Next week we’re releasing Portland Summer Camps for 2019! That’s also when our Super Early Discount begins, where parents can save up to 15% off registration. In anticipation of the launch, I want to share a couple summer surprises with our families.
Vancouver, Cedar Hills, Happy Valley, Oh my! We’re offering several new locations, including an additional site in West Portland (Cedar Hills) and one in Vancouver (so many parents have asked). Also by popular request, our Happy Valley site moves further north. Plus, watch out for our bonus satellite site near the Mt. Tabor area.
Climb, Bike, Hike & Paddle We’re expanding our Trackers Outdoor Adventure programs, offering kayaking and climbing to younger, as well as older, campers. Our new water adventures now include kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and canoes. Meanwhile, younger kids can learn to ride a bike, while tweens and teens mountain bike the awesome trails of the Pacific Northwest.
And Don’t Forget All our classic themes are back, from Survivor Games to Realms of Cascadia. This includes new versions like Ninja Parkour Warrior, a camp that combines martial arts with forest free-running (Grade 4-5), along with a Jr Survival Adventure (Grade PreK-K)!
Finally Every Trackers Summer Camp now comes with a free camp T-Shirt, morning snack, and a coupon book featuring local businesses we’ve partnered with!
Oh, and did I mention Sew, Craft & Design camps? Really, I can’t fit all the exciting new options into one blog. So keep an eye out for future updates featuring the next evolution of Trackers Camps.
See you in the woods,
Founder & Mom
Editor’s Note The Evil Dr. Dice is the arch-nemesis of our Secret Agent Academy camp and Lead Counselor of our Evil Secret Agent Academy camp. Though he bears a striking resemblance to our founder, Tony Deis, he is in no way the same person or even an evil doppelgänger created by a transporter accident on the Starship Potemkin.
Greetings from The Evil Dr. Dice. As a yearly tradition in the TrackersVerse, they are contractually obligated to let me write a blog reviewing their Winter Break Camps. I laugh maniacally at the lengths Trackers will go to maintain my A-List star power. Let’s get started…
First off, Trackers Winter Break Camp is a terrible idea unto itself. Most of their programs take place out-of-doors, forcing parents to dress their kids for the cold weather. Which sounds like a lot of work. I recommend choosing something indoors, such as leaving them at the mall unattended.
Aside from the loathsome fact that outdoor skills camps show children how to survive the future apocalyptic landscape where I rule, learning “wilderness survival” also innately teaches the youths that we humans are dependent on Nature—a thoroughly horrible prospect for any parent. We can’t have kids questioning the cozy, lulling four walls of school, or wondering why we screwed up the planet’s biodiversity. Don’t complicate your modern familial domestic bliss with an anthropological discourse through the lens of evolutionary biology and ecology. Instead, get them an Xbox.
Many camps provide holiday cheer through handcrafted decor, scrumptious campfire cooked foods, and even neighborhood singing and goodwill*. Unfortunately, such creative adventures detract from global corporate consumerism and consumption. And let’s face it, that’s bad for the economy. Do you want to be responsible for a new recession (even though you’re not a hedge fund manager)? Well, you will be if you let your kid hand-make that holiday wreath.
I once heard that reading Harry Potter or playing Dungeons & Dragons can make children super evil. I got really excited about this prospect, but then I learned it was only a debunked theory made-up by 1980s fundamentalist groups who were probably jealous because their fictional universe was less cool than that of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Unfortunately, role-playing camps build character (literally and figuratively). So adventures of imagination with Troll Markets and Solstice Celebrations help children practice skills of emotional resiliency, making them less compliant for my impending world domination (or the 2020 elections). Thumbs down.
I have mixed emotions about this one. Teaching kids how to use projectile weapons (excuse me, hunting tools), that’s awesome! Teaching them how to use those same tools responsibly, well, that just makes them less likely to follow orders in my minion army. The same goes for Paintball Camp.
Finally, every Winter Break, it’s become a yearly tradition that I make some sort of super freeze ray to ice over something important: the city, the Clinton Street Bike Boulevard, Pip’s Donuts. And every time I would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids and their hippie-dippy instructors at the Trackers Secret Agent Academy. Consequently, I have some feelings.
So this year, after talking with my therapist, I’ve decided not to focus on an external freeze. Instead, I’m searching my soul for an intrinsic chilling of my heart. My plan? Using evil science, I shall mutate myself into a snow villain called The Evil Dr. ICE. A persona through which I can process my own grief for so many failed attempts at world domination. Plus, I’ll get cool ice ray powers.
Criminy, you got me monologuing about my plans! Just like my therapist. Anyways, forget everything I just wrote… unless you want a visit from the wooly mammoth riding minions of the Evil Dr. Ice.
The Evil Dr. Dice
Dictator of Small Bavarian City State
Cat Stevens Superfan
It’s that time of year again! I want to invite all our families to our annual Trackers Holiday Party. Weeks of preparation go into making this fun and fantastic gathering. There’s a cookie contest, so bring your best recipe. Local artisans are selling handmade crafts at the bazaar. All this, plus archery, face painting, and live holiday music.
The festive celebration continues in our Winter Break Camps (December 18-29). We offer Seasonal Themes, along with our skill-building programs in Wilderness Survival, Ceramics, and even Woodworking. Plus, don’t forget about the Holiday Troll Market.
