At Headwaters, 2015 was quite a year. It definitely was the good, the bad and the ugly! The good in 2015 was our wonderful students and our amazing staff. This year many of our students were apprentices, which means they stay with us for 4 to 9 weeks. As a teacher I love the opportunity to spend longer periods of time with my students. The opportunity to go deeper into the spirit of Nature - to learn to let Nature be the teacher. When students come to Headwaters, whether it’s for a week class or longer, their lives change, and always for the better.
This land is sacred, it’s a power spot. By simply coming to Headwaters, life becomes more amazing. We get connected to all that is good and beautiful about being human. We find purpose in being alive on this beautiful planet, our home “Earth”. I could give an elaborate explanation on why the land does this, but in truth I’m not sure. I just know it happens. I’ve observed it for 25 years. Mix the Good Earth, with good students and good teachers. Throw in Love of the Earth, Love of the Community, co-creating with the Earth, such as gardening, wild-crafting, eating good food made with love and care. Add in tree climbing, creek swimming, earth art, quiet time and exploring time, a good community committed to fun, listening, love and learning. Create space for ceremony and wonderful sweat lodges and blend this all together and you get a summer at Headwaters. I’m always amazed to observe what goodness happens at our school. For those who are called to a summer at Headwaters, I’m sure no matter what age, it will be a defining time of your whole life.
We humans are prone to overthinking and over analyzing things. We like to put them into nice neat packages. We find false comfort in thinking we know, when we really don’t. Enjoy the mystery of what creates a sacred experience. The Mystery, and the trust that goes along with accepting mystery is in a way true freedom. Our Earth Ancestors had no science to explain so much of what we understand today. They had the medicine of trusting the power of Mystery, of having Faith. This opened them up to a rich, spiritual life of deep connection to the earth, free of dogma. Love, Kindness, Peace, Courage, Purpose, Wonderment, Gratitude, and maybe most important, Bliss, the love of life, are the result of that true connection with nature.
I began with the reference of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I’ve stated the good and I was going to write about all of our tests this past year in the realm of the Bad and the Ugly. But instead, I will just say we had many. In each and every situation, myself and my amazing staff faced them head on, and turned them all into something good, which just took the negative power out of them. By working through these life situations it allowed for something good to show up. I believe you really find out the truth about yourself or your organization by how you deal with the tests life throws your way. Headwaters 2015 tossed a lot of tests our way - we came through it shining. Thank you to my staff and friends!
One very sad thing that I did want to acknowledge was the loss of Kodi, Julie’s dog and her best friend. Late one night back in early June, Julie and Jon rushed Kodi to an emergency vet clinic in Medford. Kodi’s stomach had twisted around inside him, causing his intestines to become damaged beyond repair. Kodi died at nine years old that night. Julie couldn’t be by his side to say goodbye. When he was dropped off at the vet we thought the emergency surgery would be successful so Julie was in transit back to Mt. Shasta. The loss of Kodi was our biggest challenge of 2015. I cannot stop crying now as I write. Julie and Kodi were one, it’s that simple. The two of them together was beautiful. Their love filled our camp with goodness. Kodi was my great friend also. I found him nine years ago as a puppy in a girl’s arms, looking for a home in front of the Subway sandwich shop in Yreka. I saw Kodi and Julie begin their journey then and there the instant they met. It was a wonderful nine years. So many adventures together, so much love shared. My greatest joy about Kodi was his bond to Julie. He filled her up with companionship, friendship and love. He was so much like her. They truly understood each other. The relationship between people and dogs is truly one of the great gifts given to humans from Nature. I love dogs as much as anything in life. I love to explore the woods with our dog pack. To be part of a pack is an immense joy. I will forever miss Kodi, he was a God Dog. May he walk with me in spirit always. I will have a place for him always. I will love him always. There will never be another Kodi. I’m so thankful he shared his life with Julie, Headwaters and myself. Thank you, my friend Kodi.
