOME OF OUR HIGHLY VALUED ALIVE TEAM:

GREG GASKIN

A proud Atlantic Canadian and transplanted New Englander, Greg Gaskin grew up in the woods and on the waterways of the Northeast.  As an Instructor with the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) and National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), and RidgeRunner with the Appalachian Mountain Club, Greg has paddled, hiked and backpacked extensively throughout Canada and the US.

Greg possesses a wealth of bush craft & survival knowledge and skills and he has turned his love of the outdoors into a career as a wilderness guide, instructor, and medical professional. With many industry certifications to his name, Greg instructs wilderness medicine throughout North America (he is a qualified EMT) and is a contract instructor with Paddle Canada.  He loves to share his knowledge and to teach people the skills they need in order to get out and enjoy nature. 

After more than three decades outdoors in one form or another, Greg shares the belief system of Aldo Leopold: that the wilderness is not there to be conquered but is a part of us; and it is necessary for our survival to have untamed areas free from the confines and strictures of our ever-growing society.  

When not leading expeditions or conducting medical training, Greg spends time rock climbing, hiking, skiing, and paddling with his wife of seven years, Colleen, also an avid outdoor enthusiast.  In fact, Greg and Colleen met while he was a RidgeRunner on the Appalachian Trail and she was a hiker! The couple live in Sutton, Mass. with their Great Dane, Gwen.

PETER VOOYS

Peter Vooys lives rurally, works remotely and travels historically. He is a graduate of Queen’s University and a member of the College of Teachers. He took his first canoe trip when he was six years old and hasn’t stopped since, to date logging 8000km of paddling and hiking. He is proud to share his passion of wilderness travel with the students, teachers and ALIVE instructor team.

Peter grew up spending summers in the residential camp system performing every function from camper to director. After 20 consecutive years at camp, Peter took a sabbatical. He grabbed five other friends and paddled a voyageur canoe from the Rockies to Montreal in 120 days. Now Peter continues to find meaningful ways to merge his love of wilderness travel, history and Canada. He speaks to schools and community groups on Canadiana and long canoe trip logistics. He is an outdoor educator, guiding and instructing with a variety of outdoor centres and schools. It is the quality of instructors and high level of programming that keeps bringing Peter back to ALIVE. With ALIVE, Peter has the opportunity to work with the next generation of change makers in a challenging and experiential environment.

In his free time, Peter deals with his itchy feet by finding opportunities to travel, especially in Canada. 

Peter holds current certifications in NLS and WFR and is a former member of the Ranger Rick Fan Club.

HILARY SAYLE

Hilary has worked with a number of organizations in Ontario as an outdoor educator and wilderness canoe trip guide. She joined the ALIVE Outdoors team in 2008 and over the years has become a highly valued team member.

Hilary began her academic career by earning an Honours Bachelor degree from Brock University in Outdoor Recreation. Hilary’s interest specifically lies in the impact of wilderness trips on the everyday lives of students. The “Now What?” part led her back to Brock University to complete a Masters of Arts in Applied Health Sciences. Her Masters thesis highlighted the youth perspective of how lessons learned on a canoe trip are applied in everyday lives. Hilary uses the experience she gained during her studies and certification courses to develop her connection with the students and to strengthen her programs.

Hilary currently resides in Whitehorse, Yukon where she works as a wilderness guide and substitute teacher. She continues to choose to work with ALIVE Outdoors because she believes they are leaders in a field that is attempting to close the gap between wilderness and urban experiences - which is what we need! Hilary believes that outdoor education is not just an industry but also a movement, and loves being a part of the culture at ALIVE  Outdoors that values this idea deeply. 

Hilary holds certifications in Wilderness First Responder (WFR), National Lifeguard Service (NLS), Swiftwater Rescue (SRT) and is a Leave No Trace Trainer.

MATT BROWN

Matt has worked with ALIVE since 2011. He attended school at Trent University for History and Geography where he developed a keen interest in the outdoors. After his university studies, Matt went to Sir Sanford Fleming College and graduated with a diploma in Recreation and Leisure. His college experience landed him jobs in New Zealand, Australia and across Canada as an Outdoor Educator, and he became Level 2 Ropes certified from Canadian Ropes Courses. While in the Southern Hemisphere he gained a wealth of knowledge to be shared with the Canadian Outdoor Education community, including a number of New Zealand Ropes Course certifications, which further strengthened his knowledge of High Ropes Course safety. Matt has been in the “camping world” for over a decade, and more specifically outdoor education for over 5 years.  

When he’s not instructing, Matt enjoys snowboarding and skiing in the mountains of Golden, BC, or cross country running in his current town of Minden, Ontario. One of Matt’s guilty pleasures (and something that tends to reveal itself while working with ALIVE) is displaying his high energy dance moves. Although dated and not always to the beat, he truly does enjoy cutting the rug. Keeping with the values and philosophies of ALIVE Outdoors, Matt has always felt the first step in getting to know someone is to know their name. A talent appearing to come effortlessly for Matt, he strives to learn the names of all the students/clients he comes across during programs. "When you learn a name you know a bit about that person, and from there you can develop further, share experiences and even grow together."

