Greetings from Camp! Meet the people who make District 5130 RYLA Camp a once-in-a-lifetime leadership learning experience.
Cassie Pitkin, RYLA Camp Director
Camper year: 2006
Years involved with RYLA: 13
Schools attended: Petaluma High School, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
3 words to describe leadership: Brave. Ethical. Motivating.
Cassie attended RYLA in 2006 as she was about to start her senior at Petaluma High School. She attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she earned her Bachelor’s in kinesiology (but is now afraid of blood) and her Master’s in Counseling and Guidance for Higher Education. A trained rape crisis counselor, Cassie has served in AmeriCorps and has been a proud year-round coach of Special Olympics for the past five years. She currently works as a head academic advisor for the College of Engineering at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Cassie enjoys every part of RYLA, but really looks forward to watching campers learn more about themselves than they ever thought possible as they create bonds that will last a lifetime.
Bethany Munson, Counselor
Camper year: 2011
Years Involved With RYLA: five
Schools Attended: El Molino High School, Western Washington University, University of Arizona
3 words to describe leadership: empathy, justice, listening
Bethany attended RYLA in 2011 before her senior year at El Molino High School. She attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, where she majored in Law, Diversity and Justice: Mental Health and Youth Advocacy. She is now in her second year of law school at the University of Arizona and wants to go into public interest law. Bethany loves keeping in touch with campers after RYLA and watching all the inspiring things they do in college and beyond!
Nelson Le, Counselor
Camper Year: 2008
Years with RYLA: 10 years
Schools Attended: Piner High School, Santa Rosa JC
3 Words to Describe Leadership: Accountability, Respect, Courage
Summer 2008 Nelson attended his first summer camp RYLA. After graduating high school he took a short break from school before heading to the Santa Rosa Junior College and getting his AA in Art. Nelson is in training to become an optician and traveling the world. What Nelson loves about RYLA is seeing the campers grow and create bonds within a week that will be everlasting.
Erinn Yepiz, Counselor
Camper Year: 2016
Years Involved with RYLA: 3
Schools attended: Potter Valley High School, Mendocino College, UC Davis.
Three words to describe leadership: Courageous, kind, optimistic.
Erinn attended RYLA in 2016 before her junior year at Potter Valley High School. She graduated from both Mendocino College and High School at the same time and transferred to UC Davis as a Junior, where she majored in Communication. After a year at UC Davis she will be transferring to Sacramento State and majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Camp RYLA is Erinn’s favorite week in the year. She is always inspired by all the campers and counselors.
Paco Villegas, Counselor
Camper year: 2013
Years involved with RYLA: 4
Schools attended: Casa Grande High School, Santa Rosa Junior College, California State University Monterey Bay
3 words to describe leadership: Humble, Empathetic, Empowering
Paco grew up in Sonoma County and attended Camp RYLA in 2013. After high school, he enrolled in the local community college, and then eventually transferred to California State University Monterey Bay. He is in his last semester working towards a Bachelor’s in marine science and is currently working as an undergraduate researcher for the Watershed Environment and Ecology Lab. Camp RYLA was a pivotal moment in Paco’s life and all the life lessons and memories acquired from that experience are kept close to him. What he loves most about RYLA is being able to inspire and motivate young adults to better themselves and their community.
Auriel Arthur, Counselor
Camper year: 2014
Years involved with RYLA: Five.
Schools attended: Mendocino High School, Sonoma State University
3 words to describe leadership: Inspiring. Kind. Confident.
Auriel grew up in Mendocino, California. Currently, she lives in Boulder, Colorado, and works as a treatment counselor for at-risk youth. Auriel is studying to get her MA in counseling, hopes to become a clinical counselor, and travel to new places in the world in her free time. When thinking about camp RYLA, her memories are of personal growth, connecting with interesting people, experiencing life through others eyes, and feeling empowered to create an atmosphere where all are welcomed and inspired to become their best selves!
Ricky Sims, Head Counselor
Camper Year: 2009
Years involved with RYLA: 10
Schools attended: Petaluma High School, Humboldt State University
3 Words to describe Leadership: Consistency, Humbleness, Motivated
Ricky Sims attended RYLA in 2009 as a camper before he started his senior year at Petaluma High School. He attended Humboldt State University where he played football for 4 years and studied Kinesiology. Ricky is currently living in Reno where he is the Senior Operations Manager for Fedex ground. Ricky to put it lightly is very passionate about RYLA, he truly loves watching young men and women go through the changes that he once did at this camp that have impacted his life to this day.
