side menu icon

Meet the Camp Directors


Meet the Camp Directors

Summer Camp is fast approaching and our camp team has been working hard to prepare for the best summer yet! As you pick which session (or sessions) are best for you, we thought now would be an exciting time to introduce you to our wonderful Camp Directors!

Willow Springs: Michelle “Juniper” Balfe-Keefer

Born and raised in Eastern Washington, Michelle “Juniper” Balfe-Keefer has 20 years of working with youth and families and has been our camp director at Willow Springs for 9 years!

Favorite thing about the outdoors and nature?
I feel peaceful in the outdoors – I love the smells and the sounds. I love to track animals and have close experiences with the birds, mammals, reptiles and insects.

Favorite camp song?
“Da Moose”

Favorite camp activity?
Campfires

Most unique SWAP you’ve seen?
Hand crocheted flowers

Best Camp Memory?
Any time spent with girls or camp staff learning and practicing their outdoor skills and laughing together.

Have any pets?
Lila, a 15-year-old black lab and Miho and Richard, who were found at Camp Tabby Cats.

Best part of the s’more?
The ‘mallow.

Favorite color?
Red

Peanut butter or jelly?
Sunflower butter (we outlaw peanut butter at camp!)

Outer space or underground?
Underground! I would love the chance to see and meet all the organisms that live underground, see the roots of plants, and the various layers that make up our world.

Fun fact:
I love school so much that I am going for my second Master’s Degrees.

 

Shadow Rim: Chris “RoadRunner” Newell

Unique, remarkable, and exciting opportunities, both on and off camp property, await girls at Shadow Rim Ranch! So, who is the new camp director at Shadow Rim Ranch? Born in Bishop, California and raised in New Hampshire, Ohio, Utah, Georgia, Illinois, and England, Chris “Road Runner” Newell has 10 years of youth education experience!

What’s your favorite thing about the outdoors/nature? 
I love the sweet aroma of ponderosa pines, filtered light through the forest, and the sun on my hair.

Favorite camp song? 
“On the Loose” (It makes me cry every time. I learned and adapted all the verses while I was walking 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago last year! It was my theme song!)

Most unique SWAP item you’ve seen? 
Scat. It was a little piece of artificial turf with a bunch of peppercorns glued to it!

Best thing about your job? 
I get to work with girls and make a difference in the world.

Have any pets?
We got our dog, Chica, from Arizona Border Collie rescue after we moved to Shadow Rim Ranch.

What’s your go-to camp food? 
Salad Bar!

Best part of the s’more? 
Just the Marshmallow!

Favorite color? 
Usually green, but this year its orange!

Peanut butter or jelly? 
Almond Butter (homemade)

Outer space or underground? 
Outer Space! I am awed by the universe! I taught high school Earth Science for five years and Astronomy was my favorite unit.

Fun fact: 
I live year-round at Shadow Rim Ranch with my husband, “Zen”, the Camp Manager and “Mighty”, our daughter who is a Girl Scout. I was the Camp Ranger for the past two years and I am also the Payson Member Services Engagement.

Also, I’ve walked 500 miles solo across Spain on the Camino de Santiago.

 

Maripai: Evelyn "Sparkie" Torrez-Martinez

Evelyn “Sparkie” Torrez-Martinez is the new Director at Camp Maripai. Being a Girl Scout has always been a big part of her life. She joined Girl Scouts in Colombia when she was 7-years-old. Several years ago, she came to Camp Maripai as an international staff member and fell in love with the camp. So, shes excited to take on her new role.

Hometown
Bogota, Colombia

Favorite thing about the outdoors and nature?
The smell of trees, rain, hiking

Favorite camp song?
The Great Big Moose

Favorite camp activity?
Campfires and sleeping in a tent

Best Camp Memory?
Camping under the stars and seeing a shooting star for the first time!

Do you have any pets?
Hershey is an eight-year-old cat that moved with me to the USA from Colombia. He has a two-year-old friend, Mr. Green. They are my sweethearts!

Best part of the s’more?
The melted chocolate, yummy!

Favorite color?
Green

Peanut butter or jelly?
Neither, I prefer a Nutella!

Best advice for first time campers?
Don’t be afraid to try something new at camp -  it could become your best summer memory. Pack your own bag, so you know exactly what you are bringing.

Best thing about your job?
Watching girls become more independent, feel more comfortable with themselves and seeing the smile on their faces after each camp session.

Fun fact about me?
I am a graphic designer by trade and I have traveled to Cuba, Panama and Canada and want to continue traveling. My next dream destination is Italy.

 

Parsons Leadership Center: Ellie "Aurora" Javocino

Elizabeth “Aurora” Jacovino started her camping career in the Arizona Cactus- Pine Council as a day camp unit counselor at Camp Sombrero. She spent 11 summers working at a Girl Scout camp in New Hampshire. Last summer, she decided to return home to Arizona Cactus- Pine as the Assistant Director of The Parsons Leadership Center. She’s excited for another summer at Parsons and the opportunity to be in a new role as Director.

Favorite thing about the outdoors and nature?

The sunshine and feeling warm.

Favorite camp song?

Moon on the Meadow

Favorite camp activity?

Arts and Crafts

Best Camp Memory?

The final closing campfire at the end of the summer season.

Have any pets?

I have two cats, Marshmallow and Victor.

Best part of the s’more?

The chocolate!

Favorite color?

Teal blue

Peanut butter or jelly?

Peanut butter

Best advice for first-time campers?

All first-time campers should try something new. You never know what you may like until you try it.

Best thing about your job?

Getting to see girls grow into young women with the courage and confidence to lead change.

Fun fact:

When I’m not at camp, I’m an elementary music teacher.