HomePublicationsTrue TracksSummer-Fall 1996

True Tracks - Summer-Fall 1996


California a Hot Venue

Though temperatures soared to over 100 degrees early in the week, the heat couldn't melt the enthusiasm of the students. The 1996 Standard Class offered in California in August proved to be a huge hit with the students.

Students gathered from around the world for this first west coast standard, coming from as far away as New
Zealand, Japan, and Austria.

The class was held at Camp Lindblad near Boulder Creek in Northern California. Set among the redwoods, the camp provided a wonderful background for learning.

Despite record temperatures of 104 o on Tuesday of the class, participants were able to focus on the workshops and work on their newfound skills. The class broke ground in another way. With 150 participants, it is the largest Standard Tom has ever taught. To accommodate that many students, a total of twenty assistant instructors helped students with their skills and gave lots of individual attention.

Special thanks is due to those who helped make it all a success, including instructors Richard Cleveland and Joe Lau who came out from New Jersey, and local instructors Mark Weinart, Joe Slattery, and Kevin Reeve as well as all 20 of the assistant instructors. Julia and Lucille Parker who live and work in Yosemite also presented a special lecture on Acorn preparation in the Miwok tradition. This class will be held again in California in 1997, so sign up your friends.


Tom teaching in the redwoods




From the Farm


Greetings! WELCOME to the fifth edition of the True Tracks Newsletter! We're all very happy you have enjoyed them so far! Many of you have called about receiving past issues, but the only extras we have are from issue #4, the last one. If you didn't receive it, call the office and we will send one. Please - there are no more copies of the first three newsletter, so we cannot send any. Perhaps you know of someone who can make a copy of theirs. There are always glitches in large mailings so we apologize if you haven't received them.


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. In order to participate as a Shadow Scout in next year's Scout class, you must be a Scout graduate, and you must register in writing with Richard Cleveland. 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 required to observe. If you are interested, please drop Richard a line.


Thanks to those who expressed an interest in caretaking the Pine Barrens property. Due to your overwhelming response, we will not be accepting applications for some time. Thank you.


Dear Tracker Students,
As many of you know, Frank and Karen Sherwood have moved to Washington to begin teaching their own classes full time. They have been my instructors for over 15 years. Yet they are like family to me, valued friends, and a big part of the Tracker Vision. Though their moving away is a big loss, I know that they must follow their vision and I support them fully in that decision.
I Frank and Karen's class are a dynamic complement to the Tracker classes. I just cannot recommend them enough to any student looking for a tremendous learning experience. Both Frank and Karen teach from their vast experience and not from just theory, which shows in their lectures and workshops. Though their move is a great loss to the Tracker School, I feel their move also expands the Tracker Vision. Even though we are separated by many mile, Frank and Karen will always remain a vital part of Tracker Vision.
All good Medicine;


Say hello to new instructor, Joe Lau or as we all know him - Ninja Joe. Joe has been a part of the Tracker School as a student for many years, having taken his first class back in 1985, and since then has been a helper at more classes than we can count. He brings with him unique experience and expertise in fire making, knapping, and Scout skills.


It is now possible to contact the school using email or visit the School website.




by Ninja Joe Lau

I would like to start by giving thanks to the entire Tracker Family for making me feel like I'm home. I hope I can now give as much as I have received. The Scout classes have always been my favorite. The new Advanced Scout Class retains much of the challenging workshops that were in its formerly "by invitation only" predecessor. The stream float, tree travel, and the ever popular swamp crawl gymnastics are well rounded with the unique Scout awareness and philosophies.

But what fascinates me is being able to balance the physical skills with the philosophical values of the Scout lifestyle. Truly, the Scout lived more for others, the tribe, than for himself. He was the eyes, the ears, the provider, the protector of the tribe.

