Connections with people, animals, and nature once again brought Cottonwood Institute and Mission: Wolf (M:W) together. During the month of May, Cottonwood Institute delivered two incredible courses for Littleton Academy, serving nearly 50 students. M:W is located near the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountain range just outside of Westcliffe, Colorado. It is a wolf sanctuary housing up to 40 wolves at one time, relying on staff, volunteers, and groups like ours to help maintain the property, feed the wolves, and of course, give them special attention.
Both groups experienced immersing themselves in nature, working with their hands, learning about wolves in the wild,meeting wolves eye-to-eye, and seeing sustainable living in action. Through activities such as “wide angle vision”, “camouflage”, and “sit spots”, students truly began to experience nature and think about their role in the natural world. The students gave back to M:W through service projects including building fences, preparing wolf food, and feeding the wolves.
Several times throughout their 3-day stay at M:W, students had the incredible opportunity to sit with the wolves inside anenclosure. Interactions ranged from “kissing” the wolves (mouth to mouth greeting common in wolf behavior), to petting the wolves, and simply spending time in the presence of such amazing animals. Students also got to be one of the first groups to do a “wolf circle” with pups, Rosia and Tiger! To get the young pups to say hello, students had to lower their heads and whimper at them. All of the students listed their favorite part as “meeting, petting, or bonding with…the wolves”. The wolves they met are the ambassador wolves and they are the ones M:W travels with to teach around the country.
The groups were also able to spend time with horses. Experiences with the horses taught the students how to communicate with animals, especially through use of body language. Other animal encounters included one student catching a lizard and stating “I can feel him breathing. It’s really creepy!”, and witnessing a juvenile bald eagle soaring and eventually land close by. A hike in Carcass Canyon exploring bones and decaying animals spurred challenges, unique emotions, and thought-provoking conversations. Students explored the role of natural life processes and decay in the ecosystem, and the basic question: Why do animals die?
Teambuilding and leadership are inherent to such an empowering experience. Many students highlighted “teamwork, friends” and “getting to know each other better” as among the best parts of the course. Students learned, demonstrated, and taught their peers camping skills such as setting up tents, cooking, and staying warm in cold weather. They played games, shared space, and laughed. Thanks Mission: Wolf for such an incredible experience!
Take a look at pictures from both courses by following this link: http://littletonacademy.shutterfly.com/
Written by Katie Craig