NORTH Shield- Distillation and Integration.

NORTH Shield- Distillation and Integration.

Anake Outdoor School

The days have shortened and darkness rules the land. With the cold north winds blowing, winter is upon us. It’s a time when living in the natural world calls on your skills to survive. In the past, winters could be so harsh that your age was determined by how many you’ve lived through. The NORTH is about sharing the wisdom from your life experience and stepping into the role of an elder in your community.

In the curriculum of the NORTH Shield, we focus on survival and long-term wilderness living skills. We do things like fire making, shelter building, purifying water, and more primitive living solutions. We also focus on Trees. They are used to make fire and shelter. They are used to make our weapons and many other tools. Trees also provide water and medicine. Look around your house and count how many things are made out of wood.

Though it is great to be self-sufficient and able to survive by yourself, we find that thriving in community fulfills a great human need. Being able to communicate effectively in a stressful situation is a valuable survival tool. While the “lone survivor” is often portrayed in movies and television, humans evolved to survive in community. At Anake Outdoor School we focus heavily on group survival.


This Shield is about integration and distillation. It’s important to have a big picture view of your process and what you have learned. You now have the ability to creatively and adaptively respond with whatever resources are available. Your skills are deeply engrained in your muscle memory. You are able to calmly respond in a challenging situation. Through experience you become self-sufficient and highly capable with your skills. You also develop empowered interdependence and become stronger when part of a team.

On a facilitation team the NORTH is the team lead. They develop and coordinate the big picture. They support all other team members in their tasks. The NORTH keeps a pulse on the vision and mission of the program to make sure it is running smoothly. They manage any challenges that may arise on the team, within the students, or in the greater community.

You have been through a lot on this journey. In the plant cycle the NORTH is represented by the seed. When are the fruit has rotted away, what genetics will be carried forward for the future generations? In our life cycle, we enter into Elderhood. What lessons are most important to teach the up and coming generations? As we enter into the winter, what skills and tools are most important to ensure our survival? Many people may not make it this far in their learning or life journey so it is important to recognize and learn from those who have. We are nearing the end of our journey. But at the end starts a new beginning.

Learn more by coming to visit our Adult Program, The Anake Outdoor School


The NORTHWEST Shield – Reflection

The NORTHWEST Shield- Reflection

Come in, grab a blanket and warm yourself by the fire as we gather in the NORTHWEST. A place of darkness after the sun has set and the light has faded. A time of year when the leaves have all fallen and the forest seems still, dark and wet. The time before winter comes when we look back to the past. All the shields we have traveled through so far have been about creating and solidifying our connections to nature, community and ourselves. Now is the time to tend to those connections.

In the natural world, after all the leaves have fallen and the plants are dying back, the soil is still bubbling with life. This time is essential to decompose matter and harvest nutrients. This provides fertile soil for seeds to grow come springtime.

Often in our journey through nature connection we have enlivening experiences that keep us in the present moment. When we’re sharing our story of the day, we don’t tend to the grief that may have come up throughout daily life. The NORTHWEST is about attending to these grievances and the culture in which we live.

We provide space for this at the Anake Outdoor School and our Art of Mentoring, by gathering and holding space to express our feelings whatever they may be so that our communication is clear and free of past feelings we may be harboring. This can be done in an intentional ceremony or just around the fire at night. In Hawaiian culture they have the practice of Hoʻoponopono- a daily ritual of reconciliation and forgiveness around the time of sunset. We also host ceremony and rites of passage for our students throughout the year.


In the NORTHWEST we look to our past and ancestry to better move forward into the future. We hold the culture by tending to ceremony and ritual. Thanksgiving here in the Western World is a good example of that. Gathering and Celebrating is in the West but the Tradition and Ritual in which your family gathers for this event brings it into the NORTHWEST. Examples would be your aunt bringing her famous stuffing every year or the elders (grandparents) welcoming and bringing everyone’s minds together.

