Check out the Conservation College Earth Skills Teaching Apprenticeship
2016 Best Testimonial by Wren Schmid, Seattle WA
My introduction to Wolf Camp was in the summer of 2015 when I took the Wilderness Survival camp to begin learning outdoor skills in order to pursue a lifestyle connected to nature, and to test myself and prove what I could do.
I was elated over the opportunity to take my apprenticeship in 2016. I waited eagerly for months until the summer started and I could begin my adventure. An adventure is exactly what it was, and as I played the roles of both student and teacher, I grew so much as a person. Although I began with self doubt and uncertainty about my abilities, my time with Wolf Camp helped me realize what I could do and how far I could go, and it was far more than I expected or even dreamed.
Spending the summer with Wolf Camp gave me so much that I had been missing in my life. I met amazing, inspiring people and felt appreciation for the Wolf Camp community. We traveled all over the state and I learned so much about the environment around us. I can honestly say it was the best summer of my life.
Wolf Camp provides a very unique and unforgettable experience. It’s a summer camp and school that is so special in this modern age, one that teaches us to keep close to the natural world, and to understand and love it. I believe this is so important for kids (and people all ages) to learn, so that we may protect a balance between the health of our ecosystems and ourselves.
2015 Best Testimonial by Thomas Fellows, Puyallup WA
I discovered Chris and the Wolf College when he gave a talk to our 4H club at the Puyallup Library. Years later, I don’t remember what he talked about, but I do remember how he started a fire with a bow drill and cedar bark right there on the sidewalk. I was blown away. I wanted to learn how to do that.
That summer, probably 2013, I attended my first camp, “Survivor’s Side of the Mountain”. My instructor, the esteemed Torrey Burke-Weeks, made the traditional skills come alive. I made my own bow drill kit and I’m proud to say I started two fires that week, and stayed warm during my survival trek into the wilderness.
Needless to say, I was hooked. I’ve come back every year since then, taking Advanced Survival, Scouting and Tracking. I learned to make a waterproof shelter, to make natural camouflage, knap flint, hunt small game, and most of all to appreciate everything around me. By the time I turned 16 I was ready for a bigger challenge. I applied for the apprenticeship position and Chris was kind enough to accept me.
The apprenticeship was a life changing experience for me. I was suddenly swamped with jobs and responsibilities and I was expected to get them done on my own. Chris is very much a man who expects me to help myself and try things before he’ll step in and correct me. That was a great thing. It forced me to become mature enough to think on my own. I have learned so much about myself! Thank you Chris & Kim!
2014 Best Testimonial by Hannah Hynes-Petty, Eugene, Oregon
Hannah currently editing.
2013 Best Testimonial by Chelsea Jacobs, Seattle WA
Chelsea currently editing.
2012 Best Testimonial by Torrey Burke-Weeks, Squamish BC
My summer as an apprentice at Wolf Camp was one of the most fun, educational, and personal growth filled experiences I have yet encountered. This came as no surprise to me, after going to camp since I was but a wee one, I knew the level of dedication Chris and staff has to all students.
My apprenticeship was not what I expected, and I believe because of this I walked away more changed than I could have been otherwise. What I found was a self-directed environment, allowing me to study as intensely as I wished. This allowed me to, over the course of the summer, move away from being a follower. By not having many individual tasks that I was directed to complete, it forced me to self direct and have initiative and independence. I can now say with confidence, being a year removed, that this mindset has stuck with me.
Lack of direction in no way meant a lack of support during my apprenticeship. I found a wealth of support at wolf camp, both personal and skills related. Being surrounded with experts in many outdoor fields, as well as having access to a great camp library, I’m not sure how one could not learn loads! The staff is always there to help you out, emotionally too. Whether it is emotional baggage you packed to camp, or difficulties arising during your apprenticeship, Chris, Kim, and staff are amazingly loving, approachable, and happy to help you.
