HomePublicationsTrue TracksFall-Winter 1994

True Tracks - Fall-Winter 1994



Tom introduced two new classes this year, and taught them back-to-back with existing classes. In June, Tom taught the Scout and Scout Philosophy back-to-back. The Scout Philosophy class covered skills never before taught in any class, including camouflage so advanced it leads to complete invisibility. Participants were also accorded the opportunity to hear Tom read excerpts from his latest book, aptly titled, "The Scout." Everyone in attendance was amazed by the skills they were able to learn, and the raiding and games were in character with that of a typical Scout class.

In August, the Expert Awareness, back-to-back with the Advanced Awareness class, offered students the opportunity to expand awarenss skills to an unbelievable level. Even Tom was pleasantly surprised by how far the classes were able to go.

Look for these classes again on future class schedules. They are certain to fill up quickly.

Students loading up for the ride out after Expert Awareness
Photo by Chelsea Shure


"The scout is the circle of all circles.
He walks in both flesh and spirit.
The scout follows the higher law,
a law that is not heard or understood by common man.
The scout is directed by the Creator, the earth,
and his life will never be his own.
To be a scout is to live the greater vision.
To be a scout is to be 'one' with all things of the earth and spirit."

Excerpted from The Scout






Greetings. We hope you will find this second edition of the Tracker School Newsletter as informative as the first. It is our hope that we can not only inform you of changes at the school, but that it is a fun way to review skills. We are trying hard to meet your needs, so please write us with comments and suggestions.


We are pleased to announce a fairly dramatic change in our registration policy effective immediately. We will no longer require 90 days notice to change or cancel a class. In fact, we now only require 48 hours notice to change your registration in a class. This all comes about as a result of our ability to accept credit card payments. One of the biggest problems we have had at the school is students who do not cancel, and do not show up. These no-shows hold spaces that could be taken by eager students. Now if you have something come up that prevents you from taking the class, call the school within 48 hours of the start of class and your deposit can be applied to another class.

Here is how we are going to accomplish this new service. From now on, when you wish to register for a class, you must give us a (valid) credit card number (Visa, Mastercard, American Express or MAC Debit Card). You can still pay cash, check, or money order for your deposit, as before, or you can put the deposit on the card (still nonrefundable). You will still be required to pay the balance on the first day of class, again using check, cash, money order, or credit card. However, if you do not show up for class, and you do not inform us within 48 hours of the start of class, then we may charge you for the full cost of the class. (Kind of like guaran- teeing a hotel room). We anticipate that this will make the no-show problem disappear, making it easier for the serious student to get into classes Ihey really want.


In recent days we've had to say farewell to three members of our family. Instructor Wayne Walter and his wife Kiyeon have left the school to return to Wayne's hometown in Texas. Wayne's "down home" humor and story telling abilities, his enthusiasm and unique way with the students made him a special part of all of us. Kiyeon worked with the office staff to help keep all the paperwork under control, answer the phones, and generally kept things flowing smoothly, no small task. Her energy and laugh will be missed. We wish them both the best in all they do.

Amy Vodraska worked as registrar and helped to restructure the office and organize volumes of filing, student registration, and many years of paperwork that had accumulated. Amy provided help for many students in getting into the classes they needed. Thanks to Amy for her caring. To all three we say "Shuna."

We also extend a welcome to three new stall members. New instructors are Hilary Lauer and Brian Myers. Hilary joins us from the west coast. and how she came to be here is quite a story - which she covers in her article on page 8. Brian Myers, hailing from Michigan, was living in thc Pine Barrens as a caretaker at the time he was asked to join the staff and has many interesting tales of his time there. He also has an article on page 4. Finally, in the office, Virginia Apgar has joined us as a registrar and administrative assistant. She lives near the farm. You may have already heard her friendly voice on the phone. Please extend a welcome to all three when you see them.





For many years now I have had a vision of somehow influencing corporate decision makers to show respect for Earth Mother. Now it is time to see that dream become a reality. I am pleased to announce the introduction of two new programs that are designed to teach wilderness skills to corporate leaders.

