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Meet Our Staff

  • Abby Puniello

    Junior Staff

  • Adam O’Sullivan

    Advisor

  • Andy Pearson

    Advisor

  • Ani Pond

    Co-Bear (Mama Bear #2)

  • Ariam Mogos

    Advisor

  • Arthur Velwest

    Junior Staff

  • Aubrie Hvolboll

    Cook and Staff Liaison

  • Babette Cromartie

    Advisor

  • Bet Pond

    Junior Staff

  • Blake Boles

    Advisor

  • Brenna McBroom

    Advisor and Co-Director

  • Christian Holden

    Advisor and Co-Director

  • Claire Steninger

    Junior Staff

  • Colin Burke

    Junior Staff

  • Courtney Anderson

    Cook

  • Dandy Denial

    Night Owl

  • Desmond Lee

    Night Owl

  • Dev Carey

    Advisor

  • Digory Lumpkins

    Cook

  • Elizabeth Tobey

    Cook

  • Ethan Mitchell

    Ethan Mitchell

    Cook 

  • Evan Wright

  • Franny Bannen

    Kitchen Coordinator

  • Franz Michael Ressel

    Wild Witch of the Web

  • Geve Mollins

    Cook

  • Grace Llewellyn

    Founder and Executive Director

  • Ingrid Wafer

    Cook

  • J. Davis

    Driver

  • Jane Bender

    Cook

  • Janie Hubert

    Cook

  • Jim Flannery

    Advisor

  • Joel Malkoff

    Advisor

  • June Kinch

    Advisor and Project Leader

  • Kai Williams

    Junior Staff

  • Karen Canfield

    Junior Staff

  • Keiran Healy

    Junior Staff

  • Kennedy Verrett

    Advisor

  • Liam Nilsen

    Dish Queen

  • Maeve Dorsey

    Junior Staff

  • Margie Sanderson

    Advisor

  • Matt Sanderson

    Advisor

  • Maya Toccata

    Cook and Camper & Family Liaison

  • Meredith Keith-Chirch

    Advisor

  • Milla von Tauber

    Advisor

  • Natalie Pond

    Mama Bear

  • Nathen Lester

    Advisor and Counselor

  • Neil Bhateja

    Advisor

  • Nimai MacMillan

    Junior Staff

  • Noelle Guetti

    Kitchen Coordinator

  • Ophelia June

    Junior Staff

  • Penny Grady

    Advisor

  • Rachel Urner

    Junior Staff

  • Rhiannon Tucker

    Junior Staff

  • Sierra Allen

    Advisor

  • Sierra McLean

    Junior Staff

  • Silas James

    Junior Staff

  • Skye Posey

    Junior Staff

  • Sophie Biddle

    Admin Assistant and First Aid

  • Sydney Moyer

    Logistics Goddess

  • Talis Thorndike-Love

    Cook and Kitchen Coordinator

  • Tilke Elkins

    Advisor

  • Valentina Rider

    Junior Staff

  • Vick Barman

    Cook

  • Will Suhrbur

    Mama Bear

  • Zen Zenith

    Advisor and Project Leader

  • Zoe Newmarco

    Mama Bear

Abby Puniello

Junior Staff

Bristol, RI

I am 21 years old and have been unschooled my entire life and spent most of my years playing outside, helping my family with our mini homestead, hanging out at the library, and writing. After “graduating” “high school,” I took a gap year, which turned into three (whoops!), and ended up with me volunteering, getting more serious with my writing, taking a couple classes at community college, working at a somewhat questionable pet store to fund my travels, and scrapping my original life plan for an entirely new one that I’m still trying to figure out.

This year I’ll be starting college for real and working towards my associate’s degree, we’ll see where I go after that. At camp, if I’m not working, you’ll probably find me in a corner with a cup of tea, gleefully watching the unfolding shenanigans

Camp History: Camper 2013 – 2016, Jr Staff 2018

Adam O’Sullivan

Advisor

Seattle, Washington

Adam currently lives in an old yellow house on a hill in Seattle with his partner, Evan. He recently graduated from Seattle University, and dreams of making cities more livable. He’s worn many different hats as a legislative aide for a city council member, an urban history research intern for an online history encyclopedia, and as a 9-5er for a large corporation. He spends his free time leading work parties as a forest steward for an urban forest in his neighborhood, swimming in Lake Washington, and learning about how to plan well thought out cities.

Adam grew up in a small town near Philadelphia. On a whim, he decided to try unschooling thinking he would go back to school the following year. With his newfound freedom from the religious school he was attending, he had space for deep introspection and chose to come out to his friends and family. Going back to the school he had attended no longer made sense for his wellbeing, so he continued to happily unschool his way through high school.

One of the things that made unschooling a happy and transformational experience was Not Back to School Camp. Adam first attended as a camper in Vermont in 2006 and 2007. He came back as a junior staffer in 2009, and has been periodically showing up in minor roles at NBTSC since then. He is thrilled to be advising this year and reconnect with this community that has meant so much to him.

Andy Pearson

Advisor

Minneapolis, Minnesota

I’m an adult unschooler (he/him) from Minneapolis who first came to camp as a 14 year old in 2002. I’m 35 now and will be advising this year in Oregon. In Minnesota, most of my time is spent engaging in political/grassroots organizing around climate change and environmental issues. I’ve been lucky to find fulfilling work supporting movements that seek to make the world better, most recently wrapping up a 10 year stint with a local climate justice nonprofit. I’ve also gotten the opportunity over the past couple years to teach a college class on sustainability at the University of Minnesota where I did my own individualized undergraduate degree many years ago. Outside of work, I like traveling long distances at slower speeds than flying — trains, long distance buses, boats, etc — and am interested in the political and personal choices that can make it more possible to get by without a car, even though I have a car and my life sometimes involves a lot of driving. I am conversational in Spanish though not fluent. I like making food for people. I sometimes play guitar. It’s a real joy to get to be back at NBTSC this year and spend time with this incredible community. I look forward to being inspired by all that you bring, connecting over good conversations, and getting up to some good fun. I’ll see you in August.

NBTSC History: Camper 2002-2006, Junior Staff 2007, Dish Queen 2008, Night Owl 2009-2012; 2015, Advisor 2014, 2016-2024

Ani Pond

Co-Bear (Mama Bear #2)

Colorado Springs, Colorado

I am a 25-year-old life-long unschooler, currently living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I spend a lot of my time adventuring and playing imaginatively with small children, and am lucky enough to get paid for it. I attended NBTSC every year in various capacities and across multiple sessions from 2010-2017, and I am delighted to be involved once again, now, in such a connective and soul-feeding community. I aspire to be a neuroscience researcher, and hope to attend graduate school in the very near future to study the neuroscience of motor function and sensorimotor learning/adaptation. I greatly enjoy most forms of physical activity including ballet, yoga, pilates, aerial, acro, climbing things, and not running. I love listening to and playing music, reading and writing, cooking, exploring, language, baseball and sometimes other sports, being outdoors, traveling, boats and the ocean, growing things, learning, making things with my own hands, and making human connections. She/Her.

Camp History: Camper 2010-2015, Jr. Staff 2016, Night Owl 2017.

