June 3 & 4 Backcountry Safety & Navigation Workshops

Wolf Journey Book Cover - Artwork by Joanna Colbert

Saturday, June 3, 2023 Wilderness Camping, Safety, Navigation & Survival Skills

Sunday, June 4, 2023 Wildlife Safety & Awareness, Bird Voices, Animal Tracks & Trails

Saturday, June 3, 2023 Wilderness Camping, Safety, Navigation & Survival workshop runs from 9:30am-4:30pm at Blue Skye Farm in Puyallup WA and prepares participants to hike alone in the wilderness as well as lead backcountry trips and other outdoor adventures.  We will start by getting onto the same page regarding:

We start our workshops promptly with the most critical information everything else flows from: an overview of our order of emergency survival – with or without gear in town or wilderness. We’ll also discuss the most essential tools to carry with you depending on your skill level. For a primer, read our article on the Critical Order of Emergency Survival, and remember, survival requires multi-tasking, so during this time, we will also pass out materials for you to learn the “reverse wrap” method of making rope which you can work on during the powerpoint.

We will also discuss a big dilemma in survival situations: when to stay and when to go. We have a formula for you to decide, taking into consideration the amount of daylight, your available gear, your position relative to where you are and who you notified about your trip, and how “hungry, angry, lonely, tired and thirsty” you are. Depending on your score, you will either have to make shelter or navigate your way out of a mock survival scenario. Additional skills will include the the Top 10 Hazards to avoid, so that you never experience a survival situation.

Then, if you are already an expert navigator, this class will give you great teaching tools for use when hiking with novices. If you are “navigationally challenged,” then we hope the simple way we teach these skills will open a world of understanding for you in the wilderness.

Instructor Chris Chisholm summarizing the 30 points of nav.

Top 10 Lostproofing Skills: The most important skill for lostproofing is awareness. In fact, some people say there is no such thing as being lost, just in being unaware, so we will practice skills to improve your spacial recognition including wide-angle vision, expanded hearing, and new ways of walking appropriate to various environments, among other skills such as reviewing the 10 Packing Essentials and risk management tips shared from our Search & Rescue background,

Top 10 Orienteering Skills: You will be amazed by some of the incredible ways to find north-south-east-west in order to walk in a straight line toward your destination on a map. One of our favorite is floating a leaf in water, and placing a pin on the leaf. Amazingly, it points to magnetic north. We’ll demonstrate that, and some other ways to orient yourself to the cardinal directions in city and wilderness, from GPS to the stars.

Top 10 Navigation Skills: There are some very important skills to learn in order to negotiate your way through nature without map or compass. For instance, do you know how to follow the contours of a hill in order to stay above thick brush and away from steep cliffs? How about lining up landmarks in order to go straight? We’ll talk about these skills and practice others as allowed by time and location.

Map & Compass Field Training: No matter whether you have GPS or not, the crux of these skills is understanding map and compass. Our method of using map and compass should allay your fears, even when it comes to contour lines and magnetic declination. We are going to transition to a big, near-by commuter parking lot to practice navigating withi compasses, as well as we helping you test to see if you are “right or left dominant” because when walking in nature, most people continually veer left or right when they actually want to go straight. Key to navigating in nature is learning how to compensate for your dominance.

Listening to Cedar Waxwing Bird Song - Artwork by Joanna Powell Colbert
Listening to Cedar Waxwing – Artwork by Joanna Powell Colbert

Saturday, June 4, 2023 Wildlife Safety & Awareness, Bird Voices, Animal Tracks & Trails workshop runs from 9:30am-4:30pm at Blue Skye Farm in Puyallup WA and prepares participants to know when cougars, coyotes, bears or other critters are around by listening to the birds on the trail, and learn what to do in case you run into them.

We’ll start with a safety overview for living, hiking, hunting and foraging in wolf, cougar and bear country. It is important to understand large predators and their prey in order to keep yourself safe, and to keep them safe in the wild. That’s the crux of the matter: everyone wants to protect nature and themselves at the same time. The key is knowledge, and taking right action based on that knowledge. Also, wolves have returned to Washington & Oregon. So now, we have more than just cougars and bears to consider. That sounds scary, but in reality, there will be fewer cougars and black bears because wolves will be competing on the same territory. Wolves are statistically the least dangerous, but despite the insignificant chance of a dangerous encounter with any of these megafauna, your behavior when around them should deflect their triggers. Each species has particular triggers to become aware of, and you should learn their “language” in order to avoid problems.