Survival in the Workplace

The first program is a shortened and quite different version of the Standard course titled "Survival in the the Workplace." In this class we teach many of the basic standard skills and philosphy and then make application of those skills to the corporate environment. For example, awareness skills in nature give you the opportunity to experience the rapture of the natural world. But how could awareness make you a better leader? How could knowing your relationship to nature affect your decision making processes? These are the types of parallels we will be drawing. Here is where we need your help. We will be doing a a pilot of this class in March of 1995. We want to run it once for some of my students so we can get their input into the types of things we will be teaching. We invite all who have taken the Standard class and who might have an interest in helping us make the move into the corporate world (especially those in management positions in corporations) to join us for the pilot. The cost for the weekend will be only to cover expenses.

Tracker Adventures

A second related program will be Tracker Adventures. These will be outdoor adventures with a Tracker focus. We are planning a wide variety of adventures, such as white water rafting, backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, scuba diving, all with an emphasis on the Tracker philosophy and life-style, especially the caretaker attitude. Imagine rafting down the Salmon river in the Sawtooth moutains of Idaho. Instead of rushing down the river though, you will stop to visit the Native American sites and pictographs, to track bear, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions that inhabit the area. You will travel under the watchful eye of eagles and hawks soaring overhead. Unfortunately, my schedule will not allow my direct participation, but I will be involved in training the trip leaders and instructors. We can foresee these trips as an extension of the corporate class, as well as an opporturnity for corporate leadership teams to experience "ultimate" team building. I also hope you will consider this as an "ultimate" family or personal vacation. There is more information about both of these opportunities on page 6. Help us with this great opportunity to influence key decision makers in the corporate world.

This new operation will not be part of the Tracker School directly, but will be under the direction of Kevin Reeve and Bill Horrocks and a new company called Survival and Self Reliance, Inc. If you have additional questions, please feel free to call Kevin at (408) 281-0464, or Bill at (908) 290-9022. The School will not be able to answer your questions.

All Good Medicine



by Brian Myers

For many of you who do not know me, my name is Brian Myers and I have been welcomed at the Tracker Farm as an instructor. I am sure many of you know Rob Hartman. Rob and I have been good friends for the last 15 years (since we were 10 years old). We grew up in Muskegon, Michigan, about 3 miles apart.

At any rate, after living in the Pine Barrens from April through August as a caretaker for the school, I am now very fortunate to contribute on a more direct level with the people who seek the same truths as I do.

Like many of you, I am a student of the philosophy that Grandfather passed on to us. It is these things that I have a passion for and hope to contribute the most with. A great part of my focus while staying in the Pines was spiritual. It is my full intent to share the wisdom of my expeiences with those that may benefit. This is my purpose and it is what I live for; not unlike many of you.

In the coming issues, I intend on initiating a dialogue with all who are interested in applying the tools of the sweat lodge and the pipe on a more regular basis. Of course, there are a million books on these subjects and because of this I am finding many students who cannot find a pure approach to these sacred vehicles. I will not teach any tradition or ceremony, only help clear away the dogmas that confuse those who seek the wisdom that these things possess. The series of articles will be called "The Wisdom of Purity" and will be carefully constructed so that it educates and does not offend. This is a risk that I must accept because the need is so great.

I look forward to all that is before me. Please feel free to contact me at the farm.

Seek Truth Always.




by Rob Hartman

This summer at Pocono Environmental Education Center we ran our first kid's camp. It was a success! We spent the week with 21 kids and 13 parents making bow drill fires, building debris huts, stalking, playing in the mud and otherwise having tons of fun.

Having different ages together gave the kids a break from the usual age separation the experience at school, and it was excellent to see the older kids set an example by having great attitudes and being enthusiastic about the skills. The parents were able to step aside from the authoritarian role and were more able to be a friend or helper to their children. This gave them freedom to have fun, and at the same time, brush up on old skills and share new ones with each other.

We all got to be a little wild and free from some of the cynicism that seems to creep into our adult lives and from the "fronts" we put up and hide behind. It is amazing how working with children brings us back to that purity. By the end of the week there was a wonderful feeling of community and harmony. The first night a parent reminded me that you cannot force a belief or teaching on someone; you can only present it and let them come to it on their own. After all, it will not mean anything to them until they "discover" it for themselves.

