HomePublicationsTrue TracksWinter-Spring 1996

True Tracks - Winter-Spring 1996



We are pleased to announce the addition of seven classes to the l996 schedule. These classes include two classes never before taught, one class not taught for over a decade, additional schedules for classes that fill fastest, and finally, a west coast Standard Class. Here is a look at the new classes.


"Nature" is a new class that fills a need in the curriculum to teach students practical methods for observing wildlife and plants. The Nature Class differs from other classes, such as the Awareness, in that the emphasis is of a more physical nature. In this class students will delve into an intense study of various plant and animal species covering their life cycles, mating habits, eating habits, and growth patterns using observation techniques not taught in other classes. You must he a Standard Class graduate to participate.


The "Philosophy V" class will be offered for the tirst time to graduates of the first four philosophy classes. Tom says that this class is "impossible to describe," so plan on a wild ride.


Tom has not offered an "Advanced Scout" Class for more than a decade and we are long overdue for another. The class is open to graduates of the Scout and will cover all new material. Because of the nature of the materials covered, it is vitally important that participants have practiced their skills and are in good physical condition.


Tom Teaching Scout class
in the Pine Barrens






Greetings! We hope you will find this fourth edition of the Tracker School Newsletter as informative as the first three. We are trying hard to meet your needs, so please write us with comments and suggestions.


As you may have heard, we have added a second Scout Class to the schedule. 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 at either of this year's Scout classes, 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-serve 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 us a line.


Those who are interested in being a caretaker on the Pine Barrens property for a time should contact the School. There are some minimum requirements to ensure a positive and safe experience. Seth will be responsible for the caretakers and will ensure that those interested are capable of meeting the demands of the experience. NOTE: Due to the nature of the situation with the property in the Pine Barrens, there is no guarantee that anyone will have a place to live for any amount of time (do not sell your house or give up your apartment - it may not last).


Dear Tracker Students,
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you. Because of your dogged persistence in getting my books into your local bookstores, I am now able to write books that I have had set aside for so many years. 1 have just completed my book on pressure releases and it is now in the publisher's hands - due out in the fall or next spring. If not for your efforts in getting my books on the shelves, my publisher would not have agreed to publish this new book. It would not have been viewed as a "seller." Thus your efforts have contributed to the completion of this and other books. I also want to thank all of you for recommending the Tracker School to your friends. Not only does this tell me we must be doing something right, but it shows me how very committed you are to the greater vision of saving the earth through education. Because of your efforts, I am adding several new classes to the schedule, and will even be doing a Standard Class in California in August. My only regret is that I can not thank each of you individually. Truly, you are the best advertising anyone could hope for.
May the Great Spirit bless all your trails.
In Medicine,



Say hello to our new instructors P.J. Langmaid from Massachusetts and Seth Recarde from Pennsylvania.


It is now possible to contact the school using e-mail or visit the School WEB site.




By Bryan Myers

Graduates of the Advanced Standard course were taught the Fox Run. This form of running is noted for its long-range efficiency and comfort, and is common throughout all indigenous cultures of the world. Following are some notes that were obtained through six years of experience with this form of movement.

First, the most important element is posture. Specifically, all movement techniques taught at the school require the entire body, not just fancy footwork. The body reflects what the feet are doing. For the Fox Run, experiment by leaning back a couple of degrees while maintaining the proper foot placement (outside ball first, roll in). This, combined with a slight bend in the knees, isolates the thighs, which are much larger than the calf muscles normally used by the modern runner. The slightest shift can have the most profound results, so, do not exaggerate anything!

That emphasis brings me to point #2, beware of too much contact on the ball and none on the heel. When I first began to practice this run, my calves told me very clearly why this is wrong. While the heel may come in contact with the ground, the most body weight is dispersed on the widest part of the foot. Lastly, stay relaxed in wide-angle vision and breathe! This run is a dance and every step a prayer. The Fox Run has tripled my distance and I consider it to be worth a lot of practice time. The dynamics are very simple yet can take several months with which to become comfortable. The dividend is more miles, comfortably.




By Hilary Lauer

Practicing awareness skills can be simple and fun too; it just takes a bit of creativity. Remember the seven principles of awareness Tom talks about in the Standard Class? Remember "focused hearing," "wide angle vision," "varied vision," and the like? Let's look at ways to practice these skills everyday and everywhere.

