By Neal Ritter
Fifteen years ago today five students came out to the first day of a new program called the Laughing Coyote Project. Five families trusted two idealists to share some aspect of nature connection with their children. That first day is etched in my memory. We explored the farm that we used for programs (that was our home for 8 years). We scouted. We played Firekeeper to close out the day (which we also played at the end of our Teen Homeschool Program today).
So much was different those first couple of years. We weren’t sure what it was we were striving to share, we had never heard the term “primitive skills” before, only working with survival skills. We played lots of games. Some of them we still play to this day. We did some gardening, construction, building our trusty Composting Toilet of Glory. We did art projects and looked at field guides.
Over time, listening to the dreams and wishes of our students, we pursued our own learning. We took classes in basketry and bowmaking locally in Colorado. We attending our first gathering, and the door opened up. We discovered the wider community of primitive skills gatherings, and passionate and skilled practitioners from around the country and world.
Beyond our first five students, we added other programs, then summer camps, and adult workshops. We invited guest instructors to share flintknapping, bowmaking and animal processing. We started hosting wildlife tracking workshops.
Much is still the same. Each day we wake up striving to learn more and push the boundaries further. We experiment with new programs and ideas, and endeavor to lead students ever deeper down the path.
We continue to focus on growing, learning and evolving, never staying stuck in one idea or method. We stumble, get burned out, and then jump back in.
Throughout this journey there has been a constant. Incredible students, who leap in with exuberance and a willingness to learn. Supporters from all walks of life, parents, board members, mentors willing to answer a call for help. Instructors who have worked at our programs, working with their own special flair.
Thank you to all who have joined us on this journey. We are excited to see where it goes next.