The NORTHWEST role on a facilitation team is to cultivate honor, uphold and regenerate lineage. Staff training and renewal; research and consulting with Cultural Elders, Resources and other Lineage Keepers. To recruit, orient and train elders for program participation. Their roles are to help mediate conflicts and offer personal coaching. We also think of these people as the fire tenders. Holding the space for these stories to come out.

This feeling of being open, heard, and witnessed through clear communication of both the comfortable and uncomfortable conversations help our students develop Awe and Reverence for life and the world around us. Having moments of slowing down to be awestruck by something.

Things we associate with the NORTHWEST are Late Autumn/ Early Winter, Auntie/Uncle hood Late Adulthood, Reflection and Release, and Connection to Ancestry.

This shield, like other ordinals, is a transition phase in our journey. We are preparing ourselves for the journey into the NORTH, the time of Winter, a place where we step into empowered interdependence and Elderhood.

If you  are just joining us check out our other posts on the Medicine Wheel or come Visit the Anake Outdoor School to experience these teachings in person!



The WEST – Celebration!

The WEST – Celebration!

Welcome to the WEST! This is where the sun sets as we gather around the dinner table in the evening. This the time of Fall harvest, gathering the fruits of the year. As mentors we are tasked with gathering the stories of our students. It is in this shield that we help to weave those stories together and solidify those connections.

So far we have created inspiration and motivation for our students to enter into the perspiration and hard work of the SOUTH. We have taken a break to relax and let those experiences integrate into our whole self. Now it is time to harvest the fruits or lessons of those experiences by hearing stories and asking good questions to pull from those stories. This is where we find out when our students were most engaged and where their blind spots were during those experiences. Most importantly this is where those connections are validated and celebrated.

Imagine you go out on an adventure and you have this incredible experience where you’ve felt alive, challenged, excited and exhausted. Then when you come home just rearing to tell someone and there is no one there to catch your story, or even worse you find someone and they are not interested in your story. Can you imagine how defeating this is? Now imagine the reverse of that, you come home and someone you admire and respect is there waiting to hear your story. Not only are they actively listening but they are asking deeper questions. How did that make you feel, what else did you notice, what was the most challenging part, did you learn anything about yourself, what did you feel most connection, what brought you alive?

Do you see the profound difference in those two experiences? We thrive on human connection and the need of appreciation and belonging. This is why Facebook and social media is a multi-billion dollar industry. But it’s important to have a community of people to interact with in the flesh vs. in the virtual world.


We cultivate this in our programs through Story of the Day and the Art of Questioning. When students come back from their experience they are asked to share whatever part of their story they feel called to. Then as mentors we ask good, curious questions to help engage the students and take them deeper into the experience. There are 3 levels of questioning that we use. You can learn more about this at our Art of Mentoring or through the Anake Outdoor School.

The WEST role of the teaching team is to gather, lead and facilitate community. They do this by helping to keep an eye on the pulse of the group. For example, finding ways in which to connect the group to each other and create a deeper sense of community or helping to facilitate the bigger gatherings of the group such as celebrations and stories.

Through the sharing of these stories strong connections are cultivated in the community. Everyone can now learn and benefit from your stories and experience. When you have a strong and vibrant community you naturally want to offer help and support. The Indicator of Awareness for this shield is Service to Community–the desire to play a meaningful role in service to community and figuring out how you and your gifts can contribute.

Now that we have cultivated our skills, gifts, and stories on this journey halfway around the Medicine Wheel it is time to look back and reflect. Not just on our journey but on the ancestry or lineage of what we have learned and for that we turn towards the NORTHWEST.


The SOUTHWEST – Relaxation

The SOUTHWEST – Relaxation

by Kyle Koch

Let’s all take a deep breath as we relax into the SOUTHWEST Shield. Here at Anake Outdoor School, this is an important shield to cultivate as we continue our journey around the medicine wheel. This is where the connections in our learning journey deepen. In the plant metaphor, it’s when the internal woody growth happens. The SOUTHWEST shield is not just about relaxation. It’s also about integration. It’s essential to take time away from the physical learning and let all the lessons and information settle deep into your bones.

