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Meet Our Staff

  • Abby Puniello

    Junior Staff

  • Adam O’Sullivan

    Advisor

  • Andy Pearson

    Advisor and Project Leader

  • Ani Pond

    Night Owl

  • Babette Cromartie

    Advisor

  • Blake Boles

    Advisor and Project Leader 

  • Brenna McBroom

    Advisor and project leader

  • Christian Holden

    Advisor & Project Leader

  • Claire Steninger

    Junior Staff

  • Colin Burke

    Junior Staff

  • Courtney Anderson

    Cook

  • Dandy Denial

    Night Owl

  • Desmond Lee

    Night Owl

  • Digory Lumpkins

    Cook

  • Ethan Mitchell

    Cook 

  • Evan Wright

    Session Director

  • Franny Bannen

    Kitchen Coordinator

  • Geve Mollins

    Kitchen Coordinator

  • Grace Llewellyn

    Founder & Executive Director

  • Ingrid Wafer

    Cook

  • J. Davis

    Advisor

  • Jane Bender

    Cook

  • Janie Hubert

    Cook

  • Jim Flannery

    Advisor

  • Joel Malkoff

    Advisor

  • June Kinch

    Advisor and Project Leader

  • Margie Sanderson

    Logistics Goddess

  • Matt Sanderson

    Session Director

  • Maya Toccata

    Camper and Family Liaison

  • Meredith Keith-Chirch

    Advisor

  • Natalie Pond

    Mama Bear

  • Nathen Lester

    Advisor

  • Nimai MacMillan

    Junior Staff

  • Noah Guetti

    Kitchen Coordinator

  • Rachel Urner

    Junior Staff

  • Sophie Biddle

    Admin Assistant and First Aid

  • Sydney Moyer

    Advisor & Project Leader

  • Talis Thorndike-Love

    Project Leader

  • 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 and Project Leader

Minneapolis, Minnesota

I’m so excited to be back at NBTSC and on staff this year! My first year at NBTSC was in 2002 as a camper, and since 2007 I’ve usually shown up at the Myrtlewood session as either an advisor or Night Owl.

When I’m not at camp, you’ll most likely find me in Minneapolis — I work with a climate justice organization opposing oil pipeline projects, and feel grateful to get paid to do organizing and movement-building work I love. I grew up in MN and unschooled from birth up to attending the University of Minnesota, where I created my own major around themes of environmental organizing.

When I’m not doing climate change organizing, I love anything related to trains / travel, an interest that was likely helped along by a whole bunch of long distance Amtrak trips to camp. I enjoy practicing Spanish and trying to improve my fluency. Every once in a while I get some time to play guitar, and I loooooooooove cooking breakfast.

NBTSC is without a doubt one of the most amazing communities I’ve gotten to be part of, and I know it has shaped me in more ways than I can count. I’ve learned more about how to be in the world from my fellow campers and staff than I would have thought possible, and this is as true now as it was when I was a 14-year-old first time camper (I’m 30 now). If you come to camp, chances are I’m really looking forward to meeting you, and I hope we can have some great conversations over our two weeks.

NBTSC History: Camper 2002-2006, Junior Staff 2007, Dish Queen 2008, Night Owl 2009-2012; 2015, Advisor 2014, 2016, 2017, frequent project leader.

Ani Pond

Night Owl

Colorado Springs, Colorado

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

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

Blake Boles

Advisor and Project Leader 

Lake Tahoe / Buenos Aires / nowhere in particular

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 LearningBetter 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

Brenna McBroom

Advisor and project leader

Brenna McBroom is a long-time unschooler and former camper from Asheville, North Carolina. She currently works full time as a potter making crystalline glazed ceramics. Brenna loves traveling, endurance sports (she just completed her second Olympic distance triathlon), brainstorming new business ideas, making crafty things, and listening to podcasts. She’s currently in the process of moving herself and her pottery studio to Atlanta, Georgia.

