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Class connects kids to their surroundings

Technology is gradually removing society from its natural surroundings and instincts. Gone are the days when most humans relied on friction to build a fire, or knew how to step silently through a forest to touch a deer.

Lake Tahoe School is trying to reconnect children to their natural roots and senses through an outdoor adventure club called Bobcat Tracks. Created by Lake Tahoe School teachers Jeff Jenkins and Cindy Montross, Bobcat Tracks is designed, through exploration of the Sierra’s natural environment, to bring alive the outdoor classroom, and instill a respect for one’s self and all of life.

Children learn to make Earth shelters and snow caves, build fires and boil water using only the elements around them. They also hike, bike, rock-climb, and in the spirit of the season upon us, learn indigenous winter skills such as weaving baskets from pine needles and making bows and arrows. Ultimately, they get to experience nature on a more personal level.



“Although we’re taking these kids on really fun excursions, Bobcat Tracks is ultimately not about the activity, but about the spirit it invokes in each of us,” said Jenkins. “Cindy and I implemented this program to instill an inherent responsibility of service by expanding our awareness of the individual gifts each of us has to share.”

Schooled in the Tom Brown Tracker School in Asbury, N.J., Montross and




Jenkins are experts in their own right in awareness and connections to nature.

The Tom Brown School instruction is based on the teachings of Stalking Wolf, a Lipan Apache elder wise in the ways of wilderness survival skills and in a philosophy for living in harmony and balance with nature. Montross and Jenkins are bringing these teachings to children.

Part of the learning includes guidance and direction from the medicine

wheel, central to indigenous people around the world. The wheel moves in directions beginning in the Northeast, gradually moving to the West and North again, with each direction assigned a characteristic or value used in teaching. For example, Northeast indicates spirit, instinct and thanksgiving, while the West is a space for honoring, celebrating, service and community.

According to Montross, “Bobcat Tracks moves the students through the various points of the medicine wheel, using a teaching method known as Coyote Teaching. This method’s goal is to evoke passion, need and hunger in the student to learn, so that lessons are not necessarily told, but are uncovered by the child.”

Open to fifth- through eighth-grade students from all schools in the Lake Tahoe Basin, this community-minded program is held each week, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:15-5:15 p.m., with occasional weekend and multiple day trips. Cost is $10 per session. Lake Tahoe School is at 918 Northwood Blvd., Incline Village. For more information about Bobcat Tracks and how to enroll your child, call (775) 831-3232.

Staff report


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