Astro Camp School Program

Allan TisoAllan Tiso
Astrocamp Director

"The outdoors is a special place to teach. It is the perfect classroom in that it helps the teacher by presenting itself to each student in a very personal manner. The way that the outdoors presents itself assures that the student will be reached with the information and experience we desire to convey. All we need to do is guide the student. That is what Guided Discoveries does best."

Allan grew up on the Great South Bay, Long Island, where he had an immediate connection to the marine environment. Upon moving to Southern California, Allantaught outdoor education through the San Diego County office of education and the Campfire youth organization. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources and a multiple-subject teaching credential, both from Humboldt State University, while working with felony convicted youths and subsequently directing the Ryan Youth Center in Eureka.

Allan joined Guided Discoveries in 1995 as an instructor with the Catalina Island Marine Institute at Cherry Cove.  He was promoted to Assistant Program Director and then to Program Director at Fourth of July Cove and then atToyon Bay.  Allan is very creative and has made many innovative contributions to the educational programs.

In 2004 Allan became the Astrocamp Director where he oversees the overall operation of the program.  He directly supervises the department directors and the financial operations of the program and facility.  Allan also works closely with the Guided Discoveries Project Director on all facility improvements and renovations.  During the summer, Allan works with the Astrocamp Summer Adventure Camps and teaches blacksmithing along with his management duties.

Contact Allan at or 951.659.6062

Jeff Hartwell- Food Services Director1Jeff Hartwell
AstrocampFood Service Director

"I have always felt fortunate to work for Guided Discoveries. I get to live

in the mountains, which I absolutely love. We're away from the craziness, crowds, and freeways of the city and we have fresh air and four seasons here in Idyllwild. Our program and our staff gives kids an experience they love and will remember with smiles forever. ... My grandkids think I work and live in a really awesome place, and I do."

Feeling a little worn outfrom the demands of his restaurant field, Jeff applied for a cooking position with Guided Discoveries.  In 1995 he joined the Astrocamp food service staff as the Second Cook.  Because of his management and cooking skills he was selected as the Head Chef and Food Service Director at Guided Discoveries' program at Cherry Cove on Catalina Island.  In 2002 Jeff rejoined Astrocamp as the Head Chef and Food Service Director.

Jeff has cooked and managed in a variety of restaurants, hospitals and nursing homes over the years.  His years of experience in the food service industry has benefited the Astrocamp program in many ways.  His love for the mountains and his passion for cooking created the perfect fit for Jeff.

Contact Jeff at or 951.659.6062

Michelle Ferrara-Peterson- Program DirectorMichelle Ferrara Peterson
Astrocamp Program Director

"Guided Discoveries allows me to share my love of science with children and to infuse them with the excitement of learning. There are so many kids who need to know that it is OK to think science is cool and to want to pursue a life in the sciences, especially young girls.  It is all about the kids we see every day, but it is also about the relationships we create with like-minded people we work with at Guided Discoveries."

Encouraged by her parents to "go on adventures" (code for "get out of the house") Michelle spent her childhood playing in woods, rivers and lakes, discovering new things about the outdoors every day.

Michelle came to work at Astrocamp for what she thought would be six weeks in 1997, but she ended up staying through 2002, serving as Instructor and Assistant Program Director.  Michelle moved to Oregon and worked at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry as the School Partnership Manager.  She returned to Astrocamp in 2010 as the AstrocampProgram Director.

Sheearned a Bachelor of Science in fisheries and wildlife, with a minor in physics. She holds certifications CPR, First Aid, lifeguarding, NAUI diving and has her private pilot license, and has worked at more than a half-dozen camps in a variety of capacities.

Contact Michelle at michelle@astrocamp or 951.659.6162

Shawn Denum - Maintenance DirectorShawn Denham
Astrocamp Maintenance Director

"Working with Guided Discoveries is always -- in my case -- a day-by-day mission in keeping all of our friends and clients as satisfied as we can. It is a true joy when children can learn, be safe and enjoy this program. Guided Discoveries is a company that does care for every employee, be it food service, maintenance or program staff."

Shawn started in the maintenance department at Guided Discoveries in 1995, having spent several years in the construction trades.

As Maintenance Director, Shawn is in charge of 92 acres, 35 buildings, 356 beds in five dorms and a crew of seven, all tasked with keeping campers and staff happy with the place they call home. Shawn also is in charge of snow removal, fire abatement, budgeting and day-to-day maintenance.

Shawn has worked at CIMI at Toyon Bay as well as Astrocamp.  He met is wife while working at the Catalina Island Marine Institute.

He holds Hazmat and petroleum certifications and trained with the Riverside Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

Contact Shawn at or 951.659.6062