The skills I learned speak for themselves: flint knapping, fire by friction, emergency wilderness shelter, wild foods, wild herbal medicine, bird language, wildlife tracking, traditional basketry, traditional fishing, frog spearing, modern line and pole fishing, backcountry navigation and backpacking, chicken raising, organic gardening, just to name some favorites. Not only did I gain a solid foundation in all these skills, but how to teach them to others! With the earth skills in combination with the teaching skills I gained, I have been able to, spread this vital knowledge to many others, informally teaching any who want to learn.
With my summer apprenticeship, I gained leadership, strength, independence, experience in successful group dynamics, skills relating to students, teachers, and peers, earth skills, and confidence as well as a greater reverence in the outdoors. This has facilitated a lasting improvement in my mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. With my new skills, I have been and hope to continue helping others find similar benefits gifted from nature.
2011 Best Testimonial by Nicco Minutoli, Pullman, WA
I started at the Wolf College as an overnight camper when I was 9 years old. Since that time I have made a point to go to the Wolf College every year. I first went to Intro Survival because I wanted to learn the skills that I had read about in Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain. At the end of the week, when my parents came to pick me up, they asked their heavily mosquito-bitten nine year old if he wanted to go for another week. I responded with a definite “yes” and was greatly disappointed when they told me they were joking. The next summer I made a step sideways and took both the intro and advanced Arts of the Scouts. For the next few summers did all the camps I could, so that I could do Ultimate Scouts: from SAR Tracking, to Wild Herbology, and in the end, my favorite camp of all: Stone Age Artisans.
In addition to the many outdoor skills I learned, I also developed into a better person. When I started out I was an incredibly hyper, hugely disorganized, and immature nine year old with a poor work ethic. Largely though the guidance of the great Wolf College staff I started to change for the better. So when Chris gave me the chance to transition to leadership I jumped at the prospect of being able to help people – just like other staff members did for me when I was young.
My time as an apprentice has given me the organizing, time management, and interpersonal communication skills that will help me wherever I go. Ten years after starting camp, I find myself as a Computational Physics major and US Army Cadet at Washington State University, a former intern at the National University of Singapore’s Centre for BioImaging Sciences, and as an instructor as well as the principal logistics coordinator for Wolf Camp. I can’t imagine a better way to spend my summers.
2010 Best Testimonial by Rachel Edwards, Ruthufordton, NC
Greetings. My name is Rachel Edwards and I have just begun the Wolf Camp Earth Skills Teaching Apprenticeship. I just drove up from California where I have been living in San Luis Obispo working as a naturalist at a residential outdoor school for fifth and sixth graders. I learned about Wolf Camp in 2007 while living in Seattle going to college. Being a lover of the great outdoors and the desire to live in harmony and deeply connected with all our beautiful earth has to offer has called me to want to immerse myself in the world of earth skills. To truly be proficient at earth skills takes awareness, dedication, and practice. All of which I am committing myself to. I am here to learn and grow. I have the intention of walking away from this experience with an abundance of skills that I can carry into the wilderness and share with the children I teach in the future.
The first week here has been full of prepping the day and overnight camps for the summer. I felt welcomed from the moment I arrived and am surrounded by beautiful and quite entertaining other instructors who all have great personalities full of humor. Prepping for classes entails discussions between the lead and assisting instructors about the vision for week and what you want the kids to experience. Then comes careful planning of activities and a hour by hour details. At times I found it challenging when unsure of the environment where the camp would be held. For example, planning an herbal week long day camp but not knowing the plants that are growing there. After a week full of prepping herbal and tracking camps we ended with two days at the Washington Homeschool Convention. I had tons of fun working with kids learning to make baskets, weaving cattails, and making cordage. I am looking forward to the day camp next week at Wolf Haven where training will begin.