Brenna runs a small business selling pottery online and through craft shows, and she would love to talk with you about pursuing self- education in the arts and starting and running an artistic business. She has been working full time as a ceramic artist for six years; you can see her etsy site here: brennadeeceramics.etsy.com and her website here: brennadee.com.

Brenna attended NBTSC as a camper from 2004-2007. She Junior staffed in 2011 and advised in Vermont from 2012 to 2017 and in Oregon in 2013. She will be 29 at camp this year.

Christian Holden

Advisor & Project Leader

Worcester, MA

Hi! I’m Christian. The main theme of my life has been about making friends. This started with me talking to strangers. I stumbled into NBTSC fresh out of graduating high school in my search for self-aware people to be my friends. I have been in a band for 9 years now. This has mostly looked like me befriending many brilliant musicians. I own a house with some goofy anarchists and activists called The Starship. We are all friends and sometimes friends come over. More recently I’ve been getting into playing poker competitively. While I view my opponents mostly as my enemies, we are pretty friendly. I’ve designed my life to have lots of time off. I plan on spending most of it with friends. My workshops this year will include sharing some knowledge I’ve gained in my pursuit of competitive gaming, such as my basic win-at-all-games strategy and performance psychology stuff. I will also be leading a project, but its literally a secret.

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

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 the DC metro area. She is indigenous and hails from a First Nation in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. She works to support new families and also delights in cooking, attending community sings, practicing yoga and mindfulness, tramping in the woods, decorating cakes, building community, and striving to live conscientiously and lovingly.

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!

Camper 2008-2010, Junior Staff 2012, Cook 2013-2017

Dandy Denial

Night Owl

Manitoba, Canada

Dandy Denial is a photographer, gender weirdo, crafts person, 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 tinkering with old cameras, or developing their own film. Their photography is usually limited to the use of analog technology, although lately they’ve been known to pick up a digital camera from time to time. They have a darkroom in their basement, and enjoy experimenting with different processes and techniques, and have lately been tinkering with 90’s era camcorders, hoping to learn how to use them well enough to make some strange short films.

Dandy is a life-long unschooler, having never attended public school or university (although they now work as an Educational Assistant in an elementary school, 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 deal with isolation, and how to stay connected in the digital age.

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 fix and repair the things you’re told you need to pay a professional to do for you, be it renovating a house, or repairing a truck. They create crafty and artistic goods from recycled materials, and sells them both in person at craft sales, and through the internet. They really love to barter.

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 22 years old from Philadelphia. This will be my first year working for NBTSC and I will be the Night Owl. I spent 3 years in the “free schooling model” at Philadelphia Free School. I’ve 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 very first time. I’m hoping to learn more about unschoolers. I’m looking forward to making new friends and maybe playing some music at camp!

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.

Ethan Mitchell

Cook 

Vergennes, Vermont

This will be Ethan’s many-th year at camp. He is returning as a cook (so ask him about food), and hopes to improve his cooking game. These days his main activity is hanging out with Lucretia (so ask him about adoption, parenting, and setting up a pre-school). In other chapters of his life, he has done other things (so ask him about sculpture, history, mathematics, travel, construction).

While the topics above are all things that Ethan enjoys discussing, experience has suggested to him that they are unhelpfully broad. So here’s a different option…

I am really interested in what books (or movies or albums or games or whatnot) are important to you, and why. It isn’t just that I want to say “oh, yeah, I read that too”, although maybe I have, particularly if we are talking about the old-school European literary canon.

But really, I’m just fascinated about how people find sources of inspiration, how we relate to the those sources: wanting to change them, or inhabit them, or critique them, or find community with them, or use them as a kind of identity; or go back to them years later and find something new. I love talking about this stuff, and it doesn’t much matter to me if it’s heist movies or zuihitsu or music videos or Shakespeare.

Evan Wright

Session Director

Seattle, Washington

Evan will co-direct with Grace at Oregon Session 1 (Camp Latgawa).

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.

Within the larger unschooling movement Evan has been active as a conference speaker and mentor to unschoolers. He was the Director of Quo Vadis, a weeklong gathering for adult unschoolers. Over the past few years he has been renovating an old house in Seattle and creating House on Holgate, a shared living space for grown unschoolers and others.