More programs are in the works. If you wish to be put on our mailing list to receive information on future classes, send your name, address, and phone number to: Mountain Spirit, Inc., c/o The Tracker School, P.O. Box 173, Asbury, NJ 08802. If you are interested in orgainizing your own camp and having us teach it, contact us. We are willing to travel to different locations to hold classes. Costs will entail travel expenses, food, lodging and a wage for each instructor.

Please contact Richard, Peter, or Rob.




by Frank Sherwood

Selecting the proper materials for any primitive skill should be a high priority when beginning a project. Taking extra time to find the best material for your project in the beginning can save you a lot of time later as you try to fix the bad material that may have had bends, crooks, cracks, knots or flaws.

Prime examples of this can be found during the Advanced Standard courses. Tom takes everyone out to show what to look fro in arrow shaft selection: straight grain, no knots or branches and proper diameter are all emphasized. He then sends everyone out to collect an arrow shaft. I would say that within 5-10 minutes, half the class is back with arrow shafts are the size of pool cues or have knots the size of pig knuckles. It is always amazing to see how many 90 degree bends can be found. OK, OK, I exaggerated a little, but not much! Some of these shafts will not make arrows at all, or it would take an extra long time to fix them. It is important to take a little extra time to find the best shaft so you will not have all that time consuming work later on.

Another example of improper material selection can be found with bow drill woods. Some people race right out and grab the first piece of wood they come across. They return with woods that have knots, cracks, or are wet or green. They then wonder why on earth they cannot get a fire going. Hey, remember Standard 101 and where to get dead dry wood? What types of woods are better? The phrase, "stay away from knots and cracks," bring back any memories? I hope so!

Frank demonstrates the danger of armchair survival
Just remember that for all the skills you work on you should select the best possible material available for that particular skill. If you can practice this important step, then your completion of good working skills and crafts will increase. Now, you armchair survivalists had better put down the chips and salsa and give some skills a try!



by Karen Sherwood

For all of you wonderful people who helped us out this year as Volunteer Staff we wish to extend a huge thank you. Your efforts to help us teach, stay organized, and answer sometimes repetitive questions did not go unnoticed. We truly appreciate all that you had to offer.

We are especially grateful for all those extra projects you helped out with, like reorganizing and rebuilding the tool shed, the emergency repair of the washed out driveway and cleaning the outbuildings. The top of this list of extras was the hauling of the 10 ton iron bath tub to create our new pot washing area behind the tool shed. The ribbon cutting ceremony was highlight of the season. And of course, as always, your stew stirring efforts were greatly appreciated.

As the classes here at the school continue to grow in size, we are grateful for your extra energy. The students, too, have enjoyed the time spent with you folks and your being available to answer questions they have had about various skills. Give yourselves a round of applause and a warm hug, you deserve it. Thank You.



EarthWalk Northwest, Inc.




Karen and I are pleased to announce two new classes for our schedule: Brain Tanning II and a Skills Refresher CourseThanks to all who took classes this year and made it one of our best!


In the Brain Tanning and Primitive Skills class you learned the dry scrape method of tanning hides. After a few days of good hard work and tummy warming food, you came away with some beautifully tanned hides. However, this is only one method of tanning. To increase your brain tanning knowledge, I am pleased to offer the Brain Tanning II class. Students will learn the wet scrape method of tanning hides and will be tanning deer hides using this method. Each student will receive a small animal skin and will be taught the "hair on" method of brain tanning. As in other courses, additional skills will be covered as well. You will also have the opportunity to bring in any "work in progress" for us to check how you are progressing. Be sure to bring your Atl-Atl for more fun and practice, and I will have a roving course set up with several different types of targets to test your throwing arm. We will also have a trade session, so make sure to bring your trade goods. This class promises to be as much fun as the first...