First, recall the aspects of vision. Tom teaches about wide angle vision, varied vision, and automatic vision (or the "dead space"). Picture yourself in a waiting room expecting to be called in for an appointment. You know the impatient feelings, "Gosh, I wish they'd hurry up, I have a hundred things to do today." Instead of being impatient, practice those skills. Use wide angle vision and varied vision to scan the room. What do the wear pattems on the rug tell you about the habits of those who come to that office? Where would you hide if you were a scout? Watch the people. Where do they always look? What are their "dead spaces"? Vary your vision. Where are your "dead spaces" and how can you keep from creating them? Feel how, by shifting into wide angle vision, you suddenly feel more relaxed and time is less important. Feel how much more you are aware of, not only the physical layout of the room, but also the feel of the room. Soon you will be disappointed your wait is up.

Next, picture yourself standing on a street corner waiting for a bus. The air is frosty and you are anxious because you are running late. Shift and expand your senses into total sensory awareness. Feel the air. Which way is it blowing and what is it telling you about the weather? What is the humidity, the taste, the smell? Go from wide angle vision to tunneling in on minute details you never noticed before. Listen to the whole symphony of street sounds, of people talking. Then pinpoint all the notes, tones, voices. Feel the earth under your feet, feel how you can sense all the people around you. Use focused hearing ("deer ears") to catch the sound of your bus way off. You will find that when you shift your awareness the bus always seems to come too soon.

Do you always take the same route to the grocery store, looking at the same things? Do you tend to always look out that same window at home, then at the refrigerator as you pass through the kitchen? If so, you are in a rut. Life is too short, get out of that rut and remember to atways be a tourist. Have fun finding new ways to move through your life, through your home, and through your neighborhood. Continue to press your skills, learn something new about your surroundings, and stay out of the rut.

Finally, there is the sacred silence. For you philosophy graduates, practice those meditations daily, and enter the sacred silence as often and as long as possible. If you have not had philosophy, remember what Tom teaches - combine the fox walk and wide angle vision to slip into the sacred silence. Or simply slow down and be aware of this moment, of the now. If you are in a boring meeting, and not able to get up and fox walk, shift into wide angle vision. Be totally aware of the moment. I find it helps to be totally aware of my body position, and the feel of the room. Like all around my body there are receptors, and I slip into that intuitive sense or feeling. Try to feel who will speak next, and what they will say. Pay attention to what your Inner Vision subtly says to you, and the way it speaks to you. Trust that sense and feeling. So the next time you find yourself in a boring meeting, impatiently waiting for the bus, or trapped in traffic, remember these are golden opportunities to practice awareness. Shift your attitude, get out of the rut, practice those skills, and soon you will wish the bus would never come, or think the meeting is too short. Have fun!!





By Seth Recarde

This article is on the Wildwood Survival website




by P.J. Langmaid

The art of aging tracks is not magic. While no one can teach you how to age a track, you can teach yourself with the two greatest tools a tracker can have: awareness and experimentation.

First, you must build a firm foundation of experience. The "wisdom of the marks" lecture teaches you the proper use and construction of the track aging box. I must stress the use of this box. It not only teaches you track aging, but it is a doorway to other aspects of tracking. The procedure you use to make the tracks can be varied, but only after you have put in the necessary practice with the original method. Try making pressure releases and watch how they degrade. You see, with the overall track degradation you can estimate to within six hours of when the track was made. By studying the degradation of pressure releases, you will be able to estimate to within an hour or two. And, for those advanced students that know what micro's and macro's are, the process can come to within minutes.

Therefore, my suggestion would be to start with one soil and practice until you understand the overall track degradation and then switch to studying pressure release degradation, until you understand that process. After that, start over again with a different soil. The more varieties of soils, the more accumulation of experience. Try experimenting with different methods of making the tracks, from using your thumb and hand, to using animal feet, rocks, cans, etc. Also, remember to be aware of the weather and the soils that you are experimenting with.

This will give you an idea of what kind of experimentation and dedication it takes to become a tracker. The process of learning how to age tracks will bring you closer to the earth and more aware of the spirit that moves in all things.




by Frank Sherwood

This article is on the Wildwood Survival website




by Karen Sherwood

When I think back, way back, to my formal education in botany, some of the most valuable skills I learned came from a term project in a taxonomy class. We were required to make an herbarium collection of over 200 dried and pressed plants. It was a wonderful learning experience for me. It enabled me look at a real plant any time of the year.