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 (eventually correcting an error in 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, an 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, OR2 kitchen coordinator 2012-Present.

Geve Mollins

Kitchen Coordinator

Geve was “homeschooled” until age six, but they acquired most of their 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 them into adulthood. At sixteen, they left high school after reading the Teenage Liberation Handbook, and they haven’t looked back.

They spent the next several years flitting in and out of kitchens, finally settling into a small cafe where they stayed for many years. They rotated from working in the kitchen, to working front of house as a barista and smoothie slinger, to an unconventional management position that involved a combination of all of those things, plus administrative work.

They started looking for other career paths that would allow them to focus on the things they liked about serving customers, with less of the stressors of working in food service. Movement and fitness have always been passions of theirs; as a teenager, learning to feel strong in their body drastically changed their relationship to themselves, as well as to the world around them. Geve feels deeply that feeling strong and powerful in one’s own body is a right, not a privilege, and wanted to be able to share information on health and exercise with others as a tool to promote not just physical health, but also mental health. So Geve stepped down from the managerial position they held at the cafe, enrolled in a Personal Training certification program, and began studying, earning their certificate eight months later. Shortly after that, they were hired at their dream job: training clients one-on-one at a local fitness studio.

Geve is also passionate about food, and is delighted to be joining the kitchen team at NBTSC again this year, to make tasty treats with (and for) people they love. When they are not in a kitchen, they love moving: biking, hiking, strolling near running water. Anything that gets them outside, preferably with friends. They’re always trying to learn how to move better, and more.

After visiting camp as both a camper and as staff in the past, Geve is delighted to be returning to the NBTSC kitchen staff in a new role, as one half of a two-person Kitchen Coordinator team.

Camp history: Camper, 2008-2010; Jr. Staff, 2011; Cook, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016

Grace Llewellyn

Founder & Executive Director

In 2018 Grace will direct or co-direct Oregon Session 1 (Latgawa), and make a visit during Oregon Session 2 (Myrtlewood). 

Grace is most well known for her book, The Teenage Liberation Handbook: how to quit school and get a real life and education. She’s also the co-author and/or editor of 3 other books about unschooling, homeschooling, and conscious schooling. A former school teacher, Grace founded NBTSC in 1996. Back in those 90s, she was also deeply involved in the un/homeschooling movement in all kinds of ways – she spoke at conferences, opened an unschooling resource center, produced a quarterly newsletter, answered gazillions of letters from readers, and ran a mail order book business for unschoolers.

Along with working year-round as the executive director of NBTSC, Grace is also super excited about a giant new project: organizing a Liberated Learners center, The Hive: self-directed learning for teens. The Hive hopes to open its doors in February 2018.

In her other life, Grace loves to dance. For 10 years she worked as one of four facilitator-DJs to put on Coalessence, Eugene’s fabulous twice-weekly ecstatic dance jam. (She left at the end of 2017 to make space in her life for The Hive.) When she finds time she offers classes in Soul MotionTM, a conscious dance practice that encompasses pretty much everything – body, soul, and Other People. Her passions for bellydance and Argentine tango are simmering on the way-far back burner, but they’ll be back before too long.

And in her most essential and miraculous life, Grace is the always-awed mama of 9-year-old Yared.

At camp, Grace loves to connect with, and enjoy, 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 from campers, staff, and parents; plans and implements major and minor changes and experiments for the coming camp year; works with the staff liaison to hire session staff; inspects all the previous year’s camp expenses and sets a budget for the coming year; updates most of the 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 over 60 of our 73 camp weeks thus far. Grace has normally directed or co-directed, and after a long hiatus has also joyfully returned to advising.

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

Advisor

San Juan Capistrano, California

I am honored to be on staff at NBTSC for my eighth session. 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 online 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 Clemente, California.

Camp History: Driver, 2011 – 2018 Oregon Session 2, Advisor 2018 Oregon Session 2, Vermont

Jane Bender

Cook

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 10th session of camp. I am beyond thrilled to be back at camp to cook, sing, dance laugh and play. I mostly live in the Bay Area where I work in a restaurant, do ceramics and sew in my garage – although I spend a lot of my time traveling.