For students who have already taken a previous Sherwood class, here is a chancc to brush up on any skills you have learned in any of our classes. We will provide space and time for students to work on any projects that you desire, from tanning to bowmaking to beadwork. Frank and Karen will be there to assist on projects and answer questions on skills. There will be no formal teaching or lectures. but rather a supportive environment filled with pleasant conversation for you to accomplish your work. You may focus on only one project or several. For any project you have not had time to work on, this will be the time to get it done. Of course the food will be up to the usual Sherwood standards, so make sure to pack your tastebuds.


EarthWalk Northwest, Inc.
Frank and Karen Sherwood
PO Box 461
Issaquah, WA 98027
phone: (425) 746-7267
fax: (425) 746-7757





The purpose of Earth-Heart is to help people to clarify and progress in their personal and spiritual development. We recognize the unique challenges each individual faces on their life's path, and seek to design programs that respond to those individual needs. We offer the following programs: Personal Intensive, a six day program to address specific personal or spiritual issues in your life; Spiritual Retreat, a two week course to clarify and deepen understanding and experience of the spiritual path; Bridgeworks, a one week course focusing on living our vision in daily life; and a Vision Quest program.



By Karen Sherwood

The number of people attending the classes at the Tracker School continues to grow. This has created a need for volunteers who have taken the Standard course to act as visiting instructors for upcoming Standard courses.

Your primary responsibilities would be to help us in preparing for the classes and in working with the students. This includes giving general help, especially during workshops and meal breaks, and being available to answer student questions and assist them with skill practice. It is a great opportunity to review the Standard class materials, and is great fun as well.

We are looking for Standard course graduates who have practiced their skills, who relate to the students in a caring and positive manner, and are willing to give us a hand. You can sleep in a tent or the barn, and best of all you can eat stew with the class. So pack as you did for the Standard, but bring all those extras you wish you had last time, (like a thick cushion to sit on) and join us. It will be fun to have you here.

We are also accepting applications for volunteer instructors for the advanced classes. You must have already attended the class as a student and be proficient in the skills and techniques taught. If you are interested, fill in the form below and send it off. We will get back to you as soon as we can to confirm your dates.




by Hilary Lauer

Wayne left big shoes to fill. So big, it took two of us to fill them. Hi, I am Hilary Lauer, the newest instructor at the Tracker School. I am excited that my path led me to this school, both as a student and now as an instructor, and I am honored to work with such high caliber people that pass through those New Jersey barn doors.

Let me tell you how I came to be here. It was a deep life lesson to me about following my heart. I had worked for over five years for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It was a job I loved and found continuously challenging. But I knew I had to leave. To where? I did not know. My heart and spirit just pulled me onward.

So I said, "OK, I will take that leap of faith. This path is more important than anything to me; I will follow my heart." I had no idea of where I was going. I just trusted, and left my secure job.

I knew I needed to return to Colorado, where I am from and my family still lives. Then, I knew I needed to come to Tom's Advanced and Expert Awareness classes (which were awesome, by the way). After that I had no plans and knew I was about to run out of money. But, I still felt I was supposed to be somewhere (though I did not know where), and that I needed to have faith and follow what felt right.

After the Awareness classes, all I knew was that I felt drawn to return to the Pine Barrens for just a couple of nights. So I did, figuring I would put off the fretting about what to do next until after that. It was just after coming out of the Barrens that I received the phone message to call the Farm. That is when I found out I was hired to be an instructor.

To me, this whole transition from the EPA to the Tracker School has been an incredible life lesson in trusting the Spirit world and truly following my heart. So to you, my fellow kindred spirits, trust your heart. It will not lead you astray. If you feel your spirit pulling at you, take that leap of faith, and follow what feels right.

I look forward to working with you, and seeing you in that cozy New Jersey barn or Thunder Dome. Until then, I wish you a strong and safe journey!

Note: Hilary's story of Inner Vision is hers that she shares with you. We would like to ask that you do not all quit your jobs and expect to work at the Tracker School. It sounds funny, but it has happened, and Tom and the School cannot be responsible. Thanks.



by Jim Spina
Children Respecting Our World (CROW)

I first met Tom almost fifteen years ago. Through his books and classes I could tell that he shared my feelings about nature and our connection to it. Because of Tom and the people I have met at the Tracker School, I have come to recognize how many others share my concerns about the earth. It has also restored my faith in mankind and enabled me to climb my own "sacred mountain."