So many martial artists come through the Tracker School and many with wilderness skills start practicing martial arts. I believe it is because these people can feel that the greatest value is the value of LIFE. As in the ancient Scout societies, the lives of others were just as important as their own. It was dishonorable to be detected and have to engage an enemy. This rule exists to dissuade unnecessary violence. It would be more dishonorable to take a life unnecessarily or cause hardship to those under their care.

I feel this dual-life value of self-preservation and preservation of the species which arrives martial artists, wilderness survivalists, and "Scouts" alike. Though I have only been working here a short while, I think my best teachings are simple reminders -- "your skill may be good enough for you -- but is it good enough for those who you are providing for or are under your protection?" I keep trying to remind myself of this. Ask yourself: What is the worst thing you can imagine? Is it not being able to provide and protect those whom you love and who are counting on you? Conversely, what is the best feeling you can imagine? Isn't it being able to provide for and protect those whom you love?




by Hilary Lauer

The other day while out running (fox running, of course), and pondering just what I could write about for this issue of True Tracks, the earth reached out and tripped me. In that rolling tumble, there lay two messages, and, bonus, an article for this newsletter. Where I fell was ridiculously flat and rock free, except one small toe catcher. Before I knew it I had completely rolled and escaped unscathed. What was neat was that my body had responded before I could think. The first message I understood was how important it is to train our bodies to think for us, that is, to ingrain these skills into our body-minds. And that's where practicing these skills and blindfolding one's self is so important.

I had practiced Aikido-type rolls just enough that my body knew what to do when I fell. This relates to every skill you know. Practice skill -- bow drill, stalking, throwing stick, fox walking -- and ingrain them into your body's mind. Blindfold yourself while you practice these and other skills, and really feel yourself doing them instead of just thinking yourself through them. This will help you tremendously.

The second message I got from this tumble (which thankfully, by the way, did not land me in any poison ivy), is we all need to let the earth teach us. When one is moving too fast, or not paying enough attention, the earth will let you know. These are golden moments, pay attention and you will learn so much. When I fell I realized I was too mental and needed to expand back to wide angle vision. The next time you run into something, or a branch snags your hair, stop, breath, go to wide angle vision and understand what this is telling you. The earth is a wonderful teacher, by just your slowing down, she'll teach you grand lessons.

Lastly, for those of you who have not learned the fox run, find a rocky trail and it will teach you how to do it. Like those big, pointy driveway rocks on bare feet teach the fox walk, a rocky trail will teach the fox run. Feel how instinctively you shift onto the balls of your feet and bend your knees. That is the basic elements of the fox run. Play with that, and have fun.



by Nancy Klein

This year, the Tracker School ran two new classes, Nature and Advanced Scout. The Nature class, along with being very exciting in itself, saw the birth of Tom and Deb's baby, River. The class studied in great detail, and analyzed fur from the various parts of different animals, as well as their scat and individual feet. Along with the fur and foot analysis, students dissected several of the animals to study what they'd eaten and to look closely at their anatomy. In the overall sense, it expanded the students' awareness of the animal physically and how it responds to its environment. Many of the students taking the Nature class were graduates of the Advanced Philosophy classes and those that wrote to Tom expressed how much they needed what he taught in this class. "It was exactly what I needed to balance my awareness of both the physical and spiritual realms the animals live in", was what many write when asked for their response to the class.

Tom also took them into the field to introduce them to the "caretaker attitude". To look at the land, see the damage man had inflicted upon an area (also storm damage), and to repair it to its natural, balanced state. In this case, it was the lower pasture, down towards the river. For many years it was a pasture, with natural vegetation being replaced by prairie roses, thick, thorny and impenetrable for many animals who once lived in the area. Many such areas were trimmed back, and some eliminated with the cut branches piled to become cover for many of the smaller animals forced out by the roses. Students were shown how to look at an area where they live, and to adapt this "caretaker attitude" and the steps to take to return it to its natural, balanced state. One evening, Tom's brother Jim, who is Assistant Commissioner of Health for the State of New Jersey, gave a slide presentation and lecture about the bacteria, viruses and other related microbes living in the wilderness environment, and their effects, both good and bad upon humans. The response to Jim's evening workshop was overwhelming positive, and we hope that he'll be able to repeat it next year. The Nature class will again be offered in '97, and we look forward to seeing many of you there!




by Kevin Reeve

This year, Tom offered two editions of the Advanced Scout. Both were hits with the participants. Both involved students in typical scout activity. I was privileged to participate in the second offering held this past September.

