On July 28th, 2011 a small group of students from West Denver Preparatory Charter School joined up with the Cottonwood Institute to participate in our week-long Endangered Wolves and Animal Tracking course held at Mission: Wolf. For a full week students were able to camp together in the mountains, spending their days in the company of one of North America’s most intriguing animal species: wolves.
During their stay at Mission: Wolf, students spent their time caring for and learning about the wolves that live at the reserve. They helped feed the wolves each day, and participated in a daily wolf visit where they interacted face-to-face with some of the friendlier wolves that belong to a group known as the Ambassador Pack. The Ambassador Pack consists of wolves that are taken on tours across the United States to help teach people about wolf behavior and encourage respect for wildlife and the natural environment.
“Hanging out with a wolf is an intense experience,” said Clark Patton, a Cottonwood Institute Instructor. “It’s not your average dog.” Visits with the wolves were supervised and lead by Kent and Kathy, two members of the dedicated staff who live and work at the wolf reserve. They taught students about wolf behavior, and showed how the behaviors of wolves can be connected to how humans behave as well.
When they weren’t busy helping the wolves, the students were learning how to build debris shelters and make primitive fires using bow drills. They also spent a few days learning about animal tracking in Carcass Canyon, where they learned how to identify different animal tracks and about how other animals tracked each other in the wild. Evenings were spent around the campfire, sharing thoughts and stories with each other and discussing the events of the day.
For a service project the students helped pick up bones in Carcass Canyon, as well as cut lengths of chain-link fence that could be used for future repairs on the wolf enclosures. They also helped label the wolves’ food bowls.
Coming into contact with wildlife can be a profound and life-changing experience. Many of the students who went on the trip had never gone camping before, nor had they ever come into such close contact with wild animals. “It brought a lot out of them,” said Clark. For the students who spent a week at Mission: Wolf, the experience not only garnered a deep respect for and new found understanding of the wilderness. It gave them a personal understanding of themselves, enabling them to see the relationship between humans and nature, and how we as people both differ and relate to the creatures that inhabit our natural environment.
A special thank you to the staff of Mission: Wolf for allowing us to hold our course at their reserve and for all that they do for the wolves.
If ‘change the world’ means bringing a positive change to some corner of the globe– affecting the lives of one, ten, a hundred, or a thousand people, then, in my opinion, the answer is yes. -David Bornstein, author of How to Change the World.
As we reflect on another amazing year at the Cottonwood Institute, we want to highlight the top ten stories from 2010 that demonstrate how we are “changing the world, one adventure at a time.”
The Cottonwood Institute would like to thank all of our students, parents, instructors, board members, educational partners, donors, supporters, and cheerleaders for making 2010 such a success.
To help ensure we have an extraordinary 2011, please consider making a tax-deductible donation by December 31, 2010 by Clicking Here.
What is a day in the life of our Endangered Wolves and Animal Tracking course like at Mission:Wolf? It is like nothing else you have experienced. It’s a day of making meals with strangers that have become fast friends. It often starts with feeding the wolves and ends with telling stories around a fire. It will challenge you to work harder and feel more passionately about a cause than you ever thought you could. The Endangered Wolves and Animal Tracking course will leave you feeling empowered by new skills and experiences and ready for challenges you never before considered. And that is just the first few days.
Fearlessly lead by their Cottonwood Institute Instructors, Ryan Johns, Clark Patton, and joyful volunteer Torie Salley-Rains, a group of passionate and committed high school students decided to spend a week with us this summer to learn more about wolves and to give back to Mission:Wolf. Their days were full from morning until night. Students spent time feeding the wolves every morning. They helped with all the normal day-to-day activities jumping in right along side the other full-time volunteers as if they had been there all summer. Together the students decided to take on a special project to show their appreciation for what Mission:Wolf does by building the foundation for a 12 foot by 24 foot shed to house the tools Mission:Wolf needs to get through the hard Colorado winters. Throughout the week, they put in a combined 300 hours of service to give back to the wolves and improve their habitat. Impressive!
When students were not directly caring for and interacting with the wolves, students were challenging themselves to learn primitive skills long forgotten by modern society. Many students were successful with starting a fire with only friction and a passion for the skill. Students learned the art of self reliance in the back country while gaining an appreciation for the joy spent making meals together and sharing stories with new friends.
Students learned how to identify animal tracks and tune in their senses to see and hear more in the wild than ever before through didactic lessons, group games, and initiatives. During this trip we were lucky to have an instructor who taught us the art of making traps and snares. No animals were harmed, but some beautiful cardboard box deadfalls were created.
One of this year’s students Angel Cruz said it best “Being able to connect with nature and learn how to interact in the wild with wolves and other animals has taught me that we have an animal inside of us, which make us part of nature. But our eyes are closed and the only way to see is by connecting our self spiritually and mentally.”
This is a course that stays with you when you leave. The experiences and lessons learned form the wolves and the staff at Mission:Wolf are never forgotten. And no one leaves the Endangered Wolves and Animal Tracking course without a wolf kiss. What’s a wolf kiss? That is something you have to find out for yourself…….
To check out the slide show from this course, Click Here.
A special thanks goes out to Ryan Johns for writing this article.
We are excited to offer two adventurous courses for students and adults this summer. Spaces are limited to 12 students and are filling up fast, so register today!
COURSES FOR ADULTS:
Essential Survival Skills Overnight For Adults: June 12 – 13, 2010. 5280 Magazine recently recommended this course in a feature article about 52 Amazing Weekend Getaways this summer. This course is limited to 12 people and, at this point, there are only 4 spaces left! For more information, to register, and to check out a new video about this course, Click Here or call 303.447.1076.
