Farrar ’98 has combined his love of teaching with his
love of the outdoors.
troubled foster kids Tucker Farrar ’98 organizes camping trips for kids
in need of escape
For troubled youth of northern California, Tucker Farrar ’98
offers an introduction to rivers and forests, to snowboarding, stargazing,
canoeing and cooking dinner on an open fire.
Farrar is the executive director of the Sacramento chapter of
Today’s Youth Matter. It’s a non-profit organization
that offers wilderness trips to foster-care children, and pairs
them with mentors who offer emotional and academic support before
and after their time in the woods.
“Our objective isn’t therapy,” Farrar says.
“It’s letting them come to camp and be kids again.”
The approximately 45 children who participate in the program each
year range in age from eight to 18 and are, in Farrar’s words,
“starved for love.” Many were born into broken homes,
where drug use and physical and emotional abuse were the norm. Most
are angry or suffer from deep emotional trauma because of the loss
or abandonment of one or both of their parents. They risk slipping
into the cyclical, self-destructive behavior common to too many
Farrar founded the Sacramento chapter of Today’s Youth Matter
in 2003 as a way to combine his penchant for teaching with his love
of nature. He earned his teaching certificate at Princeton and,
as a graduation present, spent three months with the National Outdoor
Leadership School in Patagonia, training in mountaineering, mountain
travel, and kayaking.
“That just totally turned my focus around toward not just
teaching, but teaching in the outdoors,” he says.
After a year teaching biology and algebra at a Sacramento-area
high school, Farrar decided he was not cut out for traditional classroom
teaching. He wanted to continue to be a positive force for children,
however. He was also about to get married, and his soon-to-be mother-in-law,
who directs Today’s Youth Matter in the San Francisco Bay
Area, suggested that he start a second chapter of the organization
“It was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Farrar says.
These days, Farrar spends most of his time recruiting volunteers
and publicizing and raising money for the program, which is free
to children and their foster families.
The kids are treated to weeklong summer camps in the woodsy Santa
Cruz Mountains in California, backpacking trips in the Sierra Nevada
or winter snowboarding trips. A group of seven high school-aged
kids went to the Olympic Games last summer in Athens.
Volunteers help staff the trips, then check in with the youth
about every month for the following year to provide ongoing emotional
support and advice. The kids come away with more than just good
“They get the sense that there is some good in life, and
there are people who love and care about them. They go away crying
because they don’t want to leave, because of what they have
to go home to,” Farrar says. “I’d like to think
that they get hope.”