WB Surf Camp Team
Founder / President
Rick Civelli – Founder/President
As a kid, Rick Civelli spent his summers clamming, fishing, and of course surfing. Without realizing it, his appreciation for environmental conservation was ingrained before his teens. He graduated from UNC-Wilmington with his Bachelors in Environmental Studies. During college and after graduation he worked as a marine science educator at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. For three years he developed and facilitated programs while teaching thousands of adults and children about the wonders of our coastal ecosystems. During both his undergraduate and graduate studies, he was an assistant director for UNCW’s Marine Science Summer Camp Program.
To broaden his professional development he later worked as a permit and enforcement officer for the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management. Taking a different approach to environmental conservation, he reviewed and permitted coastal development projects, and issued fines for remediation of impacted coastal resources. Rick sat on the Board of Directors for the Society of Masonboro Island and is a member the Surfrider Foundation, and the NC Aquarium Society. He also spent 3 years pursuing a Masters Degree in Coastal Geology from UNC-Wilmington’s Center for Marine Science where he studied coastal processes.
In the winter of 1995, Rick developed a marine science educational learn to surf program for our local aquarium which he called “Surf’s Up”. Since then he has taught thousands of students of all ages the sport of surfing while enlightening them of the wonders of our coastal environment.
His travels have brought him to surf and study coastal processes and habitats all over the world. He has explored coral reefs in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Anegada, Antigua, Bermuda, Jost Van Dyke, St Lucia, St Thomas, St John, and St Martin. He has swam with sea turtles in, Tortola, Baja Mexico, Barbados, and Costa Rica, sharks in Looe Key national marine sanctuary, sting rays in the Bahamas, and dolphins off Key West Florida. He has surfed up and down the east coast from Nantucket to Block Island to Cape Hatteras to Sebastian inlet. He has also caught many epic swells on the West coast from Morro Bay to Tourmaline San Diego. On several occasions Rick has also ventured to the North Shore of Oahu, where he visited famous surf breaks including Waimea Bay, Pipeline, Sunset and Sandy Beach. He was also lucky enough to see the huge Dec 2002 swell hit with up to 60′ faces!
With his love for surfing and utmost respect for the ocean and it’s resources, Rick has developed this unparalleled fun experience known as “WB Surf Camp.”
Jen Civelli – Operations Director
Jen’s first experience with sea turtles was the beginning of a lifelong commitment to sea turtle conservation and taking care of our oceanic resources. She started volunteering at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital & Rehabilitation Center in 2001.
Jen has fifteen years of experience in higher education as an instructor of Chemistry at both Cape Fear Community College and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Jen loves to teach and educate today’s youth and young adult population, especially in the field of sea turtles and coastal conservation.
Jen’s passion for the marine environment started living along the California coast while in college. Jen received her Bachelors’ degree in Biochemistry from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Her passion followed her to San Diego State University where she earned her Master’s Degree in Chemistry.
Jen loves to travel and experience new environments and cultures. She especially loves warm-water surf destinations where she can spend time in the water with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. Jen can often be found on a sporting field cheering on her boys’ games!
John Larkins – Program Coordinator
John was born and raised right here on our local Wilmington, NC beaches. From his earliest memories he can recall playing in the sand on the south end of Wrightsville Beach watching his dad surf. This led to riding his first waves at age 10 on his dad’s 1985 Action twin fin. Over the years, he has developed a deep passion for coastal conservation and local pride in Wilmington area beaches.
John got his start in the camp world in 2010, working for a traditional overnight summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina. This ignited a passion for educating kids and teens that led John to pursue an Outdoor Experiential Education degree from Appalachian State University.
Wanting to combine his passion for teaching with a lifelong love for surfing and the ocean, John joined the WB Surf Camp team in 2012 as the assistant director of our Guppy Ocean Adventure Camp. He then returned for the 2014 season as the camp’s director. In 2015, he returned to work yet another summer in our teen overnight surf camps. In addition to his camp experience, he has been an American Red Cross Certified Lifeguard since 2010, a Wilderness First Responder since 2014, and a PADI Rescue diver since 2017.
John has been on our administrative team since 2016 following Peace Corps Response service in the Philippines.
