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Course Catalog

Course Catalog

Earth Skills Teaching Apprenticeship: Full-Time Summer Residential Training Program

Wolf Journey Book 8 Cover Artwork by Joanna Colbert of GaianTarot.comThe Earth Skills Teaching Apprenticeship is our hallmark program, with 8 positions available for qualified applicants. 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 2018 include June 22 – August 18 with optional extension through Sept 22 for tuition reimbursement work-trade, depending on your focus.  After starting at our home base in Puyallup, Washington, we travel into the Cascade Mountains, Canyonlands and the Salish Sea during the summer.

FAQ – Tuition, Work-Trade & Employment Opportunities

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Close-up of apprentices and youth mentors during the 2016 Backcountry Leadership training including from left-to-right Frida Cruz, Elissa Pemberton, Wren Schmid, Lee Forrest, Sarah Inskeep, Marie Ranney, Jacob Gerstman, Director Chris Chisholm, Thomas Fellows.

Full-time residential tuition including room and board totals totals a maximum of $2,950 for qualified applicants, minus work-trade to earn tuition (and often more) back upon graduation. 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 now.

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:

WJECCArtCoverOutdoor 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.

WJECCArtBook4Traditional 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.

WJECCArtBook2Herbal 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.

WJECCArtBook3Wildlife 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

June Calendar

Arrive June 22 for Friday Campfire Dinner and stay through August 18 with optional extension through Sept 22 for tuition reimbursement work-trade, depending on your focus.

June 23 Workshop: Subsistence Shore Fishing on Piers, Rivers & Lakes

June 24-29 Expedition: Backcountry Leadership – Wilderness Conservation, Navigation & Risk Management

June 30: Saturday off, or do Wolf Journey Earth Conservation Course field exercises and help Blue Skye Farm interns at the Puyallup Farmers Market.

July Calendar

July 1-6: Sunday Lunch Meeting 12-1. Pack for the week from 1-2 and travel to course location from 2-3. Help set up camp from 3-4 and greet participants from 4-5. Dinner from 5:00-6:00 then start of Teaching Nature I: Professional Training for Future Environmental Educators which runs symbiotically with our Olympia Day & Family Camps & Classes. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.

Apprenticeship graduates Heather Carmichael and Wren Schmid at the 2016 Ancient Archers & Artisans traditional technologies training.

Apprenticeship graduates Heather Carmichael and Wren Schmid at the 2016 Ancient Archers & Artisans traditional technologies training.

July 7: Saturday off, or do Wolf Journey Earth Conservation Course field exercises and help Blue Skye Farm interns at the Puyallup Farmers Market.

July 8-13: Sunday Lunch Meeting 12-1. Pack for the week from 1-2 and travel to course location from 2-3. Help set up camp from 3-4 and greet participants from 4-5. Dinner from 5:00-6:00 then start of Teaching Nature I: Professional Training for Future Environmental Educators which runs symbiotically with our Wild Discovery Film Camp and Puyallup Day & Family Camps & Classes. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.

July 14: Saturday off, or do Wolf Journey Earth Conservation Course field exercises and help Blue Skye Farm interns at the Puyallup Farmers Market.

July 15-20: Sunday Lunch Meeting 12-1. Pack for the week from 1-2 and travel to course location from 2-3. Help set up camp from 3-4 and greet participants from 4-5. Dinner from 5:00-6:00 then start of then start the Wilderness Survival Training & Trek. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.

July 21: Saturday off, or do Wolf Journey Earth Conservation Course field exercises and help Blue Skye Farm interns at the Puyallup Farmers Market.

July 22: Sunday prepare to teach Lake Sammamish Family Classes or assist Kids Day Camps after traveling to Lake Sammamish.

July 23-27: 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 28: Saturday off.

Crop of apprentices and youth mentors at Olympia scout camp 2016 including in diamond order from top left graduate Wren Schmid, center graduate Drew Basham, top right mentor Jackson Fellows, and bottom center graduate Jacquelyn Kellin.

Crop of apprentices and youth mentors at Olympia scout camp 2016 including from top left graduate Wren Schmid, top center graduate Drew Basham, top right mentor Jackson Fellows, and bottom center graduate Jacquelyn Kellin.

August Calendar

July 29 – Aug 3: Sunday Lunch Meeting 12-1. Pack for the week from 1-2 and travel to course location from 2-3. Help set up camp from 3-4 and greet participants from 4-5. Dinner 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 4: Saturday off.

August 5-10: Schedule same as July 24-29 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 11: Saturday off.

August 12-17Sunday Lunch Meeting 12-1. Pack for the week from 1-2 and travel to course location from 2-3. Help set up camp from 3-4 and greet participants from 4-5. Dinner 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 18: Saturday Apprenticeship Graduation with activities into the evening.

August 19-24: 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 25: Saturday Off

August 26-31: Sunday Lunch Meeting 12-1. Pack for the week from 1-2 and travel to course location from 2-3. Help set up camp from 3-4 and greet participants from 4-5. Dinner from 5:00-6:00 then start the Scout Philosophy & Mentoring course. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.

September Calendar

September 1: Receive tuition reimbursement work-trade on Saturday for helping to reorganize gear for winter storage.

September 2: Complimentary entrance to the Washington State Fair for graduating apprentices and staff.

Setpember 3: Complimentary Trailing & Photographing Animals in Elk Country for graduating apprentices and staff.

September 4-7: Optional prep for evaluations and certifications.

Sept 8-9: Optional participation in the Wolf Gathering Fall Equinox Skillshare Rendezvous Celebration in exchange for work-trade.

Sep 10-14: Optional work-trade winterizing Wolf Camp for tuition reimbursement.

Sept 15: Optional complimentary participation in the Sustainable Home & Gardens – Living on an Acre workshop

FAQ – Goals, Mission, Community & Curriculum

2016 Apprentice Kyler Shumaker building rock cairn at survival training.

2016 Apprentice Kyler Shumaker building rock cairn at survival training.

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

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

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2016 Wolf Gathering 20th Anniversary Kick-Off Celebration with 2016 Apprentice Sarah Inskeep; Apprentice-Turned-Instructor Hannah HP; Coordinator Kim Chisholm; and 2016 Apprentice Wren Schmid.

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.

You can also begin by making a non-refundable deposit via PayPal: (account not necessary for debit and credit cards; we’ll call or email you with follow-up info asap)
Participant Name & Age:
Cell Phone Number & Anticipated Start Date:






Or email us to be put on our our list for this program in the future. We always keep your information absolutely private, and will never share it. You can also like our facebook page to keep in better touch, and once you’ve attended a program, please review us on our Better Business BureauYelpGoogle pages.

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.