The Earth Skills Teaching Apprenticeship is our hallmark program, accepting a maximum of 8 positions available in this, our 20th Anniversary Year. Over the summer, you will learn hands-on skills of the Neighborhood Naturalist, Traditional Herbalist, Wildlife Tracker, Wilderness Survival Scout, Ancient Artisan, Sustainable Citizen and Environmental Educator, with options to develop one or more of these topics into an area of speciality.
Kim & Chris Chisholm will guide you through this experience alongside veteran faculty and staff as you gain wilderness skills in a fast-paced, outdoor setting. In one summer, you’ll become a professional outdoor educator with skills of backcountry leadership, risk management, and adventure program development – on top of all the earth skills we teach. Our goal is to ensure that by the end of the summer, you will have the greatest professional, practical, and hands-on outdoor educational training available, with a specialized skill-set necessary to work anywhere in the field of outdoor education.
Dates for 2017 include June 17 – August 19 with optional extension through Sept 24 for tuition reimbursement work-trade, depending on your focus. After starting at our home base in Puyallup, Washington, we travel into the Cascade Mountains, Central Washington Canyonlands and Pacific Coast during the summer.
FAQ – Tuition, Work-Trade & Employment Opportunities
Full-time residential tuition including room and board totals $3,950 minus significant discounts for previous experience and work-trade you complete later in the summer. Our program is, bar none, the most cost-effective and best way to gain outdoor educational skills. Certifications & College Credits may be available for extra fees. So beyond tuition, you need not spend a dime all summer except for personal variables such as health care, insurance if you aren’t already covered, vehicle expenses if you have one, and weekend entertainment if you so choose. You don’t even need any books, as you will have free access to the Wolf College library.
This program is a true apprenticeship. As implied above, successful apprentices begin earning tuition reimbursements during the second half of the summer as they take on more teaching and organizational responsibilities. However, it is up to your discretion the amount of responsibility and work-trade you do, and dependent on economic conditions, including levels of enrollment in our kids camps where we need extra staff.
Some apprentices just want to focus on their earth skills, rather than their teaching skills, and wait until the following year to seek employment with us or elsewhere. Others arrive with a lot of experience, and are making money in August beyond their tuition reimbursement. To get a sense for these variables, we recommend you talk with apprenticeship graduates about their experience. Just email us with a request to get in touch with graduates of your choice. We only accept 8 apprentices, and half of the positions are already filled, so apply by April 30th.
FAQ – Areas of Focus
Although the Earth Skills Teaching Apprenticeship follows our summer schedule and covers an in-depth topic of outdoor education each week (backcountry trip leadership, teaching and mentoring all ages, wilderness survival, ethnobotany and herbal medicine, wildlife tracking, traditional technologies and crafts, sustainable homesteading, ancient scouting skills, plus optional hunting, fishing, and spiritual retreat) you can also organize your schedule to specialize in a subset of these skills, including:
Outdoor Leadership & Nature Guiding is the most common focus for apprentices, offering the widest array of outdoor education and earth skills. This focus helps you build your summer schedule around skills of naturalist training, backcountry leadership, risk management, adventure program development, and the teaching of the earth skills listed above. Click here for more information on this focus area which also features opportunity for Outdoor Leadership and Nature Guide Certifications upon accreditation.
Traditional Technology & Survival Instruction is a focus area emphasizing navigation, fire, shelter, wild edible foods foraging, and traditional craftwork like tanning hides for leather, making bows and fishing gear for the fall harvest, working with stone to make knives and arrowheads, and practicing survival scenarios in case of emergency. Upon completion, you will know how to harvest and teach plants, animals and minerals with skills needed to honor their gifts. Click here for more information on this focus area which also features Traditional Technologies and Survival Instructor Certifications upon accreditation.
Herbal Medicine & Ethnobotany Instruction is another focus you can choose as part of your apprenticeship experience. Ethnobotany means understanding the relationships between plants and humans, how plants are incorporated into our daily lives, and how humans are dependent upon plant ecosystems. As part of this program, you’ll become an herbalist who knows how to respectfully teach the harvesting and preservation of plants for their medicinal, nutritional, and utilitarian gifts. Click here for more information on this focus area which also features Ethnobotany and Herbalist Instructor Certifications upon accreditation.