To make your own herbarium collection, start with a plant press that is at least 8" X 10" in size. Avoid pressing plants between the pages of a book. That only leads to moldy, discolored plants, and damaged books.

When you collect a plant to be pressed, select an average sample that shows representative examples of both leaves and flowers. Carefully flatten the plant. Making sure that both sides of the leaves are visible. This allows you to identify characteristics that vary from one side to the other. Make sure that the flowers, and their arrangement on the stem, are well shown as well. By firmly pressing on the plant stem at the leaf nodes you can keep the plant flat while closing the press.

Allow plants to remain in the press for a minimum of two days and up to a week. When they are thoroughly dry, mount them on acid free paper or card stock, available at art supply stores. Using watered down "Elmer's" white glue, coat the back side of the plant and arrange it on the paper. You may want to leave some space on the paper for samples of the same plant collected in different seasons.

Finally, do not forget to put an identification tag on the bottom of the page that includes such information as the scientific and common names, the family, the dates collected, habitat and country. In my own collection I also include a brief description of the uses and preparation of the plant. You will find that, time and time again, you will refer back to your collection to recall the colors, textures, and uses of these wonderful plants you have collected. I am sure you will find that the time you spend on this project will be worth the effort. In fact, I still have my first project, and I still refer to it. Happy foraging.



by Richard Cleveland

Another year has passed and it is time for reflection. This past summer we held two children's programs. One in the Pocono mountains of eastern Pennsylvania, and the second in northwestern New Mexico. Both camps went very well and, as usual, we had as much fun as the kids and parents did.

The facilities where we held our programs are very unique and beautiful, each in its own way. Running two camps was great fun, but exhausting to the point that I considered having only one camp this year out of self-preservation. However, deciding which location to use made for an impossible choice. So after much contemplation, I will be offering both camps again this year.

The Poconos camp is a gorgeous eastem woodland hemlock forest with a mixture of pine, oak, hickory and maple trees. There are numerous streams and several beautiful waterfalls. The New Mexico camp is classic high desert country with sagebrush, oak, cottonwood, pines, willow, and stunning wildflowers, all set in the beautiful canyons and plateaus of the southwest.

The Poconos camp will be run July 22-26, 1996 for ages 14 -17. The New Mexico camp will be run August 5 -10, 1996 for ages 8 to 13. If you are not on our children's camp mailing list, you can request information and registration forms from Mountain Spirit, Inc. PO. Box 45, Asbury, NJ 08802. You can also reach me directly at the school (908) 479-4681. Thanks to all those who have asked to be helpers. Unfortunately, we will not be able to accept any applications for helpers this year.

These classes fill quickly, so do not delay. Hope to see you there!





Karen and I are pleased to offer Tanning and Skills classes to provide additional time and training in many of the skills you learn at the school. For more information please write to:

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




by Richard Cleveland

Many students, after a few classes, express to me the frustration they are experiencing with rockworking, and in particular, with percussion. I always ask them, "What are you learning from your mistakes?" After a puzzled look in response, I usually explain that they can learn as much, or more, from their bad strikes as from their good ones. The next time you practice your percussion technique, make sure you pick up each flake and place it back on the rock. Look at how it came off. Where was the point of impact? Did you hit where you were aiming? What happened as a result? Did you hit it hard enough or did you hit it too hard? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking and answering.

Try using artist's grease pencils, white for dark rock, black for light colored rock. Place an "X" on the spot you'd like to hit and see if you can hit the target. Try drawing a prediction of what the whole flake will be. See if your prediction is close to the actual flake. Admittedly this can be very frustrating, and even comical at first, but you will find that after a short time, you will progress quickly.

Do not forget the fundamentals you learned in your Standard Class. Check your notes. Strike below the center line. And most importantly, learn from your mistakes. If you follow these tips, you should be able to reduce the amount of gravel you are producing, and you may even wind up with some stone tools and projectile points you can be proud of. Good luck!



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 P.J. Langmaid

Fire is a miracle, a gift and a very powerful entity in its own right. Most people are awed by fire, and many show a passion to know it and help facilitate the creation of fire. Many people excel at the various firemaking methods. Although fire is not my specialty, I would like to share some pointers that have proved to be helpful for me.

