Happy Holidays from our family to yours! This year has been wonderfully busy. Because our work is caring for families and the natural world, busy feels good. Running an outdoor camp connected to the hopes and dreams of so many kids, grown-ups, and staff can sometimes be a daunting task. We always try to “Do it Better,” seeking the beauty of imperfection and the wonder of thoughtful progress. In that spirit, we want to share some areas in which we feel Trackers grew this past year.
New Portland Location
After eight years Trackers said goodbye to the place where it all began: Our beloved old Scout Pit in Sellwood. We bought a building four blocks north where we finished off our busiest summer season yet. The new facilities are thoroughly updated, offer more space, and far better parking (yet not too perfect). Read more about leaving the original Scout Pit and the new “needs a name” location.
Marin Summer Camps
This year marked a big step for us at Trackers – we added a full summer of programming in Marin, including all our most-loved camp themes. Under the watchful eye of our Marin director Lynn and her stellar crew, the summer was a rousing success. We are excited to return to Piper Park again in 2015 with even more themes and adventures planned for our friends in the North.
Our year-round Rangers Apprenticeship and Archery Apprenticeship for youth and teens reached its third year and has really come into its own. This fall, we also introduced Wilders (homesteading and folk craft) and Blacksmithing Apprenticeships. Many students have attended the program since its beginnings and all Apprentices have gone farther than our greatest expectations. We appreciate the dedication of our mentors and the strength of the kids who will someday take their place (but hopefully not Highlander style).
Even Better Camps
The new positions of Program Coordinators were born this summer and allowed key leaders in Trackers to run our camps in smaller, flexible teams. Small but vital changes such as this have a profound impact on our programs by supporting our values of personal care and mentoring. Through our recent growth, we even made headway on some of our most long-standing challenges: finding more land for kids to roam freely and adding more year-round staff. By the way, if you know someone who would be a great fit for Trackers, have them apply here for next summer.
You may have heard that we started developing books and even hired a real life publisher and editor (a Trackers parent since our first camp). After we wrote, edited, re-wrote, and edited some more—Tony, of course, was not satisfied (he folds his laundry before washing). Like our camps, we want our books to reflect the best we have to offer; to be potentially life-changing. So, we went back to the blank page and came up with an idea that we feel will have an even deeper impact. And since we’ve forbidden Tony from doing any more revision on the first book, you can expect it soon. While it’s ostensibly only about Woodcarving with Knives, it hints at a new vision that might change the nature of Trackers itself.
Family & Friends
Finally, this past weekend at the holiday party we invited our community to share in musical caroling and waffles. There we saw dozens of families and friends who came to celebrate the season with us. We were amazed at how the kids walked around our new space like they owned it. Which is not surprising, because they do own it!. We were again reminded how so many people have found like-minded friends here. And of course, we all noticed how awesome the new archery range looked.
10 Years of Trackers
When Tony, Molly, and other friends first talked about starting Trackers – or even with Jess joined the Bay Area team 5 years ago – we never expected all this. We couldn’t imagine the incredible and beautiful people we would meet. 2015 will mark Trackers Earth’s 10-year anniversary. An impressive milestone to be sure.
But we also feel a deeper change; a maturity that we at Trackers, and the communities we connect to, may not quite understand at the moment. We feel as though we shifted this year in a way we can’t yet put into words. Sure, there’s the accomplishment of our most successful year of camp so far, and big program changes and maturity. But we don’t think that’s it. We’re going to watch the winter, and listen to the wind in the trees for awhile, hoping the overwintering sparrow will tell a story the leads into spring. Then maybe we will begin understand the changes always taking place.
Like I said: Such efforts feel like the right kind of busy.
Founder & Mom of New Trackers Camper
BTW, on Monday Robin (Molly’s 4-year old son) will have his first day of Trackers Camp!