2009 Best Testimonial by Charlie Borrowman, Alameda, CA
When Chris picked me up from the airport on that June night in the year of 2005, I had no way of knowing my life was about to change forever. Of course, I’d been to overnight camps before, some even being well established earth skills schools on the east coast, but I had no way of knowing just how special wolf camp would be. I’d always been interested in earth skills, and it was my mom who managed to find Chris’ humble website in an effort to find something a little closer to my home town in the San Francisco bay area. She found more than just a great summer camp. She found the place and the people who would help define the person I am today. She found me the mentors and role models who would teach and nurture me through my life’s journey, as well as several incredible bonds and friendships I will treasure for my entire life. By the end of my first week, the only week I had been signed up for, I promptly called my mom and begged her to let me stay for four more. Needless to say I found myself at wolf camp for almost all of every summer after that.
For me, the people have always been a huge part of what makes wolf camp so special. Nowhere else have I ever seen such a warm, funny, and talented bunch of artisans, herbalists, trackers, and survival experts. After several extremely memorable summers at wolf camp, I was ecstatic to join many of my long time camp friends as an apprentice. Under master teacher Chris Chisholm’s expert tutelage and with the help of Patrick Wiley, long time camp friend and perhaps the most gifted teacher and skilled outdoorsman I’ve ever met, I grew into the teacher I am today. I’ve found it next to impossible to put into words the countless gifts and experiences wolf camp and everyone who’s been a part of it has given me. Becoming a part of the wolf camp family was probably the most important decision of my life.
2008 Best Testimonial by Patrick Wiley, Eugene, OR
When I first arrived at Wolf Camp I had no idea what to expect. I had read the website’s descriptions of the ‘Secrets of the Ancient Scout’ and ‘Advanced Arts of the Scout’ courses, but I think all my 13 year old mind could comprehend was ‘invisibility’. Call it naivety, but I unequivocally believed this place would grant me the skills to make my physical body disappear while in the woods – something I deemed of utmost importance to my success as a paintball enthusiast. Needless to say, I did not learn how to actualize invisibility, but I did learn the arts of silent movement, natural camouflage, evasive maneuvers, teamwork, sign-language, self-sacrifice, and what it means to be part of a community working toward a common goal. These first two weeks were the foundation for a, now decade-long, thirst for outdoor knowledge and experience.
Having grown up on a 15 acre farm, I was no stranger to the outdoors, but I was also used to the luxuries of modern life. Food was a major concern for me. I had zero intentions of eating beans and rice for two weeks straight, so I did what any logical 13 year old would do: brought a back-up plan. I rolled into Wolf Camp with a massive Tupperware box filled with goodies. Nutter Butters, Fruit by the Foot, Pringles, Snickers Marathon Bars, Gushers, Twix, Gatorade. You name it, I had it. From within the dimly-lit, animal-proof storage shed I ran a black market, but like any overconfident crook I was too carefree. The following year Wolf Camp’s website explicitly laid out what snacks one was allowed to bring. I was heartbroken. The list included things like Beef Jerky, Oatmeal, Powdered Milk, and other less-than exciting snacks. Nowhere could one find a delicious Nutter Butter. Nowhere could one find solace in a sugary snack after a hard day’s trek. From this day forward it was Beef Jerky and Water – tough it out, kids.
Incidences like these best describe my early Wolf Camp experience, it was not smooth. I was a ‘problem’. My food market was the least of the staff’s concerns. By the end of the first week, I had accidentally broken a hatchet mindlessly attacking a stump, I had thrown a rock that ricocheted off of a tree and into the window of a staff member’s parked RV, and my sarcastic sense of humor and love of flatulence generally caused issues for the group dynamic. So, I think it is a surprise for everyone that I am now an instructor for Wolf Camp and the Wolf College. Carol Goulet’s incredulous response during my first week of Youth Mentor Training of, “Patrick’s there!?” best highlights this. Or, perhaps Chris’ loving warning to, “watch out for narcissism” should have given me a clue that it was highly unlikely that I would last, but I did.
