After School Programs, Featured

Summer Programs 2022


Join us for 12 weeks of Alaskan Summer Outdoor Science Programs

Offering week-long sessions, Monday – Friday, from May 23 – August 12, 2022

Four age groups: Wolf Pups (ages 5-6), Young Outdoor Explorers (ages 7-9), Jr. Youth (ages 10-13), and The Alaska Youth Outdoor Science Leadership Program (ages 14-18).

Two Locations: Kincaid Park and The Hillside Trails


Borealis Bike Club: More info coming soon!

Early Registration Bonus! Prices increase January 15, 2022.

Scroll down for all the info that fits and to find your program (programs divided by age and location) or, click here to go to the main booking page.

Our Summer 2022 Outdoor Science Programs


Summer Outdoor Science Programs 2022: All the Info that fits

How to Book a Program

HOW TO BOOK A PROGRAM: Click here to go to our booking page

  1. Please be sure you have the correct age group, dates, and location that you need, and click “more info” next to the program. Please also make sure you understand our cancellation policies before you register. You can read our cancellation policies here. 
  2. Please review the program page and make sure this is the one you need. When you are ready, click the red “register” button. (The button with the price above it says “semester” – our summer programs are run as week-long units, but the software label is semester because our summer programs span the summer semester.)
  3. Next, select the child(ren) that will be attending. If you already have an account, you can log in and your information will auto-fill. If not, you can “add new” child(ren). 
  4. Now select your payment plan – you may pay in full, or select installments. We offer 3 installment options, with an initial non-refundable 25% deposit, in the three months leading up to your program’s start date to help spread out the cost in more manageable segments. 
  5. Select any add-ons you may want. We offer Early drop off, t-shirts, hoodies, hats and other swag.
  6. Next, click “add to cart”. You can then “continue shopping”, or you can select the shopping cart icon to check out.  

Summer 2022 Weekly Curriculum Themes & Learning Goals

Presenting our Tentative Weekly Themes for Summer 2022 Programs

  • Independent problem-solving
  • Teamwork
  • Decision making
  • Trail first aid skills
  • Art/Jr. Naturalist art
  • Peer-to-peer teaching and learning & social-emotional learning
  • Wilderness skills 
  • Environmental science topics

Our Youth Outdoor & Environmental Studies Programs emphasize place-based, experiential learning, and our uniquely Alaskan summer outdoor science programs are no exception. Within the context of the summer season and our local wilderness, we help our youth participants build a solid foundation in the field of outdoor and environmental studies. Our programs are designed to foster authentic learning experiences that will not only last a lifetime, but encourage our participants to become actively engaged in conservation, protection, and sustainable use of our wild spaces. 

Scroll down to read our curriculum plan and schedule, or click below to see the PDF

Our programs are growing – now in our third year, we are solidifying our mission to build the next generation of stewards and advocates for a more sustainable and economically viable future for Alaska.

We are planning to offer programs at Kincaid Park and on the Hillside trails to run simultaneously.

We approach each weekly curriculum with two concepts at play: environmental science and outdoor studies skills. In 2022 we are looking at all of our curriculum through the lens of climate change and building a sustainable future for Alaska. We will encourage kids to question common practices and ideas, and to come up with their solutions to some of the most pressing problems that result from climate change. We will use case studies of species failures and success stories from AK and around the world, and teach and practice outdoor science in a manner that is in harmony with our natural world, not in conquest of it.

(The topics below are in draft form, and will be a scaffolded curriculum with learning objectives appropriate for each developmental age group. Youth Outdoor leaders (ages 14+) learn more in-depth detail and outdoor leadership for each type of curriculum.)

