Camps

Disclaimer: This blog is from a mom who happens to know her individual kids very well. It does not necessarily reflect exactly how we teach at Trackers Camps.


By Molly Deis, Trackers Founder & Mom

Remember when Calvin, from the Calvin & Hobbes comic, bellowed at his mother to watch TV, ran amok around the house, or, as Spaceman Spiff, blew something up? After which, Calvin’s mom promptly tossed him outside.

When my own kids start to lose it, I do the same thing. Minus the actual tossing.

Love or hate it, most of us have used the classic “time out” when our kids get challenging. However, being sent to your room can be a strange mix of punishment and reward: there are toys, but also four walls (like a classroom… or a prison).

On the other hand, Time-Outside is different. The blue sky doesn’t respond to tantrums. The trees are unmoved by screams. The bugs could care less about your bad mood. There is no audience. All that remains is an outlet for self-creativity in the form of sticks, grass and mud.

There are many pathways to challenging behavior. Maybe the child is bored. Maybe they’re too reliant on us parents for their perceived needs. Maybe they’re bouncing off the walls as a plea for freedom. Or maybe they just choose to be selfish that day. These are all human problems that Nature could care less about.

When you go back far enough, we all had hunter-gatherer ancestors who raised their kids in a world not defined by four walls. Instead, a child’s playroom stretched to the horizon, filled with rivers, meadows, and forest. Children are supposed to start out as selfish with other humans in the family. A child who vocalizes her needs is employing a survival strategy that ensures the tribe feeds and cares for her. Some researchers even suggest crying could be a natural mechanism that helps stave off the birth of additional siblings—additional competition for resources (a phenomenon I’m sure many parents will vouch for).

Parental proximity amplifies this selfish instinct. Research shows that children cry more when they know a parent is around. As vexing as this can be, it demonstrates a healthy and instinctive dependence on essential caregivers. But nature also provides a balance for this. Survival skills for the wilderness helps pull children into autonomy and competent adulthood.

In the hunter-gatherer world, no matter how hard you cry the fish won’t jump onto your hook, the deer won’t walk into your arrow, and the cattail root won’t leap out of the mud and into your basket.

Nature does not reward behavior with the same attention as a parent. While we’re genetically coded to tolerate (to some degree) the pleadings of our own offspring, the rest of nature have no such ties. Birds don’t ask, “Are you okay?” when you’re throwing a fit. Nor do they say, “You’re bad.” They might see you as a threat, watching you and alarming from the trees until you calm down.

Any child attentive to wildlife soon recognizes the importance of attuned senses, stillness, and blending in (camouflage). Thus, by sparking even the most basic interest in Nature, parents can help these “animals teachers” transform their child from human dependent to wilder diplomat.

So, even though nature doesn’t give a fig, it’s incredibly engaging. From the worst tantrum, it rarely takes more than 20 minutes for my kids to calm down once they get outside. Usually far shorter, especially if I’m not right there to be their foil.

The improvement is swift and impressive as four-year-old Annie quickly forgets she needed to watch Wild Kratts. Instead, she embarks on a creature-power-adventure with the actual squirrels in her own yard. The bonus? I have some much-needed peace and quiet to get some work done, like writing this blog! (Though I do peek my head out every so often to confirm she and her brother are still alive.)

In reading this, hopefully you don’t think I’m a callous mother, abandoning her children’s emotional plights to a world of spiders, moles and squirrels. My goal is freedom for my children. Freedom from the stuff in their room. Freedom from me telling them what is right or wrong. Mostly importantly, freedom to discover their own resilience.

Time-Outside works so well, sometimes I give myself one. When I realize I’m not handling parenting as well as I should, I head outdoors to keep the goats company and watch the barn swallows feed their own begging chicks. However, time out in nature shouldn’t be limited to parenting challenges. There are countless reasons to head into the unspoiled, rural or urban wilderness. Go watch the stars. Garden in the dirt. Play in the sprinkler!

When the weather is warm, children should stay outside as much as possible during daylight hours—maybe beyond. Set up a blanket for picnic lunches. Hang a hammock. Suggest they build a stick fort if they crave the “indoors”. The more you keep them outside, the less you’ll see that selfish front kids put up for us as parents. The more you’re outside with them, the happier everyone will be.

So if you do come to my house this summer, please take the driveway slowly. Beware the feral children roaming amok with a certain stuffed tiger named after a comic sitting in their currently empty room.

Our Rovers programs are for our youngest campers: Age 4 – Grade K. They adventure out to the forest to learn outdoor skills with our expert educators. Find Rovers camps…

Camps in All Locations

New for 2017 This year, programs for younger campers are available in all our Summer Day Camp locations. Now you can choose camps for Age 4 – Grade K at:

SE Portland     NE Portland     W Portland

Real Outdoor Adventure

We recognize that our youngest campers crave the adventures and challenges only Trackers can offer. In all our camps for preschool and kindergarten age children, we teach real outdoor skills!