We find that humans in our program (and in general) experience a natural lowering or scattering of energy right after lunch time. In many cultures this is the siesta time. Sometimes we just want to rest or play or wander. Trying to convey specific facts or information at this time of day is very challenging. You may experience this at work or in your life as well. How is your energy or productivity during hours of 1-3pm? Let us know what your energy is like at this time of day in the comments below!

Why is it important to pay attention to this relaxation energy? Because deep connections happen during this unstructured time; we need to empty our cup before we can fill it again. At Anake Outdoor School, we try and embrace this energy. Our students are given the freedom to rest or wander with a sense of timelessness.


In this space these strong bonds are cultivated. Think about a time where you’ve created stronger connections with people around you. Sure, during activities you connect with a specific task or goal in mind, but it is during the breaks and the in-between time when you share more personal stories and experiences. This is where you really get to know people before coming back together to finish the activity.

It’s during this sharing and connecting where we develop empathy for each other and the world around us. This is why in teaching the SOUTHWEST we find ourselves in the role of caretaking. Checking in with people to make sure they have the things they need, helping to prepare and clean up spaces, and making sure people are drinking water and taking care of themselves. By taking care of ourselves, our spaces, and our community we make space for new learning and growth.

We cultivate being aware of physical, emotional, and community well-being. This shows up in our students as caring and tending for the things around them. How does having a clean desk increase your productivity at school or work? How does taking a 15-minute break affect your ability to focus?

The SOUTHWEST shield falls naturally after putting in the hard work of the SOUTH shield. Taking a break after working hard just makes sense right? But many of us, and Western society in general, pushes us to keep going even when our body and brain needs rest.

That’s why we are presenting this Medicine Wheel: to help us remember that there are many different energies and they are all valuable (and even necessary for our well-being.) The SOUTHWEST can always be emphasized a little more. By taking time to step away from what we are doing we can enter the WEST both rested and rejuvenated.


The SOUTH – Perspiration

The SOUTH – Perspiration

by Kyle Koch

Today is Labor Day, a celebration of all the hard work and perspiration we have done this summer or this year by having a paid day off (if you’re so lucky). This day really lands more in the SOUTHWEST, which we will talk about next week. But the work leading up to this is characterize by The SOUTH Shield! The SOUTH represents the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, or mid-day when the sun is at the highest point in the sky residing directly in the SOUTH. This is where we do the hard physical and mental work and where we make commitments and practice. We call this shield Perspiration.

In the curriculum we teach and during our Anake Outdoor School program this is represent by holistic tracking of wildlife. When you go tracking you are not just out looking for tracks. In fact when you get really good at it that’s the last thing you are doing. When out tracking on the landscape you are using your whole self, engaging all of the senses. When you see a track on the ground you stop and listen for any bird language that may inform you of the animals location, smelling the air to catch the sent, feeling the tracks to determine when it was here, imitating the movement to feel what it’s like to move through the landscape as this creature, using your mind’s eye to imagine this animals story and piecing all this evidence together to predict where this creature is right now. When we do this we cultivate the inquisitiveness of an investigative reporter and the awareness of Sherlock Holmes.


When you put your whole being into something it can be really exhausting. Think about a time you’ve been so inspired and motivated that you put your whole self into working on a project or skill. At the end of the day you achieve that really good kind of tired, where sleep calls to you.

Let’s use the example of playing the guitar. We have inspired students to play, they’ve gotten a guitar and are motivated to play, and now comes practice. Practice, Practice, Practice. Learning notes, chords, scales and all that goes along with it. Playing until your muscles ache. It’s important to find balance because this can also be the point where someone can lose interest. Again this is where the SOUTHWEST comes into play.

On a teaching team the SOUTH is in charge of time keeping and attendance. They make sure we are starting and, just as important, ending on time. Giving reminders to people so that they are aware of what’s next. Then also making sure that everyone is there. Tracking people as well as the clock!

