Staff – 2017 Oregon Session 2, Camp Myrtlewood
Matt Sanderson ~ see his bio on our admin page
Margie Sanderson ~ see her bio on our admin page
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. Each advisor meets daily with their group of 11 or so campers, and is generally available for support, hugs, and conversation.
June Kinch, 39
Advisor and Project Leader
I grew up here in Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley and I love that I get to raise my own kids under the same big Douglas firs. I’ve been homeschooling with my kids for about fifteen years, so I spend a lot of time hiking, making art, gardening, exploring, teaching, following, and talking about love, compassion, equity, and screen time.
If I’m not in the garden you can usually find me in the kitchen cooking up big meals, birthday cakes and herbal remedies, though I also relish the opportunity to escape domestic life and head into the forest. This will be my third year advising at NBTSC and this year I’ll be offering a project on forest ecology.
Andy Pearson, 29
Advisor and Project Leader
This will be my fourteenth year at NBTSC in some form — my ninth as a staffer — and I’m ever so excited to be back! I’m a lifelong Minnesotan and unschooler, currently 29 years old. At this session of NBTSC, I’ll be advising and also leading a multi-day project on positive interpersonal communication.
I’ve always had a passion for environmental issues, and in my life outside of camp, I work to fight oil pipelines and help build a movement towards climate justice and the integrity of our planet and communities. Unschooling surely led me to this work — from initially discovering and pursuing this interest, to designing my own major at the University of Minnesota, to now getting to organize full time on these issues with an organization I love. I’m thrilled to be at NBTSC again and connect with other unschoolers and be part of inspiring each other to do the good that needs doing in the world.
When I’m not working, you might find me practicing guitar, or improving my Spanish, or cooking with friends, or taking any kind of public transit (bonus points for trains). I’m looking forward to meeting you in Oregon!
NBTSC History: Camper 2002-2006, Junior Staff 2007, Dish Queen 2008, Night Owl 2009-2012; 2015, Advisor 2014, 2016.
Blake Boles, 34
Lake Tahoe / Buenos Aires / nowhere in particular
Advisor and Project Leader
Blake is a 34-year-old author, entrepreneur, and certified Grace Llewellyn fanboy. You may know him from such critically acclaimed books as The Art of Self-Directed Learning, Better Than College, and College Without High School, his epic Unschool Adventures trips for teenagers, or his upcoming feature-length documentary: How to Beat Matt Sanderson in Settlers of Catan.
One moment you’ll see Blake ruthlessly destroying campers in foosball, the next, tenderly partner dancing with them. At NBTSC he enjoys provoking deep conversations about thorny intellectual topics, throwing a frisbee till the cows come home, and helping campers flesh out big plans for travel, work, and study. Some say you’re lucky to be in his advisee group; others say you’re cursed. Decide for yourself.
His twelfth consecutive year on staff, Blake is delighted to return to the Camp Myrtlewood session after a two-year hiatus. (Nota bene: If you hear about some tradition of “tossing Blake into the river,” consider it an unfounded rumor that will only result in you getting wet.)
Learn more about Blake and his projects, writings, trips, dreams, adventures, and failures at blakeboles.com.
Camp History: Advisor, 2006-present
Zen Zenith, 35
Los Angeles, California
Advisor and Project Leader
Zen is a 35-year-old singer songwriter and musician who lives in Los Angeles! He went to school for guitar at The Musicians Institute and graduated in 2007. He has now been teaching music for over a decade and co-founded a company called Ivy Hill Entertainment that helps musicians find work playing private events, weddings and corporate gigs!
Zen is also passionate about making podcasts. He is the host and creator of Doctor Whodlums (A podcast about Doctor Who) and The House Show Show (A live music podcast where he interviews musicians). He even helps run a Podcast network called Dragon Wagon Radio.
Aside from playing music and making podcasts, Zen is a big fan of building community, playing board games, reading comic books and watching nerdy TV shows like Doctor Who and Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Zen has been unschooled his whole life and cherishes the opportunity to return to Not Back To School Camp periodically. He was inspired to play guitar at NBTSC in 1998 and performed the first song he ever wrote at a talent show in 1999. Being involved in NBTSC is always a highlight of his year and he loves re-connecting with the unschool community in that way.
