Atlantic City Boardwalk people tracking

What is awareness


Tracking is a complex subject. It’s so much more than simply identifying and following a set of tracks. Tracking is also about awareness. A track by itself, without context, is meaningless. Context is established through awareness. Awareness allows a tracker to understand why the animal is moving the way it is, and the impact the landscape and environment are having on the animal. This is why tracking and awareness are always taught together. Awareness enables a tracker to find connections and patterns in their observations, as well as to understand how the landscape and other animals affect the animal being tracked. An observant person will notice nut shells on a tree stump left behind by a squirrel. A tracker will understand what that tells them about the health of the local fox population. 

Awareness, like tracking is a skill that can be taught. These cards are an introduction to awareness as well as tracking. A word of caution, though. Awareness is about choice. Once you choose to turn it on, you will see more, both good and bad.


Summer, Jersey Shore
I was with my family on the Jersey Shore boardwalk, eating ice cream, people watching. My son noticed a boy, a fellow middle schooler with his family on a set of benches catty corner from us. My son and I were playing a game, guessing people’s jobs based on what they wore, how they moved, and their general demeanor.
- What about him?
- What do you see?
My son started to make fun of the way the other boy was dressed, how he looked, typical teenage insecurity.
- Superficial, try again.


My wife and I had raised our son to treat people with respect, not to judge them based on what they have, as well as the flip side of that equation - don’t take any shit from people who value material possessions over character. But teenagers are difficult. Maybe he was old enough to take things up another notch.
- Watch the way he moves. How he interacts with his family.
- He’s eating ice cream like us, so what?
- He’s abused.


His mom was several feet away, standing still, smoking, looking at something on her phone. She called over to her son. She didn’t look up though, wasn’t even facing him. The boy was sitting on a bench with what looked like his grandmother. They were sitting very close to each other, talking quietly, enjoying the evening and each other’s company. When the mother called the smile on the grandmother’s face faded, her eyes went to her feet, head dropped. The boy also slumped, but stood up and walked over to his mom.
- Notice where he’s standing? He’s outside of her striking range. He didn’t say anything when she called, didn’t protest in any way, just stood up and walked over to her. How often do you do what your mom or I ask the first time we ask? What else do you see?
- She’s angry.
- How do you know? Can you hear what she’s saying?
- No, just the way she’s saying it.
- Yes, but there's more going on there. She’s looking right at him, but he’s looking down, won’t make eye contact. He’s afraid of her.


The grandmother hadn’t moved. Eyes still locked on her feet. My guess was the mother was abusive towards the grandmother as well, emotionally if not physically. She had control over them both and enjoyed it. The mother’s face also showed the wear of many years of substance abuse.
- Anything else? (no response) The clothes the boy’s wearing show more than just how much money he does or doesn’t have. Look at how he’s wearing them, how he carries himself. He doesn’t have any self confidence. His mom has taken it from him.


Did I have concrete evidence the boy was being abused by his mother? No, just an educated guess. But if you study people, and learn from others with experience studying people, patterns start to emerge. There's more to tracking then being able to follow a set of prints through the woods. For me, tracking is a way to test my awareness, and awareness is a skill I use constantly


Silva Tracking


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.