CAMP CALIFORNIA TEAM

Each summer Camp California brings together a wonderful team of counselors and staff to give your child the best possible summer camp experience. The majority of our cabin counselors are Native English Speaking from the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Many of our counselors and staff are also fluent in: Croatian, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian and Spanish. Our counselors are also highly skilled and experienced in the many activities we offer at Camp California as well as previous experience in youth development and supervision.

Maja Antonic

Maja Antonic

Croatia
Anita Torbarina

Anita Torbarina

Croatia
Conor Caheny

Conor Caheny

Ireland
Kate Willis

Kate Willis

United Kingdom
Karolina Mahlerova

Karolina Mahlerova

Czech Republic
David Casely

David Casely

United Kingdom
Pat Mooney

Pat Mooney

Canada
Nic Wightman

Nic Wightman

Australia
Robert McKenzie

Robert McKenzie

United Kingdom
Nelly  Mason

Nelly Mason

United Kingdom
Tyler May

Tyler May

USA
Mick Fenn

Mick Fenn

Australia
Amy Wade

Amy Wade

New Zealand
Anna Parker

Anna Parker

United Kingdom
Carmen Kingwill

Carmen Kingwill

South Africa
Clio McIlvenny

Clio McIlvenny

Ireland
Conor Doherty

Conor Doherty

Canada
Darren McGrath

Darren McGrath

Ireland
Fabian Ruggieri

Fabian Ruggieri

Australia
Gary Costello

Gary Costello

Ireland
Hailie Cuthbertson

Hailie Cuthbertson

Australia
Kimberley Forbes

Kimberley Forbes

New Zealand
Kristin Dawson

Kristin Dawson

New Zealand
Madeleine Allen

Madeleine Allen

New Zealand
Sam Ryder

Sam Ryder

New Zealand
Tash Bamford

Tash Bamford

New Zealand
Taylor Woodmass

Taylor Woodmass

New Zealand

Mike “Higgy” Higginbotham

Mike “Higgy” Higginbotham

Mike “Higgy” Higginbotham is originally from Santa Cruz, California has been a part of the traditional “American Style” summer camping experience since the age of 5 as a camper, counselor, Head Counselor, Program Director and Director.  In 1992 Mike’s experiences in the summer camp industry expanded to the international recruitment arena.  Mike spent the next 15 years as International Country Director in the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa recruiting young men and women to travel to the United States each summer to experience being a camp counselor at one of the over 10,000 summer camps in the United States.  In 2003 “Camp California in Croatia” was to be the first American Style summer camp in Europe and Mike or “Higgy” as thousands of children from around the world know him, has had the privilege of being the Director of Camp California since its first summer.  Since 2003, Camp California has hosted over 8000 children from over 60 countries around the world to experience what Mike believes is one of the best opportunities a child can have growing up. Mike spends a part of his year catching waves in South Africa and California and his summers at Camp California in Croatia.


Maja Antonic

Maja Antonic

Maja Antonic is our Operations Director and has been involved with Camp California since summer 2005. Maja’s main focus is on streamlining operations and admissions to provide the highest level of service and exceptional customer care for our families. Maja is also responsible for the marketing and general day to day operations of the office in Croatia.  Maja is from Rijeka in Croatia and spends a part of her year in California and South Africa.  


Anita Torbarina

Anita Torbarina

Anita Torbarina is proudly from Debeljak, a small town near Zadar, Croatia and has been our Admissions Manager since summer 2015. She is responsible for guiding families through the application process, holds the answers to all your questions and is an expert in taking things from zero to awesome. Anita loves the outdoors and in her free time can mostly be found hiking through forests, climbing mountains and sleeping under the stars.


Conor Caheny

Conor Caheny

Conor Caheny is back for his 4th year at Camp California and he’ll be looking after everything sporty and the male counselors and campers! He is our very own wee leprechaun from the emerald island of Ireland. Conor has just recently finished up in university with a degree in Sport & Business. From this degree has has learned and achieved many valuable qualifications ranging from becoming a qualified lifeguard, first aid qualification, level 1 swim teacher, child protection courses, disability inclusion and the list goes on. Conor is currently working as a badminton and tennis coach back home and he also helps in leading mental health awareness workshops which aim to promote positive mental health through sport. Conor is also the head coach for the Shuttle Stars badminton club which are in preparation for the special olympics! Some of his many silly and whacky random talents include a mean funky chicken, Camp California record of kicking himself in the head 81 times in a minutes which we highly recommend you don’t try and various duck noises which he likes to use to scare people. Conor can’t wait to see you all around camp for another amazing Summer!