Environmental Science TopicOutdoor Studies Topic
Insects, Micro Flora & Fauna. Insects: the food of the future?Planning Cities for the future – how do we adapt and build sustainable lifestyles?
Mycorrhizal Network, Fungi, arboreal relationshipsOrienteering, Map reading, compass, reading terrain. Why are trails important? (leave no trace – case study: the flattop destruction and current restoration)
Layers of the Forest: why are trees important, types of trees in AK, trees around the world.Trail Helpers: first aid skills and techniques. Safe Recreation Concepts: are we there to “conquer” the challenging landscapes of nature, or work in collaboration and harmony with it? What is involved in a trail rescue? Resources Involved.
FISH 1: fish of alaska, special adaptations, fish failures with warming waters, case study: pike, eating fish, fish in history, habitatsShelters, hypothermia, wind, wet – recognizing dangerous situations, prevention of dangerous situations before they start, how to deal with hypothermia with yourself and others.
What’s in the Water? (life in aquatic ecosystems)
Water tables of Anchorage and our local wild<>urban interface
Water Safety Knowledge and Skills: recreation and consumption (filtratrion, purifying etc.)
BIRDS 1: Migratory, non-migratory, adaptation to climate change. One bird species as a case study for climate change. The dying off of Murres in Alaska.Planning an expedition and adapting gear to climate and weather.
geology of AK, compared to rest of world. geology and climate changeHiking, using the trails, leave no trace. recreation – are we using nature for fun, or enjoying sports in harmony with nature?
Large Fauna of Alaska, compared to adaptations of other large fauna of other ecosystems and climates. Case studies: our local Bears, our local Moose.Looking at humans as animals, where do we fit in the earth’s future? How do we ensure our success as a species? Are our common practices of securing food and shelter sustainable?
Ecosystems under pressure: species moving in, species moving out. the classic: specialist, generalist, carnivore, herbivore, omnivore. Our Anthropocene Extinction Event.planning food for day trips, expeditions
Climate change and the arctic: moving forward. What is a circular economy? How do we sustain life in a changing climate?Trails of the world – how do Alaskans enjoy trails? How do other cultures enjoy them? Why is being outdoors part of a healthy lifestyle? How can you be a leader outdoors?
FISH 2: the ocean, jellyfish, warming water. Global species? Case study: HalibutSkin care, foot care – blisters …”pressure wounds”. Take care of your feet!
BIRDS 2: local failures/extinctions and local successes…why? Case studies in contrast: Ravens, Murres, Eagles, Gulls, Swans, Terns.Flying in – amazing fly-in trips in AK and the world and how to get there!
Locations and Age Groups

In the summer of 2022, we are running three age groups simultaneously at both Kincaid Park and on the Hillside Trails. Tentatively, drop off will be at the Jodhpur Trail Head for Kincaid and at the Service HS Field for our Hillside Trails program. Both programs have the same weekly curriculum themes and plan, structure, and learning goals, but are offered at different locations in Anchorage.

Our age groups are:

  • The Little Wolf Pups, ages 5-6
  • The Young Outdoor Explorers, ages 7-9
  • The Jr. Youth Crew, ages 10-13
  • The AK Youth Outdoor Science Leadership Program, ages 14-18

The Little Wolf Pups Program Description

OUR WOLF PUPS’ PROGRAM: A YOUNG CHILD’S SUMMER IN THE WOODS 

  • For ages 5-6, ascending Kindergarten through first grade
  • Max. enrollment: 15
  • Ratio of guides to children: ~1:5; For every 10 Wolf Pups, we have 1 lead guide and 1 apprentice guide. 
  • 12 weeks at both Kincaid Park and on the Hillside Trails

Our Little Wolf Pups outdoor studies programs are focused on building the foundations of outdoor & environmental studies for ages 5-6. For this age group, we will enjoy a 2 hour “story time siesta” to snack, relax, and recharge in the middle of our full day of outdoor adventure. For this age group, we generally let kids follow their own naturally inquisitive natures; in fact, our curriculum for young children is developed specifically around it. We go for short-medium length nature walks in the woods, ‘camp out’, read books, tell stories, and fall into the land of imaginative play to help teach outdoor science foundations for this age group. 

