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.
Laurie Dickson- Outreach Director
Colorado is my calling as much as it is my home. I came to Colorado from a small town in western New York State for college, and with the exception of few minor detours, have lived here ever since. I have a degree in photography from Colorado Mountain College and more recently, a degree from Prescott College in Sustainable Community Development with an emphasis in Marketing and Messaging. I like to think my degrees are a good marriage of visual expression and conscious marketing. My photography and writing has taken me all over the world. For 20 years, I freelanced for magazines and publications, specializing in architectural photography. My book, Artists’ Interiors, Creative Spaces, Inspired Living, featured artists from around Europe and the U.S. It is one of my treasured accomplishments. Being able to photograph the people, remarkable places and activities that encompass the Deer Hill experience quenches my thirst for exploring with my camera. Working as the Outreach Director merges my passion for wild places and sharing the rich adventures in the backcountry with others. Boosting the donor base for the Deer Hill Foundation and witnessing the transformation of young scholarship recipients is gratifying beyond measure. Although not without challenges, inspiring young people to get outside, give back through service and learn from our Native American neighbors makes outreach an easy task.
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.
Eli Shostak – Staff Manager
Facilitating adventure-based educational experiences has guided my life for the past 13 years. I bring a wide range of experiences and a love of adventure to my position as Staff Manager for Deer Hill Expeditions. I have led backpacking, sea kayaking, rafting, and climbing trips in places ranging from Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic all the way to Baja California’s Sea of Cortez. I spent eight years as an instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School, and balanced working for NOLS with employment at other programs to obtain a broad perspective of the adventure education industry. While earning a Master’s Degree in Experiential Education, I focused my studies on how to use experiential education to teach about sense of place. My love of the Southwest eventually landed me in Mancos, Colorado where I live with my wife Erin, daughter Delia and our dog Itza.
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.
Allison (Al) Huckins- Basecamp Manager
I grew up in the rolling hills of Tennessee and North Carolina. In those vast greenscapes, I discovered my love for the outdoors. I graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Outdoor Experiential Education. During my time there, I worked with a community service center, having a hand in creating service events for many local non-profits. Eventually, one organization captured my heart, and I spent 3 years working as a Field Instructor and eventually Program Director for The Mountain Alliance. My roll at this organization allowed me to combine my passions of service and adventure to empower teenagers to find their place in the world. My adventures with this program took me from rock climbing sites of the Pisgah Forest in North Carolina to snow-capped peaks of the Teton Mountains in Wyoming. Realizing that I could find my “place” anywhere with a mountain range nearby, I headed to explore the rocky giants of the west in early 2011. I spent 2 seasons working as a Field Instructor and Program Leader for Deer Hill, and in 2013, switched it up to become the Basecamp Manager. My current role allows me to help both new and veteran field staff provide the wilderness and service experiences that I feel are so powerful to teenagers today. Along with my team of Basecamp Staff, I work behind-the-scenes to share my passions. I also have the unique opportunity to interact with everyone that rolls through basecamp and I usually end the day with cheeks sore from smiling at the unpredictable and beautiful quirks of everyone that calls Deer Hill home.View Our Field Staff Page