In celebration of our incredible 2018 Alumni, this fall we are featuring student stories on our blog. Today’s reflection comes from Jessica K. Jessica comes from Washington D.C., and this summer she joined the third session of our Colorado: Call of the Wild program, which combines adventure and wolf conservation community service work. According to Jessica’s trip leaders, her positivity, hard work, and insightful contributions to group discussions were incredible assets to her group this summer – we are so grateful to have had her on the Call of the Wild program! Continue reading to hear what Jessica has to say about sleeping under the stars, experiencing wolves up close and personal, and making memories that will last a lifetime.
“There are so many things I could say about my trip to Colorado with RLT. I could talk about the other kids who went with me- how interesting and inclusive they all were, how involved they all seemed in making this trip amazing for themselves and everyone else around them. I could talk about the leaders- Pierce, Sophie, and Morgan, and how passionate they were about everything we were doing, how their positive attitudes radiated off of them in waves to make this trip feel even more fun and safe than it already was. Or I could talk about the experience- how it felt to tie each amazing aspect in together day after day, the feeling of always waking up (no matter how early) with a buzz throughout the camp, a new exciting day always teetering on the horizon. I could talk about each of these fantastic parts of the trip, but nothing I would say could ever capture how it felt to actually be in the moment; face to face with a real-life wolf, or laying out under the stars whispering to a newfound friend.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first stepped off the plane in Denver, Colorado. All I knew was that I was going to spend a little over two weeks with a bunch of people I had never met, with no technology whatsoever. From the minute I stepped off that plane, I was starting something that I would remember for the rest of my life. There aren’t many people who can say they learned as much about wolves as I did, let alone get to know these amazing animals up close and personal, on their own terms of course. I didn’t know much about wolves before this trip, but now I can confidently rattle off a number of facts to anyone who is simply interested or wants to know how to help protect/get rid of the aggressive stereotype given to the wilder and lankier cousin of the dog. Not only did I get to interact with wolves and their amazing caregivers, I did it within the breathtaking backdrop of Colorado mountains.
Colorado is easily one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, the assortment of mountains, trees, and wildlife that you pass in one single van ride is enough to take your breath away. And the sky, well, the sky seems unreal. Coming from Washington D.C., I had never seen a sky so big and so full, even the clouds seemed puffier and more visible than the ones back home. The first night of the trip, at the National Sand Dunes, we were encouraged to sleep outside, and I remember waking up at three am in the morning, only to look at the night sky and feel like I was still dreaming- I had never seen so many stars, it felt like someone had covered my eyes with a black paper and poked millions of holes into it. Not to mention I had a front row seat to see the milky way! It was beyond spectacular, it felt dreamlike. This is just one of countless memories I will have forever. I think one of the biggest things I will take away, in the end, will be how it felt to leave everything from everyday life behind for a little bit. It felt refreshing, not having to worry about social media or always keeping your phone with you, but most of all it felt refreshing to be a new you, one who could be open to new adventures, to meeting new people. It was a place where you could leave any titles you had behind, and just be your full self. It was a trip where all you had to do was follow the call of the wild.”