The Indicator of Awareness that shows up in this shield is Inquisitive Focus. The kind of curiosity and determination that when you start a project you work into the wee hours of the night, or when you read a book so fascinating you stay up all night until it is finished. Something we put our whole selves into, which seems to be rare in this time of options. It is so easy now a days to pick something up and then move on to something new and more exciting. As a mentor is it important to help our students find this inquisitive focus, to engage in something with their whole being. It helps us develop so many skills, from curiosity and awareness to problem solving and commitment.

Yes, this is an important shield, but it takes all the spokes to make the wheel turn fluidly. You must inspire and motivate to get your student here and just as important is what you do next. Join us next week as we enter the SOUTHWEST a place of timelessness, wandering, and relaxation.


The SOUTHEAST – Orientation and Motivation

The SOUTHEAST – Orientation and Motivation

by. Kyle Koch

Let’s take a journey into the SOUTHEAST. This is a place of rapid growth, deeper orientation, electricity, child’s passions, motivation, and vitality. The Ordinal directions represent a place of transitions from one direction to the next. If the EAST is new growth and birth the SOUTHEAST represents the rapid growth and adolescences.

We can find ourselves in this place in the learning cycle, while engaged in programs such as our Anake Outdoor School. If you are teaching and in the SOUTHEAST part of the cycle, the first step is to inspire your student and the second step is to motivate them. Kids often leave our Summer Camps Inspired and excited to continue working on the skills they’ve learned that week. But recently I’ve been hearing from campers that this only happens for a couple days or weeks until, eventually, the inspiration wears off and there aren’t people around to help motivate them.

So how do we motivate? Here at the Wilderness Awareness School we do this is many ways. One of the most powerful ways is through child’s passions–like games!! We teach many core routines and daily practices at our school that deepen our student’s connection with themselves, each other and the natural world. We have found that it is not always enough to just tell the students to go and do these things because they will make you healthy and happier. I know that running every morning is good for me but I don’t always have the personal motivation to do it, right? I’m sure we all have something like this in our lives we can relate to. So what we have done is intermixed all of our core routines into games and activities. This way the students are experiencing all the core routines, overcoming fears, learning the curriculum, developing trust, being quiet, listening, teambuilding, pushing their edges–and they don’t even really know it, until maybe after the fact. This is all done through the motivation to win or play the game.


On a teaching team the SOUTHEAST is the person in charge of facilitating games, activities, and helping with transitions. This person also tends to have a natural child-like curiosity and vitality about them. They are playful and ask questions with genuine curiosity and lead by example.

The indicator of awareness for this shield is aliveness and agility. I’ve also heard it described as the health and vitality of a wolf or coyote. This shows up in our students as putting one’s whole self into something, awakened bodies channeled into meaningful connections, and quick reflexes.

Things associated with the SOUTHEAST: Rapid growth, adolescences, child’s passions, games, play, health, vitality, aliveness, agility, motivation, deeper orientation, YouTube phase, late spring/early summer, porcupine and otters.

Learn more about the medicine wheel model of learning by following our blog, and if you would like to learn about connecting with nature at our 9-month program, check out the Anake Outdoor School.


The EAST and Inspiration

The EAST and Inspiration

by. Kyle Koch

Imagine for a moment that first day of spring, when you wake up in the morning and the sun is rising in the east, the new green plants and shoots are emerging from the earth. The lovely song birds have returned from there winter migration and are singing in the bushes outside your house. This is the feeling of the EAST. Starting a new day, new season, or new task, with inspiration and excitement.

We use this concept in the natural learning cycle to inspire our students at the Anake Outdoor  School, and all our programs at Wilderness Awareness School, about whatever topic we may be covering that day, week, or month. An example of this would be demonstrating a skill such as bow drill to get kids excited to work on making their fire kits later that day, or telling an inspiring story about a great tracker or personal tracking experience to get them excited to go track wildlife that day.