I am sure most readers feel as I do that we owe Tom a great debt. The things he has taught have enabled me to sift out a path through the mess we call modern living. Life in this great society inflicts a heavy toll as it programs us to conform. Our reward for this conformity is supposed to be comfort and security; something promised but rarely delivered, even to the best of citizens.

I have always had this nagging itch that life in the concrete jungle never satisfied. It was not until I made the connection with Tom that I understood the itch was a result of living out of harmony, and it motivated me to learn.

From the beginning of my experience with Tom, it has been obvious that although he is a dynamic teacher, there is no way he can be all things to all people, or even begin to meet all their expectations. His role is to point us to the distant mountain in case we should decide to climb it. At best he offers us a few valuable pieces of information that will be useful on our trek. But, ultimately, it is our path. We must walk it ourselves. Tom, like all teachers, is but a guiding light.

The skills Tom teaches in the Standard course hold many lessons in addition to being basic survival skills. These lessons tend to be subtle, and come back to us when they are most needed. They are powerful enough, however, to eventually crack open the cold grey cocoon that society tries to weave around us, and help us to come to the awareness of the connection between all things that share the planet with us.

Now, if you have completed at least one of Tom's classes, I will wager that you have been bitten by that bug and that bite is itching. Go ahead and scratch it. I was bitten fifteen years ago myself, and I still enjoy it. I still learn from it.





by Peter Yencken

This article is on the Wildwood Tracking website



by Nancy Klein

For several months now, I have been working with Tom and Deb, opening the many letters they receive. The number of cards and letters they receive has increased greatly and it has bothered Tom that he has been unable to personally answer them. Problems and questions students and readers of his books have sent him are very real and Tom feels each one deserves his or Deb's attention. The letters you send are opened and I go over each one with Tom or Deb. They instruct me on how and what to write in response. The quantity of mail they receive prevents us from replying as immediately as we would like. Please be assured that we are working on a regular basis to get back to those who write seeking answers to their questions; from the basic survival skills to the most complicated advanced philosophy questions.

Many of the letters Tom receives are from children and young adults, most of whom have read his books and are moved to write because of the intense feelings they have about their future and that of the natural world around them. Beginning to awaken in them is the feeling that unless they do something to stop the destruction of our Earth Mother, there will nothing for future generations. Sound familiar? In all of us is this need, this drive, to do something, anything we can to heal our world, and it is starting in younger and younger people. A child of nine has written to ask about the healing properties of plantain... a thirteen year old girl writes of her discovery of Tom's books and what a difference it has made in her life... another teenage boy writes of his and his friend's suicidal tendencies, but yet he feels there is much more to life than this and looks to the wilderness for answers. A wonderful lady writes about how a friend loaned her a copy of "The Tracker" last summer and how it "changed her life" after she read it. She attended and taught in a Quaker school and wrote how the spirit moved the elders, much like the ways of the Native Americans. Her love of the Pine Barrens reaches back to childhood and says of Tom's books, the "descriptions of the forest and lonely roads, the wild dogs, the good magic or good medicine everywhere, has given all of us who read them new insight." She continues that she has purchased her own copy of "The Tracker," and has read it again and tells all her friends to read it. As she closes her letter, "I sit in silence as we were taught to do in meeting. But my silence is alive with interest in the birds and butterflies in our garden, the spider webs, the daddy-long-legs and all treasures." This beautiful woman is seventy-nine years old.

So you see, this family we are all a part of, is growing and sharing the knowledge we have in order to help heal the Earth and to help each other when sometimes it seems we cannot continue. Letter writing is important, not just letters to Tom, but letters to our friends who may need us, and especially letters to politicians who affect the political changes in our environment. Letters do make a difference.

If you do write us, please make sure your name and address are clearly written on each letter. Envelopes have become detached from letters in the past, and responses could not be mailed.. Writers then felt Tom did not care and that could not be further from the truth; he cares very deeply and that is why we are letting your know, YOU are being heard! Thanks for all your patience Brother and Sisters!


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