Just before school let out for the summer, 11 adventurous girls from Colorado Academy set out on a final mission: wolves. On a warm spring day in May, although the van was stuffed full of fuzzy pillows, makeup bags, and iPods, it was the adventurous spirit of these girls that filled the air with confidence, strength, and true girl-power.
Turning out of the driveway and leaving the city life behind for a few days, we were all buzzing with a sense of curiosity, wondering what the future had in store for us. Upon our arrival at Mission: Wolf, while we were greeted gustily by the wind, we could still hear faint howls from the wolves off in the distance, reminding us that nature now surrounded us.
Mission: Wolf is a wolf sanctuary located in the southwest corner of Colorado, near Westcliffe. It is home to more than 40 wolves, giving these often misunderstood animals a safe haven. Our mission while visiting here was to connect with nature through survival skills, hang out with the wolves, get to know them, feed them, and in return, gain a better understanding of how wolves affect the environment and how we can improve the environment for everyone.
Amidst the wind, we attempted to set up camp without getting blown away. Little did we know that the wind would remain our constant companion throughout the course. After a few broken tent poles and chasing tent bags, we managed to successfully set up camp and eagerly went off to meet our first wolf. The anticipation was palpable and that initial excitement remained with us as we woke up in the mornings, met each wolf, helped to feed and care for them, and collapsed happily into bed each night.
While the wolves took up most of our time, we still managed to build debris shelters, make one-match and cotton ball fires, create our very own pop can backcountry stoves, meet and care for horses, embark on hikes, roast marshmallows, and hold inspiring discussions into the wee hours of the night.
With the distant howling of the wolves whispering in our ears and the Sangre de Cristos offering us glimpses of snow-capped mountain tops through the wispy clouds, we relaxed into our new surroundings, giddy as 7-year olds. And when it was time to leave, although eager to return to society, there remained a hint of nostalgia for the memories created in our short time spent with these majestic creatures. The students stated it best: “This course changed the way I look at wolves and had a large impact on me. I felt more peaceful here.”
Click here for a slideshow of our adventures and until next time…Hooooooowl!