Stout Adventures Trip Leaders

SA Trip Leaders

Volunteer trip leaders facilitate an adventures and safe experience for all!  Stout Adventures trip leaders come from all backgrounds and majors. Get to know the leaders below, or if you are interested in becoming a leader yourself, visit out Trip Leader Training page.   

Branden Michelkamp


It all began in high school, I had taken a class my Junior year called Adventure Leadership. From this point forward my life had been impacted by the outdoors so extensively it is more than something I just enjoy doing, it’s my passion and my life. In this class we did Kayaking, Climbing, Snowshoeing, XC-Skiing and other outdoor related activities, climbing had the largest impact on me. I engaged myself fully into climbing learning everything I could, after going to UW-Platteville and “re-kindling the fire” for their Outdoor Adventure Club I soon found myself going to UW-Stout eventually traveling to New York and West Virginia to get certified through the AMGA as a Single Pitch Climbing Instructor. 


Even though a lot of my knowledge is in climbing I do a lot of different outdoor activities my top three other than climbing would have to be Mountain Biking, Road Biking and Hunting. All of these interests have lead me to places throughout the country, I am very fortunate to say I have been to 16 states on outdoor adventure trips (mostly climbing), California and Nevada being my favorite. This last winter break (2011-2012) myself and many others went on a month long climbing trip and in short it was the most epic month of my life, from California beaches to the red sandstone of Vegas it was simply amazing.

If you choose to go on a trip with Stout Adventures I hope I can be your leader and I am excited to meet you!

David Christoffel


How did you get involved in the outdoors?

To be honest, I have always been a huge fan of the outdoors in general. Since I was young, I have always indulged myself in the fruits of what the outdoors has to offer, whether it is hunting, fishing, foraging, or simply running around in the yard. When I came to Stout, I wasn't aware a place with such natural frugality existed such as Stout Adventures. It was a whole new world of untapped adventure. I have found great comfort at Stout Adventures and the opportunity for challenges that are centered around the natural world rather than in the classroom. It was an added bonus when coming to college and I am excited for the years to come, not to mention the limitless opportunities that I will stumble across along the way.

What do you like best about SA and/or trip leading?

Simply put, I love the friendships and social connections that bond a group of adventures, one trip at a time.

What is your favorite camping meal/recipe?

Stove Top Stuffing with the works!

Briefly describe your favorite outdoor trip.

Backcountry kayaking and camping in America's iconic Lake Powell. Nothing says it better than a spring break trip with SA's finest thrill seekers!

Marissa Popp


How did you get involved in the outdoors?

My earliest experience was at two years old when my parents took me skiing while attached to those lovely harnesses. Otherwise, I grew up going to my Grandpa's cabin and adventuring down the trails and in the river. I began backpacking with my mom when I was twelve and traveled to Isle Royale and Pictured Rocks, MI for some awesome backpacking.

What do you like best about Stout Adventures and/or Trip Leading?

I really enjoy the connections and relationships you can make with people both on trips and being present at the climbing wall. It is awesome to meet people who are passionate about outdoor recreation. I love meeting new people and sharing experiences with them.

Briefly describe your favorite outdoor trip.

My favorite outdoor trip was backpacking Isle Royale. Took the ferry on Lake Superior to the island, backpacked all over, and took a dip in some great swimming areas. Unforgettable trip.

Alec Fotsch (AJ)


How did you get involved in the outdoors?
I have been in love with the outdoors for as long as I can remember. My first outdoors activities were hiking with my parents and snowboarding. Since then my passion has grown to climbing, backpacking, snowboarding, camping, biking and just generally being with the land.

What do you like best about SA and/or trip leading?
I love social interactions. When I get to meet new people and teach them about the outdoors as well as help them learn and gain a respect for outdoors lifestyle that's as good as it gets.

What is your favorite camping meal/recipe?
I like to get creative; it always seems to be random but generally includes quinoa

Briefly describe your favorite outdoor trip.
My best buddy and I went on a 30 mile 3 night backpacking trip on the Superior Hiking Trail before he was deployed to Djibouti. It was a great adventure highlighted by some critical issues such as our stove breaking and forcing us to get creative with finding water.  It was a great learning experience and we also got to take in some beautiful sights!



Madeline O'Neil


My name is Madeline O'Neil, I am a currently a sophomore at UW-Stout with a major in Psychology and a minor in Disability Services. I love anything that requires me to be outside; hiking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, and kayaking are my favs.

 What do I like most about SA or trip leading?- I love being able to teach people new things about the outdoors and see their love for it just as mine grow every time they have a positive experience in the wilderness.

 Briefly describe your favorite outdoor trip- I went on an extended canoeing trip on the Kazan River in Nunavut, Canada that was the most life changing experience that I will always remember.



Evan Stickles

Smokey Bear

 My parents threw me into my first Camp Menogyn session in middle school, to which I became obsessively proud of onwards. Each summer afterwards I participated in a Menogyn program, which was everything from hiking, portaging, climbing, and canoeing. After my last trip, a 21-day Quetico canoeing excursion, I became very involved with volunteer counseling, mission trips, and leadership roles. Working for Camp Pyro (II), YMCA Icaghowan, volunteering to build houses in Mexico, service work on Indian Reservations, and other small group initiatives I became the leader I am today.