Camps include: Story Adventures, where kids explore a fantastical world of imagination. Forest Camp, where they learn wilderness survival, wild plants, and more.

Expert Leadership

kelsey-150For the 3rd year in a row, Kelsey returns as our Rovers Coordinator. Kelsey has been with Trackers over 6 years. She has supervised our after school, apprenticeships, overnight camp programs, and more. She has a Masters Degree in Outdoor Education and teaching credential. Her extensive educational background and experience with Trackers Earth makes Rovers one of the Best Camps in the Known Universe.

See you outdoors,
Molly Deis
Trackers Earth
Founder & Mom

Now ends March 8, 2017

Quite a few parents called, concerned they missed the early Summer Camp discount. This happens every year. So what made this time unique? Many felt distracted and caught up with current events. We empathize and want to do something about this. We’re extending the 10% discount through March 8.

We believe Forest Skills foster compassion, self-accountability, and long-term thinking. Values we need in today’s world.

Compassion Through tracking animals, kids discover empathy. They understand how the mouse needs shelter to survive. They also feel that the coyote is hungry, and must feed her pups.

Self-Accountability Wilderness survival teaches kids to own their choices. Nature does not build a fire for you, but the wilderness does provide us with the resources to do so. As they learn to Pay Attention to nature, children cultivate awareness, knowledge, and resiliency.

Long-Term Thinking Through proper harvesting of wild plants, kids learn to think beyond the short-sightedness found in many of our present-day “leaders”. Harvesting willow for baskets can create more abundance in the years that follow. It can also help create better habitat for wildlife, and more resources for generations beyond our lifetime. Thus true long-term thinking also means caring for the community of both the human and more-than-human world.

Of course, extending our discount won’t necessarily save the world (at least by itself). Yet it is one fun opportunity we can put out there among all the news. One message just to let you know, at Trackers Earth we are dedicated to helping parents create an awesome planet for our kids. One of compassion, self-accountability, and a common vision that cares for our future generations.

Sincerely,

Tony Deis
Trackers Earth
Founder & Dad

Register for Portland Summer Camps

Register for Bay Area Summer Camps


News Trackers Earth (Portland)

News Trackers Earth (Bay Area)

  • New day camp locations at the Berkeley Marina (West Berkeley) and Rudgear Park (Walnut Creek) are available. Both sites feature outdoor nature play during pick-up and drop-off.
  • We offer Adventure Travel Expeditions. Locations include the California Coast and Point Reyes National Seashore.
  • Grade 5-12 Our Residential Overnight Camps now bring our Trackers Kids from California and Oregon together! Discover Camp Trackers on the western slopes of Mt. Hood and it’s evergreen forest in beautiful Sandy, Oregon. Pre-registered Airport Transfer service available for all students.

Featured Summer Camps for Saving the World

 

camo-285Wilderness Survival Camps

Nevertheless, we teach young women to persist… with bows and arrows, campfire and wild plants, stealth and wilderness survival. BTW, we also teach young men to be thoughtful through these same skills.

Learn more >>

 


foam-arrow-285Secret Agent Camps

Sign up for Secret Agent Camp and your kids can help to stop an evil megalomaniac from taking over the country and destroying the world.

Learn more >>

 


rovers-285Rovers Forest Camp

Age 4 – Grade K Walls? Where we’re going, we don’t need walls. Outdoor skills for our younger campers: wilderness survival, wild plants & more. Age 4 – Grade K now in all SE, NE & W locations.

Learn more >>

NE Portland Location

We’re excited to announce our new NE Portland camp location at Rose City Park Elementary (2334 NE 57th Avenue). As part of our ongoing relationship with Portland Public Schools, we are using this site while Grant High School is under construction.

Rose City Park Elementary has excellent parking and provides walkability options for families in Northeast Portland neighborhoods. Drop-off and pick-up is behind the school at the playground, providing the opportunity to utilize its nature play area for even more outdoor activity.

Our SE Portland site is still at our main headquarters near 99E and our W Portland site is still at West Sylvan.

Overnight Expeditions

Our overnight programs now offer multiple new locations through our mobile camps! New to Summer 2017, choose from six different expeditions through fantastic wilderness areas. Themes include building a 20-foot hand-crafted boat while fishing on the Oregon Coast, a two week Cascade Survival Expedition, and a trip around the San Juan Islands.

Or you can join the Tracking Through Time Traveling Roadshow, an adventure spanning seven states in the American West while learning about paleontology, archaeology, and natural history. Unlike any other, this is a journey where we track wolves and antelope, rediscover ancient cliff dwellings, and follow the trails of 190 million year old fossilized dinosaur footprints. Oh, and this camp takes place during a full solar eclipse which campers will experience while in the Casper Mountains.

Not ready to hit the road? We also still offer local residential camps at Camp Trackers Overnight Site in Sandy, Oregon.

 

Do you have a Trackers Kid? Enter our photo contest to win a free day of Spring Break Camp! Find the best photo(s) of your kids doing Trackers Stuff. Post on social media and tag our page @TrackersEarth. Ask friends to share. We feature the top photos in our newsletter.

