Littleton Academy came in like a storm and emerged as calm as the wolves. With the energetic entrance of 15 boys, 4 girls, and 7 adults, the staff at Mission:Wolf (M:W) did the only thing they knew how to do, welcomed us with open arms and southern hospitality. Nestled in a valley with the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range towering over this magical place, M:W gives sanctuary to 40 wolves and welcomes groups of all ages, many with Cottonwood Institute, even ones coming in like a storm.
These rambunctious 5th graders learned the stories about these misunderstood creatures while getting pummeled by hail, but did that stop them? Of course, but only for a moment. Excited to setup camp for the weekend, they worked together just in the nick of time as nature’s own storm came in for the next few hours.
The next day dawned sunny and bright as the group headed up the hill to perform some much needed service projects. M:W runs off of donations, service projects, and volunteers, and these 5th graders were eager to help with seeding grass, building retaining walls, and implementing teamwork to move wood twice their size. And their reward…getting kissed by a wolf! “Can you believe Zeab kissed me?” “Do we really have to leave tomorrow? It’s summertime, why can’t we stay for a week?” “We can help with more projects if we stayed longer!” Gotta love the logic of 11-year-olds.
While the highlight of this trip is meeting the wolves and learning about their behaviors, another highlight is the abundant activities, from a quiet sit spot to reflect, to scavenging for bones at Carcass Canyon, to the well-loved game of camouflage, the storm of energy never waned, and neither did their love of the beauty of nature that surrounded them. Full of knowledge from games to lessons about sustainability, the environment, and fire skills, these 5th graders finally settled in for their second night with the warmth of s’mores and friendships surrounding them.
Littleton Academy, coming in like a storm, left the next morning feeling calm and peaceful with the gentle howls of the wolves sending them off on their next journey.
“To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul. I hope you like what you see.” –Aldo Leopold
A big thank you to Mission:Wolf!
Check out more photos from our trip here!
Written by: April Pishna, Littleton Academy 5th grade teacher and Cottonwood Institute Instructor