Camper 1998 – 2000, Jr Staff 2001, Night Owl 2002 – 2003, Advisor 2009 – 2011, 2013, 2014
Ani Pond, 20
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Ani Pond, 20, Colorado Springs
I am a lifelong autodidact and lover of learning. 2017 will be my 8th year involved with NBTSC, and first time as a Sr. Staffer. I currently spend a lot of my time adventuring and playing imaginatively with small children, and I am lucky enough to get paid for it. I’ve completed 20 odd credits in community college, and plan to pursue further education at a university in the fall of 2018, hopefully in Chicago. I enjoy all forms of physical activity and exercise including ballet, yoga, pilates, aerial, acro, and climbing things. I love creating and playing music, reading and writing, cooking, exploring, continuing to learn Spanish, being in the rain, traveling, being on boats and in the ocean, and making things with my own two hands. After camp this year I will be moving to Spain for several months for my second stint there as an au pair, and to work in a bed and breakfast.
Camper 2010-2015, Junior Staff 2016
Our Mama Bear offers attention, compassion, simple palliative care, and basic advice to campers who experience physical discomfort (cramps, bellyaches, sore throats, whatever shows up). When faced with a serious situation she contacts parents and, as needed, acts as a liaison with outside healthcare providers.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
I am a former public school teacher turned unschooling Mom, with three children I can’t get enough of, who have unschooled from the start, and who’ve been nbtsc-ers for years.
As a teenager I trained for a career in ballet. I got hired in a ballet company at age 22, but quit after my first year. Among other downsides, it’s not an easy world in which to have a healthy body image! But those years were part of my journey and they have left me with the physical ability and ballet knowledge to dance in advanced ballet classes for fun, art, and fitness, which has turned out to be one of the most joyful ways I live life fully as I get older.
I’m interested in the idea of “endless playful pursuit” in life and career pursuits, as well as frequent jaunts outside of the comfort zone.
I’ve voraciously studied health/immunity/nutrition for years, but I believe mostly in listening to the wisdom of the body. I started doing my own simple vegetable fermenting a couple years ago, with favorite veggies that work for me (can’t do cabbage). I’ll show you how if you come to my workshop at camp! I’m always trying to be sugar-free, but ice cream, and chocolate, tend to foil that intention sometimes.
My mothering experience flows very naturally into my Mama Bear role at camp. If you get sick, I’m going to mother you and check on you and “poor-baby” you unless you tell me to go away. And even if I weren’t the designated “Listener,” I’d be inviting you to come lean on me anytime, with any stress/emotions/discussions you might want to confidentially share. Human connection and people being there for each other is, I believe, “what it’s all about.”
If you like to write, do art, or just want to more actively connect with your geographically-dispersed camp tribe over the next year, talk to me about contributing and subscribing to the (“hardcopy”) print biannual magazine I produce with a small staff of camp people, “Under the Same Sky Magazine” (.com!).
On a clear night at camp I like to end my day sitting by the creek looking up at Myrtlewood’s amazingly starry sky, sometimes with my 34-year best friend (J/Camp Driver…no, we are not spouses or romantic partners.) We’d love to have your company there.
I’m so looking forward to spending time with all you vibrant, opinionated, funny, loving teenagers, and with my amazing fellow staff members, whose commitment and passion about mentoring young adults inspires me and makes me feel at home.
Camp History: Mama Bear/Listener, 2013, 2104, 2015, 2016
We sometimes have a ton of errands to run, so at Myrtlewood we have a dedicated driver. When he’s not on the road, we will again have the pleasure of J’s company back at the ranch.
San Juan Capistrano, California
I am honored to be on staff at NBTSC as the driver. This will be my seventh session and it is one of the highlights of my year. I learned about unschooling through a good friend’s experience unschooling her children and through reading Grace’s Teenage Liberation Handbook. Since then I have read many articles on alternative education by John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, and Blake Boles. Still a self-directed learner even as I enter my 50’s, I feel I would have thrived as an unschooler. I wish I could have given my own children the opportunity as well. I’m looking forward to learning more through my NBTSC experience and meeting new people and friends.