Winter brings new challenges—especially dressing kids for the weather. Sometimes I send my kids to Trackers programs with the wrong jacket and it ends up pouring rain that day—luckily Trackers Teachers are patient with me. Like all parents, I walk a fine line between encouraging my kids to dress themselves, and knowing that such independence needs a little curation by mom. So at Trackers we made a video about Dressing for Winter Success. I even watched it with Robin (6 years), Annie (4 years), and Maxine (2 years) to discuss how they can choose the right outdoor gear for the winter weather. They like the sparkle magic sound effects the best. Watch the video…
We’re already getting ready for next summer. 2018's Summer Camps are posted and ready to register with the Super Early Discount (save 15% off). And remember, you can pre-order a Golden Ticket to Trackers to give as a holiday gift.
Please stop by our Holiday Party and say hello. Robin, Annie, Maxine, and I will be there to connect and celebrate with staff, families, and everyone in the community.
Founder & Mom
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…
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:
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!
For 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,
Founder & Mom
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.
Founder & Dad
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Happy New Year!
Our work moves in seasonal cycles. We recently finished up our Winter Break Camps (you can check out the photos here). Here are some events the Trackers Family is looking forward to in the coming year.
In 2017 the first Kindergarten Class of the Trackers Forest School will graduate and this September will feature both Grade K and 1. We are also adding something truly unique—an Outdoor Middle School (Grades 6-7). We follow an interdisciplinary approach and combine real-world skills with academic excellence. This is an exciting new direction in education for ourselves and our community.
But never fear: Our award-winning Summer Camps will return for their 12th year! Along with old favorites, we have crafted new themes for older campers such as pottery, rock climbing, and mobile overnights.
The summer program that has our educators most excited? The Tracking Through Time Traveling Roadshow: Solar Eclipse Edition. Campers traverse seven states in the American West, tracking wolves and antelope, checking out ancient cliff dwellings, and following 190 million-year-old fossilized dinosaur footprints. In Casper Mountain, Wyoming they will witness a once-in-a-lifetime celestial event—total eclipse of the Sun!
Finally, building upon our Guide to Knives & Woodcarving, Trackers Books will launch new field guides for kids that include archery, animal tracking, navigation, and fishing. All part of our ultimate mission to empower children and their families to make forest craft an integral part of their lives.
It’s been a busy year and this is only a short summary of what’s to come. I look forward to seeing you all at camp, school, homeschool, and other programs. I am grateful and excited to be on this journey with our incredible staff, students, and all the families we serve.
Trackers Founder & Mom
We are deeply saddened by the loss of our large pavilion shelter at our educational center at the old Roslyn Lake Campground. This building was a beautiful, historic part of the land and its story. It was a place our students have come to gather and care for.
Last night we received a call informing us that the structure was on fire. No students or programs were onsite at the time. Despite the quick response of the Sandy Fire Department, the shelter was destroyed. Fortunately, the fire was contained. No other areas of the property were damaged and no injuries were sustained.
Our staff and students share a feeling of profound loss right now. It is believed vandals may be responsible for this and other damage on the land. We will keep the community updated as the investigation continues.
Trackers wants to thank the Sandy Fire District for their fast and heroic work last night and continuing support.
Support the Outdoor School for All campaign!
There is a place called “Outdoor School”.
Look around the land of Oregon. We Oregonians value a life connected to the outdoors. Our connection—perhaps even our obsession—with all things green blooms from a culture where diverse “schools of outdoor education” have thrived for nearly half a century.
Many a 6th grade Oregonian has taken a bus down country gravel roads, through enchanted forests, to wild havens where they shared meals in longhouse dining halls, studied along the banks of the Sandy River and tracked down the trails of blacktail deer. They spent a week learning about plants, animals, water and earth.
There was a time when nearly every 6th grader in Multnomah, Washington and other Oregon counties attended Outdoor School. They spent 6 days in cabins in the “wilderness”, living and learning with peers, guided by larger-than-life teachers with names like Digger, Sorrel and Shade. One life-changing week spent walking the trails of Pacific Northwest forests. One week not stuck inside four walls. Not sitting in sterile rows. Time outside with the spiders, leaves, dirt, rain, sun and life.
There’s data to prove it but more importantly, the joy it cultivates for nature connects our community. Ask anyone who’s been there: an impression was made. Something was left behind. Oregon is a more interesting place because of Outdoor School.
Even our founder, Tony Deis, started teaching at Outdoor School. Many of our summer camp staff work at Trackers in the summer and Outdoor School in the fall and spring. Trackers Earth and our families owe a lot to this Oregon institution and tradition. Please help it continue for all our kids.
In recent years, funding for this magical experience has been in under attack. As conventional school funding dropped, so did Outdoor School funding. A full week of Outdoor School was cut to a few days, or even just one. No more overnights with stars and crickets. And not every kid in Portland gets the opportunity to discover their own week of incredible adventure.
It is a crisis that has snuck up on us. Few parents are aware of the cuts, or of how Outdoor School makes our lives better by weaving a web of connections between our community and nature. Without Outdoor School, the Pacific Northwest may well lose what is most valued about our community. We may lose what makes us us.
We could start by simply refunding the old program. But the Outdoor School for All campaign goes beyond just returning to the past. It seeks to forge a better future. It doesn’t stop at Outdoor School for a single school district, but proposes to remake education, fundamentally weaving it into the outdoors and nature. Outdoor School for All seeks to provide a whole week of outdoor education to every child across Oregon. A quintessential Oregon experience for every Oregonian.
And we can do it with no tax increases. The proposed measure redirects a small portion of lottery funds to provide Outdoor School for every child in every area of our state.
For our part, we’re donating 15% of all May sales of our new outdoor education book, Trackers Earth Guide to Knives & Wood Carving, to the Outdoor School for All campaign!
Outdoor School is the awesome secret all Oregonians can share. It helps define who we are as a state and as a people. It’s the mettle and the heart of our green blood. Outdoor School needs to do more than live on, it needs to grow. Join us in raising our voices to help make this happen. To support Outdoor School for All.