By Josh Lake
It was a canoe trip in Algonquin Park, Ontario. We found an isolated island, set our camp and watched as the sun sank into a lake that made it seem as if there were two sunsets. When the stars appeared, we swam in their reflection. It was a magical evening.
We ate dinner, built a campfire and were confident that we had inhabited the island. Only then did the wild night ring out: “AAAAAAWWOOOOOO.”
The hair on my neck stood up. “AAAAAWWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOO.” I reached for my Swiss Army knife in defense.
It was the first time I had heard a wild wolf howl. I was scared; I knew that those wolves were going to attack; they were telling us to be afraid. Their noise meant to warn us. “AAAAWWWWOOOOOOOOO.”
There was nothing to do but listen.
As I listened I realized my Swiss Army knife was little defense against the 20+ wolves howling. I put it away and was able to hear more clearly for it. They were not saying, “We are going to eat you, you relatives of little Red Riding Hood.” Instead it was clear that they were welcoming us. “This is wilderness, come and learn,” the wolves seemed to say. “Interesting seeing you here. Leave your preconceptions in the city, you are in our home and we welcome you.”
I returned home, changed by this experience and what it had taught me. I knew I had to help others hear what the wolves, and their wilderness, had to say.
What can you do to hear the call of the wild?
Josh Lake is a wilderness advocate and educator living in Portland, Oregon.
This piece was created in partnership with the Foundation for Jewish Camp, whose mission is to help Jewish camps achieve their mission: to create transformative summer experiences – and the Jewish future.