HomePublicationsTrue TracksSummer-Fall 1995

True Tracks - Summer-Fall 1995



We are pleased to announce that all 1995 Philosophy classes will be held at a new location near Tom's camp in the Pine Barrens. The new location is the Joseph Citta Scout Reservation in Brookville, N.J.. This location was chosen after the successful pilot of the "Survival in the Workplace" class was held there in April. "The facilities are very well suited to this type of class," says Tom, "They provide a bit more comfort that should allow everyone to be less distracted by their physical comfort. We should be able to go further than ever before."

These physical facilities have apparently changed somewhat over the years. When Tom was about 12, he and Rick camped there with their Scout Troop in an incident recounted in The Tracker (see chapter titled "Chickadee Suurvival" ). It tells of a winter storm that caught everyone in the troop by surprise, except of course for Tom and Rick. The facilities were very primitive back then, but the Adirondack shelters that they slept in are still standing. Directions for getting to the camp have been sent to participants. Call the school if you have any questions.

Tom Teaching at the Corporate Survival Class at the Citta Scout Camp





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


In recent days we've had to say farewell to two members of our family. Instructor Rob Hartman has returned to live in his home state of Michigan. Instructor Peter Yencken has returned to live with his wife in Delaware. We wish them both well in their new endeavors and know they will be missed.

Joining the instructor staff is Brent Wootten recently of Canada. Brent's specialty is plant use and we anticipate he will add great things to the classes. Welcome Brent!



Changes at the Farm include the addition of a new trailer for the office, and a new portable building to house the school store. The Office expansion was necessary to accommodate the growing office staff and equipment and will allow us to better serve the students. The additional room for the store will allow more than four people at a time inside and will provide space for an expanded inventory as well.


As you may have heard, each year we allow a limited number of Scout class graduates to return as Shadow Scouts to stalk and challenge the skills of the current Scout students. Due to high demand, we need to limit the number of spaces available. In order to participate as a shadow Scout, you must be a Scout graduate, and you must register in writing with the school. Unfortunately, we cannot allow drop-ins and non-scout graduates to participate in the experience. Spaces will be filled on a first-come first-served basis. Once you have reserved your place, you will be sent a set of guidelines that you will be expected to observe. If you are interested, please drop us a line.


Dear Tracker Family,
Many of you have expressed concern about Tom's health. I want to thank everyone who sent letters, cards, gifts, and most importantly, prayers. Tom has made a remarkable and miraculous recovery from the Giardia infection that made him so ill. He has gained back all but about five pounds of the weight he lost and he looks terrific. I believe this illness brought him closer to death than he has ever been, and that realization has given him a whole new outlook on life. The twinkle is back in his eye and his passion for the school has been renewed. I know that many of you have prayed for Tom, and I want to thank you with all my heart. Thank you!!!!!




By Hilary Lauer

While practicing Kali stick fighting techniques just last week in the Scout Martial Arts class, it dawned on me what I needed to write about in the next issue of True Tracks - Befriending Your Animal Within. I had realized, as I envisioned the "lobticks" and "witicks" used in Kali hitting an attacker's neck, how much more comfortable I felt with swinging a weapon and practicing a fighting technique.I'm a pacifist at heart, who had shied away from potential violence, yet I finally had befriended the animal side of me who at sometime may need to defend me from an attacker. The Scout and Scout Martial Arts classes were fantastic and full of different fighting techniques beautifully woven together by Paul, Vanessa and George. Their goal is to train more people to be protectors in a world filled with too many victims and predators. To do that, you need to befriend your animal within. In our society we, and particularly women, are taught that the animal, or instinctive, side of ourselves is evil. However, by befriending and becoming comfortable with that side of ourselves, we can find incredible strength - strength to defend ourselves and others, confidence in our true selves and the strength needed for a survival situation. For it is the animal side that instinctively knows how to take care of ourselves and survive. For me, learning and becoming comfortable with knife, Kali stick and barehanded fighting, helped me break through barriers that I hadn't realized I had developed. Maybe the Scout or Scout Martial Arts classes will help you as they have helped me. Whatever the route, go outside alone and feel that animal within, feel the strength it provides you and befriend it. It will help you in all of your survival skills and it will give you the strength needed in this crazy world.