NBTSC history: Camper 2009-2014, Jr Staff 2015, Sr Staff 2017-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!

Margie Sanderson

Logistics Goddess

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 fully grown human beings.

Since bumping into unschooling along her traditional education path, Margie has learned a ton about schooling and learning. As a teenager, she devoured any book about education she could get her hands on. She served as student representative to the Board of Directors at her democratic high school and has spent thousands of volunteer hours at an array of elementary and preschool programs. She also spent three years working at the Philadelphia Free School, a democratically run, Sudbury model school, which was a delight.

Like the young people who attend NBTSC, Margie is a self-directed learner. Immediately after last year’s camp season she spent 3 months traveling throughout Europe, primarily in Scandinavia and the Arctic Circle. She enjoyed this opportunity to think more in depth about life outside the USA, and to examine the Scandinavian approach to schooling and childhood. Since returning from Europe, Margie has been spending her time in a small Canadian mountain town learning about natural dyeing, reading as much as she can, writing about youth rights, and trying to build community from scratch.

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). This year will be her TENTH consecutive year at camp! She also has a great time working behind-the-scenes as NBTSC’s Staff Liaison and Logistics Goddess, as well as part of the volunteer marketing team. Margie will work all of the camp sessions in 2018.

Matt Sanderson

Session Director

Cincinnati, Ohio

Matt will direct Oregon Session 2 and Vermont. 

This will be my eleventh summer at NBTSC! I started out as a logistics junior staffer and have since been an advisor, dish queen, and night owl, but most people know me as Logistics Coordinator (or “Logistics Goddess”)–a role I filled through 2017. This will be my second year as Session Director for the Camp Myrtlewood and Vermont sessions of camp.

Looking forward to another magical year of camp!

Maya Toccata

Camper and Family Liaison

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 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 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.

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

Natalie Pond

Mama Bear

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. I invite 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, 2013-Present

Nathen Lester

Advisor

Joshua Tree, California

Nathen is a therapist in Joshua Tree, California. He is happily married to Reanna Alder, an adult unschooler, and lives with her and their miraculous two-year old, Margo, 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.”

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.

Noah Guetti

Kitchen Coordinator

Noah began his long journey into the great unknown of unschooling at age fifteen, with very little idea of where he was headed, but a strong sense that trusting his intuition was a very, very good idea. Over 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.

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: going on long hikes, making kimchi and sourdough, playing the violin, learning to dance, and to build a good fire.

In this past year, Noah has begun to explore the complexities of turning ones craft into a livelihood (and has finally leaned to sew with stretchy fabrics along the way!) He continues to be curious about the stories behind material objects, and the ways those objects and their manufacture tie into our broader cultural story. How do our Things contribute to Who We Feel We Are?

In his (spare) time, he sews little quilts, curates his backpacking equipment, and goes on adventures with his partner and two tiny dogs.

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

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

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

Advisor & Project Leader

Sydney is a life long unschooler, a world traveler, and a sea life enthusiast. She has spent the last year living in Argentina, Colorado, Washington, Guatemala, and road tripping around the East Coast. You can often find her listening to true crime podcasts, practicing her poor Spanish, or planning her next adventure. After this session of camp she will be moving to Washington state for her first long term habitation away from her family home. She plans to study Marine Biology and become an outdoor educator.

Camp History: Camper 2011-2014 Jr. Staff 2015, Dish Queen 2017

Talis Thorndike-Love

Project Leader

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 was ready to head back to her Vermont roots and found an apartment in Burlington, where she’s lived since June. She considers herself of jill-of-all trades. She works part-time as a journalist, holds a permaculture design certification, is a Wilderness First Responder, loves to grow, cook, and ferment food, and hopes one day to have her own homestead. For now she’s content to drink tea and explore staying in one place for a whole year.
Camp History: Camper 2012, 2013, Junior Staff 2016, Mama Bear 2018