Kate Willis

Kate Willis

Kate Willis is from the South coast of England.  Kate was a couselor at a Girl Scout camp in Rhode Island, USA for two summers and is back for her 3rd summer at Camp California.  Kate has also spent several months volunteering in Kenya and Thailand teaching English.  Kate will be a counselor this summer on our Teen Sailing Program. 


Anna Orive Vidal

Anna Orive Vidal

Anna is a 20 years old, from Barcelona, Spain. She is coming back for her 7th summer at Camp California. She’s been a camper in both Resident camp and Teen Sailing program, in 2013 and 2014 she was Counselor in Training and Junior Counselor and last year she has returned as a counselor. She’s currently studying Physiotherapy at Universitat Ramón Liull (Barcelona), and would like to study Human Nutrition and Dietetics in a future.

Anna is also a certified instructor in leisure education for children and an avid sailor. She has been sailing since she was 7 so it’s not hard to guess that two of her favorite camp actives are the ones at the waterfront. She will happily teach sailing and windsurfing to anyone who will listen. In her free time she likes baking and sports and loves spending time with her family and friends. Anna is looking forward to meeting all of you and having another unforgettable summer at Camp!


Karolina Mahlerova

Karolina Mahlerova

Karolina Mahlerova is a 24 year old from Prague, Czech Republic and is with us for her 12th summer, first as a camper and then as a counselor. Karolina currently finishing her masters in Nature Conservation in Prague but is excited to return to Camp California in her biggest role yet!   


David Casely

David Casely

David Casely is from Sherborne, England. This will be David’s 3rd summer at Camp California and he’s looking forward to being the unit leader for the younger boys in camp.  David has previously worked as a teaching assistant/ learning supporter at schools for children with emotional and physical needs in the UK.  On his travels, David was also been an ESL teacher at language schools in Mexico and counselor/specialist at camps in the US and France. His hobbies include travelling, music, fishing and kayaking. In the UK David worked as an outdoor instructor for three years where he taught climbing, archery, canoeing and kayaking. Since being a counsellor at Camp California he’s also learned to teach paddleboard and POI spinning.   When David is not in Croatia he’ll be teaching in France and then heading to Thailand to Vietnam and then all the way to India and everywhere inbetween!


Pat Mooney

Pat Mooney

Patrick Mooney is 20 years old, coming from Kelowna, BC, on the west coast of Canada. He grew up on a mountain in a small ski community, going to school by bike, sled or skiing. Patrick has been skiing since he was two years old, almost longer than he has been walking. He enjoys all water activities, specifically sailing and swimming. Patrick is currently obtaining an undergraduate at the University of British Columbia, he loves history and theatre. He was at Camp Cal last year and had so much fun he has to come back for a second summer. Patrick is so excited to meet the new campers and get started on the water


Nic Wightman

Nic Wightman

Nic Wightman is 24 years of age and this will be her second Summer as a cabin counsellor and activity leader at Camp California. Nic has previously studied both Graphic Design and Baking and Patisserie. Being from Sydney, Australia, Nic has a passion for all things water based, she has previously worked as a lifeguard and water-ski instructor at a Summer camp in Massachusetts, USA. Nic is most looking forward to leading morning Stand-Up paddle boarding classes, as well as kayaking, snorkelling, POI spinning and Arts and Crafts


Martina Dolanski

Martina Dolanski

Martina Dolanski is 27 and from Zagreb, Croatia. After being a leader on the Teen Adventure program in 2013, she is now back with Camp California for her second summer as an Admin Coordinator. Martina is graduating at the Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality, she loves soccer and her dog Mrljica.


Robert McKenzie

Robert McKenzie

Robert McKenzie is 22 years of age, from Oxted, England and is with us for his second summer as a cabin counselor and activity leader. Robert is currently studying History and German at the university of Durham in England. He is keen to to return to camp again this summer and help out in Rugby, Mountain Biking and Cricket.  


