Elissa was born in the Bronx, New York and has lived all over the United States. She spent many formative summers attending Camp Fire Wilani’s flagship program, Camp Wilani. The inclusive, positive environment at Camp Wilani led to Elissa’s love for the natural world and inspired her professional career. Elissa received her BA in Planning, Public Policy and Management with a minor in Nonprofit Administration from the University of Oregon (UO) in 2013. While attending UO, she participated in the Sustainable City Year Program and was one of eight students selected to participate in the Environmental Leadership Program. She was a trip leader for the UO Outdoor Program and spent her summers as an interpretive park ranger for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
In 2013, Elissa relocated to Bellingham, Washington where she earned her M.Ed. from Western Washington University. She spent a year-long graduate practicum at North Cascades Institute and served as a backcountry ranger for North Cascades National Park. Elissa has been certified in backcountry emergency medicine for 20 years and is currently a certified Wilderness First Responder, Lifeguard, and First Aid/CPR instructor.
After graduate school, Elissa served as a recreation and camp staff training consultant and team building facilitator. She also assisted new nonprofits in their formalization and expansion phases. She served as a regional director for the YMCA before returning to Eugene to take the helm of Camp Fire Wilani. Elissa loves hiking, yoga, excellent coffee, birds and moose. (She really loves moose.) She can often be found in parks or other outdoor areas naturalizing to strangers whether they are interested or not. Contact Elissa.
Thea Abbatoy, Outdoor Programs Manager
Thea is from Michigan and recently relocated to Oregon after graduating from Alma College with a bachelor’s degree in English. She can speak Spanish and holds a wilderness first aid certification. Thea is very passionate about environmental stewardship. As a lifelong lover of the outdoors, she is an avid rock climber and hiker who tries to bring her love for nature into all aspects of her life. She loves reading and writing, especially fantasy and poetry. Most recently, she worked doing fuels reduction work for Northwest Youth Corps and Americorps.
Erik Matisek, Development Coordinator
Erik Matisek is a current graduate student at the University of Oregon pursuing concurrent Master Degrees in Nonprofit Management & Business Administration. He is passionate about the benefits of nature and hopes to provide opportunities for youth to reduce their screen time and get outside. His favorite outdoor pursuits include backpacking, rock climbing and mountain biking. He and his partner love spending their free time exploring the desert and mountains in his ’86 Westfalia. Erik has nonprofit experience as a staff, volunteer and board member. Contact Erik.
Hannah Sebring, Outdoor School Intern
Hannah is a senior in the Environmental Studies
program and Clark Honors College at University Oregon, she is
originally from Colorado. Her thesis is examining Disney as
eco-literature and how we tell the story of the climate and environment
to children (and the public) through art and popular media. Hannah was drawn to Camp Fire Wilani for the
hands on experience and the opportunity to learn more about working with the younger generation and seeing the natural world through their eyes.
Young people want to shape the world.
Camp Fire provides the opportunity to find their spark, lift their voice, and discover who they are.
In Camp Fire, it begins now.