I am a certified adaptive ski instructor and yoga instructor. I do a lot of volunteering and like to think of it as “Tithing my Time” to organizations and/or causes that I am passionate about. In addition to my yoga practice, I have an on-line tea business (leavesofcha.com) that provides an outlet for my love of food and sustainable, just food systems. After years as a corporate employee, I am enjoying the challenge of trying to pay the rent through my own businesses. My interests range widely including literature and book arts, cooking, fitness/sports, and music. I love to discuss environment, culture, politics, religion, history, philosophy and how we can act in small and large ways to do our part to ensure our world remains people-oriented and a place of love.
My goals at NBTSC include connecting with the campers and staff, finding more ways to get involved at the camp, sharing music and song with everyone, drinking and discussing tea with anyone I can find, and maybe getting involved in and leading some workshops, ultimate frisbee games, and yoga/meditation. For the other 50 weeks of the year, I live in San Juan Capistrano, California.
Camp History: Driver, 2011 – 2017 Oregon Session 2
The kitchen coordinator plans all menus, orders and shops for food, trains and supervises the kitchen staff.
Franny Bannen, 30
Franny is a lifelong unschooler who attended school for the 3rd grade and 4 years of college which was plenty but not regrettable.
As of the writing of this bio Franny has lived in Minneapolis for three full years and is liking living with seasons again, midwest thunderstorms, chains of lakes and biking home down the same street every day. Having grown up in the rural midwest and then spending 9 years living in the bay area of CA this feels like home. This year has brought a lot of changes, a move into a beautiful sunny house by the park and the realization that maybe camping is not terrible.
Franny has had a plethora of food related jobs including a Cheese School, a sorbet company, a restaurant, a pizza farm, a co-op deli, a french language camp and, of course. NBTSC. She spends a lot of time thinking about what the “dream job” might look like. Currently working as a shift lead in a deli kitchen and figuring out how to make it work for now.
Franny is passionate about all things food and cooking, bikes, books, good coffee, gardening, printmaking, the months when it’s light out when she goes to work, casually reading many horoscopes, an collecting houseplants off craigslist.
At camp you will probably find her in the kitchen cooking, planning or organizing. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to talk to you about your life or teach you to dice onions or hear about whatever book you’re reading. One of her biggest camp struggles is figuring out how to be involved in camp life while simultaneously being totally immersed in the kitchen keeping everything running smoothly and occasionally staying up til 2am making cinnamon rolls.
Camper 2000-2004, Kitchen Staff 2009-2011, OR2 kitchen coordinator 2012-2016, JT kitchen coordinator 2015.
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.
Jane Bender, 26
Jane dropped out of preschool and has been an unschooler ever since. Over the past few years Jane has worked for a slew of companies: selling truck parts, delivering organic produce, sewing curtains, and taking care of babies.
After living in Brooklyn for a year, Jane is now living in Minneapolis and working as a nanny for two tiny humans.
Right now she is enjoying living in the midwest, having plants, taking care of two babies, learning how to cook with tapioca, not having a roommate, the spring time, working on figuring out chronic health problems, and not flying all the time.
Jane is very fond of road trips, cooking, coffee with cream, listening to podcasts, sewing, potato chips, cold weather, dancing, math, trains, and horror movies.
Camper 2006, 2008, 2009, Cook 2013-2016.
Maya Toccata, 34
Joshua Tree, California
Maya lives in the Mojave Desert with her husband, Damian, and six-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 are both certified permaculture designers and run a tiny business offering permaculture consultation, desert adapted plants, veggie starts, and lacto-ferments.
When she’s not thinking about permaculture, feeding the chickens, reading fairy tales to 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.
camp 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.
Janie Hubert, 21
I am a lifelong unschooler and this will be my 7th session of camp. I spent many years working in the kitchen as a work trader, only to discover how much I genuinely loved it! I am beyond thrilled to be back at camp this year as an assistant cook.
I live in the Bay Area, although I spend a lot of my time traveling. I also nanny and love to create – I recently discovered my passion for pottery. I do some online assistance work, helping people manage their social media pages and putting together newsletters for their businesses.
NBTSC history: Camper 2009-2014 Jr. Staffer 2015
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 jr. 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.)
The 2017 Oregon Session 2 Junior Staff team is Jasper Posey, Mckinley Ropers, and Lizzie Pajor.
Back to administrative staff page