Thursday, March 21, 2019

The ability to light a fire with one-match in any weather is an important survival skill.

Once upon a time, our Jr Rangers Apprentices gathered wire-thin twigs from a very special tree (can burn even in wet conditions).

This tree is the Western Hemlock Tree (no real relation to the bane of Socrates—that was a plant).

They then scraped off the wet bark of the twig bundle with the back of their knives.

Even rolling it in the dust of a rotting cedar stump to further dry the ends of their tinder.

Upon striking the the match head, they tilted it down so the flame caught the wood of the match.

They then lit their tinder bundle from the bottom. Drawing it along the shaved ends of the twigs,

Finally they rotated the tinder so every twig caught.

Carefully opening the hand holding it to add airflow or or closing this hand to condense the bundle to better spread the flame.

After setting it upright against a rock or stump, they built their tipi fire by placing thicker twigs around it.

The End

Grown-ups can do this too! 9-month Rangers Wilderness Immersion

Featured Youth Programs

Ages 9-17 B.P.R.D Training Camp July 29-August 2 Trackers is proud to partner with Dark Horse Comics for a camp that takes you through the mythic and epic comic book universe of Hellboy. Trainees team up with experienced Agents and take on an anchent and malevolent foe bent on taking over the world!


Ages 10-15 Kayak Adventure Camp Offered throughout the summer Travel the waterways of Portland in our traditional hand-built kayaks. Learn to balance, paddle, safely recover from tips, knots, and many other nautical skills in this awesome Mariner camp. We provide the Kayak  you bring the sense of Adventure!


Featured Adult Programs

$67 Bow Making Basics May 28 & 30, June 4 & 64-evenings  Learn to craft your own bow out of locally harvested materials. We cover how to hew wood with simple blades and knives for wilderness survival and more. We focus on wood crafting skills with simple tools and symmetry in all wood craft.


8-month Archery Immersion 1-weekend a month immersed in the sport and art of archery. Our instructors provide expert coaching in archery fundamentals while bridging into more advanced skills.


$5 Open Archery Range Saturday, May 18, 12pm-4pm Come shoot at the Trackers open archery range in SE Portland. Every Saturday we offer a comfortable and fun place for family and friends to hone their archery skills. Also, check out our Family Training Session for 11am-Noon.

Tracking is the art and science of Paying Attention to the details, both large and small, and using this awareness to find hidden aspects of the world most people miss. Good Trackers can find a set of prints, human or animal, and follow them over any ground. Great Trackers can tell you what this means to health of their woodland, forest friends, and village.


The basics of blacksmithing began with learning safety. Safety in the shop, safety with tools, in safety by fire. The flow of the shop in working with your colleagues teaches more than just blacksmithing. Learning to use tools focused intact, channeling all your capable strength, his skill applied not only by your hands but also how you interact with the world.

Trackers Earth Camp

Plus, forging your own tools, whether it be a knife for survival skills uses or a Hori-hori  for the garden, creates more than extensions of your own hand and arm, but also of your heart. Blacksmithing is a trial by fire. It can be a journey of self-reliance and resilience.

Learn more about our Portland blacksmithing workshops, including knife and Hori-hori making, plus blacksmithing basics for those just starting out on the Blacksmith’s Workshop page.


By Travis Neumeyer, new Hand/COO of Trackers Earth

I’ve been sending my kids to Trackers since they were old enough to go. I’ve had to participate vicariously through them for the last four years. Somewhere along the line, Tony (the founder of Trackers) and I started talking. We talked about staffing, parents, and kids. Dune, Firefly and Lord of the Rings. Building a better summer camp, one that both transcends and includes the foundations of camping. A better model for the industry, a way to save the world.

My daughter returns from Trackers telling me about the boys she snuck up on and defeated in battle. When we go for a walk in Forest Park (my front yard), my son eats miner’s lettuce and oxalis. They both boast about their stick throwing and archery skills. When I go to the Scout Pit for a Final Friday, they are immediately at home, practicing their bow-drill, firing arrows in the archery range or spinning yarn.  Running around and being kids, all while learning, practicing and playing games.

Now I get to go to Trackers too. We are coming home.

Travis-with-kidsI grew up in the woods, half-feral perhaps. I am intimately familiar with a certain landscape and every summer I go back. This is what I want my children to have, I want all children to have. The self-confidence that comes from knowing how to find their way home from wherever they are, because they know the general direction your home is in and when they get close, their personal landmarks guide them home. From knowing the plants in their landscape, like friends, which ones taste good, which ones are bad for them, and which ones might not taste good but could help them survive.


Part of what makes Trackers special is that we harness the power of play and games in learning.  In more traditional societies, children ‘played’ with bows, knives, and young livestock, learning and practicing how to be useful. Having fun, while paying attention. The bows they used were appropriately sized. The knives appropriately sharpened. I send my kids to Trackers for the skills they learn, but also the way they learn it.

I believe a teacher’s role is to create a space where learners learn. Too often we take that away from the learner by telling them what to do, how to do it and why. In our very attempt to teach, we rob them of their own learning. One way to create that space is to insure the natural consequences are understood and kept in a very narrow, safe but powerfully instructive zone.

In know from my personal experience and my experience as a parent that knife safety is internalized when you know you can cut yourself with the knife. This is the same zone of flow that happens just outside of our comfort zone, where we learn best – where we are fully engaged and aren’t quite overwhelmed. Trackers does that incredibly well. The safety policies built into Trackers curriculum insure that powerful educational moments are created, and our children develop skills faster, remember what they learn better and have more fun because of how Trackers staff treat them and the world around them.

Trackers Instructors model the skills they teach, provide constructive feedback in a direct, efficient way, and most of all let our sons and daughters try, fail, learn and try again. We will make sure that your children, and mine, don’t come home with cuts that will leave scars, or spend time in the emergency room instead of having fun. We will also make sure they truly learn something useful.

Trackers is the program I have wished I was running for the last 10 years. I wouldn’t be ready for  Trackers if I hadn’t had those experiences, I am grateful for them and the people I’ve gotten to work with, but in the back of my mind I’ve always thought, “we could be better,”  “we could have more fun,” “we could save the world.” Trackers is constantly working to be better, have more fun, and to save the world. Each family that participates in Trackers is part of our village. A village where play teaches important skills, skills that are the healthy part of humanity’s resilience.  A village where no one will ever need to go hungry or be bored because they know how to flow with the gardens, the wilds and the hedgerows.

Make it so.