The EAST is also a place of welcoming your participants and helping orient them to a particular place. Examples would be showing people where they can set up their tents, get potable water, bathrooms, food storage, and things that would help them feel comfortable and welcomed enough to be able to take care of their needs. As part of welcoming, it is also important to make people aware of hazards as well. Think of things like stinging nettle, bee’s nests, off-limits areas, cougars, bears, or whatever your environment has to offer. Once people feel safe and that their needs are taken care of it helps them better engage in activities.


From a facilitation standpoint, the person holding the direction of the EAST is in charge of welcoming and helping to orient people as they arrive and/or orient them in an introductory group discussion. They also, help to wake people up in the morning, welcome people back from activities, give announcements, and make sure students have all things they need for the day or next activity.

We place Common Sense in the EAST as 1 of the 8 indicators of awareness. Common Sense is defined as “good sense and sound judgment in practical matters”. We find that feeling welcomed into a new place and being aware of the hazards helps you make smart choices about how to take care of your personal needs, help those around you, and what is appropriate behavior for a given situation.

Things we associate with the EAST are Birth, Sunrise, Springtime, Beginnings, Hazards, Welcoming, and Inspiration.

Learn more about connecting with nature at our 9-month program, the Anake Outdoor School.



Tracking Intensive: How Our Graduates Are Making An Impact

Tracking Intensive: How Our Graduates Are Making An Impact

Written by Marcus Reynerson, Tracking Intensive Instructor

A couple of years ago, a student of our Tracking Intensive shared this about her experience: “I walked into this year not knowing a  thing about wildlife track and sign. Now I can look around the woods and tell a story about what transpired.”

Every year, a similar sentiment pervades the experiences of our graduates after completing the program. It is obvious to me that we are doing something that works, and I can speak to that very personally. It did the same for me five years ago, when I was a student myself.

The Wildlife Tracking Intensive at Wilderness Awareness School is a nine-month immersion into the study of all things tracking. Through repeated focus on our “Six Arts of Tracking” — Identification, Interpretation, Aging, Ecological Study, Trailing and Intuitive Development — we offer students the breadth of skills necessary to become a well-rounded tracker. While most of the curricula centers on Pacific Northwest ecology, the skills we impart are transferable anywhere in North America, and, as some of our graduates assure us, anywhere in the world. The Tracking Intensive provides in-depth training in the art and science of wildlife tracking for both beginner and advanced students. Visiting a diversity of habitats from the coastal dunes of Oregon to the high deserts of eastern Washington, to the steep relief of the North Cascades, participants have the opportunity to study and track a great variety of wildlife species.

Wilderness Awareness School has successfully delivered long-term tracking training programs for nearly eighteen years, facilitated by a stellar team of Instructors and teaching assistants. On a typical weekend, students gather Saturday morning to spend a day in the field or classroom, studying topics ranging from foot morphology, to mammal skull structure, to the fundamentals of drawing and journaling. Saturdayevenings find us sharing stories around a fire or enjoying a presentation on new material, while Sundays are focused on gaining more field experience under the mentorship of instructors.

Our approach to tracking education is unique in our emphasis on applying these skills to real-world social and environmental situations. In addition to our goal of enriching students’ lives through powerful nature connection, we place a premium on making this ancestral skill practical in a modern world. A prime example of this is our partnership with Conservation Northwest to implement the Citizens Wildlife Monitoring Project (CWMP).  This connectivity project, co-created during the 2006-07 class by two Tracking Intensive students, Roy Ashton and Mallory Clarke, collects data on wildlife use along the I-90 corridor through the Cascade Mountains, before and after construction of wildlife tunnels and bridges. What’s more is that this project, now underway for a decade, has been approved by Washington State and the bridges are under construction. This is real conservation in action. Indeed, many of our graduates are also taking the experiences and skills they gained through the program into their own work locally and abroad.

