Founders

Camp Tonkawa was founded by the Holtzman family in 2002.  Before that we had formed a weekly scout group of homeschooled children, that was called "The Trackers", that met for over ten years.  We used Tom Brown Jr's Books of Survival and Nature Awareness as well as Jon Young's Kamana Program to guide us with educational and fun hands on activities to do outdoors.  As the group grew there was a need for a safe place for children to freely wander and also take part in overnight camps.   So the Holtzmans filled this need by purchasing a 35 acre tract of land outside of Collinsville Tx.  The land became the site for monthly weekend camps for families to attend to learn about camping, survival, plus the wildlife of both plants and animals in our location in North Texas. Beginning as a Sole Proprietor,  in 2009 Camp Tonkawa became an official Outdoor Learning Center as well as a Non profit organization.  See Board of Directors for more details.

Camp Founder

April Holtzman

Executive Director

     With a father April grew up in Chicago, Illinois.  With a father as the Director of the Neighborhood Boy's Club and  a mother who cared for foster children and provided childcare, she grew up with a love for children.  Family camping trips and her time in the Girl Scouts and Explorers (now called Adventure Scouts - part of the Boy Scouts) all made up her love for the outdoors: camping, hiking, canoeing,and horseback riding.
     Her love for plants grew in the family vegetable garden. She went to Southern Illinois University, majoring in Plant and Soil Science. After she moved to Texas, she went on to study Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, then ran her own landscape business, "Landmark Landscapes," for five years. To this day, she plants and maintains an organic vegetable garden and has a deep interest in edible wild plants.
     When her children were born, she took child raising very seriously and homeschooled her three sons.  After reading Tom Brown's books,  especially his Field Guide  to Nature and Survival for Children, she decided to start a group for homeschoolers, called "Trackers." Every Thursday for almost ten years, she guided children to love and respect nature, using fun activities, crafts, and camping trips. April also taught Homeschooler Enrichment Classes for four years. Her classes were always popular, with the themes of Wilderness Survival and Wilderness Living. She believes the two main ingredients of her being a successful youth teacher are her love for children and her love for nature.
     She went to  the Tom Brown Wilderness & Survival  School  in New Jersey for two  week-long classes.  She  became a  member of  the  "Texas Trackers,"  meeting  with other Tom Brown students across Texas to network and camp together. April was also a Wilderness Awareness correspondence student, enrolled in their Naturalist Training Program. Over the years, she has attended many native skills gatherings, such as the Moccasin Meet in New York, Winter Count in Arizona, and the Earth Knack Gathering in Colorado.
     "Sharing my knowledge and teaching the people around me to love and respect our Earth is my joy-and purpose in life. I welcome you all to camp Tonkawa. Be prepared to see life in a new way after your time at our camp." ~ April Holtzman

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Austin Holtzman

Co-founder

     Eagle Boy Scout, with many camping experiences including long treks at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and survival adventures in Ecuador, New Zealand, Colorado, South Dakota, Minnesota and Alaska. Degree in Kinesiology, minor in Health and History from North Texas University. Currently diving into the study of Permaculture.  He has a strong desire to grow his own food whether it be organic heirloom vegetables or raising rabbits and chickens. His passion has been to be self-reliant, to live off the grid if the situation arises.  He is a great new dad with a gift for working with children. His DJ events are always a hit because of his creative thinking which allows everyone have fun, and his enthusiastic demeanor. His love for music brings a calming mood to our evening campfires.

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Elliot Holtzman

Co-founder

     He was the actual seed that cultivated Camp Tonkawa into existence, and reason we started the Tracker Scouts. He reached his Eagle Boy Scout Rank and was also very active in the 4H and FFA Programs where he gained knowledge about animals both domestic and wild. His team won 1st in Texas, the state level competition for Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program, and then on to win 13th in the Nationals. He attended Tom Brown’s “Coyote Camp” and Jon Young’s “The Art of Mentoring” both indirect training and understanding on how to run a successful Nature based organization. Currently he and his wife Caitie are the owners of DLP Versatile Horsemanship, LLC,  training horses and people to know how to communicate with horses. Elliot has always had a gentleness and connection with animals.

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Madisun Holtzman

Co-founder

     Reached the Life Scout, Boy Scout rank but was so busy teaching at Camp Tonkawa he did not stay active in a Troop. During his youth he was also in the 4H, winning prizes for Entomology projects and competitions. Working with a team in Odyssey of the Mind winning a future city model competition. Being the younger brother of the Tracker Scouts, learned the Earth Connection to his very soul starting at 3 years of age. Learned about Native American history as a young adult by studying native American Medicine for 3 years with the Rudra Center for Enlightened Awareness. Later he attended Sundance Ceremonies specializing in rites of passage. He enjoys teaching primitive survival classes and Native American Indian camps, both benefiting from his early historical training.
He is a communicator and social worker who can see how the natural world’s connection is a vital link to human health. Currently Madisun is working as an Aquatic Technician and has ambitions of owning a Boutique Bed & Breakfast Spa that blurs the lines between Nature and Luxury.