Call of the Wild 2023
A year long foundation course in outdoor education leadership with WildWise and Embercombe.
With Chris Salisbury from WildWise and team
The programme has been created for those on a personal and/or professional development path. It may be at the point of a career change or after graduating that the need for practical experience and mentoring in the field is required. It may well also be one of those intuitive leaps to find something not readily available in the everyday world.
In professional terms Call of the Wild offers skills-development, mentoring, professional training and precious field time with a variety of client-groups.
Over the duration of the programme we expect students to pick up a broad base of skills and experience, to clarify which areas of outdoor education they have a particular interest and affinity for, and which client-groups they are interested to work with. This becomes the ideal platform from which to pursue a vocation in, for example, forest school, bushcraft, earth education, outdoor pursuits or the more formal environmental education sector. It will also substantially enrich the skills base for teachers and educators in formal education settings. We’ve also seen it fertilise a wide variety of corporate or professional settings via graduates inspired to bring it to their workplace.
In more personal terms the programme aims to align you with your goals, connect you deeply with nature, and offer you tools and experiences that will translate effectively into everyday life.
The programme is geared toward educators, outdoor practitioners, rangers, artists, forest school leaders, play-workers, environmentalists, activists and in more general terms, those who are change-agents, community leaders, people in personal or professional transition and people who long for more fulfillment in their lives and a deeper impact in the world.
This is primarily a hands-on, experiential course and is based on 7 long weekends taking place between March and November from Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon.
Students will also be recommended to complete 5-10 days of fieldwork on WildWise’s calendar of events/courses or with a related nature-connection project. This will be to gain experience with varying client-groups, to be part of a staff team and to expand their teaching expectations.
The programme will introduce deep ecology, earth education, fieldcraft & bushcraft and will include night walks, earth walks, naturalist study, canoe-trips, role-play, ceremony, storytelling and an ‘intuition’ walk. In addition, participants can choose four 1-day courses from a selection of WildWise’s professional training programme to focus and develop their skills further.
There will also be an opportunity to attend short courses from the inspiring programmes run by Embercombe.
NB. Attendance of these will be subject to availability and offered to students of the programme at a 10% discount.
- 6 Core Skills and Development weekends, March – October
- 1 Completion weekend
- 4 WildWise professional training courses
- 5 -10 days fieldwork on WildWise camps and events, or a related external project
- 5 mentoring sessions
- Various assignments and practices associated with developing nature connection and integrated learning
- Online peer group
As part of the Call of the Wild programme you will:
- Learn and/or develop new skills, tools and techniques to become a more effective educator
- Gain experience with a range of client-groups
- Discover more of your gifts, passions and vision
- Move yourself closer to your professional aspirations, and toward your dreams for yourself and the world
- Receive coaching, mentoring and support
- Adopt routines that connect you with nature and can facilitate others connection to nature
- Be introduced to new ideas and new practices
The weekends will focus on building your core skills and knowledge in the following areas: Nature Awareness, Campcraft, Bushcraft, Woodcraft, Sensory Awareness, Naturalist Activity, Creative Interpretation, Storytelling, Nature Games.
- 16-19 April – Orientation
Introduction and induction to Embercombe. Village-building. Natural navigation. Introduction to core routines. Meeting the mentors. Night walk. Assignments and practices.
- 4-7 June – Hands
Bushcraft inc Firecraft & Woodcraft. Birds and birdsong. Night work.
Assignments and practices.
- 23-26 July – Imagination
Creative interpretation. Nature games. Earth Education. Environmental storytelling. Animating nature. Narrative techniques. Storymaking. Nightpaddle. Assignments and practices.
- 10-13 September – Awareness
Sensory awareness. Tracking skills. Wildlife observation. Night activity. Intuition walk. Assignments and practices.
- 8-11 October– Heart
Gaia theory. Deep ecology. Active hope. Grief-tending. Council of all Beings. Overnight solo. Assignments and practices
- 19-22 November – Leadership
Leadership styles and models. Eco constellations. Information and resources for Environmental education.
- 3-6 December – Going Forth
Harvest. Completion. Next steps. Striding Deeper.