Chase O’Briant – Program Coordinator
Chase was born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. He taught himself how to surf at the age of eight, and grew up surfing the north side of Crystal Pier in Wrightsville Beach. When he wasn’t surfing, Chase spent most of his time fishing, playing soccer, or writing music. In high school, Chase was the founder and president of his school’s Surf Club, he played varsity soccer, was deeply involved in the local music community, and earned the Eagle Scout Award.
Chase attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and graduated in 2018 with a degree in English and Political Science. One of the highlights from his years in school was being a student when the Tar Heels won the 2017 NCAA Basketball Championship. As a student, Chase also worked as a lifeguard at the campus pool, and coached campus-league soccer teams in both the men’s and co-ed divisions, winning one title in the co-ed division. It was also during this time that Chase became a surf instructor with WB Surf Camp.
Chase started as a Surf Lesson Instructor in 2016, he then moved into the role of Day Surf Camp Unit Leader, and later joined our administration team as a Program Coordinator. As a Wilmington local, Chase has extensive knowledge of the beaches on which his programs take place, has proven his ability as an excellent surf coach, and is passionate about spreading his love for coastal culture.
Kasey Schollenberger – Program Coordinator
Kasey was born and raised in Toms River, New Jersey. Growing up on the Jersey Shore, she was able to visit the beach year round and develop a true connection to the ocean and all of the related wildlife and ecosystems. At a very young age, she knew that she wanted to spend her life developing her passion for the ocean and marine life.
In 2008, Kasey moved to North Carolina to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). While completing her degree, she volunteered and interned at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Soon after graduating, Kasey interned at the University of Georgia’s Marine Extension Service and Aquarium as an environmental educator. This is where her passion for environmental education flourished. Following that internship, Kasey decided to further her education and returned to UNCW to pursue a Master’s of Science degree in Environmental Science and Coastal Management. Kasey has a wide variety of education experience in the fields of marine and environmental science, which have all deepened her love for public outreach and all things related to the marine environment.
When Kasey isn’t teaching about the ocean, she can be found at the beach reading a book, hiking, kayaking, or doing just about anything outdoors! She is very excited to have found her way back to Wilmington and loves that she gets to spend winters in North Carolina instead of freezing in New Jersey!
Kody Crawford – Camp Director
Kody is from the south shore of Massachusetts. By far, his favorite part of the year is summer. He spent his early summer seasons walking to the local beach with his friends. The only time not spent in the salty cold northern Atlantic was swapped for his fresh water escapades at his beloved childhood summer camp.
Kody considers himself a jack of all trades when it comes to hobbies and interests. He is a master level martial artist, a certified culinary artist, an avid adventure outdoorsman and former guide, (a previous) all scholastic runner, a novice breakdancer, and a decent volleyball player.
But one passion trumps all others, Kody’s passion for camps and youth development. Kody has held numerous roles at different camps. From junior counselor, to outdoor educator, to unit leader, and all the way to full time director, Kody has spent many years embodying the spirit of camp in the pursuit of helping youth find their way.
This is why Kody graduated from the honors program at Ithaca College with a degree in Recreation Management. In effort to further support children throughout the year, Kody will be undergoing graduate studies in School Counseling this fall at UMASS Amherst.
Advanced Surf Coach
Jeff Carver – Advanced Surf Coach
Jeff Carver was born in Durham North Carolina. He spent his childhood summers surfing and fishing here in the southeastern portion NC. He has lived all over the world after graduating from Jacksonville University in Florida in 2007. Some of the locations he has lived and surfed were: Nicaragua, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, and all over the Caribbean. Most recently Jeff had been living on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Jeff’s surfing adventures began here in Wilmington when he was age 12. He finally got that surfboard he had always wanted after proving ocean knowledge to his parents with competency on the boogie board. He had his first standing wave on Masonboro Island just across the inlet from Wrightsville Beach. His tennis coach at the time Paul Gemborys said it was a right of passage to paddle the inlet and catch a wave over at “Mase.” With tired arms, the feat was accomplished. He stated, “it was the best feeling in the world, I want more.” Now Jeff thrives on sharing and teaching that feeling and passion of surfing with the youth as it was passed on to him.