Nelly  Mason

Nelly Mason

Nelly Mason is from the countryside of Somerset, England. This will be her second year at Camp California, this time coming back to head the arts and crafts department. She has a foundation degree in art and design and is currently studying fine art at Bath Spa University. Drama and kayaking are a couple of her other passions at camp, both of which she did as a child. Art and drama have been huge parts of her life from a young age and she loves to be able to share that with all the kids at camp, seeing them flourish, make friends and connections from all around the world. She believes this is such a special thing and feels privileged to be a part of it. After meeting and getting to know so many amazing kids and staff last summer she is looking forward to being back, seeing some friendly faces, meeting new ones and bringing a range of new arts to camp


Carly Glover

Carly Glover

Carly is from West Virginia and grew up in a small town called Nitro! She studied Social Work at West Virginia University. During her time at WVU she studied abroad in South Africa and found her love of traveling. Since then she traveled to the U.K., Haiti, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and has lived in St.John, US Virgin Islands for the past 8 months!

In her spare time she loves to be outside riding her bike or going on runs. She loves all things crafty and spending time with her one and only nephew!

Carly has 7 years experience working at a summer camp in West Virginia where she started on the ropes course and finished her time there as the Girls’ Head Counselor. She loves the summer camp experience for campers and staff and believes in the power of camp! She is excited for her 1st summer at Camp California in Croatia and can’t wait to meet all the wonderful children from around the world this summer. 


Tyler May

Tyler May

Tyler was born and raised just outside of Salt Lake City in the beautiful state of Utah but has lived Portland, Oregon and in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. He started teaching English 4 years ago in Thailand and has since taught in Costa Rica and France.  Having grand adventures and working with kids is what makes Tyler tick so our Teen Adventure (TA) program is perfect for him. He is excited to return for his 2nd year with TA and can't wait to lead the kids on the horseback riding, white water rafting, paintball, hiking, scuba diving, go-carting, and all the other awesome TA activities! Tyler has his bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Utah with a minor in Spanish. This will be his 5th children's English camp.


Mick Fenn

Mick Fenn

Mick Fenn, one of the several aussies joining us for camp the summer! Mick is 28 years old from Sydney, Australia and will be in charge of the waterfront again for his 4th summer at Camp California. Mick has a university degree in Sport and Exercise Science and has been keeping busy in his absence over the last 2 years completing his Paramedic degree (ambulance) down in Sydney. Previously a competitive swimmer, Mick loves anything in and around the water. He has been working at pools and waterfronts around the world for over 10 years as a Manager, Lifeguard, swim instructor and swimming coach. While he is a pretty chilled out fella, there is nothing he takes more seriously than everyone's safety down on the waterfront!  Mick recently completed a volunteer paramedic placement in Venezuela and is passionate about traveling, animals, water activities, helping others and just being an all round happy person!  He is looking forward to seeing everyone enjoying the waterfront and all the activities this summer. 


Amy Wade

Amy Wade

Amy is excited to be joining Camp California for her first time this year! A 26 year old kiwi from Auckland New Zealand, she loves heading to the beach and taking the dogs out for big adventure walks around Auckland. Currently travelling around the UK, Amy can't wait to get to Camp to create great memories and share some awesome experiences with all the kids from around the world who will be taking part. Outdoor activities are her thing and she is looking forward to water sports, tennis and random games.


Anna Parker

Anna Parker

Anna  will be joining Camp California for the first time as a sailing and cabin counselor. She grew up in a the English countryside and is currently studying Sport and Exercise Medical Science at Exeter University so will be keen to get involved with as many sporting activities as possible. She has sailed since a child and takes part in hockey, tennis, and athletics at university.  Anna is a keen traveller, having previously volunteered in Swaziland with a sport charity and visited much of South America. She is excited to meet everyone, get involved with as much as possible and explore Croatia.


Carmen Kingwill

Carmen Kingwill

Carmen is a 27-year-old adventure lover from sunny South Africa. She is a go-getter with a bubbly and spontaneous personality and she has 10 years hands-on experience of teaching, mentoring and coaching. Carmen studied Sport Science and then majored in Early Child Development & Education, Psychology and Project Management. She enjoys organizing and participating in many outdoor activities including Mountain Biking, Tennis, Hiking, Ultimate Frisbee and Kayaking and recently completed an Ironman 70.3 triathlon. Having visited 7 countries of Southern Africa and living in 7 different cities, including New York, where Carmen au-paired for a year as an 18-year-old, she has a good understanding of what it’s like to be in a strange place, with new languages and people. All these experiences have shaped her into being passionate about making everyone around her feel welcome, valued and included, hence becoming a counsellor at camp is a perfect fit for her


Clio McIlvenny

Clio McIlvenny

Cliodhna (Clio) is 21 years old and from County Derry in Northern Ireland. She studies Pharmacy in Queen's University Belfast. She has spent two summers at resident camps: one in New Jersey, USA as a lifeguard, and one in Canada as paddle sports staff. She spent six weeks volunteering in Zambia last summer and wants to return soon in the future! She loves all things sporty and has played an Irish sport called camogie since she was very young. She can't wait to teach Stand-Up paddle boarding at the waterfront and soccer and is so excited to get to camp to meet all of the kids and see what adventures the summer brings!"