Ariam Mogos

Advisor

[2020 bio coming soon!]
Ariam is an aspirational gardener, amateur printmaker and obsessed with community-spaces for life-long learning. She currently lives in Nairobi supporting the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development on a national digital learning program. She also runs the Nairobi Play Project, a creative computing initiative which supports intercultural competence and community-building through play.
Prior to KICD and Nairobi Play, she was the Learning Lead for UNICEF’s Office of Innovation, tasked with identifying, prototyping, and scaling learning technologies and practices for UNICEF’s 190 country offices. Ariam has also led digital learning programs for the State Department’s TechGirls MENA program, Global Kids and the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Science Literacy, Education and Technology.

Arthur Velwest

Junior Staff

I’ve been unschooled since I was 6, and still consider myself as such, I love to explore and learn through the world. Unschooling has allowed me the ability to do amazing things, including work at a live action role playing summer camp, host over 100 people in my dance community, and go to Australia and become a pirate. My main goal in life is making myself and those around me as happy as possible, and I find humor to be my trusty sidekick in that endeavor.

NBTSC History: Camper 2010-2015, Junior Staff 2019. 

Aubrie Hvolboll

Cook and Staff Liaison

Los Angeles, California

My name is Aubrie and I’m a 25 years old artist and performer living in Los Angeles. In 2022 I founded a puppet collective with my close friends and have spent most of my time making and performing silly puppet comedy since. We’re called Freak Nature Puppets. I found unschooling when I was 14 and my friend gave me a copy of the Teenage Liberation Handbook. I was a camper for two magical years in 2014 and 2015. I’ve been talking people’s ears off about unschooling ever since. For work, I’m a gardener for a company that takes care of people’s fruit trees. I love community, talking with people, music, comedy, performance art, plants, and camp :~)

Camp History: Camper 2014-2015, Cook 2022-2024, Staff Liaison 2024

Babette Cromartie

Advisor

Babette is a 20 year-old former camper originally from Detroit. They love contortion, hiking, astrology, solo travel, zines, spreadsheets, and the color green. They’ve been unschooled since they were 13 years old and moved out on their own at 17.

Babette works as the Communications & Development Associate at The Youth Organizing Institute. It’s a social justice organization that trains high school activists in movement history, political analysis, and organizing skills. In their free time, Babette teaches circus arts to other queer folks.

Babette lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Camper History: 2014-2016, Advisor 2018

Bet Pond

Junior Staff

Colorado Springs, CO

I’m Bet (she/her), and I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I’ll be 21 at camp this year. I tutor college students in English in my “outside of camp” life. I love aerial silks and general body movement endeavors, along with alternative baking to accommodate the many, many allergies of myself and my family, and I’m passionate about learning ASL and writing music and prose in any spare moment I have. This will be my first year on staff. Woo!

Camp History: Camper 2014-2019

Blake Boles

Advisor

Lake Tahoe / Buenos Aires / nowhere in particular

Hey everyone! I’m the director of Unschool Adventures (the travel company for self-directed teens), the host of the Off-Trail Learning podcast, and the author of four books: Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School, The Art of Self-Directed Learning, Better Than College, and College Without High School. Learn more at https:// blakeboles.com.

At NBTSC I enjoy playing foosball, throwing frisbees, climbing trees, setting up slacklines, having long conversations about thorny topics, partner dancing, doing acroyoga, and being a friend and mentor to all our awesome campers.

Camp History: Advisor, 2006-present (minus 2018)

Brenna McBroom

Advisor and Co-Director

Asheville, North Carolina

I’m a former camper and long-time staffer, and I feel like I’m living the dream getting to co-direct a session of NBTSC! When I’m not at camp I live and work in Asheville, North Carolina; I’m a ceramic artist, and I specialize in a certain kind of glaze called “crystalline”. I also like to dance Argentine tango, and I’ve been studying zen meditation over the last year. I’d love to talk to you about your new business idea, making a living by making stuff, buying a house, Argentine tango, and pottery. At camp this year I’m planning to lead one workshop about zen meditation and one about managing money. I was unschooled as a teenager, and Grace’s Teenage Liberation Handbook was a big influence on my educational path.

Camp History: I attended NBTSC as a camper from 2004-2007 before junior staffing in 2011. I was an advisor in Vermont from 2012 to 2019, and I’m excited to be back as Vermont co-director for the second time! I’ll turn 35 at camp this year. 🙂

Christian Holden

Advisor and Co-Director

Worcester, MA

Hi! I’m Christian. I’m 30 and living in Worcester, MA, where I intend to live for a while. I feel like I spent a lot of the past two years taking stock of what resources my various communities have. I helped form the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers which is an org raising awareness about the working conditions for touring musicians. I started a gear library for musicians in central MA. I put together a bowling league for weirdos in my area. I started building mobile homes to act as a sort of disaster relief for likely future climate scenarios. Now, I am happy to be back working at camp, a community that has helped so many young people on their own journey through a self-directed life that has the potential to become the reality for so many more young people in light of this pandemic. This is an institution I believe in so strongly to accelerate young people to self-actualization in what could be the most formative periods of their lives.

Camp History: Camper 2010, Jr. Staff 2011, Advisor 2013-2022, Night Owl 2018, Logistics Coordinator 2022

Claire Steninger

Junior Staff

Claire is a 19 year old unschooler and interest led learner from “the middle of nowhere” in the high desert of Nevada. Claire is passionate about helping other people. It’s what makes her heart sing and her day feel well spent. Being very empathic, she is sensitive to people’s distress and struggles and will do everything in her power to help them find their way back to balance and happiness.

Claire is always excited to share her passions, particularly her passions for horses, dance, and kids. For many years she has shared her love of horses with disabled toddlers, teens and young adults by volunteering with Ruby Mountain Riding for the Handicapped. She has taught ballet and tap, and danced just about every discipline of dance offered at her local studio. Claire is an energetic and joyful person who can be found outside, riding her horse, enjoying nature, and hanging out with friends whenever she has the time away from her job.

Claire was homeschooled until the age of 7 when she and her family went to the Rethinking Everything conference in Texas and found out about unschooling. They threw out their workbooks as soon as they got home, and never looked back. Claire has been attending camp since 2014 and culminated last year. A few years ago, she decided to take what she was learning at camp to start becoming a leader and role model for other young unschoolers at the Rethinking Everything (RE) conference. Having struggled through the years with getting to know the other RE attendees she understood the need for connection and brought her NBTSC skills to the rescue. The difference it made to the kids (and adults!) at RE was incredible!

At camp, Claire always strives to be welcoming to knew campers and inclusive to everyone. Her goal during her years as a camper at NBTSC was to make sure everyone felt seen and included; a lofty goal for such a short space of time, but one that meant a lot to her as well as the other campers.

NBTSC History–Camper 2014-2017, Junior Staffer 2018

Colin Burke

Junior Staff

San Jose, California
Colin Burke is a 19-year-old who loves new experiences and learning. This will be his 3rd year at nbtsc. He loves any physical activity but especially ice hockey and Frisbee. Colin’s greatest strength is to never give up, to always be kind, and to always have a fun time, even when life is hard.
Camp History: Camper 2016&17, Jr Staff 2018

Courtney Anderson

Cook

Courtney is a former camper and currently lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. She is a member of a First Nation in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. She works to support families with new babies and also delights in cooking, singing, tramping in the woods, baking and decorating cakes, and building community.