DAN WHILLANS

Through trial and error Dan realized a 9 to 5 career simply does not jive with his being. Knowing variety is the true spice of life, Dan shares his time in a multitude of educator roles with numerous organizations throughout Canada. He’ll talk your ear off about the intangible magnetic pull of energy at ALIVE Outdoors that keeps him coming back year after year with no intention to stop. Dan holds extensive industry certifications, such as Wilderness First Responder and NLS. He has the most engaging, warm, playful personality and can facilitate a dynamite program whether guiding a canoe trip, or leading a residential program.  

Dan feels that relationships are the epicenter of ALIVE, whether it is new friendships of peers during program or new travel partners to embark on adventures post ALIVE season. Dan believes there is no better feeling than bringing great people together and promotes ALIVE Outdoors as a catalyst for just that.

Dan’s love for the outdoors has him living in Fernie BC working as a Special Ed. Teacher for the winter season. Each spring Dan ventures back to his homeland of Ontario to embark on other entrepreneurial projects in and around the Ottawa Valley. We are thrilled that he has woven the ALIVE fall season into his eclectic calendar of purposeful work and adventures.

MELISSA (MOE) MILLER

Moe joined ALIVE Outdoors in 2011, after having already worked in the camping and outdoor education field for 20 years at YMCA Wanakita, YMCA Camp Chief Hector, and Kilcoo Camp. Moe found herself on this career path because she feels most at ease when she is outside in the natural environment. Moe has six years of seasonal work experience on the high ropes course at Kilcoo Camp, leading her to have extensive knowledge of ropes course safety. She has certifications in ropes course maintenance, rope rescue and climbing techniques.

Moe has spent many years snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking and hiking in Golden, BC, but has recently decided to split her time between the East and the West side of Canada so that she can enjoy the best of both worlds by living warm seasons on the lake and snowy seasons in the mountains. Moe feels extremely lucky to be a member of the ALIVE Outdoors team, which has allowed her to enjoy the benefits of working outside while being surrounded by interesting, caring, authentic, and like-minded people.

VANESSA STEWART

Vanessa loves working with ALIVE Outdoors, particularly because of the people it has introduced her to. Spending time with students, teachers and fellow instructors brings Vanessa back to ALIVE season after season. She also has a special love for ALIVE workshops, and raiding camp dress up closets. Vanessa is certified as a Wilderness First Responder (WFR), and has her Bachelor of Education (B.Ed).

Originally from Ontario, Vanessa has lived on Vancouver Island, but now happily calls the Yukon home. She works as a canoe and hiking guide in the summer and utilizes her teaching degree in the winter as an outdoor educator and substitute teacher.  Vanessa is an engaging facilitator and brings her playful sense of humour to all she does.

DOROTHY “DORO” SAULEWICZ

At an early age, Dorothy felt a strong sense of peace and calm in nature. Spending time outdoors near rivers, lakes and forests has always been part of a balanced life. Dorothy spent several years advocating for environmental and social justice for Greenpeace Canada. Meanwhile, her interests in Psychology and Sociology led her to complete both a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Education at the University of Toronto.

Dorothy taught English in South Korea, lived in Hawaii at a yoga center and backpacked through Thailand. Upon her return from travelling abroad, Dorothy felt an increasing desire to combine education with the outdoors. She has since led various trips to British Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii and multiple locations in Ontario both rural and urban. Dorothy thrives on making connections with individuals, inspiring young people to challenge perceived limitations, and enjoying the beauty of the natural world. Dorothy joined Alive Outdoors in 2013 where she has met some of the world's best instructors collectively creating the most fun and meaningful experiences for young people.

Dorothy holds certifications in Wilderness First Responder (WFR), National Lifeguard Service (NLS) and Ontario College of Teachers (OCT).

KYLE SMITH

Kyle grew up enjoying the outdoors, however it wasn’t until during his university career that he was exposed to the power of teaching and learning outdoors.  At the age of twenty, Kyle experienced his first multi-day canoe trip lead by an influential guide who inspired his future pursuits.  Ever since then he has been gaining experience personally and professionally, sharing his passion with others on the lakes and rivers of Ontario and Quebec.

Kyle’s career in the outdoor industry began in the Madawaska Valley where he lead multi-day whitewater canoe trips on the Madawaska and Dumoine Rivers.  His work with adults dealing with mental health, individuals with acquired brain injuries, and teens in the youth justice system strengthened his belief in the power of outdoor play and its impact on the human condition.  Kyle continued to hone his whitewater paddling skills. Between seasons with ALIVE Outdoors, he enjoys sharing the thrill of big rivers and appreciating the focus, confidence, and group cohesion gained by navigating whitewater environments.  

Kyle joined the ALIVE community in 2012, immediately feeling drawn to the high-energy and compassion of the instructor team, as well as the desire of the students to learn and thrive in unfamiliar settings.  Every year he joins ALIVE in an attempt to plant a seed of purpose and passion with each student. He is committed to finding ways to engage young people, help them appreciate time away from technology, deepen a love for the outdoors, and develop an appreciation of one another.

