At Trackers Earth, all weather is good weather. We believe encouraging resiliency in all kinds of weather teaches kids how to face challenges throughout their lives.
Dress your kids for success to have fun this winter! Keeping kids comfortable outdoors in all weather helps them appreciate nature and stay active. We put together a handy video and infographic on how to layer to stay warm and dry in cold weather.
In this video, the Trackers Gear Fairy teaches parents and kids about essential winter clothing.
Use this infographic to double check all your layers!
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!
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.
Winners of the “Kids Who Trackers,” Photo Contest will receive one free day of 2017 Spring Break Camp (non-transferable to other programs)!
“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.
There’s a reason we chose knives and wood carving as the topic of our first Trackers Earth book.
A knife is an incredible tool for the forest craft we do at Trackers. You can use your blade in profound ways, from making feather sticks for lighting wet wood in the rain to carving fish hooks to feed yourself. My knife has cared for my own life and comfort many times.
That’s why it feels strange to hear that some people think of knives only as weapons to be feared. Schools suspend kids for stocking a car safety kit, forgetting about the pocket knife their grandfather gave them, bringing a spork to eat lunch with, shooting an imaginary arrow and making a clock.
I understand the very real safety issues schools have to deal with. But I also believe one-size-fits-all policies play into fear and rarely lead to good solutions. Our schools, even our culture, can lack the nuance gained from interacting with the physical world.
We’re entering an era when education only allows children tools used for abstract thought. No carving tool is allowed, but a tablet computer is required. We have dramatically changed the definition of “normal” for childhood. It has become normal to steal cars or shoot people in video games, but it’s no longer normal to carry a carving knife to whittle with.
On top of that, kids get shorter recess and more homework. They’re no longer allowed to play at the park on their own, or even climb trees there. Connecting with the physical world has, in some ways, become illegal in our schools and irrelevant in our lives.
But for some kids, I have seen that shift with powerful results. I’ve watched them use knives to gut a trout they caught for dinner. Afterwards, they cooked those fish over a campfire they started with the bow drill they carved. They even ate stew with spoons they whittled. I feel fortunate to witness many of these small but profound interactions with the forest, the cold, sunshine, the earth and the out of doors.
With a knife and other tools (even of stone, bone and wood), the essentials of life don’t come from an ethereal cloud. They come from paying attention to Nature, to things not just human-made. Through intelligent use of tools, including knives, schools can empower kids to interact with life: making and learning with their minds, hands and hearts.
Give a seven year old a knife to carve with. At Trackers, we do this every day.
A thoughtful parent might say, “I have a good kid, and they always follow the rules. If they’re taught knife safety, there’s no way they’ll cut themselves. Right?”
I know the guidelines of knife safety well. I even wrote them. Guess what? I, and many other skilled adults, have accidentally cut ourselves when we let our awareness drop.
Like anything in life, “knife safety” is less about rigid rules and more about paying attention. You have to remain fully aware of your body position and level of control. Rules start you on the path to noticing important details. But the reality is that every outdoor skill requires a mindfulness few children get the opportunity to practice—especially in our modern educational settings.
At times, a child’s brain can get overwhelmed by asking their body to achieve a whole new level of coordination. If they end up “breaking a rule”, it’s not because they chose to be bad. It’s often because they lost track within the wave of many new things they needed to remember as their knife slices through a cottonwood branch.
There is an inherent risk to pushing these limits. Some might say we should never let kids push that edge with new skills. Yet growth requires testing limits through well calculated risk. So, we strike a balance. We engage in wild adventures such as climbing trees, swimming, and yes, using knives, so kids can grow up and develop the competencies that come with nature awareness.
If a kid breaks their wrist while stretching their own limits climbing a tree, that’s a significant learning experience—and, studies show that kids who sustain those types of injuries are less likely to be afraid of heights as adults. If they get cold because they refuse to wear their coat, they remember the next time the temperature drops. If they get bug bites, let them complain about it to the deer who live with it in the wild.
Children need risk. They also need competent, caring adults watching out for them. This is the mission of Trackers: to mitigate significant safety concerns while helping students push those edges. Trackers does not jump headlong into danger simply for adventure’s sake. Our actions are rooted in a profound awareness that weighs the opportunity for growth against any possible risk. Our responsibility entails asking children to do more, while setting firm boundaries around choices with potentially serious consequences.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but one of our jobs at Trackers is to actually make going outdoors slightly more boring. Ironically, that mitigation of risk often significantly limits things kids should be able to do with complete freedom.
At Trackers we have limits on climbing trees. We have limits on swimming and wading. And yes, we even have limits on how dirty you can get (and remain so). We have limits on nearly everything you can think of (remember, our safety manual is hundreds of pages long).
These limits let us walk up to the edge of learning, but never fall over the cliff.
In a world informed by catch phrases, educators and parents often claim they can keep a child safe 100% of the time. This sincere drive to build faith and trust with families forces camps and schools to become disingenuous in their communications.
I don’t want that for Trackers.
With all my heart, I want all parents to know that we work extremely hard to keep kids safe. We also challenge ourselves to respect the fundamental wild truths of learning and life.
There are times that, in a momentary flash, quicker than any teacher or even parent could catch, a child will choose to exceed the limits placed on them. It is then that they did something exceptionally normal, healthy, and awesome. They jumped over a log. They swung from a tree. They experimented with fire. Meanwhile, I sit there paranoid, gritting my teeth, yet also extremely proud—both as an educator of Trackers and as a parent.
The world is changing. And Trackers is teaching your kids how to survive and thrive in it. Here are some wilderness survival tips on how to keep your kids and family healthy during these hot days of summer (both in the wilds and the city).
White or light colors reflect heat while dark colors absorb it. So, lighter colors will keep you cooler. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat will also help protect your face and neck (although you should still remember sunscreen in these places).
Tracking animals teaches us how to handle extreme weather. Our forest friends follow the “Principle of Extremes”. When it’s wet, they seek the dry. When it’s cold, they seek the warm. And, during the hottest part of the day, the deer know how to find the breezy shade, chewing the cud they foraged in the earlier, cooler dawn. Likewise, families can focus their outdoor time on the cooler mornings and evenings during the longer days of summer, while seeking forest shade during the hotter parts.
Staying hydrated is essential to beating the heat. Always have a water bottle. Empty it by drinking and refill it several times a day. Sports drinks, soda, and coffee (sorry parents) is not a replacement for pure, clean water. Get your child excited about drinking water (I’m sure many parents can think of applicable games from their college days). A child needs to consume several large water bottles each day to stay healthy and happy.
The right foods can cool you down and be a healthy snack. Take advantage of the tasty berries, fruits and veggies of the season. They not only hydrate you with their high water content, but they offer great nutrition. Smaller, more frequent meals also helps.
Sunscreen not only prevents short-term burns, it also protects the long-term health of your skin. It should be applied consistently throughout the day, as even “full-day” sunscreens will wear off. Watch kids to make sure they apply the sunscreen evenly and everywhere needed (especially younger children). Remind them, sunscreen is a form of shelter.
Make every journey out of doors a lesson in wilderness survival. At Trackers survival skills are actually thrival skills, so keep it fun and about developing resilience in all weather. Imagine you’re traveling across a desert, in the jungle or even on an alien planet. How would you prepare and what would you take with you?
All these tips apply to packing for summer camp (cause it’s like an alien planet). Send them with sunscreen already applied with more to reapply, clothes for the weather, a good sized water bottle (pre-hydrate them too), and a thoughtfulness to seek the shade.
With the right preparation, kids can weather any weather. So enjoy the nature and the summer sun with a focus on staying healthy.