When Kim first asked me what it was about Wolf Camp that kept bringing me back summer after summer after summer, despite some of my less-proud moments, I struggled to give her a concrete answer. It was not just the fact that I had made incredible friendships with wildly talented individuals – Charles Borrowman, Aldin Huff, James Helms, Carl, Torrey Burke-Weeks, Indigo, Morgan, Dean, Glen and many more – or that I had incredible instructors – Carol Goulet, Chris, Nikki, Bill Baroch, Huck Anderson, Grizzly Bear, Lorien, Megan, and more – but that Wolf Camp had fundamentally changed who I was. Not only did I love the skills I was learning and the people I was learning them with, but the skills transcended my entire life; they reached into areas that I never thought possible. For example, when I was younger I had a terribly challenging time sleeping alone. Some combination of separation anxiety and being afraid of the dark, made sleeping alone a hellish battle for me. I had consulted a wide variety of strategies for trying to overcome this, but nothing had worked in any meaningful way. Wolf Camp did. It was not until the second week of a survival course, when I was wriggling into my debris hut fighting claustrophobia and general terror of being alone in the woods, that, with the snap of the fingers, I was cured. Griz looked me dead and the eye, and said, “You can do this, you have to do this, there are no sleeping bags or fire tonight.” Just like that, I slept through the night and ever since have had little issue, barring extreme circumstances, sleeping independently.
This is the magic of the Wolf Camp and Wolf College experience. Not only is it jam-packed with tremendous opportunity for learning and fun – many of which are listed throughout the website – but it also provides an environment for intangible growth. Who would have thought Survival skills would cure separation anxiety? The staff at Wolf Camp is phenomenal. Chris has managed to employ some of the most renowned and successful outdoor leaders all of whom have extraordinary expertise in Earth Skills. Megan, Kim and Nikki are exceptional Herbalists; Carol is one of the most inspirational and loving Scout instructors on the planet; Jason, Griz, and Andrew are multi-talented Artisans; and Charles Borrowman is probably the most talented up and coming outdoor leader in the Western U.S. Each instructor knows how to provide for and meet the individual needs of each student and the result, in many cases, is magical.
Chris asked me to write about my experience transitioning from Camper/Student, to Youth Mentor, to Apprentice, to Instructor, to Lead Instructor, To ‘input role that Chris creates’ and the truth is I am not sure how. My role(s) at Wolf Camp never felt stringent. Even as a camper, I witnessed campers teaching their peers. I looked up to Morgan, Glen, and Charles and, fortunately, they were eager to help me and others. When I became a Youth Mentor I felt an immense amount of pride as some of my close friends had already become one. When I became an Apprentice my learning transitioned from a focus on Earth Skills to a focus on teaching. I learned how to manage groups, how to cook for large groups, how to prepare lessons and weeks, how to delegate tasks to capable campers/Youth Mentors, how to conduct Staff Meetings, and so much more. Once I became an instructor my learning continued and it continues to this day. The true beauty of Wolf Camp and Wolf College is that there will always be something more for me to learn from students and staff regardless of how capable I think I already am.
I arrived at Wolf Camp a trouble-making, sugar-indulgent child and am now a, hopefully, enjoyable and knowledgeable instructor capable of providing kids with the amazing experience I had. From the moment I arrived, smashed a mosquito, was apprehended by Carol Goulet, and heard her kind words of, “If you kill it, you eat it” I knew that I had discovered a place that would change my life. I was right. It is my hope that Wolf Camp will continue to thrive and deliver a memorable and life-changing experience for others. I have been with Wolf Camp for a decade and cannot wait to see what the next decade has to offer.
2007 Best Testimonial by Andrew Twele, Baltimore, MD
Six months ago I flew across the country, leaving behind everyone I’d known and loved. I came to Wolf camp for two basic reasons. The teaching apprenticeship and primitive living programs offered here.
I just completed the earth skills teaching apprenticeship program at Wolf Camp. It is so nice to have some quiet time, something I yearned for during the summer camp season. There was two or three different camps going on at any given time during the week: A day camp, consisting of children ages approximately 6-11, and an overnight camp of ages 10-16 which is typically divided into two classes, one for beginners (1st year campers) and advanced (2nd years.) As the sole surviving intern I was responsible for much of the behind the scenes work. The other instructors were all great folks. One of them, named Jason, is my look alike. Kids always were getting us confused. He is well practiced in many primitive skills and I learned a great deal just being around him.
