Our Team | Guardian Adventures

The names and faces behind our educational adventures and events...




Meghan Gardner is the founder and CEO of Guard Up, Inc. and Guardian Adventures, which owns and operates Wizards & Warriors and Zombie Summer Camps, programs and events. These informal educational camps and events are STEM and story-based experiences where instead of watching movies or playing video games about heroes, mythological creatures, mystery, and adventure, the participants get to live the adventure. For the past 20 years, Meghan has headed up the formation of programs and camps for kids, teens, and even adults to play a character of their own design and fighting monsters with foam swords or NERF Blasters, physics, biology, chemistry, and more.

Meghan is the Lead STEM Curriculum Designer for ST Unitas (the parent company of The Princeton Review) in the development of their Mission to Mars STEM Adventures in east Asia and in the USA. She is also a guest lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education and other major universities, and an international speaker on the topic of Informal Education and Learning for all ages. She has been interviewed by NPR, the Joseph Campbell Foundation, The New Yorker, Disney Radio, Wired Magazine, and all of the major news outlets regarding her company’s innovative approach to STEM education and using entertaining and immersive stories to inspire informal learning.

In her free time, Meghan volunteers for hospice and works with terminally ill patients of all ages as well as their families.



Michael Matfess is the Operations & Finance Director of Guard Up and Guardian Adventures. Michael has over 30 years of experience as an operations and finance professional. Michael has provided financial and operational leadership and oversight in a number of industries ranging from personal finance to high end consumer and business services to computer and data center operations. At Guard Up, Michael spends most of his time working with the entire team to ensure the highest level of services to our members, campers, and other guests.

Michael has two grown children, Danielle and Joshua. At home, he lives with his wife of over 30 years, Judy, as well as a cat named Forrest, a dolphin named Alex P Dolphin (the P stands for Porpoise), a bear named Oliver Wendell Bear, and a variety of other stuffed friends. When not at work, you might find Michael sitting on a bench wondering where his hair went.

Since joining Guard Up, Michael has developed passable skills wielding a foam sword and rolling a D20.

While not an official title, Michael fancies himself the Castle Curmudgeon.


Guardian Adventures TEAM

Overnight and Quest Camp Director & Lead Instructor


Steve Malueg is the Overnight and Quest Camp Director as well as the Lead Instructor for Guard Up’s Guardian Adventures and spends his time facilitating adventure classes and working with the instructors and teachers on their professional development. He has been employed in the Education field since 2014 and has worked all over the US.  His experience ranges from leading immersive and educational nature hikes in the mountains of California, to describing the secret moon base interior of Gargantia 5 to his students at Guardian Adventures. Steve is always looking for a way to provide a fun and engaging experience in his classes and events while also further his own education and skill set. In 2018, he joined the Guard Up curriculum development team for writing, planning, and executing the ST Unitas Mission to Mars adventure for grades 3-6 and will continue to develop this program for future seasons.

When Steve is not at work he can often be found exploring the natural world looking for new and exciting things to share with his students and adventurers. He draws the majority of his inspiration for adventures from his own experiences either in the woods or on the water. If participants characters ever finds themselves on an adventure that focuses heavily on saving wild animals, exploring old-growth magical forests, or working to save friendly waterways, it is likely that Steve had a hand in writing the plot and curriculum.

Director of Curriculum Design & Instructor Director


Christopher Wiley is the Director of Curriculum Design and Instructor Director at Guard Up’s Guardian Adventures. Christopher has a diverse background working with children and education with over 20 years of experience teaching in both formal and informal settings. During that time, he created and adapted classroom and physically-interactive curriculum for a variety of age groups, backgrounds, and learning disabilities. This includes outdoor adventure education with the Girl Scouts, dramaturgy and acting for youth groups, middle and high school educational support and tutoring, as well as large-scale event design and operations for ages four to adult with Guardian Adventures. Christopher has formal training with a Bachelor of Arts in Theater and English as well as a unique imagination to help generate and guide his curriculum work.

Chris has worked with Guard Up for 11 years where he has honed his skills at writing and executing story-based programming with STEM education. He develops curriculum, writes plots, and trains others in creating and executing adventures. He has helped develop activities that unfold from a single hour to an entire year. Some of his special projects have included working with Harvard professors on collaborative projects, creating an MIT zombie invasion event, consulting with Fortune 500 companies, and working with international educational partners. Chris is always looking for more ways to entertain and educate children of all ages especially those who like him chose continuously nurture their inner child.

Overnight & Quest Camp Assistant Director


Haley Mosher grew up in the foothills of North Carolina and has worked at outdoor residential camps for the past six years. She graduated in August 2019 from Appalachian State University in North Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Management.

When not at The Castle, you can find Haley exploring the outdoors, playing with her grandparents’ dog, or taking care of her plants. Back at college, Haley and her trivia team were crowned “Trivia Champions” at an establishment in town. So, if you ever have a fun trivia question, send it her way!

Haley’s background is deeply rooted in Girl Scout Summer Camps. At Girl Scout camp, she specialized in teaching Leadership Skills and taking campers out on trips. She has brought campers on a wide range of trips such as backpacking through Pisgah National Forest with llamas, bringing campers to Tennessee to crawl through an expanse of underground tunnels, and even exploring space in a virtual reality mission in South Carolina.

Outside of Girl Scouts, Haley has tried to connect with various communities. Some of her community service includes teaching a fitness class for older women, coordinating 5K’s for Huntington’s Disease, and volunteering at a local group home.