The Young Outdoor Explorers Program Description

OUR YOUNG OUTDOOR EXPLORERS’ PROGRAM: ADVENTURE AND IMAGINATION ABOUND

  • For ages 7-9, ascending second grade through third grade
  • Max. enrollment: 20
  • Ratio of guides to children: ~1:10; For up to 20 Young Outdoor Explorers, we have 1 lead guide with 2-3 apprentice guides. 
  • 12 weeks at both Kincaid Park and on the Hillside Trails

Our Young Outdoor Explorers outdoor studies programs are focused on building the foundations and going into further study and skills practice of outdoor & environmental studies. This age group has a lot of energy and passion for hands-on, group and independent work. Personalities are beginning to blossom and kids rely heavily on social-emotional learning and peer support to solve problems. Because the developmental spread can be so vast in this age group, we have developed a wide array of teaching tools to meet every child where they are and to be able to give them appropriate challenges that build confidence and knowledge. We use a lot of role-playing and imagination, art, games, and challenges to teach this age group. 

Jr. Youth Program Description

OUR JR. YOUTH OUTDOOR SCIENCE PROGRAM: GROWING INDEPENDENCE, TEAMWORK, AND ESTABLISHING LEADERSHIP SKILLS

  • For ages 10-13, ascending fourth grade through sixth grade
  • Max. enrollment: 20
  • Ratio of guides to children: ~1:10; For up to 20 Jr. Youth Outdoor Science group, we have 1 lead guide with 2-3 apprentice guides.
  • 12 weeks at both Kincaid Park and on the Hillside Trails

Our Jr. Youth outdoor studies programs are focused on teaching valuable environmental science concepts and knowledge as well as useful outdoor recreation and safety skills. While the younger groups are building foundations and engaging in more play-based learning activities, we meet our increasingly independent 10-13 year old participants with a more serious learning plan and set of expectations – in both behavior and learning outcome goals. Through a fun and hands-on program, our Jr. Youth spend the day engaging with their peers while applying themselves to learning skills that will keep them safe over a lifetime of being outdoors. Some of the things our Jr. Youth will learn: wilderness first aid skills, knot-tying, backpacking skills, deeper understanding of environmental science knowledge, group leadership and teamwork skills, making ‘go/no-go’ decisions, finding safety and getting help…and much more!  

The Apprentice Guide Program and the Youth Outdoor Leadership Program

THE APPRENTICE GUIDE PROGRAM

We started the apprentice guide program last summer, and it was a huge success! The apprentice guide program essentially creates a ‘circular economy’ of learning and social-emotional growth among our participants. Teens working for us learn leadership skills, gain work experience, and give back by setting examples of excellence for their younger peers, who see them as big brothers and sisters. The value that the teens add to our program is incalculable – it creates a healthy, safe space where kids feel support, love, and the freedom to make mistakes, learn, and grow.

Young participants can aspire to work as a teen apprentice guide, and teen apprentice guides can aspire to return as lead guides when they become adults. It is a circular economy of giving, leading, and enriching the lives of everyone in our community.

Our apprentice guides are local 16-18 year old students going through our Youth Outdoor Science Leadership Program. They work under the instruction of our lead guides to learn outdoor leadership skills, set a great example of nature and trail etiquette for the younger ones, and eventually teach their own lessons and lead activities.

OUR YOUTH OUTDOOR SCIENCE LEADERSHIP PROGRAM

Our Jr. Youth now will have the opportunity to graduate into the Youth Outdoor Science Leadership Program, which is dedicated to helping our local teens share the brightest ideas on building a sustainable future with their peers around the world, and bringing those ideas to the forefront of Alaska’s future development. Our teens will have the opportunity to engage in local hikes, field research, and outdoor leadership training.

The Borealis Bike Club – coming soon!

Our Bike Club programming is currently under its final programming revisions and planning. We plan to offer a bike training and education program in weekly programs over the course of the summer. This club is designed to teach kids how to be safe, respectful riders while out on the trails.

Our bike training and education will include:

  • bike maintenance and repair
  • downhill/enduro
  • cross-country
  • cyclo-cross
  • trail etiquette rules and expectations
  • skills and techniques like: ready position, cornering, turning, jumps, and much more!

