Meet the Staff
From the directors who steer the ship, to the year-round staff who head-up different program areas, to our seasonal crew of Group and Trip Leaders... you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who isn't passionate about what they do at Wilderness Adventure!
Colonel Gene Nervo, Owner & Founder
The Colonel is the heart and soul of this operation. As he regularly likes to remind his young staff, he has the wisdom and the vision that is needed to bring life to a program as unique as Wilderness Adventure. After 35 years in the Marine Corp and raising 7 children, he decided to use his retirement toward the betterment of today's youth. He spent 15 years as a boy scout leader and while he respected the organization, he knew that he could perfect the outdoor experience by building his own program. With over 50 years of experience leading men, boys and now children of all ages, he came up with his 4 principals of success that still give added depth and perspective to our trips today. Work ethic, communication skills, respect and a positive attitude are the foundation of every good trip and the building blocks for character and confidence in every child.
Sean Bryant, Director of Operations
Growing up with the Blue Ridge Mountains right in his back yard, Sean has always enjoyed the adventure and tranquility found in the outdoors. Sean loves working in an environment where kayaking on the New River Gorge or biking Slick Rock in Moab is seen as career development. Of all the outdoor pursuits, climbing reigns supreme for Sean. Climbing has taken Sean all over the globe to many world famous destinations. The most memorable to Sean are El Potrero Chico, Mexico; Cochamo Valley in Chile; the endless cracks in Moab, UT; Red Rock Canyon, NV ; Joshua Tree and Yosemite, CA; and Acadia, ME. Of course, don’t forget his favorite local crags at the New River Gorge, Seneca and Red River Gorge.
Sean has certifications from The American Mountain Guides Association, Leave No Trace, SOLO Wilderness First Responder, and CPR. Sean has been a valuable member of the Wilderness Adventure staff since 2009 as one of our most beloved and good-humored trip leaders, Assistant Director of Activities, Director of Activities, and now as Director of Operations.
Ruby Fernandez, Program Director
Ruby found her way to Wilderness Adventure from Bogota Colombia and into the , by way of a few amazing experiences. Included in these were achieving a Master's in Recreation Park and Tourism Management from Western Illinois University and a 6 month tour of North America which started with a month canoeing through the Missinabie River in Canada, backpacking through the west visting diferent national parks and finished with a month of sea kayaking and backpacking in Baja California. Ruby holds certifications as a Leave No Trace Master Educator, in WAFA Basic climbing skills (Colombia), and has been instrumental in bringing the IMBA Instructor Certification Level 1 to Wilderness Adventure in the upcoming fall of 2016. Ruby's Favorite Adventure Activities are Climbing and Mountain biking. Ruby loves working at WA because "I get to do what I love in a beautiful setting plus the people are great they became my family." Outside of adventure sports, Ruby loves schooling the staff with her Zumba skills while drinking glass bottled Coca Cola. She hopes to one day climb in the south of France and backpack through Iceland.
Ben Crowley, Base Camp Director
Ben came to us as an intern in the coldest months of 2014 to complete his degree in Recreation and Park Management from East Carolina University. If you've played disc golf on Base Camp in the past two years, you have this guy to thank for his ingeniously engineered course which served as his degree's final project. After graduation Ben rejoined the staff as a full time staff member. When asked about his favorite part of WA, he says: "It's a place where your light can make a difference, I see it happen everyday." Ben hails from the Northeast and enjoys New England football, and prefers hiking and team building best of the Wilderness Adventure activities. In his travels, Ben has hiked through both the South and North Islands of New Zealand, and he hopes to hike through Scotland and Ireland someday. Ben has also been to over 100 DMB shows and he's surely not been to his last one yet.
jay Howard, Adventure Camp Director
As soon as you meet Jay, you instantly like him. An amiable and altruistic leader, Jay has come from the well-rounded program of Nature’s Classroom. He has worked as facilitator for them at both their New Hampshire location, the Sargent Center, as well as in Alabama atop Lookout Mountain. He became a full time facilitator and trip leader after graduating from Hampden-Sydney College and has since excelled as both. As a caving, kayaking and knowledgeable outdoor living skills teacher, he has become an approachable resource for the many field staff we see through each season. Demonstrating integrity and a true sense of the WA Spirit, Jay has taken on the position of Adventure Camp Director, .
Nick Wilson, Activities Director
Nick is an avid backpacker, and he's been covering ground since high school. He's worked at Philmont, and Wilderness Adventure leading trips, but his experience goes far beyond that: Nick completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2013 and the Pacific Northwest Trail in 2018. He graduated William & Mary with a degree in History and Global Studies which makes his campfire conversations some of the most enjoyable. He now spends his winters snowboard instructing in Red River, New Mexico. A practical joker and a hard worker, Nick is a great member of the WA team. He also has been trained as an EMT and brings great insights to Wilderness Medicine.
Kora White, Store Manager & Hospitality Manager
Kora joined us in 2016 and quickly made her way into the position of Hospitality Manager. With an eye for detail and love for thoughtful organization, she is the force behind maintaining our "rustically-elegant" lodges. Kora hails from right here in New Castle, VA and holds a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Davis & Elkins College. When she's not setting the bar for work ethic, or adding nice touches to our Base Camp store or buildings, you can find her adventuring with friends or making the punniest jokes you've ever heard!
abby williams, Boat Barn Manager
After a a successful season with us where she completed her college internship, she graduated with flying colors from Slippery Rock University with a degree in Outdoor Recreation Management. Her kind and thoughtful personality makes her leadership style a perfect fit for our program and we are happy to have her taking care of our boats! As an experienced paddler herself (she is often found on the river whenever she has a spare couple of hours!) she has patiently coached both clients and fellow staff members alike to perfect their kayak roll! During her off season from WAEL she is also a ski instructor at Holiday Valley in NY.
year-round staff (Left-Right)
Derek Thompson (Instructor, Leader), Lisa Hancock (Support Staff), Amy Gallimore (Cook/Support Staff), Dylan Sim (Bike Barn Co-Manager, Leader)