Staff – 2016 Joshua Tree
Evan Wright, 35
See bio below under “advisors”
Advisors do lots of things: teach workshops; lead games, sports, hikes, fieldtrips, and other activities; help out with logistics; and other stuff. But most essentially, they connect with campers–individually and in small groups. Advisors meet daily with their groups of 11 or so campers, and are generally available for support, hugs, and conversation.
Nathen Beryl Lester, 43
Joshua Tree, California
Nathen is a therapist intern in Joshua Tree, California. He is happily married to Reanna Alder, an adult unschooler, and lives with her and their new baby in a little house near his extended family.
Nathen has been an advisor at Not Back to School Camp since 1999. He is famous there not only for being sincere, friendly, enthusiastic, and sometimes potently amused, but also for the zeal, intellect, and originality with which he teaches workshops on subjects such as the human digestive system, partner dancing, and Einstein’s theories of relativity. He says, “What I love about camp is the people who come–the staff, the campers–and how they interact, how they share their excitement and inspiration and how they form friendships and communities with each other.”
Among his plans for NBTSC 2016 are a workshops on emotional resiliency, partner dancing and suicide prevention.
Damian Lester, 37
Joshua Tree, California
Damian grew up in a pioneering unschooling family and has been unschooling for most of his 37 years on the planet. He attended public school for periods in his youth but was generally disappointed with the experience. As a young adult, Damian studied the natural world through the Kamana program at the Wilderness Awareness School in Washington. In 2013 Damian earned his Permaculture Design Certificate and has been working hard since then to design and implement permaculture plans for his own and nearby desert properties. In addition to permaculture, Damian makes his living as a professional bassist and singer/songwriter.
Damian is deeply committed to ethical, ecological, and purposeful living and is a long time practitioner of yoga and meditation. He is married to the lovely, long-time NBTSC staffer Maya Toccata and father to an energetic 4-year-old, Oliver. Damian first attended NBTSC in 1997 as junior staff. He was so inspired by all the creativity and spirit there that he has been coming back every chance he gets.
NBTSC history: Jr. staff, 1997, cook 1998-2001, advisor and cook 2002-2007, advisor 2015
Reanna Alder, 33
Joshua Tree, California
As of this writing, Reanna is gestating a 35-week-old fetus. By the time the Joshua Tree session kicks off, that baby will be six months. Like, whoa!
Reanna (and her 3 younger brothers) came to camp in its early days. Between then and now she has traveled the world (sometimes on a bicycle), climbed rocks and tall buildings, and written lots of incisive, illuminating prose.
Reanna has worked as an editor and writer (Front Magazine, Tooth and Dagger), been a landlord, and made a lot of quilts.
Four years ago she and the famous Nathen Lester moved to California’s high desert and got hitched. They live in a 24′ travel trailer amid chaparral, cholla and baby fruit trees, next door to lots of family. A year and a half ago they bought a trashed house and started cleaning up and gutting it. In the process, Reanna did a deep dive into natural building and building science.
NBTSC history: Camper 1997 & 1998, junior staffer 1999. Logistics Assistant, 2013-2015. Advisor 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015.
Evan Wright, 35
Evan has been involved in Not Back to School Camp for more than a decade. Since first attending NBTSC as a camper in 1998 he has worked as a Session Director, Assistant Director, Advisor, Project Leader & Junior Staffer.
Evan’s journey to NBTSC began at 15 when he read The Teenage Liberation Handbook and began unschooling. Outside of high school he explored the British Museum; raised orphaned harbor seal pups in California, volunteered at a London homeless shelter run by nuns; trained villagers in Mexico to disentangle sea lions from fishermen’s nets, and assisted in research of 5 ft. long green sea turtles in Costa Rica. Without schooling he studied the life of Albert Einstein, eventually correcting an error in a Princeton University Press book on the scientist.
Within the larger unschooling movement Evan has been active as a mentor and conference speaker. For five years he directed Quo Vadis – a weeklong gathering for adult unschoolers. Over the past year he has been renovating an old house in Seattle and turning it into a place where unschoolers and former unschoolers can live together.
At camp Evan has led or co-led workshops and discussions on: Stone Sculpting, The Supreme Court of the United States, How to Get What You Want, Speaking (to others) about Unschooling, How to Build an Underwater Robot, How to Change the World in 90 minutes, A Tidepooling/Marine Biology Fieldtrip, Scavenger Hunt, Investing for People who are Scared of Money, How to Make Homemade Pasta, The Life of Albert Einstein, How to Organize a Big Project or Event, A Local Farming Tour/Fieldtrip, Barn Raising (a networking activity), Blues Dancing, and The Effective Unschooler.
Our longtime Logistics Coordinator, Matt Sanderson, joins us again to peddle hoodies, juggle balls, sleuth out missing travel information, and basically solve everything. See his full bio on admin page.
The kitchen coordinator plans all menus, orders and shops for food, trains and supervises the kitchen staff.