Bike Club participants are required to wear appropriate safety gear, and to wear it correctly.

Safety in our Summer Programs

Safety is of utmost importance to us for our young explorers as well as our guides.  We therefore have safety protocols in the event of an emergency or necessary field medicine.  Our lead guides are CPR/ first aid and/or Wilderness First Aid certified at a minimum while some are certified at a higher level of Wilderness First Responder.  All personnel at Into the Woods, LLC have background checks and references.  All guides will carry appropriate radios and communication equipment as well as bear spray.  All guides are trained in and follow wildlife and environmental safety standards.

Gear Lists and What to Pack for the Day

WHAT TO BRING: 

Please click here to view our gear list. Participants must arrive ready to go with appropriate gear for the weather conditions of the day, with adequate food and water. Our gear list covers all recommended gear for all weather types – you don’t need to pack everything, just pack accordingly based on the weather and conditions of the day. 

Basic Logistics & Daily Itinerary

Below are the general logistics for each day. There will be more detailed daily itineraries and curriculum plans available in April/May in the form of handbooks for each program.

The most common questions: When is lunch? When is bathroom break? We eat and drink throughout the day as needed and to avoid dehydration. We liberally encourage snacking whenever – it keeps kids’ spirits high and ready to play all day! We may come back to the trailhead around noon, or we may stay out on the trails, depending on where our curriculum and learning takes us for the day. We encourage bathroom breaks via the outhouse whenever we are at the trailhead. If that is not possible, we teach kids how best to go in the woods, teaching LNT (leave no trace) principles. See our The “Behind the Scenes Handbook: ‘The Fab Four’ & Our Daily Trail Safety Standards.”  for more details!

*Need a Half-Day pick up? We are often out on the trails but can usually meet you somewhere to pick up your kiddo at the half-day. Let us know in advance and we will try our best to help.

“Remind” – communication procedures, why it matters, and the ‘Parent Info Page’

The Parent Info Page

Please make yourself familiar with the “parent info page” on our website. It contains gear lists, parent update forms, the parent portal, and other information that might be helpful. As always, call us at 907.229.9780 or 907.406.5651 if you have any questions! 

“Remind” – where all of our parent<>ITWAK communication takes place.

Remind is an app that we use to ensure efficient and clear communication and transparency between ITWAK program guides, administrators, and our community of families and participants.

Please click here to get the remind codes & links.

In addition to general communication, Remind is important for the following reasons:

  1. Parents & caregivers can issue non-emergency and emergency updates to their program’s admins and guides simultaneously, thus avoiding the game of “telephone” between ITWAK staff. This is specifically useful to us as we are a small team, and often all admins and guides are out on the trails with programs and not everyone has a connection to phone service. With remind, when a parent wants to relay a message to their program, they are ensured it will reach everyone simultaneously and their message will be received.
  2. ITWAK admins and guides can issue non-emergency and emergency updates directly to all participants or specific individuals as needed; parents/caregivers can add as many contacts as they need so that their entire community involved in pick-up/drop-off is included in the communication of changes.
  3. Parents can reach out and check in with the guides that are involved with their children’s program. One thing that is special about our program is that parents can know who is with their kids all day and communicate with them. Remind is a useful too that allows us to continue to build this sense of community as we grow with you.
  4. You can set remind to alert both your email and send a text message simultaneously.
  5. We’ve established different ‘classes’ below so that you can add yourself and your family to the program for which you are enrolled, thus avoiding unnecessary reminders and alerts. Please add the first ‘class’, the INTO THE WOODS ALASKA PROGRAMS, as general reminders or updates will occur through this class.

Our ‘Behind the Scenes’ Handbook

Outdoor science foundations and leadership skills

Each summer outdoor science weekly program includes both environmental science and outdoor studies/wilderness safety topics. In addition to our weekly curriculum theme and topic, every day of the summer includes our morning meeting & “fabulous 4” safety & trail etiquette standards. These practices and concepts are woven into the very thread of how we approach our day, and set up the framework within which we teach our curriculum. We start off our morning meeting with the Fab four, which we continue to practice throughout the day. Click here to read The “Behind the Scenes Handbook: ‘The Fab Four’ & Our Daily Trail Safety Standards.” 

