Staff – 2016 Vermont
Evan Wright, 36
See bio on 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 his or her group of 11 or so campers, and is generally available for support, hugs, and conversation.
Brenna McBroom, 27
Asheville, North Carolina
Advisor and project leader
Brenna McBroom is a long-time unschooler and former camper. She currently works as a potter making functional and decorative crystalline glazed ceramics. When not at the pottery wheel, glazing table, or kiln, Brenna loves traveling, swimming, brainstorming new business ideas, doing crafty things, and learning Spanish.
Brenna is also passionate about the value of artistic self education, and she would love to talk with you about pursuing an education as an artist without obtaining a degree. She has taken part in two self-designed pottery apprenticeships: one in Cambridge, Massachusetts and one in Corvallis, Oregon. She runs a small business selling pottery online, and you can see her etsy site here and her website here.
Brenna’s project at camp this year will focus on unearthing, mapping, and achieving your deepest dreams and goals.
NBTSC History: camper, 2004-2007. Junior staff 2011 (Oregon), advisor 2012-2015 (mostly Vermont).
Christian Holden, 24
Advisor & Project Leader
I grew up in a town on the edge of rural and suburban Massachusetts. When I was younger, a lot of my friendships were built around making the spaces we were put into (school/our hometown) something that belonged to us. Later in life, a lot of my friendships were based around spaces we were given and making them belong to everyone. I am a musician and songwriter that has been interacting with the DIY and punk communities for 10 years. I have been working solely as a touring musician for the last 3 years.
In my final half year of high school, I became fascinated with unschooling and began researching in between classes. By happenstance, I was suggested a job on a local farm where other unschoolers worked and this allowed me to meet and befriend folks from all over the US.
Community responses to social issues is the focus of most of my activism. I’ve been involved with groups and actions that worked to provide a community response to hunger, abuse and sexual assault, structural racism and white supremacy, mental illness, and home foreclosures.
My current interests include poker, art and music, performance art, and taoism.
NBTSC history: Camper, 2010. Jr. staff, 2011. Advisor, 2013-2015.
A Portrait of Me: Seven Things I Would Like To Do with You
1. Climb a Tree: Oak trees are wide ancient rooms with broad chaises and shelves of arcane leaf books.
2. Play with Color: Can you take a color you don’t like and make it appealing by surrounding it by other colors? Can you make a green sock look blue by dropping it in a field of buttercups?
3. Wander Around and Experience Plants: I love being shown, by someone who knows a plant, that it’s safe to touch and smell and possibly EAT. I love all their shapes and personalities. I love the names that humans use for them sometimes, like Loropetalum, and Hamamelis, and Sarcacocca. I love when the jewelweed seeds pop and scare me.
4. Make Tasty Snacks: First you plant it. Then you talk with it. Then you harvest it. Then you dry it. Then you soak it. Then you sprout it. Then you ferment it. Then you steam it. Then you eat it. 🙂 Baby Lima Beans with Tarragon. Sweet and Sour Corn and Quinoa Pudding. Almond Butter Shortbread Cookies. Steamed Squash Dumplings. These.
5. Tell Stories Based on Excellent Questions: What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done? When were you surprised by your own humility? What tiny way has a stranger connected with you?
6. Invent Drawing Games for Two or More People: Draw something together, both with your eyes closed. Draw with one person telling the other person which direction to move the pen. More?
7. Go walking in the Dark Barefoot if possible. Sounds get bigger and stars settle on your shoulders.
NBTSC history: Advisor 2001-2015 (except 2007), mostly in Oregon – also Vermont and Joshua Tree.
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.
In early camp years, we had a few vigorous staffers–the most memorable was our beloved Billy (Upski) Wimsatt, also the author of a couple marvelous books–who tended to stay up all night right along with campers. More recently, as our staff aged and wrinkled, this niche didn’t get filled as automatically, so we made an official position. Now, at each session somebody (or somebodies) sweet and strong stay up late–until 2 or 3 a.m., depending on when most campers have nodded off–to be a reassuring and attentive adult presence.
Liam Nilsen, 23
Asheville, North Carolina
In addition to Not Back To School Camping over the past ten years I’ve “taught” in lots of different traditional and non-traditional educational contexts. The most interesting setting has been at the Agile Learning Center for teenaged non-schoolers here in Asheville, a setting much like NBTSC but year-round.
I’ve also worked with younger people at a climbing gym, a children’s library, an after school thing, a Scandinavian pre-school, mentoring and consulting – all of which lead to my current work helping people create computer interfaces out of vegetables and house-hold items using devices developed at the life-long-kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab. The common thread there being about seeing and experiencing the world in different ways – an Unschooling approach to technology.
I also work on the network of Agile Learning Centers around the world, ride my bike, draw some comics, and try to stir up games of Werewolves wherever I go (get psyched to play some Werewolves at camp this year).
I live in a big house with 6 1/2 other people (one of whom can be found on this page) and spend a lot of thought power on how communities can function and tools for helping that along.
NBTSC History: Camper 2006 – 2011, Junior Staff 2012, Senior(ish) Staff 2013, Special Surprise Guest 2015.
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.
Kalan Noah Guetti, 24
Kalan Noah began his long journey into the great unknown of unschooling at age 15, with very little idea of where he was headed, but a strong sense that trusting his intuition was a very, very good idea. Ten years later, he finds that he is still honing that commitment to self-trust, and it has guided him again and again into exciting, fulfilling, ever-unfolding layers of who-he-gets-to-be-in-the-world.
