After School Program at Chanshtnu (Westchester)
Let's get outside!
Join us for an authentically Alaskan outdoor after school program designed for Alaska kids.
After school times are spent playing in our local Chanshtnu (Westchester) Lagoon, where we have an abundance of wildlife and natural spaces to learn about outdoor studies, seasonal sports, and wilderness safety skills through place-based, experiential learning and play!
After School Outdoor Sports, Science, and Play
An authentically Alaskan way for every kid to spend their time after school: seasonal sports and wilderness skills through play and experience that will last a lifetime of safe and sustainable exploration of our Alaskan wild spaces.
What do our favorite wild spaces require to remain healthy and support vibrant and beautiful ecosystems? Understanding the science behind this basic question helps kids learn how to be a safe and sustainable user of our wilderness spaces and, most importantly, share this knowledge and best practices with others.
Wilderness Skills, Safety, and Leadership
Based on the weather and seasons, we have ample opportunity to learn myriad foundational wilderness safety skills. From avalanche awareness, setting up ice anchors, wild ice skating safety, to hypothermia studies and wilderness first aid skills, kids can develop a solid foundation in their wilderness safety and skills toolkit.
Chanshtnu is “Westchester” Lagoon.
There are now excellent interpretive elements around Chanshtnu Lagoon explaining the complicated history of this beautiful place. You should go there and check it out!
Iñuuruŋa savaktuŋalu Dena’ina-t nunaŋanni Kisaġvigmun. “I live and work on the land of the Dena’ina in Anchorage” ~ We acknowledge that we live and work on traditional Dena’ina Elnena (Country), home to members of the Eklutna (Eydlughet) and Knik (K’enakatnu) tribes.
PRICE PER YOUTH:
- From $148/month
- prorated monthly billing
- bills the 1st of every month through May 2023
- option to pause or cancel monthly billing with 3 weeks advance notice
- $42/daily drop-in
Kindergarten – 6th Grade
- Pick up from schools and transport to Westchester Lagoon;
- On days too cold to be outdoors, we will transport to our HQ 1343 G. St., where we can play games and work on outdoors-related indoor activities
DATES AND DAYS
- Aug 18, 2022 – May 23, 2023
- Monday – Friday
After School Program runs the length of the ASD calendar and follows all scheduled school days. This program does not operate on ASD scheduled break days and school closures.
- We pick up when school lets out;
- Parents pick up anytime between 4:30-6:00 pm
What We’ll Learn
Our Outdoor Studies Programs are designed for youth to learn season-specific outdoor studies skills and foster an authentic relationship with our local wild spaces here in Anchorage. Our After School program runs August – May specifically on ASD scheduled school days.
Seasonal Sports meets wilderness education: Safe and sustainable recreation is the foundation of all of our programs. This 2022/23 School Year, our After School Program is focused on the many human powered adventures and sports kids can enjoy over the course of our Alaskan fall, winter, and spring seasons. Alaskans love multi-sport, human-powered adventures, and we are fortunate to have many outdoor adventures unfold to us as the seasons change. We teach a variety of recreation activities through the lens of safety and sustainability.
…and the environmental science “-ologies” (biology, glaciology, ecology, geology, conservation and sustainability) – that goes with it: In addition to learning a set of outdoor recreation skills, we dive deep into understanding the environmental science and phenomena behind safe and sustainable outdoor recreation. Understanding the natural phenomena behind our outdoor explorations is often essential in understanding how to be safe and to leave minimal impact on our precious wild spaces. This understanding also provides youth a solid foundation in natural sciences to build from in their future careers and interests.
On days that are too cold to be outdoors, we will meet up at our HQ, The Little Blue Shop, near downtown Anchorage to learn outdoor activities in an indoor setting – gear repair, knitting, whittling, art, games, and more.
Winter Sports: Packing for a day outside
Below is our general guide for what to wear, and how to pack for a day outside with us in the winter. We know it is easy to do this FOR your kiddo, but if you have the time try to get them to take ownership over the packing (then they will know where their things are when they need them!).
