A nature discovery camp will soon close the lottery for its summer season. Salmon Camp starts in June and provides week-long sessions for kids in kindergarten through 8th grade. Kari Eschenbacher is the director of Salmon Camp and says the staff at the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge tries to help children connect with the nature around them.
“So, we start with an activity where that gets them excited and kind of moving around and then an activity where we’re trying to kind of hone in and try to pay attention to nature, and we’ll focus on sensory, so maybe something just using our eyes or just using our ears, and then we try to have a direct connection with nature, and so that means we’re bonding with nature in some sort of activity.”
Education Coordinator, Shelly Lawson, says they create a different theme every year.
“And this year our theme is actually a curriculum that was designed by Kari, and it’s natural cycles of the earth, and so each day we’re going to focus on a different natural cycle, like maybe salmon life cycle or the cycle of the moon and the tide.”
So, Salmon Camp isn’t all about salmon. Lawson says a former Fish and Wildlife employee, Diana Brooks, founded the camp twenty years ago.
“She came up with a name and I think salmon’s just such an important part of Kodiak. We always learn about salmon and the life cycle of salmon. We do lessons on salmon, but we bring in everything else about bears and bear safety, about tide pooling, all different aspects. Alutiiq culture. So, salmon is just one aspect of camp.”
The lottery opened in January, and Lawson says that seems to be the fairest way of signing up.
“They used to do one-day registration. You showed up and you register. All the camps would fill up within a couple of hours. And so if somebody had to work that day, they wouldn’t even be able to sign up for camp. And then other people that were maybe working would give their friends their registration forms to bring in for them, and then the person that’s standing in line behind a parent that’s got 12 applications and some of them don’t even belong to them, is upset when it fills up.”
Lawson says staff draws names, the first 18 children get spots and they put the ones that follow on the waitlist in order of drawing. And there’s a good chance kids can get off the waitlist as summer approaches and other applicants’ plans move around.
The lottery period for Salmon Camp closes on March 26. You can find the registration information on the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge website.