Trailside Discovery Camp Background

The mission of Trailside Discovery Camp, a kid’s summer camp and outdoor program based in Anchorage, AK, is to provide a broad range of outdoor environmental education experiences for students of all ages and from all economic, social, and cultural backgrounds.

Trailside Discovery Camp operates in a permitted area of the Chugach National Forest. Established in 1982, Trailside Discovery summer kid’s camp started in Anchorage, AK as a small summer camp serving 50 children out of facilities based at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage. In 1997, Trailside Discovery Camp commenced Winter Camp programming in December and March to coincide with the respective winter break and spring break schedules of the local school district. Thirty years after our inception, more than 40,000 children (ages 4 -16) slogged through bogs, explored forests, treaded gently across trails, and learned about nature while being immersed in it as they attended Trailside Discovery Summer Camps. We held programs during the summer of 2015 at the Campbell Creek Science Center & Eagle River Nature Center, Spring Creek Farm in Palmer. We also had staff work with the Anchorage Boys & Girls Clubhouse.

Trailside Discovery kids camp offers participants a challenging, fun, and unique program based on the philosophy that the natural environment is an ideal site for community-based learning. The Trailside Discovery experience provides children with nature-based opportunities and assists youth in developing attributes that will later enable them to work alongside others in a non-adversarial and mutually beneficial fashion.

Trailside Discovery’s kid’s camp success stems from our ability to create an atmosphere conducive to expanding interest, appreciation, and knowledge of the natural environment. Programs emphasize natural science & history, outdoor skills, and leadership development.

Furthermore, campers learn first-hand about stewardship while attending camp. Service projects comprise a key component of each camp program – in the past ten years campers and staff have completed more than 10,000 service hours while assisting community projects at the Campbell Creek Science Center alone!

Trailside campers have demonstrated that youth enjoy making a positive impact in their world, so they spend a short part of each week-long session planting trees, engaging in trail maintenance, removing invasive plants, working on stream bed erosion projects or the like. Even the youngest campers (ages 4-5) participate in environmental stewardship by watering the grounds and picking up litter. The result of these community projects coupled with our extraordinary experiential education programs equates in youth who not only become invested in caring for the land, but who are now able to make informed decisions regarding how to use natural resources wisely.

For more information please contact Tom Burek at or call (907)-274-KIDS.