Meet The Chasing Summer Team

Scott Arizala
Executive Director & Founder

Scott is the leading expert and a nationally recognized trainer on kids, staff and the experience of summer camp. He has been involved with camps and youth development for over thirty years as a camper, counselor, director and consultant. As a professional speaker and international trainer, he has given keynotes, workshops and educational sessions at numerous professional conferences, training events, and with organizations. He is currently the CEO of The Camp Counselor, a consulting and training company working with hundreds of camps and thousands of staff & administrators across the country.

Since the summer of 1997, Scott has been the camp director at traditional resident camps, day camps, single gender camps, and camps for kids with special needs.

Currently, he is the Executive Director of Camp Tall Tree a resident camp for kids with autism and 22q deletion syndrome. He is also the Camp Director for Camp Kesem, a national student-led organization delivering camp for kids who have been affected by a parents’ cancer, with 70 chapters across the United States.

He is a pioneering contributor to Expert Online Training, the world’s leader in online training for youth development, on the faculty of GoCampPro the most popular online resource and community for camp professionals, and is the award-winning author of the best-selling book on summer camp, S’more Than Camp. Scott lives in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife Karin and their three kids Linnea, Desmond, and Griffin.

Sylvia van Meerten
Executive Director & Founder

Sylvia has worked with hundreds of kids and families with autism. She got her start working in ABA programs in Ann Arbor MI as a college student. After working with families in several states, Sylvia ran the Mainstreaming at Camp program at Frost Valley YMCA in New York before landing in Asheville to work for the Autism Society of North Carolina. After years of working for the Autism Society, she now owns and operates Empower Autism, a business for helping families and individuals achieve their potential. Sylvia designed and implemented the Dragonfly Forest overnight program for kids with autism and 22Q. She has also designed and implemented several year round recreation programs for kids with special needs in North Carolina, New York and Pennsylvania.

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. Sylvia believes that people with autism have a lot to contribute to our world, and she enjoys taking part in that process.

Josh McDaniel
Senior Program Director & Founder

Josh began his camp career in 2007 as a counselor in the autism session at Dragonfly Forest, a camp for kids with autism/22Q/asthma/hemophilia/and sickle cell disease.  That summer proved to be so rewarding that he returned the following years as a counselor, unit leader, and in 2012 joined the director team with a focus on programming.  In 2013 he brought his experience to Camp Tall Tree and has been a director for the past 3 years.  This past year he was the director for the new Explorers Program, a transition to adulthood program for teens and young adults.  This turned out to be his favorite week of summer camp to date.

In addition to Tall Tree and Dragonfly, Josh has worked as a community one-on-one service provider for children with autism, an instructional assistant in an exceptional children's classroom, and an interim special needs teacher.  Over the past 9 years of these experiences he has developed a deep respect and appreciation for people who think and experience the world differently.

Kristin McMaster
Program Director

Kristin 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. She has been a counselor and Director at Camp Tall Tree since 2013.  In addition to her work at Dragonfly and Camp Tall Tree, 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 an Outdoor Education Instructor at YMCA Camp Marston in San Diego, CA.

Kristin is working as Dragonfly Forest's 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 otheir annual Make Your Move dance marathon fundraiser!

Erin Royce
Program Director

Erin began her summer camp career at Camp Kesem, a camp for children affected by a parent's cancer, at the University of California, San Diego in 2008 and worked as a counselor and later co-director.  She graduated from UCSD in 2011, and worked for three school years in the outdoor education program at YMCA Camp Marston in Julian, CA.  Beginning in the summer of 2012, Erin joined the Dragonfly Forest summer staff as an activity director, overseeing the pool and then mystery hour, until joining the director team in 2014. 

Erin now lives in Santa Barbara, California and is working on a masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis through Arizona State University.  She works from home during the off season, focusing most of her energy on staffing, training and programming, and grant writing.  Erin hopes to work in overnight camping forever, and to combine her knowledge of camp magic with the skills from her degree to provide services to children with autism in her local community.