I want to thank my staff for their incredible work in 2015. Our staff is made up of many levels. Our main staff includes Julie Boettler, Jon Bock, Aidan Dodge, JT Beggs, John Brennen, and Isabelle Senteno. Then we have our staff that comes for certain classes, such as Michael Gunley, Ira Christian, Neale Jones, Kim Powers, Evert Broderick, Lou Ponig, Robin Bliss-Wagner, and so many more. Then we have our Kitchen Crew staff which also do so much more than the kitchen. Julie led this pack including Natalie, Nadia, Tivon, Lina and so many others that show up to help. Michael W. led the land caretaking crew and helped wherever he was needed. People love working in the outdoor kitchen, they are always happy and fulfilled. For a moment just think about how good our food is made with love and honor. What our kitchen produces is magnificent and monumental. Thank you! Thank you to our Great Kitchen Leader, Julie. The kitchen is the heart of our camp.
This year I turned 60. My vision for the next ten years is for myself to move more deeply into the Awareness and Philosophy side of our work, by running more sweats, deepening my relationship with the Earth Keeper, and bringing that medicine into our camp. Part of my vision is to work one on one more with our students and to oversee our school in a more Earth Spiritual Way. I was able to do these things because I gave away much of the day-to-day running of the camp and teaching to my staff. Jon Bock headed this up, and all of the staff stepped up as well. The staff did amazing and I was free to be more creative with our school. The results were wonderful classes and a sense of deep spirit and connection to the land. In 2016 we will continue this trend to empower our teachers with the gift of leadership and to empower me to move into the beginning stages of Elderhood. It’s an exciting time at our school. I am truly blessed to be around so many committed and loyal people. I’m the luckiest man in the world. Oh it’s good to be Irish!
To our dogs, our other staff, Ben, Jackson, Georgie and Cooper, I love you, you are medicine to our camp. It’s simple our school wouldn’t be what it is without our dogs, they are medicine, food for the soul. I especially enjoyed watching Cooper, Julie’s new dog grow up into the Headwaters world. I fell in love with Cooper. What a gift this puppy is. I look forward to so many good years living and sharing life together. What a joy dogs are.
A special thanks to our Elders John Brennen and Tom Kray. Both come to Headwaters and give so much. They bring the building skills and their spiritual skills to all of us. John day-in-day-out is always available. He always gives his best. John is an amazing example of what an Elder should be in a community. He makes all of our lives richer by being with us. Tom Kray built 5 tent cabin platforms this last year as a gift to our camp. We now have these tent cabins for people and staff to use, thanks to Tom. Tom is also a wonderful example of what an Elder can be in a community. A special thanks to Neale and Ash who watched over our camp from January through August of 2015. They helped in the school and garden, Neale baked in our outdoor oven and Ash provided endless cranial sacral work to all who wanted it, including myself. A special thanks to Gabe Hoff for partnering up with us to create our Garden. His skill at growing things and his love of Headwaters is a sweet thing. Gabe is a wonderful business partner and friend, and a great example of how like-minded people can come together to create beautiful things. Thank you Gabe Hoff!
Jon Bock - what a rock. Jon committed to helping run our school for 5 years, 2016 sadly will be his last as he will begin his next journey. Jon’s word is gold, I trust him. People like Jon give a gift to me and that is the freedom to take our school to deeper spiritual places in Nature by freeing me from the day-to-day work of running a school. Thank you Jon.
JT Beggs, what can I say about JT. First JT committed to Headwaters for the next 5 years, which is amazing, I’m happy about that. What luck for our school as JT is truly a natural born teacher. The guy can cook too. When it comes to skills, JT always bring his gifts.
Aidan Dodge, our mind boggling young apprentice and young teacher. Aidan spent part of Winter, Spring and Fall with us. Aidan will be back this year, how lucky we are. His most wonderful gift is his willingness to help when help is needed. His medicine is caretaker medicine. People like Aidan hold a community together. Just knowing they’re around gives peace and freedom to our school.
Isabelle Senteno has been with us since her 5th Grade class came from Waldorf School of the Peninsula. She’s now in her 2nd year of college. In 2015 we got a precious 5 weeks from Isabel, teaching, cooking, and in general just being herself. Isabelle is one of the most incredible women I have ever known. I look forward to watching her life unfold. I am thankful to be a part of her life. Next summer she’ll be off sharing her gifts elsewhere. I know she’ll be back one day.
