Red Fox

Welcome to the new Wilderness Awareness School Blog!

Maybe it’s the sun rising over the Cascade Mountains. Or the splash of a crimson salmon churning up-river. Perhaps it’s the silly squeak of that Douglas squirrel above your head, or the delighted squeal of your child playing in the snow.

We all have favorite stories of the awe-inspiring things we experience in nature. We’ve heard a four-year-old recount with delight the journey of a banana slug in the woods, and an adult marvel at the call of a rare bird. These stories help us remember that we are part of the natural world. They remind us that a connection to the earth is a vital part of life.

A four-year-old at our Roots and Wings program enjoys a morning at class.

We are a school community that thrives on stories – favorite memories passed down from instructor to student, family stories that illuminate our ancestry, and stories from our nature programs that make us smile and end the day better than we started. It’s these stories that we hope to share on this blog. We’ll span the depth of our courses, offering readers the vibrant smile of a six-year-old and the triumphant yell of an adult who made fire by friction. We hope to capture those moments when nature profoundly touches us, perhaps through the call of a pileated woodpecker, or the fresh tracks of a coyote.

Each person has the right to a deep connection with the natural world, but unfortunately that reality often is stifled in our daily lives. Our routines are chalk-full of rush-hour traffic, indoor meetings and barely enough time to spend with loved ones. Where do we find time to enjoy the outdoors?

Wilderness Awareness School instructors and staff are passionate about bringing that vital connection to nature into the lives of more people, young and old alike. As we mentor children and adults in outdoor play and experiential learning, amazing things happen – people discover hidden passions, uncover skills and feel an aliveness they didn’t know existed.

Anake Outdoor School student Karen Hust gathers sword ferns during a shelter-building class day.

We will share stories and bright moments from our youth and adult programs, insights from staff specialists and instructors, previews and reflections of our events in the community, voices of our students, and exciting new course offerings. We’ll also throw in the occasional “nature mystery”, because we’re geeky like that.

We hope these stories inspire you to seek a deeper connection with nature, wherever it is you call home. If you have insights, suggestions, stories from your backyard, or a burning question, get in touch!

We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to email our various authors, or you can contact our Chief Storyteller John Chilkotowsky at

John Chilkotowsky

About John Chilkotowsky

John is the Chief Storyteller for Wilderness Awareness School. He is a graduate of the Kamana Naturalist Training Program. See our Staff Biographies page to learn more about John.


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