Co-founder, Executive Director, Blake Swensen:
After spending 25 years in the computer business, half of which was running his own, Blake Swensen and his wife switched roles. He became a stay-at-home dad on a mission to improve his boys' elementary school experience. Being involved closely in the public schools as a volunteer, PTA president and chess club coach -- to name a few stints -- he discovered that, although public schools are good at many things, not every kid learns in the same way. The rigidity of standardized curriculum sometimes makes exceptional kids outliers, on the fringes of the bell curve. Blake thinks that Tinker Camp fundamentals can prepare a child for a world that might not be ready for their extraordinary strengths. More ....
Co-Founder, Rob van Rood:
Rob van Nood is an Oregon licensed educator now working as a Educational Technologist at Catlin Gable School. He received his MAT from Lewis & Clark in 1995. Rob has always taken a fresh look at teaching, tinkering with ideas to make the learning experience more effective. On the first day of school a few years ago, for example, Rob's kids were presented with a completely empty classroom and were instructed to help him design the space. The idea was that if kids had control of their space, they would be more willing to work within it. Even though Rob is no longer working with Tinker Camp, his out-of-the-box thinking and it's his pursuit of teaching through the use of narrative that has influenced Tinker Camp's success..
Instructor, Jinnet Powel  
As an artist, environmentalist and educator, Jinnet is intrigued by the complexity and creativity of all life with a special allegiance to the well-being and resiliency of the planet’s humans. She is committed to developing thoughtful makers with the courage to take on complex issues and the humility to respect our interdependence. With a Masters in Science Education from Oregon State University, Jinnet mentors youth to think big, use science concepts as a tool for creativity, and to develop an ecologically responsible mind-set. Within Tinker Camp’s dynamic narrative, participants not only develop collaborative skills as they work together, but are challenged to think systematically. Many powerful learning opportunities emerge organically from the scenario, when, for example, participants start to develop a business plan for their arcade, or negotiate how to use limited materials. Jinnet is skilled in helping make the connection between these experiences and real-world issues that expands participants’ understanding.

Jinnet’s commitment to building community extends to working with other educational partners to identify ways to build capacity and to creating inclusive learning experiences for all learners. When not doing outreach, you will likely find Jinnet painting, hiking with her kids, or improving her backyard habitat.
Community Outreach,
Denise Slattery
Denise has retired from Tinker Camp, and is now traveling Europe. She still acts as Blake's constant councilor, offering advice even from the other side of the pond. Denise is an experienced marketer, she's developed award-winning marketing, communication and branding strategy for Fortune 500 businesses and non-profits in California, Washington, Michigan, and Oregon. Denise is currently a Board Member to Recycling Advocates of Oregon, and previously held a board position at Picture Lab, a Washington State non-profit providing hands-on art literacy education in public schools geared towards students grades K -5.