Instructor Spotlight: Max Minichiello and Kate Wojeck

Jordan Carr29 Mar, 2023

Our students will agree that Adventure Treks instructors are pretty incredible people. From planning 30-person meals for 30 days to fixing broken tent zippers to tending wounds to making sure we’re in the right place at the right time, AT instructors are constantly working to make sure our students are having the best and most fun summer program possible. This passion for empowering teenagers’ personal growth, fostering a fun and cohesive community, and exploring beautiful places with new friends is what makes our instructor team so strong and impactful.

Because our instructors are at the heart and soul of the Adventure Treks experience, we’d love for you to get to know them a little better. How did they end up at AT? What do they do in their free time? What are some fun facts people don’t know about them? We interviewed two of our summer 2022 instructors and are happy to share more about their lives below!

Max Minichiello

Why did you initially pursue work as an outdoor educator? What keeps you coming back? Initially, I knew I wanted to be outside all the time, as it’s where I found myself to be the happiest. Over time, what brings me back is watching that love grow in the students I teach, as well as the communities I form every year.

What’s one of your favorite memories from last year’s Adventure Treks trips? Doing an alternate, lower elevation backpack in the Goat Rocks. We couldn’t do the normal backpacking route because the snowpack was too high. Having hiked in the Goat Rocks, at first I was pretty bummed that we would miss out on the beauty of it all. However, we still had an incredible time, and I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed so much on a backpack.

What do you do when not working for AT? For the past year, I’ve been working as a barista and as a climbing instructor for the YMCA. Beyond that, I like to do a lot of things we do at Adventure Treks! I’ve been really into big, large-mileage day hikes. Some highlights over the past year were the High Divide loop in Olympic National Park, and crossing the Carbon River in Rainier National Park. Skiing has also been a lot of fun this winter, and when I’m not outdoors, I like to read, play board games and video games, and make block prints!

What are you hoping to learn and grow into this next year? I’m hoping to strengthen my connections with my community in Seattle. It’ll be the first time I’ve lived in one place for longer than a year since college, and that’s really exciting for me!

Do you have any big exciting life plans for the near future? I’ll be enrolling in a local college to get an associate’s degree in GIS! I’m really stoked on that, and also have some goals of hiking the Wonderland Trail, as well as the Timberline Trail.

Fun facts about Max: My pinkies are insanely crooked, and I’m an avid competitive Pokémon battler (like the video game, not the card game).

Kate Wojeck

What initially made you pursue work as an outdoor educator? The energy and connection and community I feel in every Adventure Treks space I step into and am a part of—and now help cultivate—is something else. It’s kind of like this big, bone-crushing hug. And I keep coming back to feel it.

What’s your favorite memory from last year’s Adventure Treks trips? I’ve recently been revisiting the moment I heard one of my students’ real laughs—a full-bodied, lose-your-breath belly laughter—for the first time after spending a week together on our Olympic Peninsula backpack. We were de-rigging and while telling the story of our adventure, she burst out laughing… this colorful laughter I hadn’t heard yet. Something shook loose in me, and I was consumed by my own fit of giggles. Seeing a piece of someone come alive in front of you and bring so much color into their person was so special. I can feel how much our cheeks hurt, how much joy was pulsing through all of us—it makes me smile real big! I’ve since been fixated on what a laugh holds and how meaningful it is when shared like that.

What do you do when not working at Adventure Treks? I am living in the library, reading, writing, musing, projecting, dancing, playing outside in all forms, savoring sunshine as a student at the University of Vermont in Burlington—and still exploring! I’m studying environmental studies and storytelling (via writing, art, film, etc.). We’re thawing out after winter and you can feel the shift in seasons—it’s lovely. Swims in the lake, stomping around in the mud, and warmer evening walks are upon us so soon. I’m getting my American Canoe Association certification for kayaking in a couple weeks, too.

What are you hoping to learn over the next year? I’m learning how to see myself—all of my messy, wonderful self—and will continue to notice and carry this awareness over the next year. The kind of witnessing where you create the space to hold all parts of you and breathe into them. The things and feelings and people who ooze an energy about them always make me grin, and I’m trying to embody myself just a little more each day.

What’s a hobby or passion that you pursue in your daily life that not everyone knows about you? Writing! The kind that’s creative and messy and oozing sensory details. I keep a notebook where I gather words I love that are circling around in me, and I spend lots of time playing in there. It’s becoming a practice or ritual of sorts, and I’m starting to feel my imagination crack open. I love it.

What is a book or article you read recently that really stuck with you? This isn’t a book or an article, but a podcast that’s been scratching an itch in my brain lately is “On Being” with Krista Tippet. So much sensitivity and wisdom and joy inhabits these conversations. It’s incredibly grounding to hear Tippet and who she’s in dialogue with reflect and articulate all they’re noticing and imagining in their lives, as they stretch into the unknown madness of the world.


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