This summer I experienced an amazing adventure deemed "Alaska camps". I spent eight weeks traveling to three different summer camps in Alaska being a camp counselor and a lifeguard. We visited Camp Tukaskoya (Palmer/Anchorage), Camp Polaris (Dillingham), and Camp Lorraine (Wrangell). I made amazing friends, saw some great wild life, and grew a different perspective of Christ. I want to share with you a few special memories and pictures that stand out to me from the trip but most of all I want to tell you TRAVEL; GO SEE ALASKA for yourself!
One of my favorite memories of Alaska is my 2 bear encounters- every tourists' dream come true. We were prepped upon going to camp Polaris that there were dangerous grizzly bears and that we were to carry whistles at all times. If we blew the whistle continuously it meant there was a bear and the camp ranger would go get out his gun. Well it was only a couple days in when I heard the whistle and everyone came running only to hear the bear was pretty far across the camp. We took some picture shots and then got in the canoes to go for a little bear hunt. We stayed a very long distance from the shore but were trying to make sure the bear was not getting close to the camp where the kids were. We continued to see the bear a few more times at night and had to stay inside but we fortunately did not have any serious bear trouble.
One of my jobs at camp was to be a skiing and wakeboarding instructor. Something we do at this camp to help kids learn to wakeboard or ski is to start them on a tube. So imagine with me that here I am sitting on a double tube holding onto a rope and then a camper jumps on with me onto the tube and my job is to show them correct starting technique and help push them into the water when they are ready. There is nothing so beautiful as seeing a little kid learn for the first time and ski out from the tube for me to be spun in circles left in the middle of the lake for 5 maybe 10 minutes as they continue their ride. As I sit on my tune in the middle of a beautiful large lake I see mountains that are tipped in snow and I see beautiful clouds in the horizon. The mountains dude they are awesome! Alaska is a crazy beautiful part of God's handiwork that really declare His glory.
At every camp our cabins would rotate activities including fishing, canoeing, hiking, tubing, and sometimes even showering our the great well known Mkay-eh. The Mkay-eh is what some natives use in smaller villages and it is basically a sweat house. You start a fire and then pour water on the rocks, sweat, soap up, and then bucket rinse off and declare yourself clean. Showering in the small Mkay-eh is a one of a kind Alaskan experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Hey the other option was a Polar dip into the freezing cold lake early in the morning. It would definitely wake you up, but it was NOT my preferred temperature.
At many of the camps we had Alaskan natives and non- Christians. This was cool because we got to rewind back to basics and share with them who Jesus was. Every morning and night we would have worship and frequently they would be outside with views of mountains, lakes, or oceans listening to the sound of loons over the water.
This picture above brings back lots of memories as it is deemed Jackknife Mountain. It is accessible easily by our camp but other fisherman or visitors sometimes visit just to climb it. It is a tough climb- especially for the girl who climbed it in old tennis shoes. There is a huge area that is covered in shell or rock which most hikers either love or hate. First most of the staff got a preview/ practice climb the Sabbath before the campers came. Then during camp the show called "Let's survive the mountain" started where our goal was to get as many campers to the top of the mountain and down without injuries. We had staff running back and forth, three radios, lots of sweat, songs, fun, water, and child motivational speeches. In the end about 15 kids (out of 40) made it all the way to the top and conquered the mountain.