Social Emotional Learning in the woods

There is a lot more to what we do than learning how to tie knots, set up shelters, and name plants and animals. Many people don’t realize that we teach social-emotional learning in nearly equal measure to our outdoor science topics.

Why? The crux of being successful outdoor explorers comes not from what you know, but how well you can lead, work on a team, and use creativity to problem-solve. We tell kids in every program that “your brain is your greatest tool in the outdoors!”

Especially in the last two years, kids have missed out substantially on social-emotional learning. Having time with peers and learning how to work with others, dealing with one’s own emotions in a healthy way is an invaluable life skill. This is why, in 2022, we are hyper-focused on making SEL an even higher priority. In fact, our outdoor studies curriculum will be taught through the lens of social-emotional learning techniques. We have refined our curriculum from last summer even further to create an engaging and fun summer full of friendships and outdoor science learning for our participants.

Why art and theater in the woods?

There will be dedicated art and theater blocks that will be educational tools used to help teach the curriculum for the week. Art is often used by environmental scientists and naturalists when they are in the field and compiling journals based on their observations and recordings. Art is also a great tool for learning and self-expression. Theater, like art, is a tool we use to help kids teach what they’ve learned, imagine and learn new things via “characters” (animals and plants), and “plots” (ecosystems, climate change, geologic activity), and express themselves.

Part of our curriculum each week will now include art and theater blocks throughout the week, with performances and an art show on Fridays.

Houses and House Points

One of the new changes we are making in 2022 is creating “houses” in our programs. From Wolf pups to Jr. Youth, each participant will have the ability to earn points for their “house”, which we then tally up and have an awards ceremony after our performances each Friday.

Covid-19 Precautions, Vaccinations, and Masks

In Summer 2021, we had zero closures due to COVID-19.

The pandemic has been tough for everyone, but it seems to be at a point now where, with reasonable precaution, we can have some measure of stability and engage in creating a ‘new normal’. We are outdoors 100% of the time, and this gives us even more stability and a greater sense of safety.

We know this is a HOT TOPIC in society right now, but it shouldn’t have to be. If you have a strong reaction to our stance, then our program may not be a good fit for you – it is what it is, and we aren’t going to engage in political arguments here, on the trails, or anywhere. We stand with science, our fellow community members, our first responders and health care workers, and quite frankly saving lives. The vaccine and masks together are the greatest tools we have. We have families in our community that are first responders, health care workers, single parents, folks with limited support networks, people living with illnesses that cause them to be immuno-deficient, and many other reasons why we want to do our part to keep our community safe and healthy. Thanks for doing your part.

COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS: We follow the state of AK and CDC guidelines. All of our guides are vaccinated and we will be wearing masks in indoor spaces, and potentially outdoors depending on the level of risk in the community and as recommended by local and national health officials. Due to the rapidly changing nature of this pandemic, we remain in a state of adaptability and will follow whatever the most current scientific guidelines published by the CDC suggest.

Mask Wearing

…doesn’t limit anyone’s freedoms, and does work. Mask wearing at pick up and drop off, if you are unvaccinated, is required.

Generally, unless new guidelines are published, mask wearing in our programs, while we’re out on the trails and playing, will not be required.

We highly recommend both you and your child(ren) get vaccinated

This will help keep our small business afloat through these challenging times, avoid closures, and, most importantly, keep everyone healthy. We are not, at this time, requiring proof of vaccination in order to participate, but we think it is a good idea and would be appreciate if you did.