Learn to view nature like a detective, following clues and solving mysteries that others neglect to see. Amazingly, animals reveal themselves to all who can read their stories in the earth. As you will see, tracks can even tell us about the size, health, emotions, history and even intentions of animals which would otherwise remain hidden all around us.

The most important skill in nature is awareness, whether it be for safety or discovering animals. We will head outside for the remainder of class, and start by practicing “wide angle vision” like owls do, plus “expanded hearing” like deer use to decipher whether sounds they hear in the forest are predators or friendlies, and the “stealth walk” like foxes teach us in order to move undetected in nature so we see more animals and experience their behavior as if we weren’t there. We like to say that if you bring home just one set of skills from tonight’s class, that these awareness activities are it. They will help you see more wildlife, and keep you safer, in city and wilderness, better than any other set of knowledge


Who are the instructors? Wolf Camp directors Kim & Chris Chisholm are leading the workshops this weekend.

What ages can participate? Workshops are designed for adults, but youth may enroll with a parent/guardian.

How should we prepare for the workshop? To get a jump-start on the skills we cover in this class click here for our blog post on the subject but otherwise, prepare as you normally would for a hike, including snacks, lunch, water bottle, 10 Essentials, etc. – all that a safe hiker or any leader should bring, plus hats, warm clothes, proper footwear, and rain gear as necessary for the outdoor portion of class. Also bring an Orienteering Compass if possible, but please note that “surveyor’s compasses” and other non-map-compasses won’t work. If you don’t have a hiking compass yet, try online, or cheaper sports stores for last-minute purchase, and we may have the following recommended compasses for sale at class, including: the Rothco Orienteering Compass Item #337 for learning in the $10-$15 price range, or the Brunton 15TDCL Compass if you want to go up to the next level in the $35 price range for precise mirrored sighting and adjustable declination, the Silva Ranger 515 Compass at about $45, or the patented Suunto “global needle’s unique ability to handle tilts up to 20 degrees makes it perfect for hikers that don’t want to break their stride. Not having to level the compass exactly makes it easier to take an accurate reading while you’re still moving along the trail.

Cost & Registration

Cost for one workshop is $95 for one person, and $90 per additional friend/family member registering in advance. Or attend both workshops in the series for $185 for one person, plus $175 per additional friend/family member.

Reserve your space by sending full payment via Zelle (preferred) to recipient “kim@wolfcollege.com” but be sure to include a note with your email address, phone number, participant names, and workshop dates because Zelle does not automatically share that information, or call us anytime at 425-248-0253 ex 1 to register over the phone with a credit card.

Or Use PayPal to register online securely with a credit/debit card or via direct withdrawal from your bank account. Just sign into paypal.com and “send money” to our email address or use the PayPal links below – might not be visible if you are using “reader view” on your phone or other device: (we’ll get back to you with any additional information we may need)

Workshop Names & Dates:
Participant Names (and age of minors)
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Or email us to be put on our our list for the future. We always keep your information absolutely private, and will never share it. Have you ever attended one of our programs before? Please review us on our Better Business Bureau, Facebook, Yelp &Google pages.

Can we get a refund if we cancel? Our refund policy below only offers credit for future programs if you cancel: payments 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 is needed 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 cases of natural (weather, geologic, wildfire, etc) disasters, epidemics, grid failures, government shutdowns, conflicts or curfews, or other unforeseen emergencies making it unsafe 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. Reasons include the expenditure of funds (property rentals, advertising, materials, admin staff time, etc.) long before programs take place, i.e. deposits make it feasible for Wolf Camp to schedule programs in the first place, but our mutually understood agreement is that Wolf Camp will run the program at the safest available time in the future. Finally, 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.

For more training and active events to practice your navigational, map and compass skills, we recommend the following:

The Tacoma Mountaineers annual navigation class and weekend practice series in Western Washington.
Cascade Orienteering Club which has introductory to advanced events almost every weekend in the Puget Sound area. Experience not necessary, instruction available at the start, and courses for all skill levels.  Practice your navigation skills and discover the sport of orienteering!
MerGeo which puts on endurance navigation events on larger maps with less detail, in more rugged areas. These endurance-length navigation races are popular as a team event and often done at a hiking pace. Using only map and compass, it is up to you and your team to find as many checkpoints within the stated time limit as you can! Events range from 2 to 10 hours (and sometimes 24!) and take place in rugged, beautiful venues across Washington State.