Winter Tracks 2020 is just around the corner.

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness volunteers close the age gap with Winter Tracks

Part of saving the rugged and wild Scotchman Peaks for future generations is helping kids “find their wild place.” This is where FSPW Winter Tracks program comes in.

Volunteers instructors help students from Idaho, Montana and Washington learn about wild things and places in a fun and safe setting. Winter Tracks instructors teach students about tracking, leave no trace, avalanche safety, trees, map and compass, native mammals, winter survival and more.

Retired foresters Jeff Pennick and Ed Robinson team up to teach about trees. “One of my favorite things to do is to teach kids to be curious and go out and explore,” Pennick says. “If they are curious to explore wild places, it’s a wonderful thing.”

Retired Libby teacher Gene Reckin brings a collection of bird and animal mounts to Winter Tracks, and a huge knowledge of wildlife. “Getting kids outside is fun for them and me,” he says

The love flows both ways. When kids light up about an idea — especially kids who might seem bored at the beginning of a session — it makes a volunteer’s day.

Students detect and discuss at Winter Tracks. Photo by Fiona Hicks

Not every Winter Tracks volunteer is an instructor. Howard Shay and his wife Connie help out as group guides and fire tenders. Holly Clemens claims hot chocolate as her specialty. Retired Navy veteran Phil Degens, 80, comes as a “general helper.”

“It keeps me young,” Degens says.

Winter Tracks programs are offered free of charge to schools by FSPW. Venues are public resource areas in western Lincoln and Sanders County, MT and Bonner County, ID. Most sessions are held on Fridays, though other arrangements can be made.

FSPW is taking reservations from schools for the coming year. Teachers who want to engage their class in Winter Tracks should write to

Interested in teaching a module or spending a day of “keeping young” with the students? Contact us at

Deadline for Winter Tracks reservations is December 13.

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Categories: Blog, Right Now
About The Author:

Sandy Compton has been program coordinator for Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness since 2009. He is also a storyteller and author of both fiction and non-fiction books, and the publisher at

In addition to his other duties, he runs the FSPW All Star Trail Team (, which works on Forest Service trails in the Scotchman Peaks. He is a trail surveyor as well, and a C-Certified Crosscut Bucker/Feller and USFS National Saw Policy OHLEC instructor.

Sandy grew up on a small farm/woodlot at the south end of the proposed wilderness and lives there still. He is also board member of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and a planning team member for the Northern Rockies Wilderness Skills Institute.

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