Wildlife Conservation & Tracking Instruction is the fourth option we have available as a specialty for you to develop. Participants will realize in every area of outdoor study – herbalism, scouting, survival, traditional living – that “it all comes back to tracking.” If you can find it, you save the time required to make it. Whether you choose this apprenticeship fucus for the purpose of wildlife research, sport, or teaching, you will be well on your way to becoming a highly valuable guide of our native fauna. Click here for more information on this focus area which features Wildlife Tracking Instructor Certification upon accreditation.
FAQ – Summer Schedule
Arrive the weekend of June 17 and stay through August 19 with optional extension through Sept 24 for tuition reimbursement work-trade, depending on your focus. We encourage you to arrive Saturday morning to meet farm interns at the Puyallup Farmer’s Market and Blue Skye Farm to get settled in, or click here for Sunday arrival options.
June 18-23: Sunday Breakfast from 8:00-9:00. Attend week’s prep meeting from 9:00-10:00. Pack for the week from 10:00-12:00. Lunch 12:00-1:00. Travel to expedition location from 1:00-4:00. Set up from 4:00-5:00. Dinner from 5:00-6:00 then start the Backcountry Leadership training week. You will also share camp and cooking duties with everyone else on the trip, and attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.
June 24: Saturday Breakfast from 8:00-9:00. Facility Clean-Up from 9:00-10:00. Attend week-to-week transition meeting from 10:00-11:00. Record lessons from the week from 11:00-12:00 in google drive and your journal. Lunch from 12:00-1:00. Orientation on your Wolf Journey Earth Conservation Course field exercises from 1:00-2:00. First field exercise from 2:00-5:00. Prepare dinner from 5:00-6:00. Eat from 6:00-7:00. Share stories and music around the campfire from 7:00-9:00.
June 25: Sunday off, or do Wolf Journey studies and help farm interns at Blue Skye Farm.
June 26-30: Daily potpourri from 7:00-8:00. Breakfasts and clean-up from 8:00-9:00. Travel and set up at park from 9:00-9:30. Participate in morning classes from 9:30-12:00. Lunches and archery from 12:00-1:00. Participate in afternoon classes from 1:00-3:30. Wolf Journey field exercises from 3:30-5:00. Travel to camp and prep dinner from 5:00-6:00. Dinners and clean-up from 6:00-7:00. Field exercise journaling from 7:00-8:00. Campfire music and stories from 8:00-9:00.
July 1: Saturday off, or help farm interns at Blue Skye Farm and the Puyallup Farmer’s Market.
July 2-7: Sunday Breakfast from 8:00-9:00. Attend week’s prep meeting from 9:00-10:00. Pack for the week from 10:00-12:00. Lunch 12:00-1:00. Mentoring meeting on Wolf Journey field exercises from 1:00-2:00. Next field exercises from 2:00-5:00. Dinner from 5:00-6:00 then start of Teaching Nature: Professional Training for Future Environmental Educators which runs symbiotically with our Wild Discovery Film Camp. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.
July 8: Saturday off, or visit the Elbe State Forest and volunteer with the Backcountry Horsemen on Sahara Creek campground and trails.
July 9-14: Sunday Breakfast from 8:00-9:00. Attend week’s prep meeting from 9:00-10:00. Pack for the week from 10:00-12:00. Lunch 12:00-1:00. Travel to expedition location from 1:00-2:00. Help set up from 2:00-4:00. Help make dinner from 4:00-5:00. Dinner and orientation from 5:00-6:00 then start the Wilderness Survival Training & Trek. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening at Alder Lake Park.
July 15: Saturday off, or volunteer with the Backcountry Horsemen during their Prize Ride at Sahara Creek.
July 16-21: Sunday Breakfast from 8:00-9:00. Attend week’s prep meeting from 9:00-10:00. Pack for the week from 10:00-12:00. Lunch 12:00-1:00. Travel to expedition location from 1:00-2:00. Help set up from 2:00-4:00. Help make dinner from 4:00-5:00. Dinner and orientation from 5:00-6:00 then start the Wilderness Survival Training & Trek. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.
