At Dragonfly Forest, we believe that high-quality, energetic staff members are crucial to a strong program. We like to keep our staff happy by preparing them with in-depth training, and giving them creative freedom over many group activities. In training, our group leaders learn to use social stories, social cartoons, schedules, power cards, and structured choices to enhance their communication skills. Leaders are also trained to in conversational techniques such as scaffolding and rephrasing. At Dragonfly Forest, we think that activities should be engaging and entertaining all participants (counselors, leaders, campers, and members). To this end, we encourage our team members to combine their energy and creativity with our autism-friendly communication strategies to plan hilarious and refreshing activities that are a joy to see in action.
The Leadership Team of Dragonfly Forest, who directs the camp program, is made of the following individuals:
Scott Arizala | Executive Director
Scott is one of the leading experts and premier trainers on kids, staff and the experience of summer camp. He has been involved with camps and youth development for over twenty years as a camper, counselor, director and consultant.
As a professional speaker and educator, he has given keynotes, workshops and educational sessions at numerous professional conferences, training events, and with organizations. In addition to his work with Dragonfly, he is the CEO of The Camp Counselor, a consulting and training company working with hundreds of camps and thousands of staff & administrators across the country. He is the Owner of Camp Tall Tree, a resident camp in Michigan for kids with Autism and Camp Director for Camp Kesem, a student run national organization delivering camp for kids whose parents have or had cancer.
Scott is a pioneering contributor to Expert Online Training, the world’s leader in online training for youth development and is the award-winning author of the best-selling book on summer camp, S’more Than Camp and the creator of the online Staff Traing resource The Camp Counselor Insider.
Sylvia van Meerten | Executive Director
Sylvia has worked with hundreds of kids and families with autism. She is incredibly proud of designing the Dragonfly Forest summer program for kids with autism and 22Q, and is thrilled to be heading up the new Dragonfly Forest year-round venture, The Spectrum.
Over the past 12 years, Sylvia has experienced many facets of the autism community including school services, afterschool clubs, one-to-one care, recreation clubs, summer camps and adult self-advocacy organizations. She has learned a lot in each of these settings, including a deep respect for people with autism.
In addition to working with Dragonfly Forest, Sylvia owns and runs her own business, Empower Autism, is the Owner of Camp Tall Tree a resident camp for kids with Autism in Michigan, and loves to design creative programs to help people achieve their goals.
kristinmcmaster | Camp Director
Kristin is new to our year-round leadership team, but is not new to camp. She started as a counselor at Dragonfly Forest in the Blue Unit, worked for 3 summers as the Red Unit Leader, and spent her first summer as a director in 2014. In addition to her work at Dragonfly, she pioneered the first CIT Program at Camp Kesem MSU in 2013, and saw it through its successful second year in 2014. She has also worked as a counselor at Camp Tall Tree in Fenton, MI, and as an Outdoor Education Instructor at YMCA Camp Marston in San Diego, CA.
Kristin is working as our local Camp Director and is excited about all of the busy happenings in our Philadelphia area. She is working with a few wonderful individuals to help plan our fundraising events in the spring, the Dragonfly 5K and the Gala, and is incredibly excited to be planning our first annual Make Your Move dance marathon fundraiser!