Thursday, November 21, 2019

Monthly Archives: March 2017

Like many of you, Tony and I are working parents. And sometimes we work from home. While watching the kids. While taking care of the goats. While not getting enough work done. While our kids holler, “M-o-o-m! D-a-a-d!”

Not only is it distracting, but it also means that if you get a call from me you are likely to hear a lively discussion about “whose stick it is” in the background. For the record, it was originally Robin’s stick (6 years). But he put it down. So it became Annie’s stick (4 years). Meanwhile Maxi (1 year) makes off like a bandit with said stick while her two siblings argue.

This is parenthood. I can job-clean-nurse while wearing my child ankle weights. I know that 5 minutes of alone time in the bathroom isn’t guaranteed. Though sometimes I ask, why do Tony and I seem to have a gravitational mass that pulls in our children? Why do they require us to entertain them?

And I have to remind myself, this need not be a constant state. A simple change of venue can do the trick. Go outside! In the house, we parents are often the most interesting object available. The kids ricochet off the walls and into our near-Earth orbit. But outside, children can manage escape velocity.

Of course, there is the “parent addiction” (read: won’t leave you alone) that can afflict all children (at least before their teenage years). Once outdoors, kids may not be ready to see that the walls have vanished. While they work it out, we can get back to work: Sitting on the grass with our laptops, puttering in the garden, or watching the juncos flit through the trees.

And while ignoring little ones indoors is rarely possible, once in nature they invariably wander off to find rocks, mud puddles, bugs, grass, shovels, weeds to eat, dinosaur bones, knives, clouds, and squirrels. Or they may choose to help with your garden puttering.

As with any parenting advice, this is easier blogged than done. Yet sending our kids outside need not stem from our frustration; it can come from our empathy. A life spent indoors doesn’t set children up for success in exploring beyond the limited perspective of their parents (that’s us with our limitedness). Nature provides a far grander and more diverse landscape.

So next time we seek that sense of calm, but our kids aren’t letting us have it, let’s try stepping outside with them (or send them out on their own—that’s how I wrote this blog*). There we shall find a world with fewer boxed-in boundaries, less parental gravity. And enough sticks to for everyone!

See you outside,
Molly Deis
Trackers Earth
Founder & Mom

*Picture the mom from Calvin and Hobbes.

Other blogs you might like:  5 Ways to Nature  –  Kids Need Silence  –  Let’s Get Dangerous

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While we believe there’s no other camp like Trackers Camp. We also understand the value of tuition is important to discuss. Our expert educators and the wild lands we teach truly play a special role in connecting kids to the wilderness. As a unique program, much of our infrastructure is more specialized than other camps. While we believe our tuition matches (or is often lower) than other schools that provide similar outdoor programming, I want to illuminate some important aspects related to our budget. We see access to education a vital part of our community and it is our responsibility to be transparent about the mechanisms behind our tuition structure.

  1. 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. In what is traditionally a seasonal field, 32 of our educators are employed with us year-round and full-time with benefits (as of 2018). Many others are supported part-time as we work towards one of our primary missions of always creating more full-time employment for teachers focused on nature connection. To our knowledge, we provide more full-time, year-round education jobs than any other camp in the region. That has the impact of creating an educational staff who are more mature and experienced than a typical camp. Our goal has always been to improve the quality of outdoor education by enhancing the professional teacher’s ability to make a healthier livelihood within it.
  1. 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—for both for seasonal and year-round staff. 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 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 to balance tuition cost (both for our programs and within the entire field) with the passionate desire to pay our staff better wages to support their hard work within their vocation.
  1. We focus on preservation and stewardship of natural land for programming. A related expense is transporting students to these places from our centralized urban locations (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 compels 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. While many other youth outdoor programs have sold off their wild lands for development, Trackers has preserved over 171 acres of wilderness for education, much of that is within 1 mile of urban growth—and we intend to do much more in the coming years. 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.

Sincerely,

Tony Deis
Trackers Earth
Founder & Parent

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 >>