Nikki is amazing. She is one of a very few people who have actually spent an entire year living primitively. I came here in part to follow in her footsteps by embarking on the same type of adventure. Unfortunately the first week she was here I was sick as a dog and the second was so consumed by my role as a lead instructor that I had very little chance to pick her brain.
A great tracker named Dan was also here instructing for a week. On an off day he took me for a hike up into the mountains. We waded through a beautiful clear mountain lake. And climbed up beyond the tree line to the highest point which was probably around 5,000 feet or more. It was the highest I’ve ever been with my feet still on the ground. The habitat was like no other I’ve experienced. It is so beautiful up there I’ve vowed to return to the higher elevations for a solo trek.
Carol is a great teacher and counselor. She was quite appreciative of my help and assured me of my teaching abilities. Of the Instructors I seemed to get to know Huck the most. He is in his early twenties and from Arizona where he works as an EMT and Search and Rescue volunteer. The southwest is on my list of places to experience and would very much like to take him up on his invitation to visit.
Chris Chisholm, the Camp founder and Director has found himself burnt out as a result of years of trying to run the school himself, which is the work of at least two or more people. He plans to step back his role here in coming years and I think this summer he was testing the waters a little. (Sabbatical Over & Kim Here! 🙂 – CC, 2010)
I picked up some valuable teaching tools from the experienced instructors here and discovered much about my own abilities. I have served many roles, some simultaneously, including cook, gopher, janitor, assistant, lead or co- instructor, the general go-to guy, first aid (band aid dealer) and counselor for the boy overnight campers. So summer for me was hectic and difficult at times but a great learning experience.
Everyone I have met through Wolf Camp has turned out to be pretty cool. I would do it all over again. In fact I hope to be asked to return as an instructor next year.
I have gathered my gear together and am preparing to move across the lake to primitive camp for the remainder of the fall season. I have a cache of food, sleeping gear, some tools, a bow, a few arrows and warm wool clothes. I will attempt to become self sufficient before my food rations run out. I will need to hunt, fish, trap and forage for sustenance.
This is what initially drew me here. The opportunity to live off the land in the simplest and most direct manner. To learn the ways of the natural world and to live them. The ultimate goal being to spend an entire circle of the seasons living primitively. This will be my first adventure into such a realm of existence. I have been fascinated by, studied and practiced many wilderness living skills in the past five years. What has been a passion, hobby and profession will soon become everyday life. I will intimately experience nature at a level deeper than all but a relatively few humans today have an understanding of.
I miss my friends and family and always look forward to Christmas when we will be reunited. Beyond that time I have no definitive plans for the future, only dreams. In the past I have read of great naturalists and other characters with a similar lack of commitment and have dreamed about having such freedom. That was of course at a time when I felt stuck in the path that society had paved for me. I have since managed to disassociate myself from such expectations.
Now I am free from the chronic depression I suffered as a result from my dissatisfaction with the goals and ideals of American culture and my inability to meet them. I will never be happy working a city job. I have found a greater calling. I am answering it as I write this now. Unlike too many people I know I shall live my dreams. They are becoming a reality. I take steps towards them almost everyday.
Having been removed from domestic life I have liberated myself from my prior nicotine addiction and other negative habits. By leaving for the woods I have achieved what most spiritual people aim for which is to be guided not by temptation and bad influences but by a higher spirit. This is fairly simple in my current circumstances. I suppose the real challenge will be to achieve these things while living in society.
2006 Best Testimonial by Megan Damofle, Seattle, WA
Several years ago I was searching for an opportunity to learn and practice earth skills. I had a strong interest in nature skills, my main outlet being books and some nature observation in the city. Finally, I found a earth skills school that suited my needs. Wolf Camp’s teaching apprenticeship was another doorway to deepening my relationship with nature. I came to Wolf Camp at 19 years old. The schedule of getting up with the sun (or sometimes earlier with the birds), and a seriously full day of assisting and learning new skills saturated 3 months of my summer.