By Brian Myers


Greetings Brother and Sisters,

For those of you that have met them, I would like to say a formal farewell to Rob and Peter. Rob left the Tracker Farm and moved back to God's country, Michigan, our homeland. Peter now enjoys residing full-time with his lovely wife Marianne in Delaware. Having grown up with Rob, it was sad to see him leave, and Peter will be missed as well. So first of all, let me say "thank-you" to the both of them.

I have chosen to write about reminding each of us to consider the sacredness and significance of the several skills taught here at the school. I feel that to recognize the inseparable spirituality of all primitive skills, is to truly honor the whole of their meaning. Whether it is fabricating the flesh of a plant brother into cordage, or carving a pipe bowl, we should at least briefly consider the reverence and respect that all natural materials deserve. I am not presuming here that we contemplate these things until our ears bleed. Most of the time it only takes a moment to allow ourselves to remember that all living, growing things share the same parents: Earth and Sky. lt is not enough to say "To the Native Americans the bow drill was a gift," we must remember this for all two-leggeds. For example, consider the odds ot someone long ago accidentally inventing the rolling snare. I choose to believe that these skills originated from a sincere and honest need to feed a particular people. The intent of the hunter to sustain the welfare of his relatives was rewarded by the gift of an effective tool from the Creator. Thus this tool, became a gift of life. Obviously, we could substitute the rolling snare with hundreds of similar skills and devices. In considering this, we can also realize the powerful legacy of preserving these invaluable gifts.

In conclusion, the next time you are sitting at home reviewing your notes, or are down in the Pine Barrens copying what Tom has written on the board, consider the origins of that information. Help preserve the whole of that legacy by seeing beyond the flesh of its meaning.





Dear Graduates of the Scout Class:

Many of you have asked me when I will be running the Scout Philosophy Class again. Since so many of you have asked, and there was no Scout Philosophy Class scheduled this year or next, I have decided to run the class this year. Otherwise, it will not come about until the 1997 season. The class will run from Monday, November 13, 1995 to Sunday, November 19, 1995. Pack as you did for your Scout class but remember to bring warmer clothes. Cost for the class is $700.00.

As you know, the Scout Philosophy is the other half of the Scout Class. In your Scout Class we could only cover the physical skills and techniques used by the ancient Scouts. Here in the Scout Philosophy we deal with the spiritual skills. Skills such as invisibility. concentric rings, spiritual journeys, body control. and countless other techniques will be taught. It is important to note that these spiritual skills do not overlap with philosophy or advanced awareness classes. These spiritual skills were used only by the Scouts. This class is a journey, through the ways of Grandfather as it applies to all aspects of the Scout life, from survival, to tracking, to awareness, and to the immense spiritual power of the Scout. I hope to see you all there.

All Good Medicine,





Some of you have heard of C.R.O.W. ( Children Respecting Our World), and know of all the good and positive things they have accomplished. They have tirelessly worked to clean up the Pine Barrens and other areas in New Jersey. They have manned booths and tables at town gatherings helping to teach the philosophy of living with the earth. The founding father of this group is Jim Spina, who has worked with Tom and the Tracker School for many years. In gratitude for all of Jim's and C.R.O.W.'s past and future efforts, Tom is planning a weekend retreat in the Pine Barrens for C.R.O.W members and Tracker students. Tom will go beyond the usual lecture format to share stories. expand on skills, talk of environmental involvement, and how to live with and protect The Earth.

It will be held the weekend of Friday, September 29, Saturday, September 30, and will end at noon on Sunday October 1. 1993. The cost for the weekend will he $275 for C.R.O.W. members, $285 for C.R.O.W. subscribers and $300 for everyone else. This will include meals. Space is very limited and will be on a first come. first served basis. We hope to see you there.




by Frank Sherwood

This article is on the Wildwood Survival website






Karen and I are pleased to announce two new classes for our schedule: Brain Tanning II and a Skills Refresher Course. Our 1996 schedule will go out in the fall and will contain all class dates. Thanks 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



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.