 

Since she 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 2013-2019

Dandy Denial

Night Owl

Manitoba, Canada

Dandy Denial is a non-binary gardener, food preserver, photographer, artist, and an awfully messy kitchen wizard. They live in small town Manitoba, in a tiny house, far from the nearest city. Analog processes fascinate them, and they spend a great deal of their time tinkering with old cameras, or developing their own film. They are passionate about the natural world, and how humans are more a part of it than we’ve been socialized to believe. The past two years have been an intensive crash course in forming intentional connections with our non-human relations, something they’d love to discuss at length.

Dandy is a life-long unschooler, having never attended public school or university. (although they now work as an Educational Assistant at the local public school division, in a funny twist of fate.) They have spent much of their adult life living in shared/communal living situations, but have lately come to appreciate the value of solitude, while thinking about how to gather the community necessary to weather the challenges of our world.

Dandy has devoted much time in the past to volunteering in collective organizations, such as Food Not Bombs, taught photography at a free drop-in program run out of an art gallery, and been a librarian at an anarchist lending library. they’ve traveled extensively, by means of cheap and free methods, and love sleeping outside in the bush. Together with their partner, they are learning how to be in relation with the land as someone of settler descent, and trying to be a good example to the children in their life.

At camp, Dandy can often be seen meandering about, day and night, seemingly led from place to place by their camera, which they are rarely seen without. They thrive on conversation about the passions that inspire people, and are far more approachable than their somewhat intimidating appearance might suggest. Honest. A life-long introvert and shy person, it’s hard to believe, at first impression, how much Dandy enjoys speaking with just about anyone, and is interested in most any subject that lights the fire in your eyes.

NBTSC history: camper from ’99 to ’04, Night Owl at some session or another ever since. (Also Advisor in 2015.)

Desmond Lee

Night Owl

My name is Desmond. I am 23 years old from Philadelphia. This will be my second year working for NBTSC and I will be a Night Owl. I spent 3 years in the “free schooling model” at Philadelphia Free School. I learned about myself in those 3 years. I learned what I wanted to do with my life, which is make music and teach children how to make music.
Ever since graduating the Free school that’s what I’ve been doing with my life. I am close to reaching my one year mark as a music teacher. I currently work for, and will continue to move forward with, my teaching career in any way possible.
I’m really excited and honored to be working at NBTSC for my second time. I’m hoping to learn more about unschoolers. I’m looking forward to making new friends and maybe playing some music at camp!

Dev Carey

Advisor

Paonia, CO

Dev has spent a life time taking crazy adventures with young adults. He’s a parent, an ecologist, a carpenter and nerd. This spring he and family hiked from Mexico to Utah. Many NBTSC folk have participated in Gap years or writing retreats with Dev and the High Desert Center (highdesertcenter.org)

NBTSC History: Advisor twice in the early 2000s, 2015, 2019. 

Digory Lumpkins

Cook

Hi! I’m Digory, I work as a bicycle mechanic, I love to ride bicycles, hike, dance, cook, play, travel as much as possible, repair useful things, repair useless things, go to bed early and stay up late. I grew up in northern Maine, I’ve been unschooled my whole life and do not plan to go to college. I live in Asheville North Carolina right now, but who knows where the wind will carry me next. I’m 21 years old, I went to camp from 2009 to 2014 and returned as a junior staffer in 2016.

Elizabeth Tobey

Cook

Elizabeth grew up on a small organic family farm in rural Oregon. As an unschooler she spent her days learning and growing along with her family’s goats, chickens, ducks, vegetable gardens, and fruit trees. The curiosity-driven educational style that she developed then continues to influence how she moves through the world as a life-learner constantly following her passions.

As a teenager she attended community college part-time, exploring her interests in creative writing, journalism, dance, literature, photography, history and foreign language. At nineteen she began traveling and spent the next several years alternately working summers in Denali National Park, Alaska and traveling in the winters all over the US, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Mexico and Central America. Through these years of travel she connected deeply with the wilderness of Alaska and the National Parks of the US, and a love of outdoor adventure was born. She also spent a lot of time volunteering with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) and her passion for organic and sustainable farming, and permaculture design was further ignited. Her longtime interest in dance and movement evolved into a yoga practice, and she met and lived for a while with her “guru” in France.

When she returned to the states she completed a Yoga Teacher Training Program and a Permaculture Design Certification Course. Since then she has continued following a path of education and life experience, studying natural building, intentional community development, sustainable farming and land use, writing and yoga.

She now lives in Southern Oregon, where she splits her time between her homestead in Ashland, Squawking Hawk Acres, and White Oak Farm and Education Center in Williams where she lives with her sweetie. She works for two local food and farm education based non-profits: Rogue Valley Farm to School and Rogue Farm Corps. She loves to be outside, biking, hiking, camping, spending time with her sweetheart, writing, doing yoga, dancing, cooking delicious food, fermenting things, playing banjo, and spending time with her friends.

Camp History: Camper 2000, 2001, 2004 Kitchen staff 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019 Age 32, Ashland Oregon/Williams Oregon

Ethan Mitchell

Ethan Mitchell

Cook 

Ethan has been coming to camp for long enough that staff T-shirts constitute a large part of his wardrobe. He mostly hangs out in the kitchen, but can also be found playing games, telling stories, listening to explanations, and asking questions.

 

When he’s not at camp, he spends a lot of time hanging out with his daughter Lucretia (who is now in preschool), teaching, cooking, and answering midnight call bells at a nursing home. He also likes to write. Rather than just tell you he has a lot of interests, Ethan likes to mention specific things that you might come talk to him about. This fall, there’s three. He just traveled to Borneo to present a mobile website to the descendants of a lost city during their annual festival. He thinks he’s rediscovered a plant species that was once cultivated in America, and is still tasty. And he’s probably bringing a board game about zombies that he’ll want test-played

 

Camp History: This will be Ethan’s many-th year at camp.

Evan Wright

Seattle, Washington

Evan will co-direct with Grace in Oregon

Evan has been involved in Not Back to School Camp for two decades. Since first attending NBTSC as a camper in 1998 he has worked as Director, Assistant Director, Advisor, Project Leader and – long, long ago – a Junior Staffer.

At one time Evan was a conference speaker within the unschooling movement and for five years directed a weeklong gathering for adult unschoolers. Over the past decade he renovated an almost century old house in Seattle where he lives with his partner, Adam, and dog Bear.

Evan’s journey to NBTSC began at 15 when he read The Teenage Liberation Handbook and began unschooling. Without schooling he volunteered at a London homeless shelter run by nuns, raised orphaned harbor seal pups in California over many seasons, studied the life of Albert Einstein (contributing a correction to a Princeton University Press book on the scientist), and assisted in research of 5 ft. long green sea turtles in Costa Rica.

At camp Evan has led or co-led workshops and discussions on: How to Build an Underwater Robot, Stone Sculpting, The Supreme Court of the United States, How to Get What You Want, Speaking (to others) about Unschooling, 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.

Franny Bannen

Kitchen Coordinator

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Franny is a lifelong unschooler (minus an errant third grade experiment with public school). She went to college in Oakland, CA and spent about nine years living in the bay area before moving back to the midwest a little over 4 years ago.

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, and collecting houseplants off craigslist.

Since camp last year she has: been to Maui+swam in the ocean, taken strides towards getting over her overwhelming fear of the dentist, invested a lot of time in working on her physical and mental health, and done a lot of thinking about how to have a full time job and still make time for the things that matter.