July 22: Saturday off, or help farm interns at Blue Skye Farm and the Puyallup Farmer’s Market.
July 24-28: Daily potpourri from 7:00-8:00. Breakfasts and morning care from 8:00-9:00. Welcome campers from 9:00-9:30. Camps and classes from 9:30-12:00. Lunches, archery and swimming from 12:00-1:00. Camps and classes from 1:00-3:30. Morning care and prep for tomorrow from 3:30-5:00. Dinner from 5:00-6:00. Finish prepping camps and classes 6:00-8:00. Campfire music and stories from 8:00-9:00.
July 29: Saturday off, or do Wolf Journey studies and add work-trade for tuition reimbursement hours.
July 30 – Aug 4: Sunday potpourri and cooking from 8:00-9:00. Breakfast and clean-up from 9:00-10:00. Pack for camps from 10:00-12:00. Lunch from 12:00-1:00. Travel to expedition location from 1:00-2:00. Meet with apprenticeship mentors from 2:00-4:00. Help make dinner and welcome campers from 4:00-5:00. Dinner and orientation from 5:00-6:00 then start the Wildlife Safari – Tracking Wolf Country. expedition, or prep for day camps if choosing to assist with Wild Cooking & Herbology, Wildlife Search & Rescue or Advanced Wilderness Survival. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.
August 5: Saturday off, or do Wolf Journey studies and add work-trade for tuition reimbursement hours.
August 6: Sunday lunch from 12:00-1:00. Meet with mentors from 1:00-2:00. Prep day camps from 2:00-5:00. Dinner from 5:00-6:00. Prep for day camps from 6:00-8:00. Campfire music and stories from 8:00-9:00.
August 7-11: Schedule same as July 24-28 and assisting choice of day camps including Wildlife Search & Rescue or Wilderness Survival Craft or Advanced Nature & Survival. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.
August 12: Saturday off, or do Wolf Journey studies and add work-trade for tuition reimbursement hours.
August 13-18: Sunday potpourri and cooking from 8:00-9:00. Breakfast and clean-up from 9:00-10:00. Pack for camps from 10:00-12:00. Lunch from 12:00-1:00. Travel to expedition location from 1:00-2:00. Help set up from 2:00-4:00. Help make dinner and welcome campers from 4:00-5:00. Dinner and orientation from 5:00-6:00 then start the Wild Cooking, Ethnobotany & Herbal Expedition or Traditional Technologies: Classical Crafts of the Ancient Artisan or prep for day camps if choosing to assist with Wild Cooking & Herbology or the Ethnic American Pioneer or Advanced Wilderness Survival. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.
August 19: Saturday Apprenticeship Graduation with activities into the evening.
August 20: For apprentices staying longer for tuition reimbursement work, we’ll meet for Sunday lunch from 12:00-1:00, then meet with mentors from 1:00-2:00, prep day camps from 2:00-5:00, dinner from 5:00-6:00, prep for day camps from 6:00-8:00, and campfire music and stories from 8:00-9:00.
August 21-25: For apprentices staying longer for tuition reimbursement work, this week’s schedule is the same as August 7-11 and we recommend assisting with the Secrets of the Ancient Scout day camp although we also will be running other themes including Wilderness Survival Craft or Advanced Nature & Survival or Super Advanced Survival. Evenings will be spent prepping and doing ancient scout missions as described on our even-year overnight camp description. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.
Aug 26: Saturday Off
Aug 27 – Sept 1: Sunday potpourri and cooking from 8:00-9:00. Breakfast and clean-up from 9:00-10:00. Pack for camps from 10:00-12:00. Lunch from 12:00-1:00. Travel to expedition location from 1:00-2:00. Help set up from 2:00-4:00. Help make dinner and welcome campers from 4:00-5:00. Dinner and orientation from 5:00-6:00 then start the Epic Fishing Camp. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.
September 2: Receive tuition reimbursement work-trade on Saturday for helping to reorganize gear for winter storage.
September 3: Complimentary entrance to the Washington State Fair for graduating apprentices and staff.
Setpember 4: Complimentary Trailing & Photographing Animals in Elk Country for graduating apprentices and staff.
September 5-8: Optional prep for evaluations and certifications.
