We believe there’s no other camp like Trackers Camp. Our expert educators and our the wild lands we teach play a truly special role in connecting kids to the wilderness. As a unique program, many of our infrastructure needs are more specialized than other camps. While we believe our tuition matches (or is often lower) than other camps that offer similar outdoor programming, I want to illuminate some important aspects related to our budget. We believe access to education is an important matter and it is our responsibility to be transparent about the mechanisms behind our price structure.
- Our very low staff to student ratio is essential for mentoring. For example, we typically have 1 teacher to 7 students in our camps. Plus, a larger proportion of our staff work with us beyond the summer season. Most outdoor education industry jobs are seasonal and lack benefits or job security. 27 of our educators are employed with us year-round and full-time with benefits (as of 2017). Many others are supported part-time as we work towards one of our primary missions of always creating more full-time employment. To our knowledge, we provide more full-time, year-round education jobs than any other camp in the region. Our goal has always been to improve the quality of outdoor education by enhancing the professional teacher’s ability to make a livelihood within it.
- We support Fair Wage Camps. Better wages improve both our programs and the field. We work hard to set our pay scale above camp standards. We compete with other camp programs who, due to a loophole in Oregon law, often pay substandard/sub-minimum wages (something Trackers Earth does not do). When registering for any camp, we advocate researching what they pay their staff; then deciding if this is a wage you would be comfortable with—many pay fair camp wages, some do not. Finally, at Trackers Earth we recognize we can always do far more and better to provide for our teachers. We actively seek to increase their quality of livelihood with us every year. One of our biggest challenges remains balancing tuition cost (both for ourselves and within the entire field) with the passionate desire to pay our staff better wages to support their hard work within this vocation.
- We focus on preservation and stewardship of natural land for programming. One related expense is transporting students to these places (school buses are not cheap). More importantly, in many public parks, you cannot make a campfire, build a shelter, harvest wild plants, do many wilderness crafts, or even climb a tree. This is understandable for the preservation of these heavily used public resources. It also requires us to acquire and preserve crucial wild spaces specifically to provide these truly hands-on wilderness learning opportunities for all of our students. This also conserves these unique and beautiful lands from development. We consider our relationship with the lands we care for as a gift: One we can share with the greater community.
To families who need tuition assistance, we have always offered robust scholarships and payment plans related to financial aid. Continuing that commitment to our families we provide more scholarships funds every year—including this coming year.
Hopefully, all this provides further insight into the depth and scope of our program.
Founder & Parent