Conor Doherty

Conor Doherty

Conor is 19 years old,  a first time counsellor hailing from Vancouver, Canada, in his second year at the University of British Columbia. Growing up in White Rock and Kelowna with fellow counsellor Pat Mooney, Conor loves all things summer and outdoors, especially coaching soccer, rugby, and spending time out on the water. While studying Political Science and History at school, he's got a fiery passion for filmmaking, and he can't wait to experience all that Croatia and camp has to offer, while contributing to the campers' amazing summer experience! 


Darren McGrath

Darren McGrath

Darren is from County Armagh in Ireland and this will be his first time with us at camp.  He is studying Pharmacy at Queens university in Belfast and is in his final year. This will be his second time in a camp environment as last summer he was in the American state of West Virginia, where he was in charge of the outdoor survival activities and backpacking trips, as well as helping out on the lake. He loves the outdoors, mountain-biking and all things water related and can't wait to see you out on the waterfront, mountain-biking trails and basketball court!"


Fabian Ruggieri

Fabian Ruggieri

Fabian is 29 years of age and this will be his first summer as a cabin counselor and activity leader at Camp California. Fabian grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and studied a Bachelor of Finance at La Trobe University. Following his graduation, Fabian decided to take a gap year and travel around the world.  Fabian loves all types of sport, he has played both Australian rules football, soccer and cricket since the age of 7. Fabian also enjoys outdoor recreational activities including snorkelling, swimming, surfing and fishing, which he is most looking forward to lead on the summer camp. Over the last 2 years, Fabian has been working in Finance in London which has given him the opportunity to embrace weekend getaways and travel around Europe. Through his work volunteering program, he has also had the opportunity to work with less privileged teenagers to assist them with employment interview skills. Lastly, Fabian also really enjoys cooking and has spent many hours as a volunteer for a charity in Melbourne called Fareshare which is a charity that rescues food that would otherwise be wasted and prepares nutritious meals to people in need.


Gabrielle Crapp

Gabrielle Crapp

Gabrielle is 22 and from Madison, Wisconsin, USA! She is studying at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. Where she is majoring in Rehabilitation Psychology and minoring in Sociology. While being a full time student she has been working at Wisconsin Early Autism Project as a therapist, helping find the early signs of autism, under the age of two. She has found the love of traveling when she studied abroad in Australia. She loves to run and explore the outdoors! This will be her first year at Camp California! Gabby is looking forward to meeting all the campers and to be doing all sorts of fun stuff at camp this summer; you can just call her the “Camp Mum”!


Gary Costello

Gary Costello

Gary is 22 years old student from Castlebar Ireland. This is Gary’s first time at camp. He has just completed an undergraduate degree in Sport and business. He has learned so much from his degree which can be put into practice at camp. His qualifications include level two swim teachers, child protection, first aid, qualified pool lifeguard and a range of coaching awards in a variety of sports.  Gary has also had experience working with children in camps within Ireland and has volunteered in his local community with in coaching children. Gary has also a great interest in sport both watching and part-taking. This is one of Gary’s many interest along with running cycling and swimming. He is looking forward to meeting new people at camp and gaining new experiences.


Hailie Cuthbertson

Hailie Cuthbertson

 Hailie grew up in Melbourne, Australia and loves the ocean, laughing and any sport! This will be her first summer at Camp Cal and she can’t wait to be back in Croatia. She works at as  a school, coaching and coordinating sports programs and has lots of experience working with children in various fields. She spent her summers in Croatia as a child and hopes to be on the waterfront helping people improve their swimming and paddle boarding skills. She loves to travel and is happiest when surrounded by lots of people and activities.


Kevin Sutman

Kevin Sutman

 Kevin is 24 years old from Westlake Village, California in the United States.  Kevin currently works as a tutor at his former high school, and is getting his Masters in Teaching from the University of Southern California. He studied history at the College of the Holy Cross, and spent his junior year abroad in Florence, Italy. Kevin loves to travel and cannot wait to explore the beautiful Adriatic coast in a kayak! This will be his first summer at Camp California, and he is looking forward to having a great experience and meeting many new people.