Haley is a self proclaimed lover of all things gnome, a student of common sense, and enjoys wasting time scrolling through photos of cute dogs on Instagram from time to time.

Story Collector & Onsite/Offsite Events Coordinator


Desiree Genthner, or Des for short, is Guard Up’s Guardian Adventures Event Coordinator. Here at The Castle, she works to coordinate epic events and birthday adventures. Des even has her Monster 101 Certification, so it’s possible you may see her at one of our birthday parties trying to foil a hero’s plans.

This Maine girl attended both the University of Maine at Presque Isle and Thomas College where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management.

Before arriving at The Castle, Des worked in museum, aquarium, and elementary education as a behavioral health professional. Most recently, she was the education assistant at the Maine State Aquarium, teaching ecology and all things ocean, from lobsters to sharks. She was also a haunted history guide, often mnistaken for Little Red Riding Hood due to her red cloak (an honest mistake).

Des spends her days out of The Castle attending conventions in cosplay, being an avid figure skating fangirl, loving all things anime, and forever pampering her cat, Hermione.

Story Collector & Customer Service Coordinator


Katie Morris is the woman on the front lines. She is the Custom Service & Sales Representative, or in our terms, Storycollector. She is there to answer every question our members, campers, and birthday heroes may have, and in turn collect their stories so that the adventures we provide are the most enjoyable, safe, and educational that they can be for our heroes.

In addition to manning the front lines, Katie keeps The Castle in working order by creating new systems of organization in various work spaces, compiling and reporting the weekly business statistics of Guardian Adventures, and occasionally playing the monsters and villains in our birthday adventures. When she is at The Castle, you can usually find her at her desk with the phone in one hand and a label maker in the other.

Before joining Guardian Adventures, Katie had worked as a Community Animal Welfare Specialist at an animal shelter, and worked as a long term substitute teacher in the New Hampshire school district. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Pre-Veterinary Science from the University of Massachusetts.

When Katie is not at The Castle, she can be found perfecting her rollerskating skills with the Boston Roller Derby League, hiking with her cat and rabbit, or spending quality time, gaming controller in hand, with her husband, Mike.

Camp Consultant


Elise Wiley is Guardian Adventures’ outdoor summer camp consultant. With over a decade of residential camp experience, Elise loves blending the magic of summer camp with the unique fantasy learning environment found at Guardian Adventures.

Elise grew up in the great state of Vermont, and attended the University of Maine at Farmington to receive her BA in English and Psychology. Before coming to Guardian Adventures, Elise worked as a youth advocate, and behavioral health professional with children, teens and families using informal education to teach a variety of life skills.

In her time with Guardian Adventures Elise has worn many hats. Previously the outdoor camp director, Elise now uses her skills as Guardian Adventures’ Summer Camp Consultant. Elise directed Wizards & Warriors and Zombie STEM Summer Camps for a combined six years, and also has experience directing summer camps with the Girl Scouts.

Although much of her consultant work is done outside of the castle walls, you can still occasionally see Elise playing stilt monsters and assisting with the creation of cyphers and puzzles for Guardian Adventures’ classes, camps and events.

Elise spends her free time binge watching Star Trek and The Office, painting, and adventuring with her husband Chris, her baby Keaton, and the small zoo of critters (three dogs, four cats, and one bird) with which they share their home.

Marketing Coordinator


Chris Cyrus, or just Cyrus for short, is the man behind the curtain at Guardian Adventures, ensuring that every parent knows what’s happening in The Castle – currently, in the past, and in the future.

Cyrus is responsible for explaining how the story is unfolding at Summer Camp, and posting all of the action-packed pictures and videos on social media. Originally a marketer in the wild world of the music industry, Cyrus has chosen a more meaningful career of spreading the good word about Guardian Adventures and the wonderful success stories of our campers and heroes.

You may come across Cyrus at the Guardian Adventures booth at camp and event shows as well as our open house, town days, and other public outings.  You may even find him under layers of costuming and looming large as a Stilt Monster during a birthday party, special event, or summer camp.

When not within the castle walls, you can find Cyrus touring New England (and occasionally beyond) with his band Slack Tide. The group formed during his college years at Berklee College of Music in Boston and has since grown into a (mildly) successful act boasting over 100 performances per year.

Creative Coordinator


Astin Stratoti is the Creative Coordinator with Guard Up’s Guardian Adventures. Astin is a bit of a renaissance human, providing all manner of creative services within The Castle. Everything from painting to puppetry, costuming to construction, makeup to mischief (sometimes), Astin keeps the worlds within The Castle walls bright and vibrant! A visual storyteller, Astin helps to create the various tales that our heroes explore, keeps our costume closet filled with the various gear of heroes and villains alike, and can also be spotted at our outdoor STEM summer camp, in front of or behind the magical scenes.
Since graduating from Montserrat College of Art, Astin has taken their studies in Theatrical Arts and Creative Writing all over the North Shore. They have worked with children of all ages to bring their creativity and inner characters to life through roleplay, visual arts, and puppetry. Astin uses their various skills to also work with Express Yourself, an art therapy group that works with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health to serve at risk youth statewide.
When not in The Castle, Astin can be spotted at various anime and comic conventions, although you probably won’t recognize them under all the facepaint and wigs! A lover of all things nerdy, you can find their gremlin hoard full of Magic The Gathering cards, many sets of dice, and one too many anime t-shirts.

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