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…….
A special thanks goes out to Ryan Johns for writing this article.