Rosa Oesterreich, 31
I am a midwife. I have attended over two thousand births. Right now I work with home birth and birth center mamas. I grew up unschooling on land in rural Minnesota. My family, land and animals remain a large part of my identity. I have spent time in many parts of the United States, India, Peru and Guatemala. I enjoy painting, reading, cooking, baking, gardening, biking, the natural world, and my family. I just bought a house in Minneapolis and am feeling really happy right now. Environmental and social rights and justice are important to me. I am familiar with healing from childhood trauma. I live with and help care for my brother Amandla who has Down Syndrome.
i like how horses smell. I am a strong woman. i enjoy eating the inside of green grass. I really love growing things and canning right now. i like talking about color and words and everything else. i like it when my brother laughs with his whole body. i can be too serious. i think there are things worth dying for. i think its okay to smell like yourself. i like swimming in lakes that are small. i like biking in snowstorms. i stamp my feet when i walk. i like how my face looks when it is dirty.
NBTSC history: camper back in the early 2000s, junior staff 2005, cook 2006-2010, 2013
At camp, our fabulous cooks prepare 3 meals a day, harmonizing with each other and with the many campers who help out in the kitchen. Food at NBTSC definitely does not happen in a factory atmosphere; while making dinner, the kitchen crew is liable to sing together and to discuss life, the universe, and everything–or garlic, blackberries, and pizza crust, which often amounts to the same thing. Anyway, because they have so much interaction with campers we consider them unofficial advisors and hire them with that in mind–they are advisor-caliber folks who can also make magic with potatoes and other miracles of nature.
Maya Toccata, 34
Joshua Tree, California
Maya lives in the Mojave Desert with her husband, Damian, and five-year-old son, Oliver, with lots of family within toddling distance. They call their place Opuntia Garden Farm and are doing their best to sequester carbon and grow nutrient dense food. She and Damian probably discuss compost quite a bit more than most couples. This year Maya completed a Permaculture Design Course and started an official(ish) business offering permaculture consultation, desert-adapted plants, veggie starts, and lacto-ferments. When she’s not thinking about permaculture, feeding the chickens, making play-dough for Oliver, fermenting, or trying to catch up on laundry, she can be found doing admin stuff as the NBTSC Camper and Family liaison.
Unschooling history: Maya went to school until she was 13, when she read the Teenage Liberation Handbook and quit. She then proceeded to learn about hats, hardware stores, Anne Frank, traveling solo, rock climbing, newsletter editing, self defense, and other things. At the age of 28, she decided she did want to go to college after all, and had a great time using her brain for new things like balancing chemistry equations.
NBTSC history: Maya came to camp for the first time as a camper in 1997, and then was present every year and almost every session for many years afterward. She’s spent time at camp as Junior Staff, an Advisor, Cook, and Logistics Goddess. She’s been the year-round Office Gal & bookkeeper, Staff Liaison, and Family Liaison. She took a few years off to go to school and have a baby, and is delighted to be part of the actual ‘camp’ part of camp once again.
Celina Dill, 21
Whidbey Island, Washington
Celina began her schooling adventure at a beautiful Waldorf Kindergarten. From there she tried homeschooling, public school, Waldorf school in Germany, online school and finally unschooling, or just “life” as she likes to call it.
Celina found NBTSC and the The Teenage Liberation Handbook at age 15. Since then she has traveled near and far (most recently India and Mexico), built her own house, taught social partner dance professionally, dove in to the world of portrait photography and fine art printing, learned to make shoes, started collecting fruit trees, and is currently working towards becoming a land owner. She has spent the past year focusing on thinking about and experimenting with time, priorities, and what makes her happy. Instead of acting based on a big picture, she is choosing to do little things every day that make her feel good. Stepping back, the big picture is quite wonderful!
“The more I move, the better I feel” is Celina’s mantra. Lifting heavy weights is her passion, mostly in the powerlifting realm. She also makes time to walk lots, swim in lakes, and dance whenever there is music. She loves to learn what her body is capable of. She is passionate about using food as fuel for her body, learning what it wants and needs to grow.
Celina is super excited to share her love of movement and exchange good vibes at Oregon Session 2 and Joshua Tree this year!
NBTSC history: camper and worktrader 2010-12, Junior Staffer and Project Leader in 2014.
The junior staff does all kinds of logistical and grunty stuff that frees up the senior staff to focus on caring for campers directly – they scrub lots of pots and pans; supervise bathroom cleanup, the dish-line, and other chores; wake people up in the morning; count heads twice daily; cook; and do all kinds of other important stuff. We really appreciate and love our junior staffers! Their week on junior staff also enables us to get to know them in a different context and find out how we think they might do in the future as potential senior staff, and it helps them see what being on staff entails. (Lots of fantasies are dashed, actually, when people discover for themselves how hard the staff works, so not everyone ends the week begging to join the senior staff!) Almost always, junior staffers are 19-21 year olds who have come to NBTSC previously as campers. Once in a while, they are folks completely new to our community. (As a bit of historical trivia: Matt, Nicole, Damian, and Jasmine all made their first appearances at camp as junior staffers.)
Our Junior Staff includes:
- Xander MacSwan
- Zoe Newmarco
- Emi McLellan
- Coryn Orr
Back to administrative staff page