April Rose

Nonprofit-PlayOUT Foundation Director  & Forest School Substitute Teacher

I grew up outside in backyards and neighborhood parks in California. To this day, I feel most at home when I am outside. In 2006, my family and I relocated to the Pacific Northwest, and I immediately fell in love with the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the region. My heart feels full with the abundance of outdoor spaces available here for exploration and play.

Being a teacher in my own school was my dream from the time I was 8 years old. In my mind’s eye, I saw a classroom with brightly colored posters, children in desks, and a chalkboard at my back as I lectured. 


Much later, as an adult, the idea that a classroom could be different took root in my imagination. Taking away the walls, the desks, and the dusty chalkboard erasers felt suddenly expansive, and I could envision the exciting possibilities of connecting children with the natural environment as a pathway to facilitating the learning of important life skills. This idea was the seed that grew into Camp Roots.

The first Camp Roots was the culmination of two years of study in the master of arts in education at Antioch University. The school and community have grown each year, welcoming more children and families outside to learn and play. I truly believe that the outdoors offer boundless gifts to us all, and I feel blessed to share the dream of my outdoor school with so many.


I wear many hats in this world. I am a courageous advocate for nature. I am a dreamer, a leader, and an action taker. I am a wife and the mother of six children. I earned a M.A. in Education, with an emphasis on 21st century skills, growth mindset, and constructivist teaching methodology and practices, from Antioch University. I received a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Education from UC Santa Cruz and an A.A in Liberal Arts from Cabrillo College. I am a certified Fight the Fear self-defense instructor, as well as a certified Mindful School mindfulness instructor.

I have dedicated the past 32 years of my life to working with children of all ages in a variety of settings. I have been a camp counselor, a nanny, a soccer and a t-ball coach, a preschool owner and teacher, a teaching assistant, a reading resource instructor, a sewing club teacher, a hiking club leader, a photographer, a family wellness consultant, and a mother. 


It is my deepest joy and pleasure to share myself with the Camp Roots community.

Katherine Hales

Forest School Director, Master Teacher: Forest Roots & Wild Roots Director/Lead Teacher: Camp Roots Summer Camp

Katherine has been with Camp Roots since Fall of 2015. She teaches in the Forest Roots and Wild Roots programs, as well as summer camps. Katherine has 10+ years of experience working with children as a babysitter, nanny, camp counselor, and environmental educator. She received a BA in Geography from Western Washington University, is Forest School Canada Trained, is a Cedarsong-Certified Forest Kindergarten Teacher, and is a certified Next Generation Yoga Teacher for ages 2-13. Katherine believes strongly in the benefits of nature immersion and place-based education in helping children to develop a sense of belonging and connection to their local environment, their fellow students, and their community. She loves sharing her knowledge of local flora and fauna, her joy of discovery, and her enthusiasm for the natural world with Camp Roots children and families year-round.

Racheal Wiggins

Master Teacher: Forest Roots & Wild Roots 

Director/Lead Teacher: Camp Roots Summer Camp

I grew up on a small island in the south Puget Sound. Our family was one of many in our close-knit community that homeschooled. The woods and beaches on the island were my favorite places to spend my time, and I was given the freedom to explore and discover all aspects of nature throughout my childhood, beginning a lifelong love for all things outdoors. When I was 14 years old, my family of 6 became a licensed foster care family and I transitioned from homeschooling to public high school. I experienced first hand the power of nurture and love in a child's life. I spent nights awake with drug-exposed infants experiencing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome as a teenager and watched children from the ages 0-12 be moved through the foster care system. These experiences defined me as I became an adult; witnessing first hand the power of love, a safe environment and consistency can have on any life, but particularly that of children. In addition to this, I learned how powerful the developing mind of a child is.  For 15 years I have worked with children and families from all walks of life, in numerous capacities. I am the Adoption Coordinator for a puppy rescue out of Seattle, and spend a great deal of time with precious pups. I am currently working on a BS in Human Development and Families Studies through Penn State's World Campus and I am Forest School Canada Trained. 

Tess Golden-Orr

Master Teacher:  Kinder Roots and Youth Roots

Substitute Teacher For All Programs

Tess was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest where camping, hiking and fishing were important to her family and gave her a deep sense of reverence for our natural world.  Her passion for nature and travel moved her to sunnier weather.  She studied at Bodymind College in San Diego and began a career as a holistic health practitioner with a focus on bodywork and nutrition.  Then on to Hawaii where she joined her husband in the photography business, and Tess continues the business to this day.   She is a proud mother of two children ages 4 and 7.  Once a preschool teacher and a nanny, she enjoys holding nurturing space for children to play.  Tess has a love for the outdoors and is passionate about our role in caring for our ecosystem.  She is Forest School Canada Trained. She has organized an outdoor nature playgroup for the past 3 years to inspire other families to cultivate love and stewardship of our environment. She believes that fostering a relationship of enjoyment & respect for nature with kids is crucial for the health of our planet and people.