Alisha Lipscomb, Head Counselor
Camper Year: 2007
Years Involved in RYLA: 13
Schools Attended: Fortuna High School, College of the Redwoods
3 Words to Describe Leadership: Communication. Confidence. Passion.
Alisha was chosen to attend RYLA in 2007 by Fortuna Sunrise Rotary. She was asked to return as a counselor the next year and has never missed a year since. Alisha graduated from Fortuna High School in 2008 and received her AA in Business at College of the Redwoods before moving to the Redding, California area where she currently resides. Alisha now works as a Manager and Group Fitness Instructor at Shasta Gymnastics Academy & Sports Center in Redding. RYLA has been a highlight of Alisha’s life every year. Every part of RYLA is memorable, but she says the most rewarding part of RYLA is seeing the transformation of each student into a more aware, empathetic, and confident human being.
Sierra Koenig, Counselor
Camper Year: 2012
Years Involved with RYLA: 8 years
Schools attended: El Molino High School, University of Colorado Boulder
Three words to describe leadership: Empathize, Adapt, Guide
Sierra attended RYLA the summer before senior year at El Molino High School. She then completed 1 year at Sonoma State University and decided to transfer to the University of Colorado Boulder, where she majored in Communication with a minor in Business. After graduation she moved to a small mountain town outside of Boulder and worked as Marking Coordinator for a local brewery. Sierra now lives in Denver and works as a Travel Advisor for a luxury travel and hospitality company. She is most excited about watching the campers grow as individuals and as a group, the bonds and strength acquired at camp are a force to be reckoned with.
Christina Moore, Counselor
Camper Year: 2002
Number of Years Involved in RYLA: 12
Schools: Casa Grande HS, Willamette University, Santa Rosa Junior College, Portland State University
3 Words To Describe Leadership: Holistic, Willingness, Empathy
Christina recently moved back to her hometown of Petaluma after living in Charleston, SC, where she worked for AmeriCorps and a non-profit aiding veterans with PTSD. While planning her next adventure to become a high school government teacher, Christina is managing a pet food store, happily playing with puppies and kitties all day. It is recommended by most that you don’t ask Christina how much she loves RYLA because once she starts talking about all of the friends she’s made over the years, all the young people she’s watched blossom into extraordinary human beings, all of the awkward handshakes at the beginning of the week that all end up as hugs at the end, all the tears she’s mopped up, all the laughter she’s heard, all the beautiful connections created, all of the leadership that happens...well, you get the idea, it’s hard to make her stop...she loves it.
Victoria Kolybakos, Counselor
Camper year: 2015
Years involved with RYLA: Three
Schools attended: Analy High School and California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo
Leadership in three words: Explore. Learn. Empower.
The summer of 2015, Tori was offered the great opportunity to attended camp RYLA. After high school graduation in 2016, she moved to San Luis Obispo to continue her education in Wine and Viticulture at Cal Poly. January of 2019, Tori took a break from her studies to pursue a wine making opportunity in Angaston, South Australia. She is now working towards graduating in the spring of 2021. Tori loves RYLA because of the safe space that is created instantly by all of the crew and campers. RYLA is a haven for personal acceptance, growth, and challenge.
Rose Duncan, Counselor-on-Deck
Camper Year: 2017
Years Involved with RYLA: 2 years
Schools Attended: Middletown High School, Montana State University
3 words to describe leadership: Direct. Encouraging. Focused.
Rose was an attendee of RYLA in 2017 in the summer prior to her senior year at Middletown High School. After graduation, she found her way up to the mountains of Bozeman, Montana. She is currently pursuing a nursing degree at Montana State University and will be graduating in the fall of 2022. At RYLA, she found a group of young leaders just like herself to connect with and was able to build her self-identity. Her first year as a counselor, Rose is looking forward to encouraging campers to develop themselves as leaders and community members.
Jesse Yeomans, Counselor-on-Deck
Camper Year: 2017
Years Involved with RYLA: 1
Schools Attended: Fort Bragg High School, Santa Rosa Junior College
3 Words to Describe leadership: initiative, listener, caring
Jesse attended RYLA in the summer of 2017 before his senior year of high school. After High School he spent a year abroad in The Netherlands through Rotary Youth Exchange. Since being home he has started pursuing an engineering degree at Santa Rosa Junior College. His week in RYLA was one of the most meaningful and eye opening experiences of his life and he's looking forward to being part of the team that makes that experience possible for new groups of campers.