After graduating in 2007, Roy was an assistant on a Wild Dog research program in Zimbabwe using methods learned in collaboration with traditional Shona trackers. He later spent two years training and working as a safari guide in Kruger National Park. He worked one-on-one with Shangaan trackers — some of whom are reputed to be among the best trackers in the world — following leopards, lions and rhinoceros. Roy spoke of his time with the Tracking Intensive: “The program gave me an amazing capacity to communicate and work with the Shangaan trackers, who have been tracking their whole lives. While their trailing skills exceeded mine, my track and sign interpretation, in some cases, was just as precise.”

Mallory, a Tracking Intensive graduate of both the basic and advanced program (2007 through 2008), is a retired teacher at Garfield High School in south Seattle. After helping to get the CWMP off the ground, Mallory now serves as the project’s Assistant Coordinator. She has also been involved in other northwest conservation projects, including wildlife studies for Forterra (formerly known as the Cascade Land Conservancy), and mammal surveys for Northwest Trek, a local zoo dedicated to education and protection of Pacific Northwest species. According to Mallory: “I feel like I mastered a skill. I remember walking in a park in Seattle with a friend once. I knelt down next to a coyote track and explained why I knew it was coyote and not a dog. While my friend was blown away, it felt completely normal to me. I realized, even though I wanted to know more, I had gained a significant level of skill and knowledge. The outdoors used to be simply a place to go have fun, but now it is also where I go for solace, retreat and reflection.”

Dr. Tom Murphy, PhD, chair of the Anthropology Department at Edmonds Community College (ECC) in Edmonds, Washington is a 2009 graduate. In partnership with AmeriCorps, he has created an environmental anthropology program that trains students in wildlife track identification and interpretation, so they can gather data for local government agencies and nonprofits. Wildlife monitoring has been an integral component of the Learn and Serve Environmental Anthropology Field (LEAF) School at ECC since its inception in 2006. While their wildlife projects initially focused solely on fish and shellfish studies, the Tracking Intensive enabled Dr. Murphy to expand their work from the beaches and rivers up into the mountains and forests across the state. Students in the LEAF School now monitor wildlife passage structures and corridors for Snohomish County Public Works, the Cities of Mukilteo, and the Snoqualmie Tribe, amongst others.

In addition to Roy, Mallory and Tom, there are over 100 other graduates of the Tracking Intensive over the last eight years out in the world doing terrific work. From projects with the international tracking standardization process, Cyber Tracker Conservation, to work with the Metro Park system in Vancouver British Columbia; from a wilderness living School in Austin Texas, to an outdoor leadership program in Johannesburg South Africa; from elementary school nature education in Monterey California, to 75% of the instructors working here at Wilderness Awareness School, our graduates are taking the skills acquired in the Tracking Intensive and using them in the world. This practice exemplifies the success of meaningful nature connection — bettering individual lives and helping create participatory, place-based communities and a healthy land.

There are still spaces open in this year’s Tracking Intensive.  Follow the link for more details and to register –

The Medicine Wheel Model of Learning

I was first introduced to the concept of the Medicine Wheel in 2011 when attending the Anake Outdoor School. It was used as a model to show the Natural Learning Cycle of humans. It was explained to me in many different layers that made a lot of sense. And after being steeped in it for 9 months I found it worked incredibly well. It can be used to teach and track your student’s’ progress as well as a way to organize a team of facilitators. The Medicine Wheel is organized with the 8 directions of a compass East, SE, S, SW, W, NW, N, NE with each direction representing a core area of the curriculum, human traits, tasks to accomplish and more. Over the course of the next 8 weeks I will be focusing on 1 direction or shield and diving deeper into what it represents, how it shows up in students and how it can organize your teaching team or group of facilitators, but for now I will give you the big picture overview.

For now we will explain the Medicine Wheel as it relates to time of day and time of year. We will start with the Cardinal directions and then Ordinal directions.

Let’s start in the East, why, because that’s where the sun rises when we start our day. Yes, I know the sun does not always rise directly in the East, depending on time of year and where you are located on the globe. We will be speaking from the perspective of the Northern Hemisphere and in generalities. East also represents the springtime and new beginnings of plants and life.