N.B. It is a pre-requisite that you are available for every module.
2. Professional Training
Students choose 4 training courses from the 2021 WildWise professional training programme to develop particular areas of interest.
Students work with WildWise staff to gain experience assisting on WildWise courses and camps, choosing between a wide-range of events and client-groups. There is also an option to work with compatible external organisations. A minimum of 5 days is recommended.
5 sessions of one-to-one focused enquiry with one of the programme mentors to support the participant in how they reflect on the course, develop their outdoor literacy, their professional and personal aspirations and clarify next steps.
There is a second year-programme for graduates of Call of the Wild. Graduates of either of these programmes will have the opportunity to apply for a bridging role that helps deliver the 2022 programme. These places are limited and are assessed on application.
Call of the Wild Journey
We are living life in a time of tremendous global change. Many of us are sensing the shifts both without, and within us, and we feel called to change, and called to act. It is clear that the current paradigms of the industrial growth model are both unsustainable and not meeting the needs of its citizens living within the system.
The formal education system is creaking under the strain of the national curriculum and our children are receiving instruction rather than a true education, within a context of reaching goals and targets that fail to address the body/mind/spirit potential within each child, or the deeper cultural need. One of the most effective ways to inspire and enrich ourselves, our communities and each other, is to find our way back to engaging wholeheartedly with the natural world, and seek ways to offer this connection to others.
An extraordinary syllabus is available to anyone open to spending time in nature, and our job as environmental/outdoor educators is to cultivate this ‘nature connection’ in helpful and meaningful ways. Therefore, we invite you to become one of the new generation of change-makers through the year long Call of the Wild programme. The process of developing our capacity to be a mentor for nature connection is a thrilling and soulful adventure that’s full of potential opportunities, challenges and possibilities.
This programme will give you the skills and tools to navigate this journey for yourself and bring your leadership potential into focus, supported by experienced professionals, a community of like-minded and inspired peers, and a deep connection with the natural world itself.
Through the programme you will develop a more grounded and effective approach to mentoring nature-connection, you will deepen your own connection with the natural world itself, and you will also be more connected to yourself and your aspirations. Another profound and far-reaching aspect is the deep bond formed with your peer group, typically 18-24 in number, and who become an increasingly important part of this special journey.
What Past Participants Had To Say:
24-27 March – Orientation – Embercombe
12-15 May – Hands – Moor Barton
16-19 June – Imagination – Modbury
21-24 July – Awareness – Moor Barton
1-4 Sept – Leadership – Newbridge, Dartmoor
6-9 October – Dartington
10-13 Nov – Going Forth – Embercombe
Modules run from 2 pm Friday to 2 pm Monday
Based in Devon, at Embercombe and various locations including Dartmoor
Accommodation is at Embercombe for the first and last module, and camping on location on the WildWise sites in South Devon and Dartmoor. Although there is access to a compost loo and showers, facilities are relatively basic. This way of living, including camping together in the forest and cooking over open fires, is an integral component of the course.
Price includes the cost of all core skills and development weekends, 4 1-day professional training courses, fieldwork, mentoring, accommodation (camping) and most meals.
Facilitators & Contributors
Chris founded and currently directs WildWise, an outdoor education and training organisation in 1999, after many years working as an education officer for Devon Wildlife Trust. With a professional background in the theatre, a qualification in drama-therapy and a career in environmental education he uses every creative means at his disposal to encourage people to enjoy and value the natural world on courses he facilitates in the UK and abroad. He has worked with and been profoundly influenced by Ray Mears, Bill Plotkin, Joanna Macy, Martin Shaw, David Whyte amongst very many others. He the director of the acclaimed ‘Call of the Wild’ Foundation programme at Embercombe, where he also directs the yearlong programme ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ at Embercombe. His book, ‘Wild Nights Out – the magic of exploring the outdoors at night’ was published by Chelsea Green in 2021.
He is also known as a professional storyteller (aka ‘Spindle Wayfarer’), and is the co-founder and Artistic Director for both the Westcountry and Oxford Storytelling Festivals. He is also a theatre ensemble teacher for the International Schools Theatre Association.
