Colorado Academy Upper School joined Cottonwood Institute for a week at Mission:Wolf this spring. This unique and unassuming space in the wilds of Southern Colorado houses around 40 wolves and educates the public on wolf behavior, habitat, and the ongoing needs for management of these amazing creatures in the wild. Their mission to inspire “individuals to become stewards of the earth” finds it’s way out into the world by traveling the country with the small pack of “Ambassador Wolves”, as well as inviting volunteers and guests to Mission:Wolf for education and work. This group of inspiring Colorado Academy students absorbed that message with enthusiasm on what one student described as “a very thought provoking journey”.
After a brief introduction to the space, the group hit the ground running with a very special visit from two wolf puppies that Mission:Wolf has in it’s care. Students were quick to catch on to the cues that their host, co-founder, Kent Weber quietly offered as the puppies wandered within the circle of teenagers. “Get low, lean in to greet them, bare your teeth to allow them to lick your mouth, that’s how they know who you are…”. The pups approached individual students with tongues out, ready to lick their greeting and get to know this new group of humans. Kent further explained the way wolves, as well as our canine companions at home, understand the world. We can begin to comprehend their different thoughts and reactions through shifts in the way we interact with them. Tying the canine world of non-verbal expression to the adolescent world of physical and emotional behavior, was just the tip of the iceberg of what can be revealed through keen attention to body language and the meanings behind our own actions.
The group dove into work at Mission:Wolf, dividing tasks at camp, feeding the wolves every morning, executing a service project and enjoying their time outside. The service project this group completed was building a fire bunker for one enclosure so wolves have a place to escape in the event of a wildland fire. They took pride in such a strenuous project. The students also experienced some great hikes and time in Carcass Canyon where the wolves leftovers (bones and pieces of animals) are disposed of. This, and the feeding of recently deceased horses to the wolves, brought up many questions about life and death and our place in the world.
Dr. Vogels, Head of the Upper School, attended the trip with the students and reflected on the course: “Over the course of five days, we really helped out a worthy organization, Mission:Wolf, in their ongoing effort to rescue wolves and to educate the public about them. Parents, you would have been very proud of your daughters and sons, as all of them displayed the kinds of qualities that we would want to see: empathy for the wolves and each other, mental and physical perseverance, toughness in the face of some difficult circumstances, good senses of humor, cooperative attitudes, an eagerness to learn and challenge themselves.”
Thanks to Mission:Wolf, Kent, Dr. Vogels, our leaders and each wonderful young person on this trip for creating a memorable experience for all.
To see more pictures from this course click here.