Julie Boettler is Headwaters. She is our most wonderful cook, who’s turned our outdoor kitchen into the place to be. A happy kitchen, that’s our kitchen. Love and good food comes out of that Kitchen, everyone wants to be a part of it. Julie is like the core-wood, the heartwood of a large tree. The core is what holds the tree up through all its life. Wind, Snow, Rain, Bugs, the tree keeps standing and living good because of the strong heartwood. The tree is the forest and the forest is the tree. That is what Julie is to Headwaters. Thank you! Thank you!
Jean Sage, my amazing wife. Jean is a Force of Nature. She’s an incredibly powerful woman. Jean often quietly in the background makes Headwaters what it is which is amazing. She supports our non-profit organization, the Walker-Hupp Foundation, which she started many years ago. Last year the foundation was able to give away $12,000 to students in need. All the infrastructure at Headwaters such as gardens, greenhouses, tractors, trucks and many more are all supported by Jean. She created the Memorial Garden which is growing into a place of wonder, beauty and inspiration. In 2015 Jean brought ceremony to our camp in the form of what is called “Despaucho ”, a Peruvian ceremony that is so moving and beautiful for our students. Jean works personally with students, mentoring them around life skills. I love this aspect of our school. For those that feel called to go deeper, people like Jean are there to help. I thank Jean deeply for what she brings, I know she’s a very private person and six months of the year our school is in her space. Thank you, Thank you for all you give on all levels.
Something great happened this year. Jean wrote a book called, “Letting Go” A Rite of Passage. It’s a book about reflecting on our life and what made us who we are and about moving into elder years in a conscious way. We will have a workshop for adults in early September with this book as the guiding light. We’re looking for 15 adults, 50 years and up, come and join us. Let’s be great as we get older. Let’s learn to share our life’s gifts with our world, our communities, friends and families.
To make Headwaters the special place it is it takes countless people at every level possible. It is the same as the natural world we all love. Every single being makes the whole. That’s what makes Headwaters so wonderful. Thank you to all of you. Whether I’ve named you or not, I love you and honor you. I wish you the best!
The Walker-Hupp Fund is our foundation that helps with tuition for people who need financial aid to attend our classes. It’s very important medicine to be of service in our world. One direct way is to give money to our foundation. Just maybe the money you give will help a kid to become the next John Muir, by giving we’re investing in the future. It is money well placed.
So please, whether it is $25 or $10,000, please help. Also profits from the sales of my wife's Jean’s new book “Letting Go: A Rite of Passage” and my book “Growing Up with a Soul Full of Nature” and my photobooks, will go to the Walker-Hupp Fund.
Jean is launching her own website and blog called It Was An Owl (itwasanowl.com). It Was An Owl is a blog for boomers in the last phase of their lives. The last phase can be the most important. It can last a long time with the right attitude. Please support her new effort and check it out. She has a lot to teach about transitioning into the last phase of our lives.
To donate, make checks payable to: Upper Reaches and mail to:
Headwaters Outoor School
PO BOX 1210
Mt. Shasta, CA 96067
Questions or thoughts, call me at (831) 818-0480
Help Headwaters continue to grow - come and Apprentice, take a class, promote our school by telling a friend or bringing one with you.
The weekend of April 8 we’ll be having our Annual Gathering to work on the land, eat good food and sweat and sing and celebrate. Come join us and bring food, it’s a potluck! Call the office for details.
Look for new classes on our website such as:
For 2016 I promise to run the most amazing sweats ever with the Earth Keeper’s help. I’m committed to the best at all levels at our school. I know our school and land are sacred, and I’ll deepen that sacredness. I’ll continue to grow as a leader always striving to be a better person. Every day I wake up full of gratitude for my life, school, family, friends, wife, dogs, trees, plants, water and of course Mt. Shasta. It’s a good life, thank you to all of you for making my dream come true.
As many of you know my other passion in life is photography of Nature. I have a gallery in town and I produce custom fine art prints and books. I have 3 books out on Mt. Shasta and one on Santa Cruz and the Central Coast. I also have a book out on Roosevelt Lake in the High Sierra Nevada. This place shaped my life, growing up and on. Future books will be Volumes 2 & 3, The High Sierra, Southern Utah, the Oregon Coast, Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii. I’m very active as a photographer when I’m not teaching. It’s my way of sharing my love of Nature. My website is: TimCorcoranPhoto.com, or ask me to give you a private showing at the gallery in Mt. Shasta City. I enjoy sharing my work and the stories along with it.