Chris is married with 4 children and lives in enchantment on the edge of the Dartington’s forest with his astonishing dog ‘Dexter’…..
Bill Wood has worked as a yoga teacher since 1994, is a qualified psychotherapist, and has mentored activists for the Transition Town movement and, since 2019, on the Call of the Wild programme. Since childhood he has always drunk deeply from his time out in nature, with his favourite tipple these days being long moorland walks with his trusty hound, and remote nights out in his bivi bag.
Max Hope (she/her) was a youth worker for 15 years before becoming a university academic at the University of Hull, where her hunger for changing the system led her to specialise in teaching and research about inclusive education, equalities, freedom, democracy and social justice. She co-founded the Freedom to Learn Project, an international research project which explored whether innovative, radical and alternative ways of educating could improve mainstream schools and reduce social inequality. Through this, she started to encounter wild education, wild pedagogy, rewilding and deep nature connection. Her own personal rewilding adventure began at this point.
Like Max, the main character from the children’s book ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, Max has been on an epic personal adventure into the wild and through this, has become passionate about the concept of rewilding people and places. She is a director of Rewilding Education, a new project that grapples with some of the complex questions about how to make education better for people and planet. She lives in Devon, and in her wild time, Max loves to walk, climb mountains, sit still, listen to the birds and tell stories. For more information, see www.maxhope.co.uk
Toni is an educator, mentor and artist working with questions of deep ecology and ‘a politics of wonder’. As a lecturer, and course leader Toni has taught on the faculty of Schumacher College (Educational Practice, Ecological Facilitation as Leadership, Embodied Eco-literacy); at Embercombe and at Goldsmiths, (Eco Design). As a participatory artist she has worked with Encounters Arts and The Feral Kitchen, also taking ‘The Work That Reconnects’ to activist communities at Occupy London and elsewhere. She is a Trustee at ProcessworkUK and was on the Embercombe Council for 8 years. Toni brings a varied basket of skills and practices from many years of studying, dancing, foraging and ‘living life as inquiry’.
Tony has had a lifelong interest in birds, particularly their songs, and works as the press officer for the RSPB in South West England. He is also a practising artist with an interest in site specific live art, text and performance, particularly in relation to sound and the natural environment. Visit www.tonywhitehead.org(
Avid birdwatcher, mountain walker, canoeist and wild swimmer, Robin spends extended periods of time alone in wilderness areas. He has worked with a large variety of schools and organisations, and currently runs the WildWise Hunger Games programme as well as working with young prisoners for the charity Write to Freedom. In his spare time he runs a smallholding with his young family on Dartmoor, making sausages and milking goats. Robin shares his skills, knowledge and experience with passion and humour
Marcus is a naturalist, educator, and photographer. He has worked in wilderness education, outdoor leadership, and conservation for numerous organizations and communities across North America. He is engaged in telling stories that bring to light and life, the complexity of humans living in the 21st century. Originally from Louisville, KY, USA, Marcus now resides in the Snoqualmie Valley in Washington State, just east of Seattle, in the traditional territory of the Snoqualmie People. He is the Lead Instructor for an internationally renowned environmental leadership immersion program for adults at the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, WA. He is twice-certified as a Track and Sign Specialist through Cybertracker Conservation, an international professional certification system in wildlife tracking, in both the Pacific Northwest and Desert Southwest of North America. He recently qualified as an evaluator with Cybertracker of North America.
Dr. Stephen Harding
Stephan coordinated and lectured on the college’s MSc Holistic Science for nearly two decades, teaching on the core models of the programme, as well as on several short courses at the College. He was born in Venezuela in 1953, and came to England at the age of six.
In 1990 Stephan was one of the founding members of Schumacher College where he worked closely with James Lovelock, with whom he has maintained a long-lasting friendship and scientific collaboration. They were jointly appointed as founding chair holders of the Arne Naess Chair in Global Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo. At Schumacher College Stephan has taught alongside many of the world’s leading ecological thinkers and activists, including Arne Naess, Fritjof Capra, Brian Goodwin, Vandana Shiva, David Abram, James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis.
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