Sept 9-10: Optional Two Day Animal Tracking, Ethnobotany & Ethnoecollgy Evaluation Workshops for $275 per two-day evaluation.
Sep 11-15: Optional participation in the Wilderness Spirit Trek in exchange for work-trade or scholarship fund contributions.
Sept 16: Optional complimentary participation in the Sustainable Home & Gardens – Living on an Acre workshop.
Sept 17-21: Optional prep for the Wolf Gathering.
Sept 22-24: Work-trade participation in the Wolf Gathering Fall Equinox Skillshare Rendezvous Celebration.
FAQ – Goals, Mission, Community & Curriculum
The mission of the internship is to guide you to become a rock-solid outdoor leader and nature guide. Participants will build upon the successes of the past generation of outdoor adventurers and conservationists who worked hard to pass the endangered species act and saved countless acres of habitat, plants and animals where almost none remained two generations ago. It is an apprenticeship designed for:
1) aspiring outdoor leaders and those who want to become nature guides in parks and other settings, learning to teach and lead outdoor skills while simultaneously becoming versed in them; or
2) experienced naturalist, trackers, herbalists, scouts, artisans, permaculturists, hunters, fishers, biologists and ecologists who want to broaden their skill set and learn to teach their craft to students of all ages; or
3) experienced teachers who want to become versed in outdoor skills in a fast-paced educational setting.
No matter your previous experience, you will be expected to fully participate in every possible summer opportunity to push your skills to a higher level of excellence, although your own health will be the priority while developing into better and healthier leaders and guides. By the time you complete the course, you will become a key resource on the natural world for your community, probably the best expert on habitat conservation in your neighborhood, and you will know how to help people make footprints on the earth as light as possible as we create the future for humanity and all its relations. Apply by March 20th for the best discount and placement opportunities.
Your goals will expand over the the summer, from learning the basics of earth skills education, to further developing your earth skills, being given teaching opportunities during the summer according to your desire and readiness. Curriculum for the program will include field exercises from the Wolf Journey Earth Conservation Course – Trials of the Neighborhood Naturalist, Traditional Herbalist, Wildlife Tracker, Survival Scout, Ancient Artisan, Honorable Hunter, Sustainable Citizen and Environmental Ed.
1st Priority: Learn the best methods of teaching earth skills to all ages. The way to become the best of teachers is to observe, participate in, and take notes on all the activities our instructors present over the summer, including staying up a half hour after the kids go to sleep in order to record your experiences.
2nd Priority: Take care of yourself, while nurturing campers and supporting other staff. It is important that you come into the program as healthy and prepared as possible, for although during the training portion of the program your educational needs are the focus, during the summer camp season, the needs of the children at camp will be the focus, so you will have to learn to remain healthy amongst constant camp activity. This is the trick to a successful teaching career.
3rd Priority: Develop a working knowledge of all earth skill categories. Apprenticeship graduates always relate how at the end of the summer, they were amazed at how this “just happened”. The opportunity to assist lead instructors and take on instructional leadership yourself during the summer is a great way to fully embody your own earth skills, because sometimes you can learn best only that which you teach.
FAQ – Outdoor Education & Earth Skills
• Wildlife Tracking (identification, trailing, aging, interpretation)
• Birding & Bird Language (academic and song-to-alarm interpretations)
• Naturalist Sketching & Journaling (using sit spots, drawing instruction, quick journaling strategies)
• Skills of the Ancient Scout (sensory awareness, stealthy movement, camouflage, games)
• Wild Edible Foraging & Preparation (Herbs, Nuts, Roots, Flowers, Fruits, Insects)
• Primitive Cooking & Food Storage (pit cook, clay oven, ash cakes, smoking, jerkying, pemmican)
• Medicinal Herb Collection & Preservation (drawing from knowledge of area herbalists)
• Preventative Health & Herbal Spas (from daily health routines, to our special spa treatments)
• Emergency Shelter & Primitive Shelter (bivouac bed, eagles nest, lean-to, wickiup, thatch hut, etc)
• Wet Fire Maintenance & Fire by Friction (bow drill, hand drill, fire plow, flint & steel, firesteel)
• Flintknapping & PTool Making (from harvested stones, bones, wood)
• Bow & Arrow Making (survival bows, self bows, lumber bows, fletching, lashing, etc.)
