Gerhard Carlson was born in Anacortes, Washington, and has lived his whole life in Washington state.  His early years were spent in the Bothell area of Western Washington. He was always active in sports and outdoor activities. He graduated from Inglemoor High School, and among his notable achievements at that time, he was the state gymnastics champion in his senior year on the high bar and rings.

Gerhard went to college at Western Washington University in Bellingham, and received his B.A in Education, as a PE major in 1978.  Before he graduated, he road his bicycle across the country with four other people, starting in Seattle and ending in Williamsburg, W.V.  It took them five weeks, and cost him $100!   After completing his student teaching, he married Terry, also a student at the University.  They had their first son just before he graduated.

He first began substitute teaching, and then was hired by the Northshore School District in Seattle.  He taught P.E. and coached cross country and gymnastics.  It was during this time that he began developing an Outdoor Education program for junior high school students.  He took numerous classes from Tom Brown Jr., who was teaching in the Seattle area.  His program blossomed into three Outdoor Ed. classes with 30 students in each class. During this time he and Terry had another son.  After three years he took a leave of absence.  Their family then moved to Eastern Washington so he could pursue a Biology degree from Eastern Washington University in Cheney.

After receiving his B.S. in Biology, Gerhard took a job at Morningstar Boys’ Ranch, a group home for adolescent boys in Spokane.  During this time period he and Terry had two more boys.  Gerhard and the boys at the ranch participated in many outdoor activities.  Among other things, they went on survival trips including one to the coast for five days in late October…..two staff persons and six boys.  They took only the clothes on their backs, a knife, book of matches, some rain gear, and a baggie of flour.  They learned a lot.  Gerhard also participated in many marathons and ultra marathons (over 26 miles).

He worked at Morningstar for about four years, and then he was hired by Northport School District as a 6th grade teacher.  He and Terry knew that they wanted to raise their kids in the woods, and they began talking about an Outdoor Education School .  They slowly began to purchase land near Northport.  Gerhard taught P.E., Science and electives including Gymnastics and Outdoor Ed. He also taught Drivers Ed.  Both he and Terry participated in a national training program for an inquiry-based Science program (Developmental Approach in Science and Health Technologies – D.A.S.H.), and they flew to various places around the country training teachers.

In 2003, Gerhard quit teaching to spend time building their home.  Their last son having left “the nest” for school,  he and Terry, and their son Bryan, decided to start an Outdoor Education School, a nonprofit organization to serve the community.  The mission was to “promote healthy people in a healthy world”.  It was to include learning survival skills, promoting “getting in touch with oneself”, and it would incorporate Science and nature classes into its program.  Gerhard had a 19 year old 2nd cousin who wanted to come live in the woods for a while, and while staying with the Carlsons, he was inspired to build a cabin.  So together they built what has become the “schoolhouse cabin”.  It is a beautiful hand-hewn structure, made with no power tools.  Logs and other materials were hauled to the remote location on a lake by backpack and by horse and mule.

The result of their dream for an outdoor education school is Silvercrown Mountain Outdoor School.  SMOS is located on about 400 acres of land just on the edge of Northport.  Three years ago Gerhard began teaching Outdoor Ed. for the Homelink program.  This year the class meets once a week for five hours and includes first grade through twelfth .  Activities have included tanning elk hides, building survival shelters, making bow and drill fires, spending the night on “fire beds”, studying ecology, primitive tools and weapons, traps and snares, tracking and stalking, and nature observation. The school has also sponsored a biathlon and a soccer camp for kids. Gerhard wants to expand the curriculum and the number of kids participating.

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