Sunrise Century: July 24, 2010. Join Team Cottonwood Institute to volunteer for a 100 mile bike race that is becoming known as the “Boulder Boulder” of cycling. For each volunteer we get to help with the event, the Cottonwood Institute will receive a donation to help support our educational programs. Organize a group of friends and join us for a few hours of volunteer work in Boulder! For more information or to register, call 303.447.1076.
Mt. Evans Volunteer Project:This 2-day weekend project is a free volunteer opportunity hosted by the Cottonwood Institute to walk our talk and give back to the mountains each summer. Date: August 6-8, 2010. This course is limited to 12 people. For more information Click Here or to register call 303.447.1076.
COURSES FOR STUDENTS:
Cesar Chavez Organic Gardening Project: June 9 – 12, 2010. Students camp out at a local organic farm, learn about the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez, practice leadership and team building skills, learn about organic gardening and sustainable agriculture, and complete much needed Action Projects to give back to the farm and to connect with their local food source. For more information, to register, and to check out a new video about this course, Click Here or call 303.447.1076.
Endangered Wolves and Animal Tracking For Teenagers: July 6 – 12, 2010. Get out of the house this summer for an adventure of a lifetime by spending a week camping under the stars, learning about wolves, and completing Action Projects to care for the wolves and their habitat. This course is limited to 12 students and we have a few spaces left. For more information, to register, and to check out a new video about this course, Click Here or call 303.447.1076.
There is just something about wolves that makes them unforgettable, especially when you get right up close and personal with these amazing animals. On July 18-24, 2009, the Cottonwood Institute took eight brave students out on their Endangered Wolves and Animal Tracking Project. Not only did they pet the wolves, but they came right up to give the students a big, wet kiss on the face!
The course took place at a wolf sanctuary called Mission: Wolf in the Wet Mountain Valley just south of Westcliff, Colorado. Lead by Cottonwood Institute Instructors Brittany Salley-Rains and Ryan Bovard-Johns, the students met the wolves, learned about their behavior and their importance in the ecosystem and fed the wolves. They helped out around the sanctuary by collecting firewood and lending a hand in the beginning stages of building a tepee for future volunteers to stay in.
In addition to their work with the wolves, the participants also learned important wilderness survival skills, including an awesome demonstration of hand and bow drill fire making by Mission Wolf Volunteer Andy Elmgren. They also went on fun hikes, participated in stalking games, nature awareness, and animal tracking activities.
“The course was sick,” says James Hanifin (a.k.a. Night Hawk) a junior at New Vista High School in Boulder. James took the course because he wanted to chill with the wolves. When asked about his experience James said, “The wolves were sweet, I gained a lot of respect for the wolves and learned a bunch of survival skills.”
Zamantha Quezada of Englewood, Colorado found out about the course from her niece and thought it sounded interesting. “I liked the course, I liked getting to be with the wolves and petting and feeding them.” Zamantha plans and returning to Mission: Wolf to volunteer so she can spend more time with the wolves.
Ten lucky Colorado Academy students got to go where the wild things are, by spending their May Interim with the Cottonwood Institute during our Endangered Wolves and Animal Tracking Course! Students spent the week at Mission:Wolf, a wolf sanctuary in Colorado’s Wet Mountain Valley, for a week of wolves and tracking.
Led by instructors Brittany Salley-Rains and Richard Vercoe, the students learned about the near extinction of wolves in the United States and the importance of protecting these beautiful animals. Nothing was more inspiring than the hugs and kisses from the wolves themselves! Check out the course’s Photo Gallery for proof of the students’ impressive service project and their awesome meet and greet with the peaceful wolves.
The group decided to help by building an entire staircase for the wolves’ enclosure from scratch. They constructed new benches for the sanctuary and even helped butcher a horse to feed the pack. On top of these accomplishments, the students learned animal tracking and outdoor survival skills.
Co-instructor Brittany Salley-Rains said the students had a fabulous time on their trip. “We had a journal prompt for each day, and after completing the project we reflected on the experience of serving our community. All the students were proud of themselves. It was really rewarding to see how their hard work could help support a great organization like Mission:Wolf.”
Sitting on the couch and playing video games or watching re-runs of survival shows like Survivorman and Man Vs. Wild is no way to spend the summer. Do something different this summer!
2009 SUMMER COURSES FOR TEENAGERS
Our unique courses range from the Stone Age Survival Project to the Endangered Wolves and Animal Tracking Project. All of our courses have an exciting blend of adventure, wilderness survival, and will inspire you to change the world! To view our full course schedule, Click Here.
Scholarships and Payments Plans and Gear Rental Plans are available so please contact us for more information. Also, High School and College Credit are available and our courses look great on college applications! Space is limited, so Register Today!
Spring Promotion: If you register by May 31, 2009 and bring a friend on your course, you will receive an Official Cottonwood Institute Survival Kit, valued at $75! Please note: this offer only applies to our 2009 Summer Courses for teenagers.
SUMMER COURSES FOR ADULTS
If you are obsessed with survival shows like Survivorman and Man Vs. Wild, and you are interested in getting outside to practice these survival skills yourself, then register for the Essential Survival Skills Overnight June 6 -7, 2009. You will learn survival priorities, survival shelters, and survival fires and participate in a 24-hour survival scenario to put your skills to the test. Space is limited, so Register Today!
Mt. Evans Volunteer Project: August 21 – 23, 2009, Mt. Evans near Idaho Springs, CO. This is a great chance to give back to the mountains and head to the high country in a spectacular setting. Grab a group of friends or co-workers and help make a difference on Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks this summer. Space is limited to the first 15 volunteers, so Register Today!
Please help us spread the word by Forwarding This Post To A friend. We hope to see you in the field with us soon! If you have any questions, please contact me via Email or by phone at 303.447.1076.
Thank you so much for all of your support!
Ford Church, Founder and Executive Director