Youth Outside | Meet the Members of Our Youth Team

In this piece from Mountaineer magazine, get to know the friendly faces that lead Mountaineers Youth Programs.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
March 30, 2024
Youth Outside | Meet the Members of Our Youth Team

Nearly thirteen years ago, The Mountaineers made a strategic investment in Youth Programs to offer more programming for our younger members. Since then, we’ve expanded youth programming in all branches and outdoor centers. With the help of volunteers, families, and staff, we now have opportunities for youth to explore the Pacific Northwest throughout the year. This year, we’ll have offered over 100,000 total youth experiences since the inception of these programs.

We could not be more grateful to our Mountaineers community for your support as we expanded into new program areas, weathered a global pandemic, and sought out innovative ways to reach youth from all walks of life. To aid the growth of these programs, you may have seen a few new faces on staff. In this edition of Youth Outside, we’d love to introduce you to the new Mountaineers leading our Youth Programs.

Zach (High Res).jpgFarm between belaying MAC students at Vantage. Photo by Emile Blouin.

Zach "Farm" Jaffe

Hometown Laguna Beach, CA

Position at The Mountaineers I serve as Seattle’s Teen Clubs Coordinator. This means I manage the Mountaineers Adventure Club (MAC) and Jr. MAC. Through these programs, students learn a variety of outdoor skills including rock climbing, backcountry and cross-country skiing, mountaineering, and sea kayaking. We keep safety at the center of everything we teach and do. Fun fact: I was also the president of my school's Adventure Club in college, so this is a full-circle moment for me.

Favorite Activities Snowboarding, mountain biking, surfing, and sitting around a campfire

What brought you to work with The Mountaineers? What appealed to me most was the breadth of impact the organization has through a variety of avenues to foster positive change in the outdoors. From books to conservation to hands-on education, we really cover the gamut of possibilities. It makes me feel that my impact is amplified.

Why do you want to work with Mountaineers Youth Programs? I love working with youth for many reasons, but mostly because of their sense of humor. There's never a dull moment, and I find myself constantly laughing when out on trips with students. I also enjoy creating opportunities for youth to expand their realm of possibilities and foster knowledge and curiosity. My goal is to empower youth to lead and teach these skills to others, which honestly comes naturally with this group.

What does adventure mean to you? Adventure means following curiosity and being open to spontaneity. Sometimes it expands the comfort zone, but not always. Adventure can be as simple as walking out your front door with no plan for the day. I think it boils down to a variable mixture of some degree of unknown combined with some Type 1 and Type 2 fun.

Claire Edwards.JPGClaire on Kangaroo Temple in the North Cascades. Photo by Nicole Fujie.

Claire Edwards

Hometown Jackson, MS

Position at The Mountaineers As the Olympia Youth Program Associate Manager, I facilitate and plan youth programming in Olympia including Summer Camps, Mountain Workshops, and Youth Clubs. I also lead activities with the Tacoma youth team and have wonderful mentors and leaders helping me be the best leader I possibly can.

Favorite Activities Hiking, climbing, backpacking, painting, and plant identification

What brought you to work with The Mountaineers? I was searching for fulfilling and meaningful work specifically with youth. The fact that The Mountaineers is an outdoor-centered organization was a joyful bonus. When I began, I was hoping to grow in leadership and outdoor skills, and to create a community with like-minded mountain enthusiasts.

Why do you want to work with Mountaineers Youth Programs? These programs impact our community on a small and large scale. Introducing skills like problem-solving, leadership, and communication through rock climbing, backpacking, and hiking to those who might have never been exposed to these activities brings my heart so much joy. The conversations of belonging that occur during Summer Camp and Youth Clubs are everything and make the job all the more meaningful.

What does adventure mean to you? Adventure means participating in an activity that makes me feel alive. Adventure comes in many forms and occurs at many different speeds.

trenton1.jpgTrenton climbing at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia. Photo by Joe Burson.

Trenton Bick

Hometown Sylvania, OH

Position at The Mountaineers I’m the Seattle Youth Clubs Coordinator. I oversee the Pathfinders, Nomads, and Explorers programs and plan and lead outdoor activities, trips, and workshops. I also coordinate the involvement of volunteer leaders and parents who lead activities for us.

Favorite Activities Fly fishing, hiking, and backpacking

What brought you to work with The Mountaineers? I’d known about The Mountaineers for a while before the idea of working here ever popped into my head. I knew the organization was well-respected in the Northwest outdoor community, but never thought I’d end up working here. I saw a job posting one day and thought, “Wouldn’t that be cool.” Now I’m here, and I’m totally loving it!

Why do you want to work with Mountaineers Youth Programs? I really enjoy working with kids and have had quite a bit of experience doing so. Kids are very funny, love to be silly, and are also very resilient, so it’s always a great time getting to work with them. Having the opportunity to coordinate programming and trips for Mountaineers Youth Programs was a no-brainer.

What does adventure mean to you? Adventure means going to unfamiliar (or sometimes familiar) places with an intent to seek out new experiences that are exciting and worth exploring.

Leslie.jpgLeslie enjoying a hike in Mt. Rainier National Park. Photo by Leslie Gobel.

Leslie Gobel

Hometown Pacific Grove, CA

Position at The Mountaineers As the Overnight Camps Program Coordinator, I oversee the Overnight Summer Camps at Stevens, Meany, and Baker Lodges as well as the Mini Mountaineers program during the school year.

Favorite Activities Rock climbing, backpacking and hiking (particularly to swim spots), sea kayaking, surfing, and lizarding in the sun

What brought you to work with The Mountaineers? I recently completed a Master of Education from the University of Washington in Environmental Education and Nonprofit Management. I always cited The Mountaineers as an example when people asked me how I imagined merging all the aspects of my degree into a career. My goal was to be a part of an intentional community that provides accessible educational opportunities for people to explore the natural world, and The Mountaineers is doing just that.

Why do you want to work with Mountaineers Youth Programs? It is not lost on me that the experiences I had in the outdoors growing up were unique and privileged. The sense of comfort and safety I feel engaging in outdoor education and recreation is a direct result of the opportunities I had growing up. I hope to provide these same experiences to youth through The Mountaineers and foster another generation of confident, caring, and passionate outdoorspeople.

What does adventure mean to you? Saying “yes” to new experiences, ideas, and people, and being open to whatever the day brings (even if it ends up being Type 2 fun).

In addition to new members of Mountaineers staff, we’re launching new programs and opportunities for Mountaineers youth, including a day camp based in Renton to serve Foothills and south Seattle youth, expanded Overnight Lodge Camps, year-round clubs programs for Olympia, and more Partner Programs in Tacoma. Visit our website to learn more about these opportunities and how you can get involved.

This article originally appeared in our spring 2024 issue of Mountaineer magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, visit our magazine archive.