The beginning of my apprenticeship started with learning the basic principals of wilderness survival, wilderness first aid, life guarding, age appropriate lesson planning based on a Waldorf teaching model, and practicing earth skills such as bow drill fire, etc. This gave me some groundwork to the tasks I was about to embark on. After a couple weeks of this training, all apprentices had the option to partake in a 3 day solo survival trek. I jumped on this opportunity, ready for a raw experience to kick-start my earth skills. The solo trek gave me an experience I was looking for; to really put aside creature comforts and trust that I can live with nature. It was truly a rights of passage.
And then the kid camps began! And I was completely occupied with assisting classes, going on amazing survival and tracking adventures, playing forest games, making ancient crafts, plant, bird, animal i.d. and general nature observation. As an apprentice, the majority of these activities was participation through facilitating the class, being aware of the group as a whole, and putting others’ needs first. This was an honorable role we took akin to the role of the scout in a tribal setting, yet another skill Wolf Camp brings. I also had the opportunity to put my specialties to work by designing and co-teaching a weekend herbal medicine workshop.
I witnessed the children become so engaged with the activities, and watched a ton of growth and maturity in the older youth/teens. I realized how important it is to establish respect and curiosity for the natural world at a young age, as well as provide a rite of passage for young people.
The opportunity to teach and guide kids of all ages enhanced my leadership skills and helped me gain confidence in my ability to teach what I am passionate about . The fun times and beautiful memories continue to live with me.
2005 Best Testimonial by Scott Fanello, M.S.
“I came here wanting to learn new Earth Skills. I got them. I came here wanting to help children learn them and to love nature as I did. I helped them. I came here seeking a community of like-minded people who loved the earth and wanted to live with her, not on her. When I arrived, these people were there, smiling. This year my teaching style emerged thanks to the many teachers and apprentices that I’ve worked with at Wolf Camp. I have gained solid skills in relating to students as well as organizing class schedules based on age groups and the natural progression of a lesson. My influences were many but they all started back in training with (visiting waldorf teacher) Janet Jewell. Janet gave me a clearer understanding that different aged children have totally different needs, from the youngest needing simple stories and experience without nagging questions, to the oldest who need autonomy and reason for what they do plus exciting stories of the teacher’s adventures. Later I began to learn from Carol how to keep a class in control by constant learning and loving discipline. Carol’s classes also opened me to the spiritual side in Wolf Camp and how it can seamlessly integrate itself into the classes if the students are ready. After Carol my attention was drawn to Ryan and Krista who gave me both the framework to teach daycamps and how to deal with a younger, more rambunctious age group. Once again, I saw a loving sternness and keeping everyone on task by keeping the tasks coming. Later I studied with Kate who showed me how perfection means demanding perfect practice and perfect mistakes, or rather by learning everything that was missing to lead to a mistake. Kate also taught me something that I feel is one of Chris’ main strategies. They taught me to have a bag of tricks or extra prepped activities ready on hand or in mind to do when things go wrong like rain, or trees blocking the road.”
2004 Best Testimonial by Lorien MacAuley, M.S., and 2015 Ph.D. Candidate at Virginia Tech
“Thanks to Chris Chisholm, whose vision, enthusiasm, and inspired leadership allowed me experience a life renaissance, while training me in a great many useful skills, including becoming my own type of educator.” – From Lorien’s 2014 master’s thesis at Virginia Tech in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MASTER OF SCIENCE in LIFE SCIENCES In Agricultural and Extension Education
Nowhere else could I have had this experience but Wolf Camp. The apprenticeship is not only a great way to spend the summer, but offers a unique framework in which your relationship with nature and other people is enhanced beyond your imagination.
It’s truly an amazing thing to learn nature skills in this beautiful place surrounding Woods Lake, because you are living in nature and at the same time, learning how to relate to it in a healthy, natural way, as our ancestors did since the dawn of humanity. Wolf Camp is aplace where these ideals come to life in a flowing system where you are part of the wild beauty surrounding you.