South- Represents mid-day, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky the sun resides directly in the South. It also represents the summer time and the solstice, the longest day of the year. It seems that we are all most active during this time of year.

West- Represents the end of the day, the time and place where the sun sets. The time of day when family’s gather around the dinner table and time of year when people gather for the Fall harvest

North-Represents the evening and Winter. The time of year when nights are longer than the day. The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. The time of stillness and Solitude.

As you can imagine the ordinals are the transitions between each direction. We will dive into those later in this series.

Hopefully this give you an understanding of the natural cycle and flow of things which, in our upcoming series, we will overlay how this relates to our curriculum, how you can apply it to your teaching style, organize your teaching team, and the 8 indicators that show up in your students when this is working.

Also, check out what adventures might be in store for you when spending a year connecting with nature at the Anake Outdoor School

David and Bunny4lighter

Looking Ahead After Anake

Looking Ahead After Anake

by David Wolbrecht

And now, it is over. My time as an Anake Outdoor School student has come to a close. Wow.Similar to my my classmate, Rachel, I find that the story of my time these past nine months is one longer than I can tell. Full as it was with learning, failing, growing, laughing, and crying, this chapter of my life is one that I will cherish deeply and reflect upon often. For now, though, I find myself eagerly looking ahead at the various ways in which the threads of my life are weaving together to create the rich and supple fabric of my time here on Earth. I’d like to share a few of those threads.

I’ll be continuing my naturalist studies by enrolling in the Kamana Naturalist Training Program. During Anake, I eagerly deepened my knowledge and connection to the nonhuman world by fully accomplishing the Anake Naturalist Certification, an optional level of completion for the program based on fulfilling a set of journals, essays, and other written assignments. I find myself drawn to a book-learning style of study as an accompaniment to my experiential naturalist journey, and Kamana is as good as it gets. My goal at this time is to complete the entirety of Kamana, which I’ve since learned is fairly uncommon. Time will tell whether I reach that goal.

Cyber TrackerOn a similar vein, I’m eager to continue my learning journey as a tracker. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’ve become enraptured by the stories of the landscape, specifically as expressed through the evidence of nonhumans moving and living in and around our human communities. I took the Cybertracker Evaluation last month and received a score of 89 – one point shy of Level III certification. Although realizing it was a lofty goal, I’d been aiming at a Level III score. Ultimately I’m very pleased with my performance and learned a ridiculous amount about track and sign in the process. Nonetheless, I’m planning on getting out there to track, journaling what I find, and taking the Cybertracker Evaluation again in a year, and my goal at this time is to reach the level of Specialist (the next step up from Level III, requiring a perfect score on an especially hard, special test).

I’m currently working as a summer camp instructor and director for Wilderness Awareness School for my second year in a row. In many ways, working for WAS Summer Camps is the fourth and final quarter of Anake, as I’m employing the Coyote Mentoring style of nature connection to my time with 6-12 year olds. Tiring at times, yet overall deeply fulfilling, it’s incredibly fun to apply so much of my experience, knowledge, and skills gained in Anake in a direct way that inspires and excites young humans. I’m planning to further my development as a mentor by being an Anake Apprentice next year through the Anake Leadership Program, and I’m excited to be of service to this transformative experience.

IMG_1426Yes, this is a time of endings. Yet, as with all endings in life, I’m stepping into a new chapter that’s full of beginnings. At times in my life, I’ve resisted new beginnings because of the unknown, but I trust myself enough now to proceed with courage to confidently face whatever life throws my way. Besides, like the fledgling kinglet in the hands of my colleague, Chris Smith, and the baby cottontail in my own, beginnings are just so fuzzy and cute. I’m unsure where these new trails will take me and what tales I’ll tell when I’m done, but I find myself exhilarated, nervous, and inspired by the open skies and fields ahead of me.

Come and see what adventures might be in store for you when spending a year connecting with nature at the Anake Outdoor School