Kalan Noah has spent many of those years exploring ways to make things with one’s hands: sewing clothing and backpacks, knitting sweaters, socks, and lace, weaving scarves, cobbling shoes, welding bicycles, tanning hides, and other, more ephemeral things: making kimchi and sourdough, playing the violin, learning to sing sacred harp music, and to build a good fire.
Most recently, Kalan Noah has fallen deeply in love with dance, and has begun the difficult and somewhat surprising journey of studying ballet as an adult. It has him hooked somewhere between the heart and navel; getting to experience that passionate excitement and dedication feels like a pinnacle moment in his journey.
NBTSC History: Camper 2006 & 2008, Junior Staff 2010, Cook 2011-2012, Kitchen Coordinator 2013-2015.
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.
Courtney Anderson, 25
Courtney is a lifelong unschooler originally from a First Nation in Southeastern Ontario, Canada. It was there where she developed a love for organic gardening, connecting with herself and others through dance, and poking around at wild plants.
Courtney spends a lot of time playing with and caring for her identical twin niblings, but also delights in baking, attending community sings, practicing yoga, tramping in the woods, cooking, exploring the DC metro area, building community, and striving to live conscientiously and lovingly.
Since Courtney first attended NBTSC as a camper in 2008, it’s been an important part of her life and community. As a staffer, she spends most of her time working and hanging out in the kitchen, and enjoys balancing that with time with campers, whether through working together, having good conversation, or just sitting in comfortable silence. Through camp, she was given an opportunity to explore the ways she feels capable of caring for others, which has continued to to help guide her through life. She is excited to have a chance to cook for you all again this year!
NBTSC History: Camper 2008 – 2010, Junior Staff 2012, Cook 2013 – 2015.
Geve Mollins, 24
Geve was “homeschooled” until age six, but he acquired most of his early education roaming through the woods, catching frogs and fireflies, reading voraciously, cooking, and asking a lot of questions—a foundation of curiosity that has stayed with him into adulthood. He did end up attending public school, but halfway through his sophomore year he began to look for other options. By lucky coincidence, he ended up holding a copy of The Teenage Liberation Handbook. Shortly after reading it, he dropped out and began to explore the real world.
Since then Geve has tried on many hats, most of which have been worn in kitchens. He started as an intern at a bakery, which evolved into a job he kept for two years, filling his days (and belly) with cookies and scones. After leaving that job, he fluttered through several different restaurants before settling into his home-away-from-home and current job, an independent cafe in western Massachusetts, where he has worked, at one time or another, as: a baker, a barista, a manager, a dispenser of smoothies, and–most consistently– a purveyor of bad puns & dad jokes galore.
This spring, Geve started to seriously pursue education and certification to become a personal trainer, which he is super excited about. After developing a passion for movement and exercise as a teenager, he’d also seen the many ways in which the fitness industry promotes lack: focusing on the parts of people that are “bad” or “wrong”, and focusing on what you can lose instead of what you can gain. Geve’s goal is to one day operate a body-positive, queer- and trans-inclusive practice that focuses on celebrating the many strengths that different bodies have, and using fitness as a tool to improve not only physical health, but mental health as well.
Geve’s favorite thing to do in the world is to zoom around on his bicycle. Some other favorite things: reading, building, plants, and sunlight. He is a firm believer in the concept of Second Breakfast.
After visiting camp as both a camper and as staff in the past, Geve is delighted to be returning to the NBTSC kitchen staff this year as a cook.
NBTSC history: Camper, 2008-2010; Jr. Staff, 2011; Cook, 2012, 2014, 2015
Talis Thorndike Love, 20
Amelia Bear, 24
With the help of her family, Amelia dropped out of second grade so she could spend her days walking up creeks and climbing trees with her dog. When small town California didn’t quite do it for a growing unschooler, her family relocated to Portland, Oregon. As a teenager she discovered circus, and metaphorically ran away. Every waking moment became devoted to trapeze, silks, dance, choreography, and physical theatre. Growing up an only child, Amelia had found her circus family.
After spending several years teaching and performing, she wanted to learn about advocating for the arts at a policy level. In 2014 she graduated from Fairhaven College/WWU with a degree in Arts Administration and a minor in Dance, enjoying everything about self-directed social-justice college except for the student loans.
Later that year, she moved to France and lived out her fantasy of visiting infamous art museums on her days off and taking weekend trips to the Netherlands to see dance. It was a true privilege. After one year and some international travel, she returned to the subdued excitement of the Northwest. She’s currently advocating for arts education and working within the non-profit structure as the coordinator of a circus school in Portland.
Amelia loves returning to camp each year to share stories and ideas, take on big projects, say yes a lot, and experience the incredible energy of camp with our stellar campers, staff, and community. She especially enjoys connecting with the movers, shakers, and acrobats that inevitably gather in the field to play together.
NBTSC History: Camper 2006-2010 (Oregon), Jr. Staff 2014 (OR Session 2), Administrative Assistant 2015 (Vermont).
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 2016 Vermont Junior Staff team is Digory Lumpkins, Jake Henry Poulos, and Kiera McNicholas.
Back to administrative staff page
Joshua Tree Staff – coming soon (2015 bios are still up)