Name: Erica Van Steenis
University attended: Erica has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California Berkeley, and master’s degree in community development from University of California Davis.
Years with AT: This will be Erica’s sixth summer.
Erica, what’s your favorite AT activity? Backpacking! I know a lot of our new students come in nervous about this activity. I really enjoy seeing them grow to love it. By the end, it’s often the activity they are the most excited about.
Also, it’s a really unique experience, because it’s so immersive. As an instructor, I feel it’s instrumental in building communities.
What do you do when you’re not working with Adventure Treks? I’m currently a PhD student in the education program at the University of Colorado Boulder. Specifically, I’m studying how kids learn in informal learning environments.
What is your favorite aspect of an AT trip? I know this sounds cheesy, but I love our students! We get incredibly nice kids, who make it possible to build supportive communities. I’ve really enjoyed working with some of our older students, because I’ve gotten to see how they grow through the years at AT..
Favorite AT meal? That’s an easy one: Yahoo dinner! Who can say no to steak, chicken, fruit salad, and mashed potatoes?
What keeps you coming back to work for AT? It’s definitely the community of instructors and students. I’ve made some of my best friends while working with Adventure Treks, and I feel I’ve made a positive impact on our students. It’s rewarding being asked to write recommendation letters for colleges.
What’s your most treasured piece of outdoor gear? My skis! Although it’s not an AT activity, I love skiing.
If you could cannonball into a swimming pool filled with anything, what would it be? Swedish fish! I’m not saying it would be the most comfortable landing, but it would be the tastiest.
Where would you like to go for your next adventure? I’d have to say Cuba. I’m very interested in the culture, and I’d love to see it in its current state of development.
Tell us a cool fact about yourself: Many years ago, I worked on Hickory Nut Gap Farm in North Carolina for a little over a year, and I really enjoyed it.