Jeff Carver brings a wealth of surf knowledge and positive attitude to any beach and lineup. He has traveled all over the world and guided countless clients to waves. When teaching lessons he uses skills acquired worldwide to provide the camper with the absolute best experience surfing possible. Jeff’s passion for surfing is infectious, one can’t help but be stoked after either taking a lesson with him or traveling to remote surfing destinations.
Kids Camp Unit Leader
Jacob Anderson – Kids Camp Unit Leader
Jacob was born in Durham, NC and bleeds Duke blue. He spent summers growing up at Wrightsville Beach getting comfortable with ocean and learned how to surf in 2013 on rental soft tops. Once he got his driver’s license he saved up and bought his own board and would drive down during swells and surf all day. During high school he worked as a lifeguard year-round and became a proud eagle scout. Jacob currently is in his final semester at UNCW and will graduate in May 2020 with a degree in Physical Education and Health. He is an aspiring elementary physical education teacher and is currently an intern at Wrightsboro Elementary School.
Jacob has played lacrosse since the 2nd grade and was the only player in his class to play all four years of high school on the Varsity team. He had multiple MVP awards and achieved All-State and several conference titles. He is currently the president of the UNCW Men’s Club Lacrosse team and if he’s not out on the water surfing, he’s with his teammates playing lacrosse or watching sports. He loves exercising, being outdoors, and taking his boat out to Masonboro Island to surf. He’s surfed up and down the North Carolina’s coast chasing waves and has traveled to Puerto Rico in order to surf world class waves.
Jacob returns as Unit Leader for his second year on the Kids Camp team after earning the Day Program’s Counselor of the Year Award.
Kids Camp Counselor
McKenzie Botbol – Kids Camp Camp Counselor
McKenzie was born and raised on Wrightsville Beach, NC. Ever since she could remember, she was in the water and on a surfboard, as her parents instilled a love for the ocean in her at a young age. In the summertime, McKenzie and her brother rode their bikes to the South End of Wrightsville from Harbor Island every day to surf and enjoy the beach. When she has free time, McKenzie loves spending time with her family and friends, adventuring with her dogs, surfing, snowboarding, traveling, and CrossFit.
McKenzie is currently entering her senior year of high school and plans to attend NC State University’s Veterinary program. She has Varsity lettered in both Volleyball and Swim since her Freshman year.
In addition to this, McKenzie is the president of the Surfrider Club at her school and enjoys planning monthly beach sweeps and community events for other students to attend.
This will be McKenzie’s second year on the Kids Camp team. She is very excited to continue sharing her love and knowledge of the local beaches, conservation, and surfing.
Kids Camp Camp Counselor
Kaylie Saidin – Kids Camp Camp Counselor
Kaylie was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Growing up close to the beach and with family from Hawai’i, she gained a connection to the ocean as a young person that has stayed with her into adulthood. She first learned to surf in Half Moon Bay and later Santa Cruz, where she got her first real longboard.
Kaylie studied at Loyola University New Orleans, where she played on the water polo team and was a member of various honors societies. She with her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a minor in Classical Studies in May 2019. During her summers in college, she was a surf instructor and ocean lifeguard in San Diego, California. She also taught kindergarteners in New Orleans.
In August 2019, she moved to Wilmington, where she is currently pursuing a Masters in Fine Arts in Fiction Writing. In Wilmington, she teaches creative writing lessons to sixth graders, works as a research assistant, and surfs every day she can. She is currently working on a novel. Her other outdoor passions beyond surfing include camping, rock climbing, ice skating, swimming, and skateboarding.
Kids Camp Marine Educator
Emma Whisenant – Kids Camp Marine Educator
Emma was born and raised just outside of DC in the town of Warrenton, Virginia. Growing up, she spent most of her time being outdoors and quickly developed an appreciation for nature. Emma and her family would go on a trip every summer to Sandbridge Beach, Virginia, which was where she found her love for the ocean. She would ride bikes, enjoy the water, and go on clean-up walks with her siblings.
Emma started her college career as a Marine Science major at the University of South Carolina, where she was an active member of the Green Scholar’s Program and acquired her Open Water Scuba Certification. She is currently finishing her third year of undergrad at UNCW and is now pursuing a degree in Environmental Science.
In high school, Emma was a lifeguard, pool operator and manager at her local pool. She then began to spend her summers teaching swimming and water safety lessons to young kids. In her free time, she loves doing anything outdoors, reading, exploring, and being active!