Copper River Record June 14, 2018
WISE is wasting no time in starting summer adventures! We spent the first beautiful week of June with our brand new Outdoor and Wilderness Leadership Skills program (OWLS) backpacking for four days in the Wrangell – St Elias National Park and Preserve, learning valuable skills about leadership and traveling in the backcountry.
Even with the sporadic rain and hail storms blowing through, our team couldn’t be distracted from the many lessons and activities we had planned for them. Everything from knot tying, to risk management, to creating a healthy meal plan was covered and practiced in just four days. Need to find your way with a map and compass? Ask an OWL! Don’t remember all seven principles to Leave No Trace and responsible backcountry travel ethics? They have the answers at the tips of their fingers, just ask them!
While the focus of the OWLS program is certainly about gaining skills, we also fit in plenty of fun! We went on a beautiful day hike singing Disney classics, spent countless hours solving riddles, played fun games, and everyone showed off their dancing skills learning the boot dance! Anyone who’s ever gone on a backcountry trip knows that when the weather turns sour, knowing how to have fun and entertain your group can be the best skill you have, and these kids got it!
With part one of the OWLS program complete, our students now move on to the Independent Learning portion of the program. Students will job shadow professionals in fields they are interested in around the Copper River Basin, they will lead their own mini-expeditions, and they will be assistants on WISE programs taking on responsibility as leaders. After continued practice and mastery of their skills, they will plan and lead their Final Expedition to receive their final grade and .5 credit for the program in August.
We are so excited to continue the rest of the summer with this impressive cohort and see what they do next!
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.