Summer 2009 News
GROWING CHILDREN by Thomas Burek
Trailside Discovery celebrated another banner summer this year, with over 2400 children participating in Trailside’s summer programs. We experienced an increase of 200 campers compared to last year, and added a new program at Kincaid Park.
The youth participating were able to make a direct connection to the outdoors and developed an appreciation for and understanding of urban and wild Alaskan environments. Student competencies were developed through an abundance of hands on educational activities and learning strategies that encompass experiential education, storytelling, songs, and skits.
New class offerings for 2009 included “Aqua Mania”, “Furry Friends” and “Birds, Bugs & Sea Creatures”. We focused on conservation education with “Planeteers”, and “Plasma, Prisms & Photons,” which taught the importance of recycling, alternative energy, and how to use resources in a conservative manner. Campers learned personal living skills to positively impact and challenge their role in sustainable conservation lifestyles.
The TDC camp at Spring Creek Farm in Palmer continues to grow steadily. Enrollment grew by 25%. Campers took water samples from the Little Susitna River, analyzed soil samples in a deciduous forest, and learned about glaciation in the Matanuska Valley. We also collaborated with the Spring Creek Farm Graduate program by offering “Farm Adventure” classes, which introduced campers to sustainable farming practices and healthy living lifestyles. We are looking to expand the program next summer by adding a wider variety of classes and additional weeks of camp.
Our new program at Kincaid Park was well received and many parent raved about the new location and program offerings. The Cook Inlet and Kincaid sand dunes provided for many a fun day exploring tidal communities and sand dune eco systems. The camp was filled and had a long wait list. We are looking forward to expanding this program next summer by adding additional weeks as well as increasing the variety of classes.
In addition to the day camp, Trailside also offered the “Alaskan Quest & Adventure” camping program. Staff guided campers into wilderness environments for overnight camping opportunities, which include hiking into Denali State Park, mountain biking in Johnson Pass, climbing on Boy Scout Rock, canoeing the Nancy lake Canoe system, and kayaking in Homer. Using “Leave no Trace” principles, campers learn techniques to minimize their impact on Alaska’s great outdoors.
The “Invest in youth” (IIY) scholarship program provided full or partial scholarships to over 90 children, who otherwise would not of been able to attend camp due to financial barriers. A heartfelt thank you goes to our new Invest in Youth partner: The Migrant Education (MEP) program funded by Anchorage School District. We also received a generous grant of $5,000 on behalf of Adam Gibbons.
This summer was a re-accreditation year, and American Camp Association field visitors reviewed the Campbell Creeks Science Center, Spring Creek Farm and Kincaid Park sites, programs and procedures. We scored 100% on every standard! This process ensures that we are providing the highest level of quality programming at all three sites. As the leading authority in camp programming the ACA works to preserve, promote and improve the camp experience The Association is committed to helping its members and all camps provide:
· Camp communities committed to a safe, nurturing environment
· Caring, competent adult role models.
· Healthy, developmentally appropriate experiences.
· Service to the community and the natural world
· Opportunities for leadership and personal growth
· Discovery, experiential education, and learning opportunities
· Excellence and continuous self-improvement.
BIG THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS:
We would like to hand out a huge thank you to REI for providing grant funding support for our Day and Overnight camping programs. Through this funding, children will be able to experience the wonders of outdoor adventure through a variety of day camp and overnight programs amidst the wilderness of south central Alaska. REI funding will also assist in the purchase recreation equipment and educational supplies for Trailside Discovery’s Alaska Quest Adventure Trips program, Kincaid Park program, and Spring Creek Farm programs.
ADDITIONAL SPONSORS: Adam Gibbons, Alaska Conservation Foundation, Alaska Mountaineering & Hiking, the Alaska Rail Road, Alaska Pacific University (Spring Creek Farm), Anchorage School District, AT&T Alascom, Campbell Creek Science Center, CIRI, First National Bank of Alaska, Kaladi Brothers Coffee, Polaris K-12 School, Skinny Raven Sports.
For providing housing to the Trailside staff this summer!
See You next Summer !!!!!