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.

Camp History: Camper 2000-2004, Kitchen Staff 2009-2011, JT kitchen coordinator 2015, OR kitchen coordinator 2012-Present.

Franz Michael Ressel

Wild Witch of the Web

San Jose, California

[Franz will be joining us as our Wild Witch of the Web for Not Back to Camp Camp – a role perhaps more traditionally known as “tech support,” but with added awesomeness] [2020 bio coming soon]

Hello! My name is Franz, I’m 21, I’m an entrepreneur, COO and front end web developer. I currently live in San Jose, California where I co-founded a company called XOTV (you can think of it like YouTube without the bad parts). XOTV became a reality about 2 years ago and before that I was unschooled for most of my life, during which I dove head first into the world of video game development. I created my first game when I was 14 and exhibited my third game at E3 when I was 16. Since then I have always had a special place in my heart for video games, especially independent ones.

I’ve also been traveling for my entire life (on my first trip, I was 3 months old) and absolutely love it. I also am extremely passionate about music and video production. On the side, I managed to teach myself just enough German to be dangerous. 🙂

When I’m not working on XOTV, making videos, creating music, programming, traveling or attempting to converse in German, I am usually rock climbing, hanging out with friends, going on adventures and playing all types of sports and games. I love listening to stories about adventures and trips people have gone on. I also am always extremely intrigued by other people’s passions. Basically, if you are interested in starting your own business, video production, video game development, programming, web development, design, travel, German or are just really passionate about something we should definitely talk! Please don’t be afraid to ask me questions about anything I just listed, I love talking about that stuff. 🙂 I also love to beat-box, so if you want to collaborate on a song while at camp, let me know!

I was a camper at NBTSC Oregon Session 2 in 2014 and 2015; Joshua Tree in 2015; Junior staffed in Vermont in 2017. I am very excited to be coming back to camp this year as senior staff and can’t wait to meet with everyone!

P.S. If you read this far, first of all, you are awesome. Second of all, let me know who you are at camp so we can make up a cool handshake.

Geve Mollins

Cook

Geve (they/them, 32) is returning to NBTSC for a fifth year as Head Cook. An unschooler, former camper, and current sociology undergrad, Geve has traveled a diverse educational path that includes over 15 years of working and learning within the restaurant industry. This experience ignited a strong commitment to food justice and equitable food access, which they continue to support through volunteer work with a local community action center. Outside of the kitchen, Geve is a Health At Every Size aligned strength coach and an apprentice member of their local bicycle yard care coop in Western Massachusetts. Their coaching philosophy is grounded in the belief that we all deserve access to information about how to move safely and joyfully in our own bodies, exactly as they are right now. Traditional gym settings are often heavily gendered and steeped in diet culture–two things that are distinctly unwelcoming to many (and damaging to most) people. Instead, Geve strives to create an environment where each student feels empowered and supported to grow in the ways that are important to them. Geve is also a big design nerd, with a focus on equitable urban design. The design of our built environment affects everything we do, which can be–and often is–used as a tool of oppression. Geve is interested in how design can be used for liberation instead, from planning to zoning to funding to building. They like to spend their free time learning about river ecology, hunting for treasures on riverbanks, and finding new ways to make the people around them laugh.

NBTSC history: Camper 2008-2010, Jr. Staff 2011, Assistant Cook 2012, Head Cook 2014-2016, 2023-2024, Kitchen Coordinator 2017.

Grace Llewellyn

Founder and Executive Director

Eugene, Oregon

In 2024 Grace will co-direct in Oregon. Grace is most well known for her book, *The Teenage Liberation Handbook: how to quit school and get a real life and education*. A former middle school language arts teacher, Grace founded NBTSC in 1996. Along with working year-round as the executive director of NBTSC, Grace also loves gardening, dancing Argentine tango and other partner dances, going to ecstatic dance jams, frolicking in creeks and canals, and lingering over dinner with family and friends. At camp, Grace loves to connect with new and old campers and staff. During the year, Grace reflects on the larger purpose, direction, and vision of NBTSC; communicates with campers and parents; reviews feedback; plans and implements changes and experiments ; oversees hiring and budget stuff; updates written camp materials, policies, and such; and works closely with the administrative team. Unschooling history: It took Grace a while to figure it out. First she went to school. Next she taught school. Then she started to think there must be a better way, investigated, discovered John Holt, and that was the beginning of the end. Or the beginning of the beginning.

Camp history: For over a decade, Grace held the one and only perfect-attendance award. That has changed, but she has nonetheless shown up for the vast majority of camp weeks. Grace usually directs or co-directs, and when time and energy allows she also loves hosting an advisee group.

Ingrid Wafer

Cook

Ingrid (you can call her Ing) became a part of the NBTSC community when her son Wesley attended the Oregon 2 Camp in 2016. Ing said yes to Grace’s invitation to joining the staff to help with the effort of making NBTSC a more inclusive community. She is so excited to be joining as a first year staffie!
Ing is the devoted mama of three, Asha (20-rising senior in college), Wesley (17-unschooler) and Nina (13-unschooler). Her family fell into the self-directed/ unschooling lifestyle almost 10 years ago, when it became apparent that school was not a fit for her then 7-year-old son. Self-directed learning is the shoe that fits for her family, especially being gifted neuro-atypical learners and individuals.
Like her kiddos, Ing is still in a process of deschooling and figuring out what she wants to do when she grows up. 🙂 Her current interests include creating community, especially for mamas of profoundly gifted children, traveling (with the hope of worldschooling), cultural exchange as an Airbnb host, plant-based whole foods nutrition, protecting Mother Earth and spending as much time as possible close to the trees and the ocean.
She currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

J. Davis

Driver

San Clemente, California

I am honored to be on staff at NBTSC for my eleventh session and really excited to re-imagine the magic of camp after our slight pause for the pandemic. Camp has become a definite highlight of my year. I learned about unschooling through Mama Bear Natalie’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 myself 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 to thrive through alternate education as well. I’m looking forward to learning more through my NBTSC experiences with the constantly amazing campers and staff I meet there.

I am a certified adaptive ski instructor and yoga instructor. I do a lot of volunteering and like to think of being of service 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 (see my blog thewholebookexperience.com), 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 Clemente, California.

Camp History: Driver, 2011 – 2019, 2022-2024 Oregon; Advisor 2018 Oregon; Advisor, 2018 Vermont

Jane Bender

Cook

Stay tuned for Jane’s 2019 bio coming soon! For now, last year’s bio below:

Minneapolis, Minnesota; 27

Jane dropped out of preschool and has been unschooling ever since. Her life time of self directed learning has lead to many adventures such as attending community college and culinary school, taking month long road trips to explore new places, trying a handful of jobs that were not for her, and eventually realizing that her true passion is working with children. Jane is a career nanny, currently working with two toddlers. She encourages as much independence as possible and believes that even at a very young age, children have a right to choose how they learn.
In addition to the wonderful community that is created at each session of Not Back To School Camp, it is also the place where Jane gets to cook. Due to having celiac disease it is nearly impossible for her to work in other cooking jobs; but at camp, with the support and understanding of the staff, she has the flexibility that allows her to use her cooking skills and leave the kitchen while pizza is being made.

