About Us

AstroCamp take pride in hiring the highest quality staff. All of the AstroCamp instructors are required to have at least a Bachelors Degree in Physics or Astronomy, and it is not uncommon for our instructors to have a Masters Degree or PhD. Additionally, many of our staff have research experience with their universities and fellowship and research experience at some of the top science institutions in the US such as NASA, JPL and the NSF.

All cabin counselors are current university students with a background working with children. Applicants go through a rigorous hiring process including multiple interviews, a background check and drug testing. Additionally, many cabin counselors were AstroCampers themselves!

Counselors go through an 8-day training program prior to any campers arriving at camp. They are trained in team-building, group-leading, child development, safety, and being sensitive to individual campers needs and life experiences. Camp logistics and the camp program are also taught and counselors participate in a number of role-playing activities to prepare for situations that could arise during the summer.

Our instructors come to AstroCamp from all over the United States and occasionally from overseas. We have approximately 10 instructors either teaching classes or being helpful hands as techs. Requirements for being an instructor are a Bachelors degree in Astronomy or Physics, a strong desire to teach and a love for working with children. We pride ourselves on hiring fun exciting people that have a strong knowledge base and want to work with children. With safety being one of our primary goals instructors are also required to have 1st aid, CPR-PR, and Waterfront Lifeguard certifications as well as comprehensive on-site training.

The AstroCamp Alumni are far reaching with hundreds teaching in schools throughout the country. Many of our former faculty can also be found in major aquariums, national sanctuaries, and at science centers and museums throughout the US. The growth and development of Guided Discoveries is a direct result of the energy, enthusiasm and contributions of our many faculty over the years.

Questions or requests for additional information may be directed to Glenn Robison, AstroCamps’ Director of Human Resources and Compliance at: glenn@gdi.org

img_1906Andy Balendy

Director AstroCamp

“AstroCamp has an incredible way of creating environments that are empowering for all.  For our students, teachers, staff, and even executives, there are always opportunities for growth and experiences that profoundly affect and change our lives.”

Andy began working at Guided Discoveries in 1998 as a Marine Science Instructor at Fourth of July Cove on Catalina Island.  Since then he has held numerous positions within the organization including, Head Aquarist, Assistant Program Director, Director of Educational Outreach, SeaCamp Expeditions Diving Director in Belize, and served as the Program Director of all three CIMI programs.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology/Ecology and minor in Marine Science from Pennsylvania State University.  In addition, Andy has a Master’s Degree in Marine Biology.

You may contact Andy at andy@astrocamp.org

received_10108023282459451Charlie Bueche

Program Director

“I spend my days working with people who are passionate about hanging out with kids. I live a stone’s throw away from the sea, and most importantly, I get to share my love of the ocean with my staff and watch them share theirs with the kids.  All of my best memories from the last five years have been connected to working with kids in some way. Whether it was taking kids snorkeling, watching them kiss a sea cucumber, or going on adventures with staff, all of them have been wonderful.”

Charles Bueche joined Guided Discoveries in 2009 and has served as a Marine Science Instructor and Aquarist, Assistant Program Director of Logistics, Summer Camp Director for Camp Fox YMCA Programs and Program Director at Cherry Cove and Fox Landing.
He is responsible for the safety of all students and teachers, and is charged with the hiring, training and managing the staff.

Charles worked at the Biological Field Station in Cooperstown, N.Y., during college. With a bachelor’s degree in biology from SUNY Geneseo, Charles applied for a job at CIMI with the plan to stay for two years, but, he says, little did he know about the magical draw of the island.

Charles also is a NAUI-certified rescue diver and Red Cross Lifeguard instructor.

Contact Charles at Charlie@astrocampva.org

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-9-22-11-amJohn Swanwick

Summer Camp Director

“I am proud of all the summers I have spent working for camp. I was able to be a part of the positive experience summer camp can have on young people, helping guide them as they grew from quiet and shy young children into confident, intelligent and passionate young adults. Seeing the influence that summer camp can have on campers and staff alike, helps drive my passion for this industry”.

John’s career with Guided Discoveries started as a camper in 2004, at Catalina Sea Camp. He then joined as staff in 2008 as a Cabin Counselor. After 4 summers he was promoted to a Crew Chief and again in 2015 to Head Counselor. Now in his role as Summer Camp Director he is excited to bring his passion for summer camp to Virginia.

Though John grew-up in landlocked Nottingham, England, he is an avid scuba diver. He has always had an interest in space getting his first telescope at age 12. John enjoys following current space exploration missions and future colonization projects.

John got his Bachelors Degree in Management from Southampton Solent University. In his free time, he enjoys being outdoors; hiking, travelling, and taking part in Obstacle Course Races.

Feel free to contact John Swanwick anytime at john@gdi.org

Food Service Director

Maintenance Director