Kimberley Forbes

Kimberley Forbes

Kimberley is a 25 year old from Christchurch, New Zealand who has a degree in primary school teaching  from the University of Canterbury and years of experience coaching swimming, gymnastics and surf-lifesaving. Kimberley has lived in the United Kingdom where she worked as an activity-leader at an English Language School. During university, she was a residential assistant and a dance tutor for young people with disabilities. More recently, she has been working in recruitment for a university and is studying part-time toward a Graduate Diploma in Marketing. Kimberley loves working with children, meeting new people and travelling to new places so of course she is very excited to come to Camp California! She is also very pleased to be getting two summers in a row and can't wait to spend fun-filled days in the sunshine helping young people to have the time of their lives at camp this year. 


Kristin Dawson

Kristin Dawson

Kristin is 29 years of age and comes from Waipukurau in New Zealand. She worked as a counselor and on the waterfront at Camp Takajo in Maine, USA. Kristin has been involved in sports her whole life, including Swimming, Lifesaving, Dancing, Football, Touch Rugby and Basketball. She has been in charge of the lifeguard department at one of the aquatic facilities in NZ. She trained and work as a pastry chef, and completed her Gold Duke of Edinburgh and Queens Guide Award. Kristin is excited to meet everyone from all over the world and experience everything Camp California and Croatia has to offer.


Kelsey Knecht

Kelsey Knecht

Kelsey is 21 years old and hails from Kansas City, USA, but has spent the past 3 years at the University of Mississippi working towards a degree in secondary English education with emphasis in history and teaching English as a second language.  She has been to 20 different countries, working to build schools in South Africa to studying literature in the Scottish Highlands.  This is her first year at Camp California, though she’s been to various summer camps during her summers at home in the US.  She is extremely excited to be helping out with yoga and dance at camp and hopes to teach English as a second language in different countries after she graduates.


Lauren Amos

Lauren Amos

Lauren is 22 years old from Orlando, Florida in the USA. She attended summer camp in North Carolina for ten years and was a counselor for two, but this will be her first summer at Camp California. She just graduated college at the University of Florida with a major in History and English, and a TESL minor. In the fall she will move to Boston to start Harvard Law School. She enjoys reading, running, and loves to travel. She has been all over the United States, but this will be her first time in Europe. She is looking forward to rock climbing, volleyball, and arts and crafts. 


Madeleine Allen

Madeleine Allen

 Madeleine is overjoyed to be joining Camp California for the first time. She is a 23 year old Kiwi (New Zealander) from Martinborough in New Zealand, with a love of travel, the outdoors, learning and people. She has spent the last seven months teaching English at a school in Thailand and travelling throughout South East Asia, an experience she considers one of her best decisions to date. Sports and the ocean have played a big part in Madeleine's life and she is looking forward to being involved in the water-based activities at Resident Camp this summer.


Sam Ryder

Sam Ryder

Sam is 28 years old from Motueka, a small town in New Zealand so naturally he spent his childhood in the outdoors. Having three national parks at his door step, he developed a passion for being outside and this led him to train as an outdoor guide and instructor.  Sam has experience teaching Whitewater kayaking & sea kayaking to school groups. He has spent the past 9 summers as a Sea Kayak Guide in the Abel Tasman National Park and the winters working as a ski patroller. This will be Sam's first time at camp.  He is looking forward to all water based activities! 


Tash Bamford

Tash Bamford

 Tasha is a 24 year old Kiwi from a small town called Blenheim New Zealand. She is very excited to be spending her first summer at Camp California. She has previously studied Physical Education & Sport Science at the University of Otago. Tash has spent the last year coaching football in schools and the community and can’t wait to get back out on the football field with the campers this summer. She loves hiking in the outdoors and will be ticking Everest Base Camp off the bucket list on the way over to Croatia. Tash is really looking forward to all of the activities on the water, particularly kayaking, paddleboarding and waterpark
 


Taylor Woodmass

Taylor Woodmass

Taylor is 23 years old from Auckland, New Zealand. She studied fashion design at Auckland University of Technology. Since then, she has discovered her love for travel. Living in New York for a little over a year has been her latest adventure before Camp Croatia. While in New York she au paired for an amazing family, who she now calls her own.  In her spare time she likes to be outside, at the beach, walking her dog, doing yoga, reading a book or painting. She loves everything arty! And is so excited for the arts and crafts at camp this summer. She loves the idea of camp and getting to meet wonderful people from so many different places. She can’t wait to be a part of all Camp Croatia’s magic for the first time!