This apprenticeship has taught me how to educate adults and children on living closer to the Earth, which is a necessity if we are to redirect a looming environmental collapse. By learnign not only survival skills but also how to teach them to others, I feel I am better prepared for the awesome cahllenge we face of “saving the planet.”
Chris Chishom is a fantastic teacher, and by learning his tricks and ideas, you’re learning from the best. I also believe his direction is what made my summer so life-changing and personally enriching, as he is a great counselor and promotes an extremely therapeutic, emotionally safe, environment.
After everything, I believe the teaching apprenticeship changed my life for the better. When I came here, I had a very limited exposure to earth skills. Now I know that I can survive in harmony with the beauty of nature if I choose, and I know I can share that with others. I learned a heck of a lot, and I give my thanks to Wolf Camp for this awesome space to learn and for giving me, truly, the opportunity of a lifetime!
2013 Addendum for New Website: I have been thinking a lot about Wolf Camp recently, and about how I absolutely would NOT be the person I am today without those incredible experiences, which you facilitated and for which you created the space! There is no way I could ever adequately thank you for this. I know Wolf Camp helped me … somehow children, nature, love of the earth and close relationships with yourself and others at Wolf Camp helped…. I am just so thankful for this, because now, I don’t think I could do any of what I am currently doing (working with people and informal, experiential education), without your influence. Knowing you and how you operate made me a better person, honestly.
2003 Best Testimonial by Krista Rome, Bellingham, WA
I went into the apprenticeship knowing only one thing: I love nature and primitive skills and philosophy more than anything and would someday like to be able to share that love and those skills with others. I want to share for two reasons, ) the hope for our earth’s survival lies with the people who honor the natural world, and we all should do whatever we can to help people reconnect to the land, and 2) it’s a lonely pastime and I wish for more people around me to see the beauty I see, understand the birds the way I do, and feel the earth’s heartbeat over the sounds of modern culture the way I can.
To be honest, I was deathly afraid of teaching and of groups of children. I have had very little experience with both and therefore kept avoiding this opportunity (for three years). I thought I would either hate it, or be so stressed out and frustrated I’d never try again.
That’s not what happened at all. The instructors at Wolf were encouraging and supportive beyond compare. I was challenged to meet my fears and conquer them. I was able to observe the different teaching styles of the instructors, and they all lent a great breath of fresh air to my former view of what teaching is all about. they were fun, wise, and flexible, always adapting to the needs of the group of students, always providing the perfect balance of enjoyment and challenge, in an attempt to bring each child to his or her highest level. In observing this, the apprentice not only learns to teach this way, but also learns to apply that balance to their own self, to their own learning of how to be a strong yet loving teacher.
Through being provided with opportunities to lead the groups of kids in various games, activities, stories, and projects, I was able to try out different styles of communication, discipline, and teaching with the groups, and as time went on I became more and more confident in my abilities. I came away at the end of the summer with a great repertoire of storeis and activities to help others learn about/from nature, an ability to understand and apply different forms of mentoring/teaching, and a confidence and inspiration that will help me to continue.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Chris and the others at Wolf for providing a nurturing space in which I was able to learn all that!
2002 Best Testimonial by Bill Chambers, Crow’s Nest Pass, Alberta
I first attended Wolf Camp as a young teen, where I would be a student in two of their courses. The courses were Primitive Survival and Tracking. When I first arrived, the place was alive. With a large clearing to the south, forest to the west, a few small structures to the north and the Pacific Ocean at my East, I knew this place was going to be a true-life experience. With the sun beaming, and birds singing, I began my education. The courses took me to beautiful old growth forests, glacier fed rivers, islands, oceans and diverse patches of berries, bulbs and bushes. It was clear that Wolf’s instructors’ sole objectives were to nurture your education in nature. Their zest and love for education resulted in a positive, informative and enjoyable program that left me wielding skills I had never known, and having deep respect for all things.
I enjoyed their courses so much that summer, that I ended up returning another summer for more. With the variety of courses they offered, you could spend a measurable portion of your life taking them all. This is what I ended up doing.