Camp History: Camper 2006, 2008, 2009, Cook 2013-Present

Janie Hubert

Cook

I am a lifelong unschooler and this will be my 11th session of camp. I am beyond thrilled to be back at camp!

I live in the Bay Area where I run a restaurant, do ceramics and hang out with my cat – although I spend a lot of my time traveling.

NBTSC history: Camper 2009-2014 – Staff 2015-present

Jim Flannery

Advisor

Greetings Universe! I’m Jim Flannery and I’m a 31 year old wanna-be-unschooler. While I’ve had an unconventional “adulthood”, I went through traditional schooling for the first 22 years of my life. I grew up in suburban Connecticut, studied biomedical engineering at Boston University, and then starting living some kind of start-up entrepreneur life which evolved into more of an artist / activist / traveler life. I’ve started companies in the biotech, LED, and education sectors… have lived on both the east coast and west coast… have driven cross-country 4 times… and regularly get on stage and attempt to make strangers laugh at me by telling jokes.
Over the last 4 years, I’ve been exploring alternative education, trying to “solve the education” problem as we call it. Along the way, I discovered unschooling and have been passionately diving deeper into the unschooling world for the last 16 months. This resulted in me creating the Peer Unschooling Network, which is a digital community that connects unschooled teens from around the world.
As I am writing this bio, I am also putting together my list of workshops. You should expect to see a range of options involving physics, public speaking, comedy, traveling, living frugally, entrepreneurship, sober living, and mental health.
I am really looking forward to my first NBTSC for the chance to spend an entire week absorbing all the inspiration I get from being around unschoolers.

Joel Malkoff

Advisor

My mission at NBTSC is to empower young self-directed learners! I am a 24 year old, lifelong unschooler from the midwest of the United States, Noblesville, Indiana to be exact. Going to NBTSC for the first time at the age of 15 was a profound experience. I had decided to go in order to meet other unschoolers, as there were not any in and around the Nobelsville area. The experience at NBTSC was sensational; I made many good friends that now, after almost 10 years, are still a part of my life and whom I love deeply. As a camper, the amazing social circle that inhabits NBTSC helped me to grow and mature in profound ways as I discovered how to enact my deep compassion for people through vulnerable conversations, explored the beautiful dreams and ideas of my own and those of others, expressed my desire to be creative in an extraverted fashion by singing for all to hear, had the pleasure of hosting workshops, and embraced how empowering our voices and ears can be within a community of only 100 people.

Since graduating from camp I’ve staffed numerous positions, such as logistics assistant, dish washer, assistant cook, music director, and advisor, and it has been so fulfilling. Staffing at camp is perhaps even more fulfilling for me than being a camper because of the opportunity to be of direct service to a community that has had such a profound impact upon my life and sense of community.

Aside from my time at camp there have been many formative experiences in my young life. Experiencing whats it’s like to be a community college student, working as a youth mentor/kitchen director for Unschool Adventures, care-taking for the elderly, teaching parkour & gymnastics, hosting at a local cafe, interning with an urban farming organization in Indianapolis, competing as a junior olympic level gymnast as a teenager, participating in a permaculture design certificate program, becoming a big brother at the age of 13, moving to a foreign country and many other wonderful adventures!

The temperament I was born with is attracted to a huge plethora of passions and interests including but not limited to, sustainable design philosophies, architecture, economics, quantum mechanics, philosophy, singing, guitar, parkour/freerunning, taoism, farming and many more! It’s amazing and often overwhelming…life is so completely full of things to learn and skills to master and explore!

Currently, I am focusing my energy as a student at the National Circus School in Montreal, Quebec where I specialize in acrobatic tight-wire walking and study things like acting, contemporary dance, ballet, partner acrobatics, handstands, and many other diverse ways of interacting with the human body and pushing its limits, both artistically and athletically.

Let’s discuss ideas, take on adventure, ask profound questions, challenge our bodies and minds, eat delicious food in the sun, recharge in nature and jump into the magical unknown! Can’t wait to see you at camp!

June Kinch

Advisor and Project Leader

Eugene, Oregon

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, consent, and screen time.

I enjoy teaching Shakespeare, herbalism and forest ecology. This year, my fourth at NBTSC, I’m really excited about leading a Forest Floor Maker Circle project!

Kai Williams

Junior Staff

Long Beach, California

Hi, I’m Kai (he/him). I am 21 I live in Long Beach, California. I have been unschooled, homeschooled, and in a charter school all at different points in my life, and have loved the freedom it’s given me to explore what I find interesting. At home, I work as a dishwasher and spend most of my free time playing and writing music by myself and with others, as well as working on my band. I plan on going to college to study ASL.

Camp History: Camper: 2022-2023, Junior Staff 2024

Karen Canfield

Junior Staff

Lake Hughes, CA

Karen is a dancer, creative writer, and film photographer with lofty dreams of becoming a polyglot. She is a Jill-of-all-trades and has trouble picking just one thing she is interested in at a time. She has been Unschooled all her life in Southern California. She has traveled to New Zealand, South America, Southeast Asia, and is a big fan of backpacking. Karen has trained in classical ballet, tap, jazz, and modern dance. In 2017, she studied Argentine Tango while in Buenos Aires during the Unschool Adventures Argentina Semester. Unschooling has opened up many opportunities and experiences to her and allowed her to explore her many passions. The NBTSC community has helped her discover the kind of person she wants to be and introduced her to lifelong friends.

Camp History: Camper 2016-2017, Junior Staff 2019.

Keiran Healy

Junior Staff

Huntington Beach, CA

Hey! I’m Keiran, I’m 22, and I’ve been a proud unschooler since I was ten. After finishing up fourth grade, I spent a couple years learning on my own before enrolling in community college at fourteen. Eventually, I transferred to a UC, and as of spring of 2022, I officially have my B.A. in Feminist Studies! My goal is to eventually get my Masters in Psychology and become a therapist for queer youth.


I’ve been a camper at NBTSC for five years, and in it, I’ve found a home for myself and all of my nerdy, artistic interests. I love drawing, music, D&D, and have recently got into foam swordfighting, and I’m so excited to share that with this year’s community. NBTSC has given a lot to me over the years, and I’m so psyched to join Junior Staff and give back

Camp History: Camper 2015-2019, Junior Staff 2022

Kennedy Verrett

Advisor

Portland, Oregon

Kennedy is an innovative, versatile composer and researcher whose imaginative music captures beauty, bursts of melodic and rhythmic energy. Kennedy uses his experience as a film composer to create innovative work that challenges the audience to reexamine their usual mode of appreciation. In addition to his work in contemporary music, Kennedy dedicates his time to research and educating people on the field of ecoacoustics. One of Kennedy’s recent premieres, Soundcheck Earth (in partnership with Lou Harrison House Music, Arts, and Ecology and Joshua Tree National Park), examines the relationship between instruments, nature, and the audience’s temporal experience.

Camp History: Advisor 2024

Liam Nilsen

Dish Queen

Aarhus, Denmark

Liam grew up unschooled in northeastern USA. After first attending NBTSC in 2006, he dedicated his work life to creating spaces for unschooling / self-directed learning / playful learning to happen in communities where learners can support and learn from each other – much like at camp. This has taken shape in many different ways – from running a small school, to helping teachers use creative technologies in their classrooms, to designing activities and advocating to governments.

