Founding the Coyote Club

Sometimes the impact of what we learn and do in life is like a rock thrown into a small pond: a big splash before the water settles. Other times, it’s like a tsunami: a foundational shift that spawns a quiet wave swelling slowly on the horizon, which grows as it progresses. Nature Instructor Training was that foundational shift for me, and the wave of impact continues to grow.

The wave started with The Coyote Club, a monthly nature connection program I founded through the YMCAs of Quebec, Canada. The Coyote Club meets once a month in the forests of a native Mohawk reserve to take a diverse group of 7 to 13 year-olds into the woods to play, connect, and be mentored to grow in incredible ways.

The kids tapped maple trees and tasted their life force while hearing ancient lessons and meanings of the experience from a local clan mother. Rains were coming and one participant was inspired to build a shelter before they landed. Soon enough, we had an amazing shelter out of sticks, conifer fronds, and leaves that kept us dry as we sang ‘Let your little light shine’. We ended that day, as we did every day, with a Sit Spot, pondering the changing season and considering how we want to approach the one that is coming.

Response to The Coyote Club has been very positive, but slow and relatively quiet. It’s hard for parents, participants, and even myself to understand the magic going on. It often hits me, after days like last months’ Coyote Club. What are we really doing? What have I started here? The experience is working on so many levels, I feel humbled by the depth and layers of connection and growth that we facilitate.

A great mystery has been opened up to me on my journey to learn about our wild roots. This isn’t just about making cool bows, tanning hides, and tracking animals. Thanks to my time in the Nature Instructor Training program at Wilderness Awareness School, I have a map to explore and appreciate the scope of this mystery, and a framework to engage people in something that nourishes their human potential in such a powerful way. Participants in my programs are growing inner-peace, knowing, and strength. Through the skills of collaboration, feedback, and deep nature connection, there are patterns growing in my communities that nurture a hopeful, resilient, and expansive blossoming of our collective human potential. That’s big, eh?

This summer, I am coordinating my first one-week sleep-away camp for kids. We have 40 kids signed up to immerse themselves in forest adventures and skills, and I’m getting ready to train the staff. I can’t say that I’m not a bit anxious, but thanks to my time at WAS and my continued relationships with my mentors and community, I know that I am up to the task. Yet again: Thank you WAS!