Rita Bartlett

Master Teacher: Sprouting Roots 

As a 3rd generation Washingtonian, I have a deep appreciation for the Pacific Northwest. I have been camping, hiking, skiing and boating in this area since childhood, and have always loved being in nature. My husband and I shared our love for the outdoors with our 2 sons as they were growing up. And we still enjoy all of it! I have been guiding preschool children and their families for 35 years. I have a BA from the University of Washington, with a minor in Early Childhood Education and I am a certified Montessori Teacher.  Children of this age have a natural curiosity about the world around them. They want to discover how and why things work. It is through hands-on DOING that these discoveries are made. This is the age to gain independence, learn to get along with others and to begin to understand the beauty and specialness of nature.  There could be no better place to practice these skills than in Nature. 

Colleen Gerlach

Master Teacher: Sprouting Roots 

Hello, I am a native to the Pacific Northwest region, growing up in Bellevue, WA. Growing up my family spent a lot of time in the Mount Rainier are where I spent my time exploring and observing my natural environment. I remember being amazed at the way the landscape changed thru the seasons and always finding something new that I had not noticed before. The sense of peacefulness I had after spending the entire day outside has stayed with me. These experiences fostered a great love for the environment and our role in it. I graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. In Environmental Studies. My degree taught me about native Pacific Northwest plants, animals, and habitats. I have two children who are 10 and 8. Since staying at home with them I have had the opportunity to volunteer at the preschool level and elementary. In my volunteer experience I have helped with academics, led monthly art lessons, run cooking classes, and helped with many school events. I have a passion for outdoors and helping children experience and learn from it.

Abigail Nelson

Lead Teacher: Kinder Roots Substitute Teacher for All Programs

I grew up in Ferndale, Washington and was homeschooled along with my 6 brothers and sisters.  I had many opportunities to explore the wild spaces around us and endless time of playing with friends in our community. From a young age, I observed the nature connection and its therapeutic properties, as well as the importance of caring and nurturing both peoples and nature around me. In a surprise twist, my father joined the navy when I was 9, and from that point on I would continue to explore different cultures around the world. ​I believe in harmony and kindness.  That it's hard to hate up close.

That we all are obligated to lean in, learn about our environment around us, our community, our business owners, our neighbors. To be curious rather than enraged by differences, to be open to learning rather than fighting to be right. That being a steward of our green spaces is an expression of care for things that are alive and in return happily sustain us in our lives. I believe in generosity, in our time and resources. We sponsor children through Compassion and volunteer our time to fill needs in our community. My deepest desire for my students has firstly been that they know they belong, that their life is important and necessary, that they have an exciting and purposeful role to play in our class and in their personal world. I desire for my students to ask good questions and learn the answers through experience. I hope we all can learn from one another, that we are kind and thoughtful towards each other, that we learn that the nature around us is one of the greatest gifts of the PNW and that we celebrate it through knowledge, care, and of course FUN! 

Emily McKinley

Substitute Teacher for all programs

I enjoy being present in the now. I seek to expand my awareness and live in reciprocity and remembrance of my oneness with nature. I find that the outdoors and children are some of my greatest teachers.  I spent my youngest years in California, moving to Missouri as a child where I attended a nature immersion Montessori which helped foster my love for the natural world. I have lived in the Pacific Northwest since I was 12, and I still experience daily the same awe I felt the first time I saw and explored a local forest, the Salish Sea, and the mountains. I have a deep love and respect for this area, the flora and fauna, and all wild places. I have always enjoyed spending the majority of my time outside. I connect to the earth through my art, meditation, yoga, caring for animals, herbalism, land stewardship, conservation, and equity activism. I enjoy being up to my elbows in dirt working with plants, animals and children, which often sparks artistic creation. I earned a BA from UW where I focused on interdisciplinary research of environmental studies, health and justice systems. I have been a nanny, a camp counselor, and an assistant preschool teacher. It brings me joy to be present with children as they experience the earth as a mentor, teacher, inspiration, and friend. I am convinced that living in reciprocity with the earth has immeasurable benefits, and believe there is nothing quite as therapeutic as being with nature.

Erin Cole

Lead Teacher- Family Roots, Little Roots and Substitute

for all programs

Erin has a Master Degree in Teaching from Seattle University and spent 8 years teaching Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades in the Kent School District, but her roots are in outdoor education. Her first teaching job was at Discovery Park in Seattle where she worked as a Nature Day Camp Naturalist. This was by far her most favorite teaching position and informs her teaching style to this day. Erin also attended that same Nature Day Camp program as a student back in the 1980's and credits her experiences at Discovery Park for setting her on the pathway to becoming an outdoor and environmental educator. She has two children, ages 5 and 7, that she takes outside every day to roll around in the dirt. In addition to teaching, Erin is a gardener and a landscaper with a special focus on incorporating native and drought resistant plants into every day backyards, and reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers. .

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