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
We can’t believe it’s already July! Between firing countless arrows, going fishing and catching some almost as tall as us, starting campfires together, picking wild red huckleberries, brushing a friendly goat, and so much more, June went by too fast! Check out our favorite Summer Camp photos in the gallery below.
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.
Trackers takes to the water! Our Mariners Apprentices float the river. Fishing, campfire cooking, and overnighting on islands and shores.
Ever wonder what Trackers Archery Camps are like? Josh, our Archery Coordinator, shares his story with kids, the forest, and bows and arrows.
At Trackers Earth, our mission is to get your kids into nature by meeting at convenient locations close to you, then transporting kids into the best parks and green spaces.
This year we have added one new location, and return to three more of our old favorites! Plus, after camp is now available in all our satellite sites. Read on to learn more about our Summer 2018 Drop-Off sites.
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
Disclaimer: This blog is from a mom who happens to know her individual kids very well. It does not necessarily reflect exactly how we teach at Trackers Camps.
By Molly Deis, Trackers Founder & Mom
Remember when Calvin, from the Calvin & Hobbes comic, bellowed at his mother to watch TV, ran amok around the house, or, as Spaceman Spiff, blew something up? After which, Calvin’s mom promptly tossed him outside.
When my own kids start to lose it, I do the same thing. Minus the actual tossing.
Love or hate it, most of us have used the classic “time out” when our kids get challenging. However, being sent to your room can be a strange mix of punishment and reward: there are toys, but also four walls (like a classroom… or a prison).
On the other hand, Time-Outside is different. The blue sky doesn’t respond to tantrums. The trees are unmoved by screams. The bugs could care less about your bad mood. There is no audience. All that remains is an outlet for self-creativity in the form of sticks, grass and mud.
There are many pathways to challenging behavior. Maybe the child is bored. Maybe they’re too reliant on us parents for their perceived needs. Maybe they’re bouncing off the walls as a plea for freedom. Or maybe they just choose to be selfish that day. These are all human problems that Nature could care less about.
When you go back far enough, we all had hunter-gatherer ancestors who raised their kids in a world not defined by four walls. Instead, a child’s playroom stretched to the horizon, filled with rivers, meadows, and forest. Children are supposed to start out as selfish with other humans in the family. A child who vocalizes her needs is employing a survival strategy that ensures the tribe feeds and cares for her. Some researchers even suggest crying could be a natural mechanism that helps stave off the birth of additional siblings—additional competition for resources (a phenomenon I’m sure many parents will vouch for).
Parental proximity amplifies this selfish instinct. Research shows that children cry more when they know a parent is around. As vexing as this can be, it demonstrates a healthy and instinctive dependence on essential caregivers. But nature also provides a balance for this. Survival skills for the wilderness helps pull children into autonomy and competent adulthood.
In the hunter-gatherer world, no matter how hard you cry the fish won’t jump onto your hook, the deer won’t walk into your arrow, and the cattail root won’t leap out of the mud and into your basket.
Nature does not reward behavior with the same attention as a parent. While we’re genetically coded to tolerate (to some degree) the pleadings of our own offspring, the rest of nature have no such ties. Birds don’t ask, “Are you okay?” when you’re throwing a fit. Nor do they say, “You’re bad.” They might see you as a threat, watching you and alarming from the trees until you calm down.
Any child attentive to wildlife soon recognizes the importance of attuned senses, stillness, and blending in (camouflage). Thus, by sparking even the most basic interest in Nature, parents can help these “animals teachers” transform their child from human dependent to wilder diplomat.
So, even though nature doesn’t give a fig, it’s incredibly engaging. From the worst tantrum, it rarely takes more than 20 minutes for my kids to calm down once they get outside. Usually far shorter, especially if I’m not right there to be their foil.
The improvement is swift and impressive as four-year-old Annie quickly forgets she needed to watch Wild Kratts. Instead, she embarks on a creature-power-adventure with the actual squirrels in her own yard. The bonus? I have some much-needed peace and quiet to get some work done, like writing this blog! (Though I do peek my head out every so often to confirm she and her brother are still alive.)
In reading this, hopefully you don’t think I’m a callous mother, abandoning her children’s emotional plights to a world of spiders, moles and squirrels. My goal is freedom for my children. Freedom from the stuff in their room. Freedom from me telling them what is right or wrong. Mostly importantly, freedom to discover their own resilience.
Time-Outside works so well, sometimes I give myself one. When I realize I’m not handling parenting as well as I should, I head outdoors to keep the goats company and watch the barn swallows feed their own begging chicks. However, time out in nature shouldn’t be limited to parenting challenges. There are countless reasons to head into the unspoiled, rural or urban wilderness. Go watch the stars. Garden in the dirt. Play in the sprinkler!
When the weather is warm, children should stay outside as much as possible during daylight hours—maybe beyond. Set up a blanket for picnic lunches. Hang a hammock. Suggest they build a stick fort if they crave the “indoors”. The more you keep them outside, the less you’ll see that selfish front kids put up for us as parents. The more you’re outside with them, the happier everyone will be.
So if you do come to my house this summer, please take the driveway slowly. Beware the feral children roaming amok with a certain stuffed tiger named after a comic sitting in their currently empty room.
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