From the start, it was clear we would be doing advanced skills. We were formed into five man scout teams. We were drilled in the area of team movement, group dynamics, and the importance of the scout mentality of "playing the game." In addition, the class received instruction on the techniques of being a Shadow Scout and the essentials of booby-trapping and ambushing aware scout teams.

Throughout the week, Shadow Scouts challenged the participant's skills and helped keep them aware to a state of near paranoia. Incoming water balloons launched hundreds of yards from Shadow Scout positions posed a risk to anyone moving on the landscape.

Tracking instruction included cluster tracking - reading a set of tracks as a group with a single meaning, or reading whole sections of trail as a single track.

Tom took the class through a number of excellent and sometimes extremely challenging exercises that were a blend of physical and spiritual skills. These activities became progressively more challenging and culminated in one of Tom's famous "Psycho-tours," an unbelievable traverse of the swamp (without getting even our feet wet). That, combined with tree-to-tree work, and the advanced Scout Philosophy, made for a class that will not soon be forgotten.





by Karen Sherwood

This article is on the Wildwood Survival website


Cranberry Acorn Muffins
2 cups acorn flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
I tablespoon baking powder
2 eggs
I cup milk
I cup maple syrup 2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup spicebush blossoms or dried clover blossoms
Mix together all dry ingredients then stir in wet ones. Add cranberries and blossoms. Pour into oiled muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.




Children's Program
by Richard Cleveland

Another summer has come to an end, and that mean our childrens' programs are over also. This past summer we held two programs again. One in the Poconos Mountains in eastern Pennsylvania and the other in New Mexico. It was a busy summer for me, and I'm both grateful and sad that it is over. Children hold a special place in my heart and I miss them already. Our future is so dependent on them and I pray that we planted a few seeds in their hearts this year. Their energy, enthusiasm and willingness to learn always amazes me. This was the first year that I ran a class for 14- 17 year olds. I found this age group to be very capable, in fact, in the first four hours after demonstrating fire to them 10 out of 13 of them made bow drill fires on their own. That's better than most adults do. I was very pleased with this class and intend to run another next summer, probably out west somewhere.

I'd also like to thank all of the people who helped Rob and I run these programs. Without their help these programs would not be possible. So thank you to Hilary, Seth, Mark, Renee, Nal1cy, Peter and Adam. And a special thanks to Wanda DeWaard for all her hard work and genuine love for children. Wanda was an instructor here during the mid 80's and her expertise with children is truly remarkable. And of course, these programs would not be possible without the love, guidance, and support of Tom and Debbie and their commitment toward the greater vision.

Dates and locations of the 1997 programs will not be chosen until January, so please be patient. Information will be mailed February 1, 1997.

P.O. Box 461 . Issaquah, WA 98027 (206) 746- 7267

1997 Classes will include:
. Four day Herbal Studies Course
. Advanced Skills Course
. Wild Edibles Weekend
. Big Frank's Brain Tanning, Primitive Skills, & Wild Gourmet Foods Course . Brain Tanning II
. Skills Refresher Course
. Edible Vegetable Course
. Log Cabin Building
. Primitive Bow and Spear Fishing
. Semi-survival Treks
To Register, please give us a call.