• Subsistence Fishing (rivers and lakes for salmon and trout, piers for bottomfish, crab, perch, shark)
• Natural Water Purification (seeps, filters, rock boiling, and locating natural springs)
• Bowls & Cordage Making (double and triple reverse wrap using nettle, fireweed, cedar, kelp)
• Primitive Hunting (bow and arrow, rabbit stick, at-latl, ethics, strategies, butchering)
• Hide Tanning (wet and dry scraping, brain and other high-tannin methods, hair on and off
• Natural Selection Forestry (chopping, sawing, splitting and moving)
• Organic Gardening, Fruit Orcharding & Chicken Rearing
• Camping, Hiking, Backpacking, Navigation & Orienteering
• Parfleching (carrying cases, drum making, sheaths and quivers with fur and tanned hide)
• Bioregional Ecosystems (old growth temperate rainforest, glaciated alpine meadow, intertidal and estuary, river and lake, wetland and bog, desert and sagebrush steppe, mixed pine and subalpine forest)
Environmental Educational Skills
• Best skills to introduce to each age group (3-6, 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, 16-18, 19-21, young adults, parents, elders)
• Most effective methods to use with each age group (didactic/wolf, questioning/coyote, imagining/fox, imitation/dog)
• Delivery of age appropriate stories (personal, european, african, persian, chinese, other eastern, indigenous)
• Music and the Arts (flute making, drumming, songwriting, poetry, clay sculpting, natural paints, singing and pianos/guitars on hand)
• Trip Leadership & Risk Management (assessing sites, planning activities, mitigating hazards)
• Emergency Rescue, Advanced First Aid, CPR (wilderness and water settings)
• Influences of Nature on Spirituality (buddhist, christian, hindi, indigenous, jewish, muslim) including opportunities of retreats and quests, sweat lodges and fasts
• Health & Organizational Strategies (western lineal and medicine wheel use for self, lessons, projects)
• Incorporating Earth Skills & Starting New Schools (examples of non-profits, partnerships, sole ventures, and communities)
• Political Environmentalism (left and right wing strategies, legislative and artistic strategies)
FAQ – Program Benefits & History
Our apprenticeship program was piloted in 2000. More than half our staff came on board this way, while others enrolled to receive training in order to found their own schools or gain experience for employment elsewhere. Past apprentices say that the place they learned the most about teaching and leadership, as well as where they learned the greatest bulk of their earth skills, was while assisting the incredible instructors at Wolf Camp as they guided youth and adults through the summer.
Graduates invariably express how grateful they are in the year following their apprenticeship when they realize that they somehow “just know how to lead and teach” outdoor skills and other subjects as well. Check out our apprenticeship testimonials from novice apprentices, former campers-turned-instructors, and experienced educators who all succeeded in our summer apprenticeships and agree that the results far exceed expectations.
Benefits of this program include eligibility for employment at Wolf Camp, strong recommendations for employment elsewhere, and advice for starting your own guiding programs. Some might think that not spending any money all summer, and often starting to get paid over time is the bottom line benefit, but the real benefit is your transformation into an excellent outdoor leader, ready for employment as a nature guide wherever organizations and agencies need qualified experts.
Ready to Apply?
Be sure to check out our supplemental FAQs received from applicants, and after deciding whether this apprenticeship focus most interests you, just click here to check out our application process.
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Refund Policy: Standard deposits ($75 for day programs, $175 for overnight programs) are not refundable unless we don’t accept your application. If you cancel for any reason, you may receive a full credit good through the following calendar year on appropriate and available programs listed on our schedule, although an additional deposit may be required to secure your spot in the future program. If a program you sign up for is canceled and not rescheduled at a time you can attend, you may receive a full refund except in case of natural (weather, geologic, etc) disasters, government shutdowns, conflicts or curfews, or other unforeseen emergencies making it impossible for staff and/or attendees to reach or use program locations, in which case all payments made will be held by us without expiration date for your future use in appropriate/available programs of your choice. No refund, nor credit, is given if a participant is asked to leave a program for inappropriateness as determined by our kids, youth and adult agreements for participation.