Talk to Liam about creating a space for learning to happen socially, about organizing tools for non-hierarchical groups, about tying credibility to playful learning, about playing and designing games, documenting projects, living in Scandinavia, and much, much more.

NBTSC History: Camper 2006-2011, Jr. Staff 2012, Sr. Staff 2013, 2016, and 2019.

Maeve Dorsey

Junior Staff

Carver, Massachusetts

 

Hello! My name is Maeve. I’m 20 years old and use She/Her pronouns. I have been unschooled my entire life, going to unschooling conferences, camping trips and of course NBTSC. I’ve worked a few random jobs including working at a different summer camp over this summer. I am planning on starting college soon and going into something in STEM, with my big three being veterinarian, marine biologist or astronomer!

Camp History: Camper 2017-2023. Jr staff- 2024

Margie Sanderson

Advisor

Vancouver, BC. She/her/hers

The reason Margie likes unschooling can be summarized quite easily: she thinks kids are people. As a youth rights advocate, it’s Margie’s belief that young people are capable, competent, and just as inherently worthy of rights and responsibilities as human beings of other ages. She has spent significant time supporting youth rights in educational contexts, including 3 years staffing at the Philadelphia Free School, a democratically run, Sudbury model school. She presently works for a non-profit focusing on the advancement of civic, political, economic, social, cultural and legal rights for children and youth.

Like the young people who attend NBTSC, Margie is a self-directed learner. She is interested in child-friendly urban planning and active transportation systems, and enjoys backpacking and exploring new places by bike. Margie is also passionate about the creation of a more socially just and sustainable world, and dismantling systems of oppression that stand in the way of this vision.

Previously Margie has attended camp as a camper from 2009-2013, a junior staffer in 2014, and senior&admin staffer since 2015 (in a range of roles).

Matt Sanderson

Advisor

Madison, Wisconsin

Matt worked every session of NBTSC from 2008-2019 but has been off for several years due to the pandemic and becoming a dad. He’s extremely excited to return and bring his daughter Eloise for the first time. Mat will be advising in Vermont this year and looks forward to talking about early childhood education, fitness and games of all sorts.

Maya Toccata

Cook and Camper & Family Liaison

Joshua Tree, California

Maya is so excited to be back at camp this year! Maya lives in the Mojave Desert with her husband, Damian, and kid, Oliver. They have chickens, goats, gardens, and lots of family there. Maya, Damian, and Oliver are all certified permaculture designers doing their best to sequester carbon and grow nutrient dense food. Maya is a forest kindergarten teacher at a magical place called Institute of Inquiry, nestled into the boulders on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park. She is also the NBTSC Camper and Family liaison.

unschooling history: Maya went to school until she was 13, when she read the Teenage Liberation Handbookand 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 the year-round Camper & Family liaison and a cook at camp this year.

Meredith Keith-Chirch

Advisor

Meredith is excited to join the NBTSC crew for the first time this year. She enjoys spending time on multiple projects related to her varying roles, including those of dancer, vocalist, musician, self- directed learning advocate, and health educator. She’s part of a low-tech, car-free, school-free, conscious living minimalist family who tends to follow what will make them happy in life, whether it be with big decisions or day-to-day ones.

Meredith supports her daughter in her self-directed life, and is passionate about being an advocate for the SDE movement, particularly the POC in SDE (people of color in self-directed education) movement that is championed by Akilah Richards. She’s a member of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education, and connected with NBTSC both through that organization as well as personally through Grace.

Meredith has been living in Eugene, OR for the past two years, and is in the process of transitioning to Tucson, AZ

Milla von Tauber

Advisor

Portland, OR

Milla was introduced to the world of unschooling in 2016 when, as a junior in high school, they left to join an Unschool Adventures program to Nepal. Milla became fascinated with alternative education models and partner dance and spent time traveling across the country growing their skillset until they eventually found themselves working at the High Desert Center in Colorado, leading gap year programs centered around sustainability and community living while teaching dance to young people. Milla holds a deep love for games, chocolate, community, and swimming in cold rivers. They now live in Portland, Oregon, and work as an event organizer and dance instructor.

Camp history: Camper 2015/2016, Junior Staff 2019, Advisor 2022, 2023, 2024

Natalie Pond

Mama Bear

Colorado Springs, Colorado

I love so so much being Mama Bear at camp, as well as in real life to three (now grown up) unschoolers (all past and/or present NBTSCers.) I am currently working in Early Childhood Education, mostly with preschoolers, basking in their brilliant inquisitiveness and joie de vivre. I have a background in professional ballet dancing, computer programming, public elementary school teaching, and magazine publishing (ask me about “Under the Same Sky Magazine”, a print-only gathering place – many NBTSC staffers and campers have been published in it!) I’ve lived in Germany and in many cities all across the U.S. I even recently lived in Abu Dhabi in the Middle East, where my partner was working at an international college, and it was fascinating. In recent years I have passionately (in unschooler style) researched physical and mental health topics and nutrition. I like to ferment veggies and I have nurtured my gluten free sourdough starter “Evie” for a few years, regularly making bread and pizza dough and crackers for myself and family, but I often neglect her when life gets busy, and then I appreciate how forgiving she is. I love laughing at witty/silly/stupid humor (my decades-long friend J [camp’s beloved driver] is good for me to have around for this), and being at camp, off-grid, and under the stars (I’m a night owl, and I love to stargaze with others by the creek at night – ahhh, the stars and the sound of a running creek, while communing with lovely people, all at the same time!), connecting meaningfully as much as I can with each camper and staffer. For me, human connection and love is “what it’s all about,” so come connect with me over learning/education, early childhood, nutrition, health, dance, nature, laughter, or whatever, and be sure to come see me any time you need any amount or type of Mama-ing at camp, no matter how big or small it seems! I want you to visit me in the Bear Cave!

Camp history: Mama Bear 2013 – present

Nathen Lester

Advisor and Counselor

Joshua Tree, California

Nathen is a family therapist who works with couples, families, and individuals in California. He is a family man, and lives with his wife, daughter, and extended family in Joshua Tree, California.

Nathen has been an advisor at Not Back to School Camp every year 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.”

Camp History: Advisor 1999-present, Counselor 2007-present

Neil Bhateja

Advisor

This will be my first year at Not Back To School Camp, and I’m excited to learn what makes it special and be the best advisor I can be. Growing up, I went to public school in the SF Bay Area and noticed through school and other experiences that youth are not often given the opportunity to be in charge of their own lives. Margie Sanderson told me about NBTSC in the course of our work with the National Youth Rights Association and I’m glad to be a part of it. I’m now 27 and live in Oakland, CA, doing electronics work for a car company. Outside of work, I enjoy keeping physically active, studying music, camping, traveling abroad, and working for the National Youth Rights Association.

Nimai MacMillan

Junior Staff

I’m Nimai (pronounced Nee-My). I am very much a wall flower, I enjoy being in the background much more than the spotlight. I went to school off and on until I got my GED in 2015. I very much enjoy gaming, and when I’m at camp, washing dishes.

I went to camp from 2012-2015 and this is my first year staffing. I’m excited to see how camp has progressed while I’ve been away.