There is a lot that I do know, however, I am very introspective to the fact that there is a grand sum of knowledge yet to be experienced in the outdoor world. My Environmental Science field tests this every day and am only encouraged more to be an active outdoor, naturals, and community enthusiast. My future draws me to Maryland, Kentucky, Belize and Utah which keeps my eyes up and open for adventure and possibilities. My experience leaves me with a canoeing, hiking, sea kayaking, backpacking, rock climbing, and adventure seeking background. My hope is to share these aspects of the outdoor recreation world to those with the ambition to challenge themselves and a passion for the fruits of the world.

Please feel welcomed to the Stout Adventures community and I do in all truth hope to meet you!

Justin Wheelock: SA Alum - Graduated December 2012


How did you get involved in the outdoors?

I grew up engaged outdoors. From family camping trips to exploring the woods near our home as I was a kid, I always find myself where I want to be when I’m outside.

What do you like most about Stout Adventures?

It’s hard to say what I like most about Stout Adventures! I have learned so many excellent skills I will use throughout the rest of my life. I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing trips with some awesome students. Most of all though, I would have to say that I appreciate all the people who make SA work. They have been my favorite inspiration, and are a wealth of information too.

Favorite backcountry recipe?

My favorite camping recipe is coffee and water.  Heat water. Add coffee. Life is now better.

What did you do this past summer?

I spent my summer of 2012 on co-op in Cleveland, TN as a Manufacturing Engineer. When not at work I rode on the trails and roads of Southeast Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia on my bikes. I also explored the wild whitewater of the Ocoee, Hiwasee, and Nantahala rivers.  I even found some time left over to get on the first class sandstone of the south rock climbing. The area is alive with excellent outdoor activity, and some great people.

Last thought…

Please be a steward of our world. Think about the places around you in everything you do. We are more adapted to influence our surrounding environments more than any other being on this planet, so let’s take that responsibility to heart. We can do great things.

Kevin O'Connor: SA Alum - Graduated December 2012

Kevin Pic
How did you get involved in the outdoors?
On my dad'sbackpack kid carrier. That man carried me all over the Appalachian mountains where I grew up until I was old enough to handle my own tw ofeet. Since then my feet have conquered anything from the Utah desert to the sheer granite cliff faces of Yosemite National Park.
What do you likebest about SA and/or trip leading?
Inspiring others to appreciate and respect the outdoors like past SA trip leaders did for me. It's all about giving back, ya know?
Briefly describeyour most fun outdoor trip.
Two summers ago I met up with three other friends of mine to visit Yosemite NationalPark. The goal of this trip was to climb all 3000' of El Capitan. Not all 3000' were climbed but we got down alive. I learned a lot about keeping my cool in bad situations and in the end all of life's crap storms can be solved by a slice of pizza. 
Which outdoor activity do you enjoy the most? Which are you the best at? 
 I just like getting up high, whether this entails tying into the end of a rope and scaling faces or trudging up ridgelines in order to reach a summit. So yeah, I'm a climber at heart.
If you were apiece of outdoor gear, what would you be any why?
Can of bearspray. Wouldn't you want to have the powers to make an 800lb grizzly turnaround in its tracks?

Leann Fay: SA Alum - Graduated May 2013

Leann Pic

How did you get involved in the outdoors?

I have been an outdoor girl as long as I can remember. I remember growing up onmy family's farm which is surrounded by almost endless anchors of Michigan forest. I made make-shift boats to float in swamps, built tree and ground forts so I could sleep outside (but usually chickened out!), created pulley systems so I could climb even the most scraggly trees, and loved helping my family harvest maple syrup.

What do you like best about SA and/or trip leading?

My favorite part of SA is meeting awesome people who love the outdoors! This allows me to share my passion for outdoor recreation. I love connecting people to fun trips, teaching new skills, or simply sharing good places to go that I know of.

What did you do this past summer?

I spent most of my summer in Michigan visiting friends and family, hitting some mountain biking trails, and enjoying the Great Lakes. I made two trips out to Red River Gorge, Kentucky, to climb, one trip to Virginia, and reached my summer goal of learning how to trad climb! (Although I still have a lot to learn!) I finished the summer out with a climbing trip out to Mount Rushmore, Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota, and Devil's Tower, Wyoming.

Nick Pritchard: SA Alum - Graduated May 2013


How did you get involved in the outdoors?

I became involved in adventure sports through a high school gym class that I took. The class was all about adventure sports and really introduced me to the industry and what these activities can do for you. After that initial class I continued to become more involved in outdoor recreation and was introduced to whitewater canoeing. Whitewater canoeing proved to be what really "pulled" me in. Once I came to Stout I began working for Stout Adventures my first semester and went on my first SA trip 2 weeks after classes started.

What did you do this past summer?

This summer I did my internship in Colorado, working for an Army recreation program as a rafting, climbing, and kayaking guide. As part of my internship I was able to live on base and work with a variety soldiers, retirees, and their families.

Which outdoor activity do you enjoy the most?Which are you the best at?

My main passion is whitewater kayaking, so hopefully that is the one I am the best at...

Stephanie Wheeler: Inactive


My name is StephanieWheeler, I am a Junior at UW-Stout with a major in Art Education and aconcentration in drawing. I love to fish, kayak, hike andplay outdoors in my spare time.

What do you like bestabout SA and/or trip leading?

I love being able toteach people new things and meet new people who are always willing to trysomething new.

Briefly describe your most fun outdoor trip?

I went to New Zealandfor 24 this winter with Stout adventures and it was the mostamazing experience! I would love to go back one day!

What is your favorite camping meal/recipe?

Stuffing with gravy,chicken and corn!