Our Staff

We take pride in employing a well-trained staff of the highest quality. All cabin counselors on our staff 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 must have completed a year of college and complete 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 30 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.

All staff must satisfactorily complete a criminal histroy record check before beginning work. This screening includes a self-disclosure form, a public records check and annual check of the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website. In addition, all employees must satisfactorily complete biometric (Live Scan Fingerprint) screening submitted to the California Department of Justice and the FBI.

These criminal history records are reviewed by the AstroCamps’ HR Director prior to the employee beginning work and must conform to Guided Discoveries’ hiring thresholds.

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


Summer Camp Counselors
Employment Opportunities!

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img_1906Andy Balendy

Director AstroCamp

“Guided Discoveries 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 for Guided Discoveries in 1998 as a Marine Science Instructor at Fourth of July Cove.  Since then he has held numerous staff positions within the organization including, Head Aquarist, Assistant Program Director, Director of Educational Outreach, SeaCamp Expeditions Diving Director, and served as the Program Director of all three CIMI programs.  Andy has been also been part of two SeaCamp Expeditions to Belize.

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


Staff - Brian StrakaBrian Straka

AstroCamp Summer Camp Director

“Summer camp is just as important to educating a child as any school is. Trust me, I’ve worked at both.”

Brian Straka began his career working with youth as a wide-eyed 19-year-old on Catalina Island at Guided Discoveries Catalina Sea Camp at Toyon Bay. It was his work here that  for the next 9 summers as a staff counselor, head counselor and instructor that led him to leave the world of broadcast news and sports and devote himself full time to helping future generations.

Straka earned a CA Teaching Credential at Cal State Northridge in secondary Social Science and began working at New West Charter Middle School in West LA teaching 8th grade U.S. History. During his time at New West, the school became a California Distinguished School and ranked in the top 1% of highest achieving schools in the state with Straka’s classroom scored well above 90% on state tests. Straka himself became a California Distinguished Teacher during this time as well designing learning experiences that fully engaged students an immersive experience – all things he learned while working for Guided Discoveries at summer camp.

Soon the school expanded to incorporate high school grades and Straka was asked to become a high school Lead Teacher and History Department Chair. After teaching Honors World History and building a successful History Department, Straka was tapped to become the next high school Vice-Principal to help establish and lead West LA’s newest high school in over 50 years.

In the winter of 2015, a call out of the blue from GDI Executive Director Ross Turner brought Straka back into the summer camp world to be the Assistant Summer Camp director of AstroCamp in the summer of 2015. That summer was more than enough to convince him to leave the world of public education to help build on the success of AstroCamp’s summer program as a full time Director.

Feel free to contact Straka anytime at brian@astrocamp.org


Staff - doug jannDoug Jann

AstroCamp Food Service Director

“After having worked for Guided Discoveries on Catalina Island for 24 years, when the opportunity arose for my family and me to come back to the company, but up on the mountain, I jumped on it. Guided Discoveries is all about service–whether it’s creating the best programs possible, providing comfortable housing, or making a great dining experience–and I wanted to be a part of it again.”

Doug is originally from Minnesota, where he earned his culinary degree and started his camping career working at the YMCA camp in Julian, California. In 1987, Doug came to Guided Discoveries, accepting the position as the Head Chef at Toyon Bay. After raising his family and living on Catalina for 24 years, he decided to change destinations and moved to Austin, Texas, and took a position at Camp Young Judaea as the Kitchen Director.

In April 2014, Doug returned to Guided Discoveries Staff as Food Service Director at AstroCamp, bringing all his culinary expertise and experience with him.  He’s enjoying all the new opportunities at AstroCamp, both within the kitchen and without, and is looking forward to all the years on the mountain yet to come.

Contact Doug at doug@astrocamp.org