Research shows that disconnect from nature has enormous implications for human health and child development. If today’s children grow into adulthood without a hands-on emotional attachment to the land and its creatures, what will our future hold?
This summer, you can make a difference in preserving and protecting a rare and stunning species — the North American wolf. Nestled in the remote Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Greenhorn Wilderness of Colorado is a unique and special community, Mission: Wolf.
We convene in Colorado Springs and travel to the sanctuary where we learn about the communal life of wolves and the pressing need for wolf conservation in our country. Here we find that lectures, films, photos and books combined could never compare to a personal encounter with a live wolf.
We volunteer our time assisting the staff in the daily care of the wolves. We work deep inside the habitat, under the watchful gaze of intensely yellow eyes as we repair old fences and construct new ones for incoming wolves; we clean the grounds and even master the challenge of feeding the 40 resident wolves. We also assist in the observation and documentation of wolf behavior to make sure the animals are well-adjusted.
Those of us working on the new staff and visitor building learn how to make our way around a construction site, while those with a knack for design might work on landscape gardening. There are also off-site projects that benefit the sanctuary. We gather firewood in the San Isabel foothills and at the Mission: Wolf farm, which provides a peaceful residence for geriatric wolves and unwanted horses. Here, we groom the horses and stack hay bales for the winter. At sunset, when our work is complete, we hike and explore the many rivers and streams that dot this remote area. As night deepens, we crawl into our tents and listen to the howl of our new furry friends.
From Mission: Wolf, we continue on our way to the Arkansas River, where our adventure is far from over. We board rafts for a white water journey. Hardly a lazy ride down the river, the white water is full of pour-overs, standing waves, sharp turns, and narrow chutes that whet our appetites.
After having the opportunity to touch, feel, smell, hear and taste nature, it is time to say goodbye to our new pack of friends, but not before we take a moment to celebrate, laugh, and “howl” at the moon before returning home with a new perspective on protection, conservation and the environment.