Doug Capelin – Founder and Director
I grew up on Long Island and thought taking the train to see the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing, New York, was a peak experience. After surviving four winters at Colgate University, I bought green jeans and polyester work shirts in San Bernardino to work for the U.S. Forest Service, jumping out of helicopters to fight wildland fires. After returning to Long Island for a M.A. in Education, I then taught school in Grand Junction and Dolores, Colorado, where I met Beverly. We founded Deer Hill Expeditions in 1984 and built our dream into the thriving community here today. When asked by cheek-squeezing relatives what I wanted to do when I grew up, I answered, “I want to be a forest ranger, teacher, and a Dad.” I’m doing it all with Deer Hill, living with Beverly and our three children in Durango, Colorado.
Beverly Capelin – Founder and Mission Director
Before beginning my Deer Hill journey with Doug, I earned my B.A. in Education from Fort Lewis College in Durango. I taught school for seven years in Dolores and Silverton, Colorado, where I also served with the San Juan Search and Rescue team. Both Doug and I received training from the National Outdoor Leadership School. Over the years I have been involved in all aspects of Deer Hill, including raising our children Ben, Joanna and Emily. As Mission Director, I make sure that every aspect of our programs remains true to the original vision Doug and I had for Deer Hill Expeditions. In particular, I direct the care and development of our 128-acre Basecamp and our delicious menus.
Jason Kroll – Program Director
My position at Deer Hill allows me to be a part of switching young people on to the power of the wilderness. I see everything I do – from planning a backpacking route, to scheduling trips, to working with community service hosts, to managing staff – as part of creating a journey for our participants. My love of the outdoors began at an early age with family trips to the mountains of California. After studying at the University of California San Diego, I left college to pursue my passion for climbing while developing a career in outdoor education, working as a field leader for a variety of outdoor programs in California and the Southwest. During this time I got to know wilderness areas like the Sierra Nevada and Joshua Tree intimately. I was then fortunate enough to be a part of developing Rubicon Outdoors, based in Prescott, Arizona. As co-owner, I learned much about the responsibilities and logistics of running an outdoor program. In 2004, I moved to Colorado and began guiding clients for the San Juan Outdoor School and Telluride Alpinism in the dramatic San Juan Mountains. This eventually led me to joining Deer Hill in 2007. I now live close to Deer Hill Basecamp in Mancos with my wife Pam and daughter Carly.
Doug Doty – Financial Manager
I came to Deer Hill to lend a hand to the fiscal management and develop financial systems. Ten years later, that initial task has been completed and developed beyond what was imagined back then. I find myself an elder in the Deer Hill community. Having seen the coming and going of many good people, I believe that we are doing important work in the world – to awaken a sense of wonder and responsibility in young people of diverse backgrounds. My wife Debbie and I have lived in Mancos and been members of that larger community for almost 20 years. Both my daughters, Olivia and Megan, have been participants in Deer Hill programs, and Megan worked here as a leader for a couple of seasons, before returning to graduate school.
Amy Hartline – Staff Manager
Growing up in Pennsylvania, Amy counted the days until she could return to her summer camp, a place that introduced her to the outdoors. She maintained her connection to that camp later as a volunteer and as a counselor, all the while deepening her relationship to the natural world, a relationship which both honors her uniqueness and her connection to the world around her. In college, Amy discovered a curiosity and talent for helping others identify and reach their goals. This combined with her love of the outdoors as a degree in wilderness therapy. She put this degree to work in a number of venues after graduating, until all the pieces lined up and the opportunity opened at Deer Hill in which Amy could help youth discover themselves, and more directly, she could guide trip leaders on their journeys to self-discovery and empowerment.
Suzanne Strazza – Admissions and Sales Manager
I was raised in New Jersey where I spent the majority of my childhood playing in the woods behind my house. I attended ski racing camp in Switzerland where I became competitive Grand Slalom racer. During college, learning to sleep under the stars changed my life for the better, and eventually led me to Boulder, Colorado where I pursued a climbing career. After a friend convinced me to work for Outward Bound, outdoor experiential education became my calling. I worked at OB for almost ten years as an Instructor and Course Director, in Utah, Colorado and Alaska, teaching canyoneering, rock climbing and technical mountaineering. I spent many years leading in the Weminuche Wilderness where Deer Hill runs many of its mountain programs. I moved to Mancos 14 years ago and am raising my two sons to appreciate the outdoors as much as I do. We often run the rivers of the Southwest together, the very same ones that Deer Hill participants run, which is one more magical way to experience the beauty of the place that we call home. Besides working at Deer Hill, I write for several local publications, focusing on the importance of sharing the outdoors with children.
Gabriel Bernier – Outreach Manager
Gabriel first fell in love with the natural world on a wilderness orientation trip for incoming first year students at his university. Finding himself over treeline for the first time, New Hampshire’s White Mountains rolling out from under his feet in every direction, this moment would prove seminal in his development. In fact, it would combine with his commitment to service, and his interest in communication and design, to inform his academic and professional pursuits to this day. Gabriel moved to Mancos to work at Deer Hill in February 2014.