When he is not instructing and guiding in his home province of Ontario during the spring and summer months he spends his time fuelling his love for play elsewhere, whether in the mountains of Western Canada, the surf of Central America, or wherever the next adventure awaits. Kyle holds certifications as a Wilderness First Responder and a Swift Water Rescue Technician.

SARAH RECOSKIE

Sarah joined the ALIVE Outdoors family in 2012; she arrived with a passion to play outside and a love for sharing that passion.  Outdoor education, canoe tripping, the natural environment and playing outside has been part of Sarah’s life for as long as she can remember. She grew up in the beautiful Madawaska Valley, a place she in very proud to call home. Her career paths have always kept her in nature’s playground, from directing summer camp & Outdoor education centers for the Ottawa YMCA to policing in the north to ski instructing.  Sarah uses the many skills she has learned from school at Algonquin College as well as her life experiences to teach, engage, challenge and share with the young people in the ALIVE programs.

Sarah has spent time travelling in Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, USA, Cuba and has traversed Canada many times via trains, planes and automobiles. She is well known within ALIVE Outdoors for always having a smile on her face and a hop in her step. Sarah now splits her time working for Hydro One in Ontario in the forestry industry the majority of the year and in Golden, BC coaching skiing in the mid winter months. Thankfully she leaves her other jobs behind for a few weeks a year to work with ALIVE. Sarah believes that all kids need to play outside and she is excited to be part of a program working with some of the best educators in the industry. For Sarah, ALIVE is a place that allows her to share her passion and love of outdoors. When you see her smile you can see it for yourself!

LIZ PILON

With a background in Child and Youth Care, Environmental Education and Mental Health Practice in an outdoor setting, Liz brings a therapeutic focus to each program she is a part of. She has a passion for life, nature and adventure that guides her interactions with students and peers alike, and allows those around her to take risks and play. Liz strives to create an environment where the students can learn about and connect with the natural world, challenge themselves and, in turn, discover what they are truly capable of.

She incorporates the skills gained through training for her Level 2 Challenge Course Practitioner Certification (specializing in Ropes Course Facilitation), many years of flat water kayak and canoe instruction, basic Ontario environmental education programming, the Therapeutic Crisis Prevention course and approach, and guiding canoe trips. Liz also proudly had a hand in implementing a Music Program at the Kinark Outdoor Centre where she worked with a range of clientele, from youth at risk to children on the autism spectrum. Outside of ALIVE, Liz volunteers with Camp BUCKO (a camp for burn survivors), is the Program Director of Camp Laurel Canada (in its inaugural year, it is a camp for children affected by HIV and AIDS) and is a professional Musician. She finds her truest works come together when alone in the wilderness and is excited for many more years of providing opportunities to connect people with the wild outdoor world.

MARTY POMERLEAU

Marty has been with the ALIVE team since 2009 in the role of instructor and paramedic for a variety of school groups. Having his calm and playful presence at camp brings a sense of peace to everyone.

Marty is a Paramedic in the Bracebridge area and teaches the Wilderness First Responder Course for Wilderness Medical Associates. He finds solace and refreshment in being able to merge his paramedicine career with time away from daily life in the form of outdoor education.  Marty’s current adventure is raising his young son Lucas who attended the ALIVE camp this year with his dad.  He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to introduce Lucas to the ALIVE community.  He believes that the ALIVE experiences mirror his goals and objectives for the kind of values he hopes to instill in his son.

Marty and Lucas look forward to their time with ALIVE. Returning to his roots as a canoe tripper is a high priority. ALIVE allows him to connect with students and share his passion for learnng and being immersed in the outdoors.

ERICH LEIDUMS

ERICH LEIDUMS - Alive OutdoorsErich has worked with ALIVE since 2009 leading wilderness canoe trips and facilitating residential outdoor & experiential education programs. He is best known in the ALIVE community for his contagious energy and passion for outdoor life-- not to mention zany skit characters!

Erich has completed professional training with N.O.L.S. and Algonquin College. Originally hailing from Port Sydney, ON, Erich currently resides on the wet west coast in BC. He works as a ski patrol and coaches youth basketball when not guiding or facilitating for ALIVE or other OEE operators. One of Erich's other many talents is baking gluten-free delicacies! In 2013 Erich and his partner Courtney welcomed a beautiful baby boy named August to their family. August has already gone on a canoe trip! We look forward to having Erich a part of our instructor team for many years to come.

LIZ KIRK

LIZ KIRK - Alive OutdoorsLiz has worked with ALIVE since 2009. She brings a tremendous amount of experience to the table.

You would be hard pressed to find someone with such a vast variety of outdoor education, wilderness and leadership related experiences. Liz has just recently finished her Masters at Brock University. She has found a way to juggle contracts guiding and facilitating for many companies such as Adventureworks, Gould Lake Outdoor Centre, and for Brock University.  Liz continues to guide and facilitate ALIVE experiences when she can. She is highly skilled and we always appreciate it when she can make the time to join the ALIVE team.

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