In this case I will use the bow drill as an example, but the principles are the same for all methods. Try breaking the process down into four sections. First, warm the apparatus up using friction. Start slowly, with little pressure, to create the warmth needed for the following steps. Secondly, create the dust by increasing pressure, not speed. This is only to gather dust in the notch. Third, is the ignition step. Do this by increasing the speed which, in turn, increases the heat generated by the friction. This will ignite the dust, and with a breath of life from you, you will have a coal.

The fourth aspect is the single most important concept in fire making. It should take place before, during, and after the fire is made. This is your attitude, you should be humbled and always giving thanks. You do not create the fire, you are just one part of the overall process. If you do not realize this you may get a fire, but you will never know it fully.

At this point I would like to thank my friend, Anthony, for sharing some insights on fire. And, therefore, making it possible for me to share them with you.





Since its beginning, Martial Arts instruction has been an integral part of the Scout class. In conjunction with the Scout training concepts and the Scout philosophy as taught by Tom, a week-long intensive training course will be held the week following the September Scout Class in the Pine Barrens

Paul Bonner is happy to announce that this year's class wil be held September 15 - 21, 1996 in the Pine Barren's Camp. Once again, Paul, Vanessa, and George will instruct in all aspects of training involving all combative ranges. Instruction will come from various arts combined together, such as, the Filipino Arts of Kali, Kali-Silat, Jun Fan, JKD Concepts, May Thai, Wing Chun, Ju-Jitsu, Kenpo, and Shootfighting. A special guest instructor, Rick Faye, one of a handful of fully certified instructors under Dan Inosanto will present Friday's training.

The Course is open only to Scouts and returning Scouts. Cost for the course is $550. The course will be taught by Paul Bonner who has been instructing at the Scout Class since 1989. He will be assisted by George and Vanessa Larson. They will also be teaching daily martial arts as a part of the Scout Class.



by Nancy Klein


As 1996 begins, we would like to thank everyone for their letters and cards this past year. I know some responses were slow in getting to you, but this is due to the tremendous volume of mail Tom gets, and we continue to appreciate your understanding. In some instances, Tom has asked classes to write to him with their reaction to the class and the results they are achieving. Your feedback about the classes, both positive and negative, is read and discussed. The letters are then filed so that Tom can refer to them. You might not receive an answer to these class feedback letters, but sending them is very important. Please do not be discouraged if you do not get a response. Hearing from all of you does make a difference, and it helps Tom and Deb get a good overall view of the classes.

In l995, Tom received a great deal of mail from inmates in various prisons. Their paths, unfortunately, led them to a place where they have time to reflect upon their lives and what led them to this point. In their libraries, they have found Tom's books and discovered words that have opened their eyes and provided them with answers to their questions. Now, for some, release from prison will allow them to begin a new path. For others it will still be a long journey to that day of release, but now there is hope. Perhaps some of you have prisons in your area that would accept donations of your extra copies of Tom's books for their libraries. These men and women will thank you for taking the time to share with them what you have found in Tom's words.

Many of you have written asking about the television series. As of this writing there has been more discussion, but nothing concrete has been decided as of yet. If something develops, you will read about it in the pages of True Tracks in the future. Others of you have asked about the land Tom leases in the Pine Barrens. There has been no word yet about the changing of ownership, and classes will continue to be held there until further notice. Again, if there are any developments, you'll read about it here. Thanks to all of you for your concern and prayers.

For those who attended the Back-to-Back during the week of May 21 to June 3, 1995 (specifically the Advanced Tracking) and the Scout class of June 11 to 17, 1995, you will be receiving the mailing as promised. We sent you cards to tell you we had not forgotten, but in case you did not receive a card, or your address has changed, please notify the office so we can update our information and these notes can be mailed out when they are finished.

The classes being held at the Joseph A Citta Boy Scout Camp in Brookville have been some of the best that Tom has held. The facility lends itself perfectly to the needs of both Tom and the students. During the "Blizzard of '96" in January, Camp Ranger Bob Vogel spent long hours plowing snow and clearing paths and parking lots so we could get the class into the camp and started close to schedule. A special thanks to Bob for all his hard work! Considering the snow and obstacles trying to prevent them from getting there, 70 hearty souls managed to participate in one of the best beginning philosophy classes Tom has ever had!

We are looking forward to an exciting 1996 and the new classes that are scheduled. I know many of you will be writing to Tom, and we promise to do our best to respond to each of you. Our thanks and best wishes to all. See you soon!


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