This is a new feature that will allow you to share with your fellow Tracker students any experiences that you have had in the woods that have taught you a lesson. They may be serious or humourous. To initiate it, Tom suggested I include this letter I just sent to him myself. Send your experiences to the school in care of TRUE TRACKS. Thanks -- Editor.

Dear Tom & Deb,
Greetings. I am just back from a week of full survival living in the Sierra Nevadas. What an experience! When I took my Standard, you told us not to take your word for it, but to get out and try the survival skills. I planned a week long survival experience for this summer in the Sierra Nevadas with the boys in the Explorer post I lead. We have been working on Survival and Scout (the Way of the Scout, not Boy Scout) skills all year, and this was the chance to try it all out. Each of us went in with only our knife and a blanket (I took a Peterson's Wild Edibles Field Guide, edibles being my weakest area still, and my sinew backed bow as well). We went to a place in the Sierras that is Sierra Montaine forest (mostly pines, firs and cedar.) The Ranger we consulted with assured us the place was filled with wildlife, and had good bio-diversity. The reality was that the area had been heavily logged, and they were grazing cattle on it for the summer.



By the end of the first day we had built wonderful debris shelters with pine thatch, secured a source of good water, made a fire with a bow drill, and gathered edibles for a vegetarian stew. We were burning bowls, gathering materials for traps, arrow, spoons, etc. The second day we found an intact deer skeleton in the woods from which we were able to make bone implements, arrow heads, awls, spatulas, etc. We went out hunting on the evening of the second night. We spotted a porcupine, and stalked to within five feet of him. I had a choice of bow or rabbit stick, and chose to nock up an arrow to make the kill. As I drew back to make the kill, I knew I wasn't supposed to kill this porcupine. Instead, I followed close by and watched for a while.

Early the next morning, in that dreamy state between sleep and awake, I had a dream. An old man came by and beckoned me to walk with him. I did, and he began explaining how sick and stressed the forest was where we were staying. He showed me a huge clear cut area and pointed out how that had devastated the entire forest. He pointed out how the cattle that the BLM was allowing toe run on the land was depleting the deer of browse and beating the soil in the clear cut to fine powder that would never grow again. He showed me how this powdery soil was filling the streams and altering the current and devastating the fish. He pointed out dozens of problems in the area. He told me that I had been wise not to shoot the porcupine. He told me not to hunt or fish in the area.

I took the boys for a walk and explained all that the old man told me. I told them that we had already proven that we could survive lavishly. We could have had meat in our stew, and we had already met our other needs. I explained how out of balance the area was. We read a chapter from Grandfather where Coyote Thunder takes Stalking Wolf up the canyon. We talked at length about what is happening to the environment as a result of man's greed and society's path. Rather than focus on survival, I asked them if they would spend the rest of our time caretaking. Since we could have had meat by killing the porcupine and chose not to, I made a run back down the road to the country store and got some canned meat for their edibles stew and we spent most of the rest of the time caretaking.


I am not sure that we really did the forest any good ( it is so, so sick), but we did a whole lot of good for our own souls. These boys had one of the most spiritual weeks of their lives. Once we made that decision, all of creation opened up to us. We saw deer in the meadows, we had squirrels that no one had even seen before then, running across our feet in camp. By the end of the week, my ability to sense what was happening in the forest had increased dramatically. I could tell the deer were moving at least 1/4 mile away from camp. The concentric rings were clear as a bell. My ability to track was the sharpest ever. When I was barefooot, I could move absolutely noiselessly. each of us got to within 10 to 15 feet of deer. What really made the week for me was when Mike Jones, My co-leader, who also took a Standard in February, was practicing the invisibility I taught him (from the Scout Philosophy class). He experienced invisibility and had a large buck walk right past him as he sat on a stump in a meadow. He stood up, waved his arm, and the deer still did not see him.

Tom, I want to thank you more than I know I ever can. It was so simple. It was almost . . . well . . .easy. There was no debilitation, no suffering, no hunger, no pain, no cold. And it put life into incredible focus. Reducing life to its simplest elements is an incredible exercise I wish upon everyone. There was no need to acquire, no need to compete, no need for financial security. We walked into the bosom of creation and were nurtured there. I really cannot put into words what happned out there, but it was wonderful. I count it as one of the great experiences of my life. Before we left the woods, I told the boys to go off alone and thank Grandfather for passing these skills along. Now I want to thank you, too. It was awesome.