After that summer, I enrolled in Wolf’s first CIT Program, where I was introduced to their apprentices, many more of their instructors and a plethora of their students over the summer. After learning about wilderness first aid, aid-less navigation, tracking & awareness, edible and medicinal plant use, fire by friction methods, primitive survival shelters, hunting and trapping skills, artisan skill sets and many other topics, I was hooked. With un-tamable exuberance, I continued my education through their apprenticeship program.
During my time as an Apprentice With the Wolf College, I pushed my educational understanding even further, Chris and the others keeping me challenged and keeping me growing as in instructor each day. I received further training in a wide array of the courses that this College typically offers to their students, but further to that, the apprenticeship program provided additional training & instruction on being a teacher, a leader and being an understanding human being. We were taught how to identify who your students are as individuals, and how to nurture their education and understanding of nature. With the genuine skill and dedication of Chris, his teachers & instructors, I completed my Apprenticeship program as a new man. I continued teaching courses for some years after and have since decided to start working on creating my own programs in Canada. Many of Chris’ apprentices have gone on to create their own schools, take it to the next level and live in the forest for years, or decide to focus their efforts on further study of some skill set or topic they were exposed to while at the Wolf College, whether that be at the College, or abroad.
This experience was one of the best experiences of my life. It forever shaped who I would be and how I would live my life. The people I was able to meet and learn from, the education and “dirt time” I was able to achieve, and the fun that I had, will make me forever grateful for this place, its programs and for Chris himself.
2001 Best Testimonial by Kate Hedges, Edinburgh, Scotland
I’m doing good, and am trying to immerse miself in the world of schoolwork as I remember that I’m still a student and not a naturalist for a few more painful weeks. So, I’m doing intensive ‘environmental education workshops’ which is my research method- visiting groups of young peeps. went to the lake district (n.w. england) to do a first aid course last w/e. had mad adventures as I scrambled over heathery hillsides in the dusky evenings. saw loads of wildlife- buzzards, kestrals, a perigrine falcon or merlin, deer, fox, oh, an’ went to sleep every night to the sounds of owls hooting. found some bone and harvested some birch bark fae a very dead tree which will be good for holding tinder, some hazel for fire kits and lots of slate. it’s great mi room and whole house for that matter is constantly filled with wood chips and bits of stick. i’m making lime ‘bast’ at the moment which is cordage fae the inner bark of short-leaved lime trees- apparently the strongest natural fibre…….. i had a pretty life changing week. i saw mi classes in print in the programme with folk booking onta courses and everything. is sooo good, but also a little scary. but then i met a teacher. yep this REALLY old guy who lives just a few miles away is a primitive fire making expert. he became an archaeologist and is involved in reconstruction work. he’s been studying fire for over 20 years. i finally got to meet him and got fire with flint and steel, using a torch as a magnifying glass, iron pyrites (fools gold), egyptian bow drill and bow drill. i even got fire with a reconstruction of tooten karmen’s fire kit that was buried with him to take to the next world. and used hazel (spindle) and pine (fire board), a limpet shell as a handhold and mi Bakke farm bow to get fire. that night i lit mi first proper fire in scotland up at tentsmuir where i sent you some photos of using bow drill. lots of tips…pretty exciting……. Spent the long weekend up at tentsmuir on the pretense of writing mi literature review, but had some pretty magical nature experiences. stalking deer, hanging out with seals, watching herons build a nest in the trees, watching red squirrels play, listening to owls calling at night, experimenting with funguses as tinder and tracking rabbits. wowwee. seriously blissed out after that…….. But guess wot? i do have a question. mi one omission in mi rediculously thorough journaling was the sweat lodge. i’m thinking of doing one with mi survival residential group just before their survival trek, and maybe another one with the beltane group before that. I will obviously have to go with the feel of the group and wot they are up for, but i would be grateful if you could refresh mi memory on the rounds of prayer. (wowee.. “i would be grateful…” is such a british-ism!)
After training Wolf Camp instructors in 1998, 1999 and 2000, founder Chris Chisholm launches an official apprenticeship program in 2001.