HOW TO ENTER:

1. Pick a super awesome photo of your kid doing “Trackers Stuff” in 2016.
2. Post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
3. Tag us (Trackers Earth) in your post.
4. Add hashtag #TrackersKids2017
5. Spread the word! If you know a kid who does Trackers Stuff, even if they haven’t attended a camp, they are eligible to win as well!

RULES:

1. The kid in the photo must belong to you.
2. The kid must be doing “Tracker Stuff.”
3. Enter as many times as you like!

Contest ends February 7, 2017 at midnight.
Winners announced February 10, 2017 in the evening via Facebook, Instagram, and newsletter.

PRIZE:
Winners of the “Kids Who Trackers,” Photo Contest will receive one free day of 2017 Spring Break Camp (non-transferable to other programs)!

FINE PRINT:

“Trackers Stuff” includes; hiking, tracking, whittling, ceramics, blacksmithing, foraging, gathering, basket weaving, hunting, fishing, kayaking, archery, playing Vikings & Valkyries, Pirates, Ninjas, Wizards, etc.    “Trackers Stuff” qualifications will be at the discretion of the photo contest judges at Trackers Earth.

By participating in this contest, you are giving Trackers Earth permission to use submitted photos on our website and on our social media accounts.

Stories from each week of Summer Camp:

“The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master.” - Darth Vadar to Obi Wan Kenobi

Kids can teach parents. They go out into the world and discover skills to bring home. We smile when parents tell us how campers share their newfound knowledge with their families. It empowers them to feel Truly Helpful. Children have an innate desire to contribute to the well-being of their community. We can cultivate this through camp.

Wilderness Survival Camps
The various camps Owen has done are quite different but none are like Trackers. He loves the adventure and outdoor skills learned. At home, he teaches us how to make fire and carve wood. We appreciate the enthusiasm of the counselors and his excitement for each day. - Jake, Parents

Mary loved both of the counselors in her group and left excited about her new-found fire making skills. We are going camping this weekend and just need to bring one match, maybe two. - Kathleen, Parent

Wizards Academy Camps
Every day has been an adventure for her. She’s learning skills that excite and challenge her. She is teaching me that I need to say “be careful less” and giving me another model for letting her challenge herself safely. - Leila, Parent

Spy Camps
Zoey had such a wonderful experience today. We heard her excited stories about the portal, the river and her hike and her cool adventures. She is teaching us how to hand crochet, the secret handshake and we love her excitement. Thank you for her wonderful day. - Mary, Parent

Farm & Wild Craft Camps
Sam is having a great time. He was using his homemade salve on the way home and telling all it’s uses. - Karen, Parent

It is always difficult to find a camp that excites all 3 of my kids but Trackers delivers! My kids come home full of stories, new experiences, knowledge and enthusiasm. My daughter and I walked the dog in the open space this week and she let me know the tree we were passing was a black oak (a fact she learned at Trackers). I get the feeling you combine real learning about nature and survival with games and stories that spark imagination and excitement. Thanks! - Naomi, Parent

 

Check Which Camps Are Available

Stories from each week of Summer Camp:

Many of the skills we teach are inspiring: wilderness survival, farm life, blacksmithing and fishing. We recognize these fantastic possibilities bring kids to our camps. When you get into it, these skills can sometimes turn out to be more difficult than first imagined. Yet our instructors collaborate with kids to step-up. And that’s where the true magic happens. Discovering the power of resilience and gaining confidence in their capability to learn teaches kids to explore and live a great life.

Farm & Wild Craft Camps
Maya was thrilled she got to milk a goat today. She said, “It’s much harder than it looks to get the milk to come out.” She’s really enjoyed every day of camp, her leader (Skye) is fantastic, and she’s learning a lot & making new friends! -Marci, Parent

Blacksmithing Camps
The instructors for, Apprenticeship of the Blade, have an enormous amount of skill and knowledge about how to forge blades and they understand how to communicate it to their students. It was refreshing to find a camp that offered such wonderful instructors. Often, teenagers share very little information, not so with this class, our teenager would share his completed pieces and the knowledge that went into it. So, thank you, it is so great to hear him speak with enthusiasm instead of sarcasm. -Karen, Parent

Wilderness Survival Camps
Sebastian is normally a kiddo who doesn’t like to get dirty or wet. You can imagine my delight when I came to pick him and he was covered in charcoal “camouflage” after spending a good portion of his day out in the rain and had a blast! All he talks about is all the cool things he does including shooting “real arrows like the big kids.” Thanks for making it a super fun week for him. It’s worth the drive -Kimberly, Parent

Zombie Camps
Claire has really loved this camp. I went in to wake her yesterday and she was sobbing in her sleep. I was worried and held her while she woke up to tell me she was having a dream that she couldn’t go to zombie camp that day. Good job guys! -Robin, Parent

 

Check Which Camps Are Available