Your brother,



by Nancy Klein



Throughout all of Tom's many classes, students are taught the skills of survival; shelter, water, fire, plants...and in the philosophies, the skills of the spirit. The skills Tom says are the "Gifts of the Creator." Underlying all of Tom's and Grandfather's philosophy is awareness. Awareness of the spirit that moves through all things. awareness of what is happening to our remaining wilderness. Awareness of people around us. An awareness that we take home with us and adapt into our lifestyle and our own part of the Vision.

At all times, we live, and are, in wide angle vision; a hypersensitivity to all that exists in our physical world and the spirit. Oneness. Our awareness began before our birth and for many, was buried by our society, only to be reborn when we first read Tom's books and attended our Standard class. The tools we are given in our classes begin to prepare us for the work that lies ahead of us when we return home. At first, it is difficult to sort through all we have learned and apply it our daily lives. How, does the bow drill relate to my corporate job? How can fox walking be done on the busy streets when I am late for work? How can I teach these skills if I have a family to support and bills to pay? We have all asked these questions of ourselves. As time goes on, we begin to see that our work, and what we teach, may be different from Tom's. The love you feel for the Earth and the respect you have for all her gifts is the principle by which we all live and this may be what we teach others, the love and respect that so many people are desperate for. Of course, you should practice the physical skills; there will be people wanting to learn them. But, make your life an example that others may follow. Do you see the piece of trash on the ground, carelessly thrown on the back of our Earth Mother? Take the time to pick it up. Someone may see you and learn. but even if they do not, the Creator and the Earth have seen, felt and know your love. As recently as the last Standard class, I heard the story of a volunteer instructor asking a student to help pick up some bits of trash and the student saying, "Why? I did not put it there." If this occurs among Tracker students. think how hard we must all work to help make the changes necessary within society.

Tom has given us the foundation from which we all work, and since we are all different, but still a part of the Vision, it is up to us to seek and define our own part. Tom opens the door, we take the steps, and we follow our own path. Many people write to Tom asking what direction they need to take, but Tom's reply must always be the same; personal introspection will reveal what you need to do. Live each day in awareness and respect and the Creator, through our inner vision, will be our guide. Tom is the messenger and cannot physically hold our hands as we walk our paths.

Recently, Dave Wilkins, who has a large ad agency, wrote that his hometown of Louisville, KY is developing a waterfront park. He went to the mayor and proposed that they develop a city-wide recycling project to fund the purchase of trees. . .and the Mayor said "Yes!" Dave writes, "I am proud of having figured out a link - perhaps others can use... trees > paper > $ trees. It's a start, Others will follow - but, I'm excited because it was a major breakthrough for me to apply your teachings to my world and the ideas you have shared...if only in a small way...with the corporate and civic world I wrestle with. . . We all need more of your vision and we need to do our share to make a difference." Dave has taken what he has learned and applied it to his situation and this is what we all must do. It may take time, but each of our steps is a part of the whole, a part of the Vision to create change in our world. Kurt Rieder of Boulder, CO writes, "I'm impatient, I want to be invisible now. To know, live, and teach these skills now. And, I have got to go up this ladder rung by rung, a step at a time. When God wants to grow a squash, He does it in one summer; but when He wants to grow an oak, He takes a century. Life. . If you can do it, I can; we all can. Thanks for the kick in the a--. the hard benches, the tricks and the examples. But, my, talk is cheap. Time to walk it. I will honor my own path, do my dirt time. . . " Powerful words.

Take the skills you have learned in the classes, plus your life's experiences, and reflect upon them. Incorporate them into your existence. Begin to see how valuable your unique life is to the Vision and what you can do to make a change in your community. For a few, the answer may be time spent in the wilderness. For most others, it will be time spent in the cities, offices, boardrooms or schools; the Battlefront. The gift of Awareness will open your eyes to endless possibilities.


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