Staff – Our Year Round Team

Monkey Business Camp has a wonderful rotating roster of Counseling Staff who are engaging, skilled, compassionate, and deeply passionate about their work with youth.  The staff below are on our year round team, which means they work on site at our summer and all school break camps or on our administrative or operations team. Additional staff are hired seasonally.

Heather Mitchell
Founding Director


Hello everyone! I am excited you are interested in camp, as it truly takes you to help manifest our vision of an incredible time for your kids. I grew up in 1970s and 80s Brooklyn, NY and spent summers in the Catskill Mountains, in a co-op community. The treasured memories of interacting with the natural world, having fun with an inter-generational community, and the communities’ commitment to social justice and peace, inspire the kind of place you will find at Monkey Business Camp programs. I have lived in the Bay Area for 28 years, teaching children, ages 2-14 at Step One School and the New School of Berkeley after studying Women’s Studies, History, Government and Dance at Oberlin College in Ohio. I co-founded Monkey Business and the “On the Go” Programs with Stacy Raye in 1999, and continue to guide the direction of the camp as the Executive Director. Current interests: travel-backpacking overseas and camping, music, dance, being in nature, yoga (certified in Kundalini yoga), tarot, astrology, sacred women circles with Heather Munro Pierce, and being with my amazing husband Bradley Olson and dear friends. I am so grateful to have graduated from Angeles Arrien’s Four Fold Way Leadership Training. May this year be one of connection, healing, and joy, so we may be creative stewards of this wondrous planet we call home.

 

KIRA DULANEY
Registrar, Administrative Assistant


I have been working with Monkey Business Camp since 2010, mostly in the office handling communications and registrations. I also teach craft projects like felting and embroidery at camp, and it’s wonderful to spend some time with the campers! My passion is fiber art (knitting, crochet, sewing, weaving, felting, spinning, embroidery . . . ), and I have a business designing knitting and crochet patterns. I teach fiber arts in the after-school program at MLK Middle School in Berkeley, and at yarn stores around the Bay Area. I also love to cook, and especially to have friends over for dinner parties built around the incredible produce we have available here in the Bay Area!

 

SAMANTHA SWOR
Operations Director


Hi there! I’ve been working at Monkey Business Camp since 2011! I’ll be doing resources and curriculum organizing, and coming up to camp most weeks to lead art and science projects. I love having my two kids up at camp, too. They love being outside all summer, playing games all day with old and new friends, and being with their favorite counselors in the world. My background is in early childhood education, and I have been working with kids most of my life, I met Heather and Stacy teaching at Step One preschool in 1993. Time flies! I hope camp is as colorful, interesting, messy, and delicious as usual! Hope to see you there.

 

BRAD OLSON
Operations Assistant


Hi! I am excited to be working at camp! From serving snack, leading cooking projects, to bringing the VW Bus for Tilden swim day tours, to helping teach kids ice skating at Boys on the Go, it is a pleasure to work with the campers at Monkey Business Camp! I’m also on the Operations team, making sure things are in good working order. When not at camp, I enjoy work as a stone mason and with general handyperson projects. I also love to participate in a variety of activities including camping, roller blading, disc golf, dancing, listening to music, and skiing.

 

DARA ACKERMAN
Tilden and School Break PM Director & Youth Leadership Director


Hello Everyone! So excited to be on the Monkey Business Team!
I connected through Soul Shoppe where I serve as Head Peacemaker Trainer, coaching 3rd-5th graders in peer-peer conflict resolution, in Bay Area elementary schools. Originally from Santa Barbara, I grew up in music, theater and dance, and was in love with my magical summer camps. I attended Sarah Lawrence College in NY, finished up at UCSB, and since then have lived in Northern India, working with young Tibetan refugees, and in the Bay Area working with kids in numerous settings. I love working with kids of all ages! In my spare moments these days, I can be found in the yoga studio, or meditating in the sun, teaching voice, performing with my band, and recording my second album. Monkey Business rock band, anyone? We’re going to have so much fun. I can hardly wait for camp with you all!

 

DEVIN BERRY
Boys on the Go & School Break Site Director


I’m excited to run wild with the Boys on the Go program at least for part of every summer and to be part of School Break programs! Since 2007, I’ve been grateful to be a part of Monkey Business. I’ve worked as a park ranger, farmer, teacher and counselor for over 20 years now. I currently am a teacher of mindfulness and meditation for youth and adults.

 

DEZIRAE PEBENITO
Girls on the Go Site Director, School Break Camp Group Leader


A bit about me: I am a native Californian from the central coast and can’t quite seem to move very far from the ocean. I love dance and body movement as forms of expression. I’m learning to sing and find the harmony in my voice. On my free time I like to create art and poetry and be outside as much as possible. I love to travel and see the world with new eyes. I have a background in Plant Biology from UC Davis. My love and passion for spending time with kids and teens has been keeping me busy for the past 4 years. I have worked in a variety of ways : mentoring, tutoring, social emotional learning, science education, circus, and art. Some places I’ve worked for are Oakland Leaf’s STEAM and SEL Art and Performance, Brushstrokes art camps in Berkeley, Circus of Smiles, curriculum director for Oakland Youth Aspire, Carpentry for Kids in San Rafael, facilitator for Soul Shoppe, and I also lead a storytelling workshops for preteen and teen girls called Girl Myth. I am constantly inspired and awed by the Bay Area kids and teens I interact with. I am a beginner Spanish speaker though practice makes perfect!

 

FREESIA HUTH
Pre-K & School Break Site Director


Hi Everyone,
I was born here in the Bay Area and love it here. I’ve been dancing and performing since the age of three and teach dance to kids and adults. I have two sons that are taller than me and two dogs that I hike with and love being in Mother Nature with… she is a wonderful teacher.
I was a competitive ice skater and dancer in my youth and learned that FUN is the most important factor to any physical activity. So I’ve spent the last 25 years teaching dance to kids and adults with the belief that FUN is the key to healthy living and … I believe that everyone can dance.
I am so excited to be in the Monkey Business family and look forward to more playing and dancing with y’all.

 

NEKHI FOSTER
Tilden & School Break Group Leader, ages 4.5-6


What’s up Monkey Business! My name is Nekhi Foster and I’m excited to help out at all of the upcoming camps. I attended MBC as a camper/youth leader for 15 years, and this is my sixth year on staff. I’ve always loved hanging out with the campers and finding creative ways to entertain them. In my free time I enjoy theater, dance, and music, and I can’t wait to incorporate all three into camp activities.