This educational and experiential initiative bring kids, families, and communities from diverse backgrounds together in an expansive neighboring environment so near that it could be considered their back yard. Yet for many, this program provides them with their first taste of what exists so close, yet so far away. The Chugach National Forest is just the classroom they need to set them on a path to understanding the values of service, the satisfaction of nature’s beauty, and the impact of human progress on our treasured open spaces. As most of our Wild Tribute squad knows first-hand, there’s probably no better way to do so than with an immersive “Alaska Experience”.
We’ve been fortunate over the years to have sunk our teeth into the beauty that Alaska has to offer. We’ve got team members that have covered the territory extensively, and we’re very proud to partner with Alaska Geographic as well as the U.S. Forest Service in the Chugach National Forest to help bring the same appreciation of this amazing state to the very people that it would serve best. To take part in an initiative like this, one that brings kids outside, one that could present them with a desire to pursue a possible career path in the outdoors or even begin a lifetime of experiences, is one that we could not pass up.
These young adventurers are guided away from civilization by adults who act not only as stewards of the children, but more importantly as teachers and influencers that guide them through new mental and physical environments. They’re also accompanied by a group of peers that they set out with as strangers and will return as lifelong friends. The positive side effects of team building in this type of setting lead to better communication skills, uncovering hidden leadership qualities, and building trust with your peers. Not only are they pushed gently into new situations like learning how to fly fish for salmon (and learn to smoke them, too) or the proper way to paddle a canoe, but also into new states of being that involve mindful exercises like seaside morning yoga sessions and nightly journal entries. Hands-on projects involve a multitude of meaningful tasks, from habitat restoration on Prince William Sound and building established campsites at the seashore, to constructing crib steps on a path along the Carter Lake Trail and collecting trash in the Copper River Delta. Each child brings home with them a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with purposeful achievement. They also bring home a sense of self that is fortified by the fostering of relationships that would not be a part of their homebound lives; bonds that will take them beyond childhood and into what they create of themselves in the future.
The Chugach National Forest is a vast and inspiring mix of rainforest, mountains, glaciers, and wild coastline that is accessible by almost half of Alaska’s population. Through no fault of their own, not everyone gets the opportunity to appreciate and understand why this region is a destination for adventure travelers from around the world. The Chugach Children’s Forest brings Alaskan youth, some that have never ventured outside of their local communities, the chance to overcome the barriers that have kept them from understanding what exists right outside their front door. They get to participate in healthy outdoor activities and learn about outdoor oriented education and careers. They’re also shown the values of civic participation and expanded public land stewardship; to learn about the impact of human progress on their environment, and the need to identify and apply local solutions.
Led by Alaska Geographic and the U.S. Forest Service, the Chugach Children’s Forest is an inspirational inclusive effort that works in partnership with Alaska’s communities, educators, non-profits, and public lands. For us to have a hand in this educational youth-oriented initiative is truly an honor, and maybe a bit selfish. Our Wild Tribute mission is always on the lookout for like-minded talent, and what better way to cultivate that than by going directly to the source!
The Chugach Children’s Forest introduces diverse, young Alaskans to their wild backyard. Despite the abundance of wild places in Alaska, many Alaskan youth have never ventured outside their local communities to explore Alaska’s vast expanse of public lands. The Chugach Children’s Forest empowers and enables Alaska youth to explore these wild places that are so close, yet so far.