we have just received word that the House and Senate have passed bill #1973 on October 4, 1996. This is the bill that will force the relocation of numerous Hopi and Navajo from territory they have occupied for centuries. There is a enormous bed of coal that is being sought by Peabody Coal. The Government agreed to shove down the throats of the two nations over $50 million to purchase the land that the Hopi consider sacred. Hopi elders have been openly opposed to the sale of this mountain. However, it seems that a new environmental impact statement indicates that the sheep that have been there for hundreds of years are suddenly destroying the land. On January 3, 1997, all peoples will be escorted off the land by US marshals, including elderly who have lived there their entire lives. We are asking you to please call the White House to strongly oppose President Clinton's signing of this bill into law. Bill #1973.



by Seth Recarde

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 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 confirm your dates.



by Paul Bonner

The Second Scout Martial Arts Class was held this past September. Thirty students attended, and the results were nothing less than spectacular. The class was taught by Paul Bonner and George and Vanessa Larson and included a special two-days of training from Rick Faye of Minneapolis. Special thanks to Tom and Deb for making it possible, to Hilary and Seth for keeping us fed and organized, and also to Nancy Klein for all her work behind the scenes. Look forward to another offering in October 6 - 11, 1997.

Instructors George Larson, Rick Faye, Paul Bonner, and Vanessa Larson (L to R)




New Horizons
by Bryan Myers

Greetings Tracker Relatives,
I am using this opportunity to give thanks to each of you for two years of challenging and fulfilling experiences. In memory, they will eventually define my experience as an instructor as a very unique and very rewarding one. I will be moving to Southern Idaho, near Twin Falls, this January to continue my work with adolescents in a wilderness context. I began working with a Tracker student, Jeremy Finkeldey, for an adolescent rehabilitation center in north Philadelphia. We started a two day primitive skills course with a number of exercises all in a wilderness setting. It was proven to be successful to other faculty members, parole officers, and most importantly, to the term. This has prompted me to accept an invitation to join an organization in Idaho to do this type of program.

With the support and encouragement of the Tracker Family, I am making arrangements to leave the school this fall. I sincerely hope the best for the continuation of the Tracker Vision. Because of the quality of the students that support it, the vision surely lives in a powerful manner. Once again, I send thanks in the four directions for the privilege of seeking this great opportunity.

Seek truth always!




by Seth Recarde

This article is on the Wildwood Survival website




by Hancy Klein

Dear "Everyone who's written Tom a letterl"

We have received your letters, and I have read them at least once, but since the birth of River in April, its been almost impossible to catch Tom for more than a minute to ask him for his responses. When he's free, I am occupied, and when I am free -- ... well, I think you get the point. Beyond the regular schedule, toss In a trip to California, two new classes, Tom's new tracking book (due in mid to late '97), and his other projects, and you can see why the time has flown by. We will do our best to catch up as soon as possible, so I again ask all of you for your patience and understanding. We always have and always will continue to care very much for all of you and what you write.

I'd like to talk to those I never had a chance to meet personally at the Standard Classes. Time goes by so quickly when there is so much to learn, that before you know it, class is over! In so many of your eyes I see both love and apprehension as you take your Standard, many of you coming into the class as I did, not knowing where your life would go from there. Returning home, you may be flooded with more information than you ever dreamed of -- both on a physical and spiritual level. There are notes and tapes and most importantly -- the Vision passed from Stalking Wolf to Tom to us. But the vision goes deeper to touch the knowledge of our human ancestry, our beginnings of life, our living with the earth...our oneness with the Creator. All of us read Tom's books and feel the connection, knew the words to ring true in our heart, and we came to the classes to learn, to be guided by the teacher. It is difficult to go home and leave the family newly discovered, but think of those who you will guide, who you will help to become part of the large family of the Earth. I want to let you know you are not alone, and to help you keep the faith you gained when you worked and learned with your new friends at the Tracker school. I see in you what I saw in myself, and I love all of you for coming so far to learn the skills to pass to future generations - our children and grandchildren. I do hope someday to see you at another class. Until then, Shona; never good-bye but to meet again.


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