Blue Compass Camps

Come Outside With Us!

Call Us at (971) 221-6441

Meet The Staff:

Blue Compass camps are designed to provide a small, intimate and supportive environment, one that allows staff to maintain the highest quality programs while giving teens the opportunity to excel and to celebrate their accomplishments. Many have degrees in fields pertaining to either education, special education, psychology, or counseling and have a passion for working with this population of kids. Here are a handful of them...

Joel Thompson-Executive Director

I got my first taste of the outdoors as I worked toward becoming an Eagle Scout as a young child. The experience of carrying a loaded pack on 50 milers and camping under the stars at a young age had a profound effect on my path through life. From climbing peaks throughout the Great Northwest, rock climbing at Smith Rock, Stand Up Paddle boarding on slow moving tributaries and through countless Sea Kayak and Whitewater adventures, a common thread is the wonderment I feel communing with nature. I feel I have been blessed to hike through some of the most amazing forests from the Rainforest's of the Hoh River, along the path of Lewis & Clark in The Columbia Gorge, and have been mesmerized by the size and magnitude of the Redwoods and the Giant Sequoias in Yosemite Valley.

I feel nature must be experienced with all 5 of our senses, that we shed our urban skin and step into nature with a hope for a glimpse of the unexpected, while never letting the common features of the forest get mundane or trivialized. I feel the most important aspect of being in nature is to be inquisitive and open to living in the moment, enjoying the experience. This inquisitive prospective is what I hope your child’s experience with Blue Compass Camps will foster. We will enhance their sense of wonderment, their ability to work toward common goals, to make friendships, and communicate with one another.

I have been a Kayak guide for 9 years with Alder Creek Kayak; have lead bike tours and training rides as a bike shop manager for over 10 years and as the owner of Dog Star Adventure Tours. I am very excited to use my degree in Social Science from Portland State University to inspire your children to embrace the beauty of nature, to teach them troubleshooting skills that will benefit them in all phases of their lives and to facilitate the growth of friendships that will last well beyond their adventures with Blue Compass Camps.

Deborah Mertlich-Thompson-Non-Profit President

I am a clinical social worker in Oregon and have been doing therapy for over 15 years. I have a private practice where I work with kids, teens, adults, and families. I enjoy doing individual and family work and seeing their positive changes. I recently started social skills groups for elementary aged kids and will be expanding the groups to cover middle school and kids with high-functioning autism in the fall. I received my Master’s degree from Washington University, St. Louis where I specialized in family work with kids who struggled with medical and mental health issues. I’ve always loved being outdoors and working with camps. I was on the board of Gales Creek Camp, which is a specialty camp for type 1-diabetes kids. I was an integral part in the curriculum development for a transitions program for kids with type 1 moving on to college. Working with Gales Creek helped me understand how important it is to have a place for kids who have special needs so they can have fun safely. I am excited to be taking my skills and applying them to the outdoor settings. When I’m not working, my husband and his girls like to go camping and create our own adventures.

Taylor Anderson-Lead Guide/Counselor

Born and raised in the Portland Metro Area, Taylor Anderson is a proud Oregon native who has lives in Bend, Oregon. Taylor was first introduced to winter sports with his Boy Scout Troop at Mt Hood Meadows when he was 13 years old, and ever since that first day he has known that outdoor recreation was going to be an integral part of his life.  While in high school he received three varsity letters competing in Slope Style and Half Pipe, and spent two years volunteering as an assistant freestyle coach after graduating.  Taylor became a PSIA/AASI (Professional Ski Instructors of America/American Association of Snowboard Instructors) certified instructor and Children's Specialist while teaching at Mt Bachelor for three seasons where he specialized in kid’s multi-week lessons.    Taylor is also certified as a National Outdoor Leadership School Wilderness First Responder and American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education Level II; which when combined with his snow sports credentials afforded him the privilege of serving as the Head Coach for a NAWA Academy's traveling competitive snowboard program.  Taylor also works at Oregon Adaptive Sports where he teaches skiing and snowboarding to clients with a wide variety of adaptive needs.  In addition to working with Blue Compass Camps, Taylor currently directs an indoor snowboarding program at Oregon Olympic Athletics and is attending Yoga Teacher Training at Namaspa.

Taylor is an Eagle Scout and has taught Natural Science to 6th graders at MESD Outdoor School Camp Arrah Wanna on Mt Hood, worked as a Special Needs Educator in Portland, was the Director of Climbing Programs at BSA Camp Meriwether on the Oregon coast, worked as a Zip Line Guide in Alaska, and served as the Department Head of Outdoor Adventure at Camp Lindenmere in Pennsylvania where he managed 13 full time staff and developed program for wilderness survival, mountain biking, rock climbing, and a high ropes course.  In addition to snowboarding, Taylor also enjoys climbing on rock, ice, and snow, skiing, slack lining, yoga, kayaking, disc golf, mountain biking, jumping around on trampolines, and books about dragons.

Taylor's main goal as an instructor is to connect with his students to inspire confidence and build trust, thus unlocking every child's unlimited potential.  Through his experience with AASI he has learned how to break down complex movement patterns and develop simple and fun step-by-step progressions to help his students succeed with difficult and simple maneuvers alike.  Taylor focuses on how body mechanics directly affect board performance, and details the most efficient movement patterns to achieve a desired outcome.  Every lesson his students are encouraged to stretch their boundaries to build their confidence and have more fun!  Through yoga, Taylor has learned how to achieve seemingly impossible tasks by using positive affirmations, joyful practice, and precise feedback to accomplish a series of simple yet progressive goals.  The greatest joy in athletics is progressing despite obstacles, the greatest joy in life is helping someone else get there.



Dane Hilmer-Guide/Adventure Club Leader

My name is Dane Hilmer, I am a very recent transplant to Seattle. My wife, son and I moved here in February 2016 when she got a job as an NP in the ER of Seattle Children's Hospital. I am a high school Social Studies and Technology Teacher and just became a Wilderness First Responder. So your kiddos are in good hands! The move to Seattle has me exploring more interests in outdoor education so I am looking forward to having fun outdoors with your child!

If your child is signed up for Lemonaid Camp and you would like to contact me, about any interests or special needs your child  email me at: If you need to reach me day of camp, call me @414-916-2311

Jake Sivinski-Wilderness Guide

Jake is a recent graduate of Lewis & Clark College with a degree in Social Work.