Vaccination is required for all guides and staff at Into the Woods Alaska

Behavior Requirements and Agreements
  • Participants must arrive ready to go with appropriate gear for the weather conditions of the day, with adequate food and water. Our gear list covers all recommended gear for all weather types – so pack accordingly based on the weather of the day. 
  • We expect all of our participants to be safe, kind, and respectful. Behavior expectations are based on the age group we are working with. 
  • Please thoroughly read our Trip & Camp Policies and Cancellation Policies form before registering for our programs.
  • A big part of what we teach kids is to work on creative problem-solving and developing critical thinking skills in the outdoors setting. We will keep them safe while also allowing them the opportunity to experience working on a problem until they succeed. There are myriad studies on why experiencing and overcoming failure is critical to a child’s developmental growth. This quality is very important in life in general but especially in the outdoors setting. When things go wrong you have to think critically to overcome – there is no giving up! This is a valuable set of skills that can be applied across any situation and age in life. Please support your child by letting them pack their own bag, know what is in it, and take ownership over their learning with us. Most importantly, please allow them the support to experience set-backs, learn, and overcome. 
Special Needs Programming

Unfortunately, we are not equipped or trained to run behavioral or special needs programming. We are not able to provide 1:1 care for participants experiencing special needs or behavioral challenges.

If your child has special needs or behavioral challenges, we respectfully ask that you do not sign up for one of our programs. If we need to devote a lead guide as a 1:1 to a participant, it puts the other kids in the program at a disadvantage, and puts pressure on our group to the point where we often have to change the plan for the day. If this happens, we then need to call home and dedicate a 1:1 guide for the participant until a parent or authorized pick up can come pick up their child. We then evaluate attendance for the remainder of their bookings and refer to our policies in regards to payment and refunds.

Please review our Trip and Camp Policies carefully to make sure that we are a good fit for your family’s needs. From our policies:

  • “For individuals dealing with behavioral, motivational or rehabilitation issues, ITWAK is not an appropriate choice. Participants must be able to meet the physical, mental, social or safety demands of our trips. Guests may be expelled if ITWAK deems their behavior unsafe, disruptive, or distracting from the educational goal of their trip/expedition. Harassment, use of drugs and alcohol, theft or misuse of property, low motivation and disregarding instructions are examples of behavior that will lead to expulsion.
  • If a student/participant is expelled or withdrawn from the program there will be no refund, and the student/participant is responsible for any potential costs incurred from their expulsion/withdrawal.
  • Other considerations. Does your child have any special needs? Please keep in mind that we are not trained as special needs educators, and while we can accommodate many different learning styles, we are not well equipped for children that need a 1:1 guidance, as our ratios are between 5:1 to 10:1. If your child runs away, shuts down or has aggressive or violent reactions to over-stimulation, is non-verbal, has difficulty differentiating safe situations/actions from unsafe ones, and/or has trouble adhering to safety instructions from teachers/counselors, we are not the best-suited program for your child.”

There are programs in town, like The Stone Soup Group, who are trained and specialized in helping guide youth with special needs and behavioral challenges, and we recommend reaching out there to get started.

Operating Calendar

OPERATING CALENDAR: Our 2022 summer outdoor science programs run from May 23 to August 12. Please refer to the ‘Calendar & Update/Hotline’ page for daily schedules and a more detailed operating calendar.  

RESILIENCE

Our word of 2022 is Resiliency. We all have had to be resilient for the last (nearly) two years, and we will have to be resilient for the future we face – a future of unknowns due to climate change. Our programs are designed to teach youth the value of resiliency; we meet each youth at their level as they learn new skills and ideas, building resiliency along the way. With resilience, children today will be able to deal with and meet the pressing challenges that we face tomorrow.

OUR PLANET IN PERIL

Our planet is in peril – this we see more and more every day, on many levels of society and across our daily lives. From natural disasters such as floods and wildfires, to high summer temperatures, to entire ecosystem changes, to social inequalities made greater by climate change issues, to our current Anthropocene mass extinction event: our world is changing. Our youth need to be ready to be engaged and to build a more sustainable, harmonious future between humans and our planet’s natural resources. We believe that having a foundationally positive relationship with our natural world is the key to youth understanding the importance of protecting it in the future. It all starts with having a chance to grow up in the woods.


Youth in the Woods, through the seasons –>>