Our Team | Guardian Adventures

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



FOUNDER, CEO

MEGHAN GARDNER


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. Since 1999, Meghan has headed up the formation of both online and live 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.  And she headed up a team to provide onboard adventures for for Royal Caribbean Cruiselines. Meghan 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.


DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

MICHAEL MATFESS


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.


DIRECTOR OF CURRICULUM DESIGN

CHRIS WILEY


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.


MORE ABOUT US

GUARDIAN ADVENTURES TEAM


Camp Assistant Director

HALEY MOSHER


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 & Customer Service Coordinator

KATIE MORRIS


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.



Curriculum Development

PAUL SPANAGEL


Paul Spanagel has spent the entirety of his career working as an informal educator. He graduated from Vassar College in 2014 with degrees in Drama and Music, going on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education in 2016 with an M.S.Ed. in Teaching, Learning, and Leadership. Moving back to Massachusetts, Paul spent the next four years working for an elementary afterschool program in Lexington, where he piloted their first ever LARP program to great success. He spent the same four years working as the youth coordinator of  the First Parish Church of Stow & Acton, designing and facilitating their middle school & high school youth programs.

Paul is no stranger to Guardian Adventures, having attended their summer camps as a teen and worked as a counselor and director of logistics during the summers throughout his college years. Between his own education and exploration, Paul has a passion for swords, storytelling, and play that draws from a very deep well of personal training and experience.



Marketing Coordinator

CHRIS CYRUS


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

Chris 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, Chris 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 Chris 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 Chris 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.


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