Noelle Guetti

Kitchen Coordinator

Noelle began her long journey into the great unknown of unschooling at age fifteen, with very little idea of where she was headed, but a strong sense that trusting her intuition was a very, very good idea. Thirteen years later, she finds that she is still honing that commitment to self-trust, and it has guided her again and again into exciting, fulfilling, ever-unfolding layers of who-she-gets-to-be-in-the-world. She has spent most of those years exploring ways to make things with her hands: weaving cloth, sewing clothing and ballet costumes, knitting sweaters, socks, and lace, growing a garden, cobbling shoes, welding bicycles, tanning hides, and other, more ephemeral things: going on long hikes, making kimchi and sourdough, playing the violin, dancing, and learning to build good fires.

Noelle lives in Springfield, OR with her partner, two tiny dogs, a big messy garden, and assorted cats, crows, opossums, hummingbirds, scrub jays, and peacocks. She is endlessly grateful for the richness NBTSC has contributed to her life, and the loving network of people it has surrounded her with. She is always excited to put her hard work and love back into this community.

So far at NBTSC, Noelle has filled these roles: Camper 2006, 2008, Junior Staff 2010, Assistant cook 2011, Head Cook 2012, Kitchen Coordinator 2013-2016, 2018.

Ophelia June

Junior Staff

Sedona, Arizona

Hello! My name is Ophelia June, Often also called Oxen. (They/Them) I’m a 20 year old lifelong unschooler, Currently residing in Sedona Arizona. I’m a multimedia artist with focuses in Fiber arts, Illustration, and Poetry. I also make music with friends, And have recently awoken my passion for dancing. I’ve been going to NBTSC since I was 14 and this will be my first year Jr Staffing. I cannot wait to make connections and help everyone feel welcome at camp. This year I plan on hosting my Love Language and Human Connection workshop again, A poetry workshop, And hopefully some Ultimate Tag!. I am deeply excited to be working for the place that truly helped me find myself.

Camp history: Camper, 2018-2019, 2022-2023. Junior Staff 2024.

Penny Grady

Advisor

Eugene, OR

Hi! My name is Penny, and this is my first summer at NBTSC. I live in Eugene OR, and have lived there since I left my parents’ house when I was 18 (I’m 31 now!). I consider Oregon home, and I am on a lifelong journey to learn about the plants, trees, birds and ecosystems here. A lot of my time in Oregon has been spent fighting and working to protect wild places around my home. I have a passion for forest defence, direct action, constructive (and non-constructive) mischief, and working for the causes I believe in.

I am also lucky enough to pay the bills working with youth in the world of social work and mental health. I have worked with street youth, done crisis response in high schools, and worked with super badass young people out in the desert in a wilderness therapy program. Happy to talk mental health and self care anytime!

Outside of work and activism, I love the garden, the guitar, jazz, the blues, singing and jamming, friendship and new experiences. I grew up schooled in public, and catholic schools. I struggled a lot in those environments when I was younger, and I’m really excited to learn more from y’all about what unschooling is all about!

Rachel Urner

Junior Staff

Portland, Oregon // 19

Rachel will be joining staff for the first time this year as the logistics junior staffer for OR2, and a lifeguard/floater junior staff for OR1. She culminated last year after 6 years as a camper and can’t wait to take on this new role within her beloved community. In her life outside of camp she works as a preschool teacher in Portland, Oregon where she lives with her fiancée Trenton. She enjoys swimming in unlikely places, blues dancing, speaking passionately about the merits of self directed learning, and losing to Blake Boles in games of foosball.

Camp History, Camper  2012-1017,  Jr Staffer 2018

Rhiannon Tucker

Junior Staff

Tucson, AZ

Hi! I use R or Rhiannon, any pronouns & I’m 20. As a lifelong too-cool-for-schooler, I believe it can be wildly beneficial to surround yourself with other Unschoolers, at any age, but especially as a young adult. It is a privilege to work alongside them and is something I am looking forward to. I am a creative, lover of life & most things in it, and I am excited to cultivate some meaningful connections with new & returning individuals. Thank you for having me 🙂

Camp History: Camper, 2018, 2019, 2022, 2023. Junior Staff 2024

Sierra Allen

Advisor

Sierra is a 27-year-old self-directed learner from the boreal forest and the cloud forest of the Americas. She’s nomadic these days with home communities in North Carolina, British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, Costa Rica and New York. She prioritizes connection with other humans, time in solitude in wild places, self-expression through movement and supporting people in creating autonomous, happy-making environments to play, work and grow in. She began self-directing her own learning when she left public school when she was 8 and hasn’t looked back since. This will be her first year at NBTSC.

Sierra McLean

Junior Staff

Sierra is 20 years old living in Bellingham Washington. She grew up unschooled, went to school for a few years, but then rediscovered the magic of alternative education after writing a research paper about unschooling for her honors class. After she convinced herself to drop out, she immediately signed up for NBTSC. She found so much inspiration her first year of camp it drove her to travel the world with Unschool Adventures and the High Desert Center. You can now find her nestled in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, either exploring or planning her next circus performance!

Camp History: Camper 2015-2018, Junior Staff: 2019

Silas James

Junior Staff

Silvana, Washington

I am an electronics hobbyist and have been unschooled for all 20 years of my life. In the past few years, I’ve worked at several bakeries. However, I intend to pursue a career in either music or electronic/mechanical design.

NBTSC has helped me to grow so much in the past five years, and I am looking forward to giving back in my own way.

Camp History: Camper 2014-2018, Jr. Staff 2019

Skye Posey

Junior Staff

Haines, Alaska / Minneapolis, Minnesota

Hello! I’m Skye, I’m 21, and my pronouns are they/them.

I grew up homeschooled and then unschooled in the middle of nowhere in rural Alaska, but these days I’m living in Minneapolis to attend the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Whenever I’m not holed up in the architecture studio gluing tiny pieces of chipboard together 24/7 (ask me about the tiny buildings currently covering every spare surface in my apartment), I fill my time doing freelance art and design jobs and I’ve recently also started working in sustainable building science research. As for hobbies, I’m a lifelong visual artist and musician, I absolutely adore live music and travel, and you can probably expect to rarely see me without my camera nearby.

At camp, I hope to continue my tradition of leading music appreciation workshops, and maybe I’ll put together some portrait photography or sketching parties too. We’ll see where the session takes us! I would also absolutely love to chat with any campers who are considering dipping their toes in academia in the future. Much to my surprise, my unschooling background has turned out to be kind of like a superpower in college, but it’s definitely a weird transition! Let’s talk about it!

I couldn’t be more excited to be returning to Myrtlewood—NBTSC has had a very special place in my heart ever since I started attending at age 13 because it offered a space where it was easy to form lifelong friendships, and where I felt comfortable, supported, and safe exploring my interests and identity for the first time in my life. Camp is like a second home to me, and I can’t wait to help make it happen as a junior staffer this year.

Camp History: Camper 2014-2019

Sophie Biddle

Admin Assistant and First Aid

Portland, Oregon

Sophie has dipped her toes into almost every type of schooling. As a 14-year-old honor roll student turned enthusiastic high school drop out, Sophie discovered the joys of unschooling, community college, and democratic schools. She recently graduated from Portland State University with a degree in Sociology and Elementary Science Education. Much to her delight, Sophie will be presenting her undergraduate thesis on children’s use of public space at the International Conference on Geographies of Children, Youth, and Families in the fall.

