Wild About Nature
Part mystic, part mountain man and whole warm human being, Corcoran’s vision of learning about the wilderness is much more than how to make a fire and collecting edibles. Students learn all that and more, but Corcoran wants people to go away changed about how they feel about the natural world.
“I want people to take back with them a personal connection with nature,” says Corcoran, 58. “Not just appreciation, but a deep personal connection.”
With a gray beard, white mane and engaging smile, Corcoran presides over a school that offers a vast variety of nature and wilderness classes from beginner to advanced, including a Winter Class, Boys’ Rite of Passage, Nature Awareness, Wilderness Skills, Earth Philosophy, Bow Making, Edible Useful Plants, Plant Medicine and Vision Quests. Special classes can be arranged. Many Waldorf, charter and public schools hold private classes at Headwaters. Classes range from a single day to week-long intensive experiences. Corcoran employs teachers, mentors and apprentices that mirror his love of nature. Corcoran is also the author of the autobiographical “Growing up with a Soul Full of Nature” and a nature photography art book.
The founding of Headwaters, of course, was no casual endeavor. Starting the school 23 years ago was life changing for Corcoran, but not unexpected, as Corcoran “always thought about nature since I was a little boy” and had previously run a very small wilderness school in another area.
“We went to look at the land near Hammond Ranch. I had previously nurtured an injured red tail hawk that lived to be 44 years old, the world record,” Corcoran says. “I walked down to a creek on the land and a red tail hawk feather floated down. It was a sign. I turned to the real estate salesman and said, ‘I’ll take it.’” But it didn’t stop there.
“I sat out on the land and got a message from the land that I should be the land’s caretaker and all things upon it, and bring people to it,” Corcoran says. “That night, my co-founder and I had the same dream, that we should start an outdoors school to teach people about nature and call it Headwaters. That’s how it was born.”
If a person took the right combination of Headwaters classes, he or she could live self-sustained in the woods, he says. He “loves all the classes,” but there is one that is special.
“Nature Awareness is the most meaningful,” Corcoran says. “I love teaching people about nature. That’s what it’s all about.”
Corcoran says that people can come away from their Headwaters experience profoundly changed. “They get out in nature more often, are willing to defend nature, are more self reliant and get involved in making the world a better place,” Corcoran says. •
Headwaters Outdoor School PO Box 1210, Mount Shasta (530)-938-1304 www.hwos.com