In addition to geeking out about youth rights and social justice, Sophie enjoys hanging out with her cat, dancing, painting, and swimming. She dabbles in graphic design work and horseback riding. Sophie is interested in learning more about beekeeping, carpentry, and is always seeking out ways to be more organized. Sophie can likely be found romping through the streets of northeast Portland with a motley crew of small children, a cup of coffee in one hand and her camera in the other. She is thrilled to bring her love of organizing and caring for others to NBTSC this year.

NBTSC History: Camper 2011-2014, Jr. Staff Logistics Coordinator 2015, Mama Bear & Admin Assistant 2016

Sydney Moyer

Logistics Goddess

Bellingham, Washington

Sydney is a life long unschooler and world traveler who thrives on making friends and sassing others. She is quite the yapper but not much of a writer, it’s hard to describe her in words, easier to describe her in vibes. Sydney’s vibes *loud *sarcastic *squishmallows *crocks *taylor swift conspiracies *NBTSC super fan Sydney first attended camp from 2011-2014 as a camper, followed by jr staff in 2015, and has been on sr staff since 2017. She’s had many roles from dishes to assistant director, and is excited to debut her talents as logistics goddess this year.

Camp History: Camper 2011-2014 Jr. Staff 2015, Dish Queen 2017, Advisor and Project Leader 2018, 2019, 2022, 2023, Logistics Goddess 2024

Talis Thorndike-Love

Cook and Kitchen Coordinator

Tilke Elkins

Advisor

Springfield, OR

Tilke Elkins is an artist, paint-maker, and co-ordinator of Wild Pigment Project, a hub which connects artists to the land by providing resources, consulting and inspiration to integrate plant and mineral pigments into studio practice. Her paintings and site-specific installations focus on wild landscapes that hold discernible but indecipherable traces of human presence and history, recording conflicting impressions of both neglect and the sublime.

Tilke’s been staffing at NBSTC since 2001, though she’s been away from Myrtlewood since 2014, and is very pleased to be returning. Her workshops this year will include, “What even IS Contemporary Art?”, Looking at Art, and Connecting with the Land Through Color. She plans to swim in the swimming hole as much as possible, lead a silent, no-flashlight night walk, find a tree to climb that she’s never climbed before, and invite someone to take her on a blind-folded tour of Camp Myrtlewood.

She lives in Springfield, Oregon with her partner, Noelle, textile genius and fabulous kitchen coordinator at Vermont camp, and their two dogs, Calvin and Winnie.

NBTSC History: Advisor, Camp Myrtlewood, 2001 – 2005, 2007 – 2011, Latgawa 2011-2014, Vermont 2007, 2015, 2016.

www.wildpigmentproject.org, www.tilkeelkins.com @wildpigmentproject @tilkefinn

Valentina Rider

Junior Staff

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Hi, I’m Valentina! I live in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where I have been studying software engineering at college until my graduation this summer. I unschooled through school, and I consider that outlook on learning to have helped immensely in college, with the way it encourages us to keep track of our own learning and be responsible for it. I love both learning and teaching, having been a tutor at my university for several years, and I generally like to share cool stuff with other people. As a 23-year-old recent college graduate, I am currently out to explore what the world has to offer and figure out where I fit into it – where to go, what jobs to do, where to find people I enjoy. I like creating things: a few of my current interests are singing/playing guitar, writing, knitting, and bookbinding. NBTSC is the confluence of all these good things and so I’m looking forward to making things, learning from people, and sharing experiences and knowledge with all who cross my path this year at camp. See you there!

Camp History: Camper 2016-2022, Junior Staff 2024

Vick Barman

Cook

Eugene, OR

Hi! I’m Vick, I’m 24, a lifelong unschooler, originally from San Jose CA, and currently living in Eugene OR. In Eugene, I work at a small business coffee shop where I get to explore my passion for coffee and serving the community. Through unschooling and NBTSC I have been able to discover my love for traveling, build lifelong chosen family, and discover myself. Alternative education has taught me so much, including how to be independent, think for myself, learn what feels relevant to me at different stages of my life and so, so much more. I’m incredibly thankful I have been privileged enough to be unschooled my whole life. After 4 years as a camper and 1 year on Jr. Staff, I feel beyond privileged and excited to be staffing at camp this year!

Camp History: Camper 2015-2018 Jr. Staff 2019 Assistant Cook 2022 Head Cook 2023 & 2024

Will Suhrbur

Mama Bear

 

Chicago, IL

Hello, everyone! My name is Will Suhrbur, and I’m a twenty-nine-year-old life-enjoyer. I have been a lifelong homeschooler/unschooler and deem it the best opportunity-bringing, happiness-inducing factor of my life so far. Since attending Not Back to School Camp as a camper over ten years ago, I have been a camp counselor at NBTSC as well as various other organizations, and I am thrilled to be returning again in 2024 to be a part of a community that altered my life for the better as a teen. Here are some things about me you will likely experience if you join me at NBTSC: – I love the color Green. – I love athletics of all kinds, though primarily football, soccer and pole vaulting. My teams have traveled all over for competition, from Chicago, to Orlando, to Seattle, to Mexico. – You will make me laugh if you interact with me. – I love to dance. Primarily blues dancing, but I’m always down for anything. A little swing? Attempting to breakdance? The nye-nye? A little spontaneous freestyle? It all sounds good to me. Ask me to dance and I will gladly dance with you. – I write music for all sorts of things including weddings, soundtracks to film, orchestral pieces, and others just because. – Video games. Who doesn’t love ‘em? – Piano. I used to play it a lot and very intensely, but now I usually just stick to my favorite game/movie scores. – I am currently in the midst of writing a very long fantasy trilogy. It’s become my number one new passion as an adult. Much time has been spent doing so. – My undergraduate major in college was psychology and computer science, so talking about emotions, dreams, state of mind, individual ideologies, life-ambitions, or anything related to computers are very intriguing subjects to me. While these are the things I have highlighted in my bio, don’t be fooled; I love conversing about anything so long as my reciprocator holds interest in the conversation. I hope your experience with NBTSC is as experienced-filled as mine was. Whether its good, overwhelming, confusing, bad, totally awesome, different than you were expecting, or something completely unique, come tell me all about it. I’d love to hear.

Camper 2009-2011, Advisor 2022-2023, Mama Bear 2023

Zen Zenith

Advisor and Project Leader

Los Angeles, California

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

Zoe Newmarco

Mama Bear

Zoë grew up unschooling in rural Vermont, and first attended Not Back To School Camp in 2012, where she made connections that both inspired her and helped her to create the life she wants to live. In 2014 she started traveling all over the place, both within the U.S.A. and out of it. She’s lived and worked on small farms in just about every climate imaginable, interned on an Unschool Adventures trip, spent time living out of a van in Mexico, taken at least six train trips across the country and back, and busked in New Orleans.

After nearly four years of traveling, she came back to her Vermont roots. She considers herself of jill-of-all trades. She works as a journalist at a local newspaper and spends a lot of time milking cows at a nearby dairy farm. She holds a permaculture design certification, is a Wilderness First Responder, loves to grow, cook, and ferment food, and is currently passionate about learning carpentry skills. She’s always happy to create cozy spaces for drinking tea, sharing stories, or just having a quiet space to be.

NBTSC History: Camper 2012, 2013, Junior Staff 2016, Mama Bear 2018, 2019

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