You may not need everything on this list – but please use this as a guide based on weather conditions and season of the year. In addition to the layers you start out wearing, pack the rest in a duffel or big tote bag. We will let parents know via our remind app and email if kids will need ice skates or skis for the program, typically at the beginning of the week. You can scroll down to see more detailed gear list for specific types of sports.
We recommend compartmentalizing different types of gear in water-tight bags withing your duffel or tote. For specific sports, see the seasonal sports gear list below.
Base Layers are worn closest to the skin and tend to be thinner and lightweight. Wear wool, wool-blends, or synthetic polyesters. Getting these layers right can make your day!
- Base Layer long-sleeve top
- Base Layer full-length pants
- Wool or wool-blend socks (thickness depends on temperature and activity)
- synthetic/wool-blend underwear
- wool, wool-blend or synthetic bra
Middle, or insulating, layers are thicker layers like softshell, fleece, microfleece, micro-puff down or wool sweaters and pants. Some days, based on your activity and conditions, this middle layer is all you’ll need to wear on top of your base layer.
- Mid-Weight Jacket or sweater
- Mid-Weight full-length pants
Outer Layers need to block wind, block wet, and insulate to keep cold from getting through to your body. Some products do all three in one, while others do just one or a combo.
- Wind and Water-Proof, Insulating Coat
- Wind and Water-Proof, Insulating Pants or Bib
Hats, Gloves, and Footwear:
Don’t underestimate how much the wind and cold together can damage the skin on your hands, ears, and face. If you are doing a sport where you are moving fast and creating a wind on your face or it is windy outside, keep you face covered as much as possible. We recommend packing a warm pair of liner gloves that can fit inside an insulating, wind-proof mitt that you can toss a hand-warmer into. Once your hands get cold it is really challenging to get them warm again.
- fleece/wind-stopping liner gloves
- insulated over mitts
- Vaseline (petroleum jelly) for face protection from windburn and frostbite
- cold-weather sunscreen for those sunny winter days on the snow
- balaclava, wind stopping
- goggles for eye protection
- thin hat to wear under helmets
- thick hat if not wearing helmets
- appropriately insulated, waterproof boots for the activity
- if using boots for a specialized sport like skiing or ice skating, pack insulated winter boots to change into when done
- gaiters – waterproof coverings that prevents snow and water from getting into your specialized sporty boots (most good snow pants/bibs come with integrated gaiters that cover the tops of your boots.)
Putting it all together – In the Duffel:
Packing extra clothes in a duffle to have on hand will keep you in good spirits all day. We like to compartmentalize our extra-gear/after-activity duffel by keeping the things we don’t want to get wet in watertight bags. We can put our thick outer layers folded up on one side, our extra boots on the other, and our base and middle layers, extra pair of gloves, balaclava, and extra thick hat in a water tight dry bag or Ziploc in the middle. Pack a black garbage sack to toss wet clothes into. Pack handwarmers and and SOL bivy bag. Pack extra plastic turkey bags – if your boots get wet, you can put dry socks on, put your feet into the turkey bag, and then put your wet boots back on. Hopefully you won’t need to bust open your “Oh, Sh*t! Kit”, but it is so nice to have if you do need it. If you don’t, then you’ll always have one ready to go for your next adventure!
- In a water-tight bag:
- extra pair of base layers
- a few extra pairs of thick wool socks
- extra liner gloves, thick hat, balaclava
- extra fleecy mid-weight top and bottoms
- plastic bags, like turkey bags
- In the duffel
- a garbage bag for your wet clothes
- insulated, water-proof winter boots if you’re doing a specialized sport activity like ice skating or skiing
- thick outer layers if you are doing an activity where you aren’t wearing them, to put on after
- SOL bivy bag
- BIG lunch plus extra snacks
- water bottle (we carry extra water to refill)
- thermos of hot tea or cocoa
For most of our youth programs, we use a booking software system called “Hi Sawyer”. This is helpful for us and families because you can build out your profile through a log-in, and your child’s information and payment info are securely vaulted within this software.
When you click “book now” on our website, it will take you to the “hi sawyer” page where you can begin the registration process for a specific program, or look up a program on the main calendar.
After selecting what you would like to sign up for, it will take you to a page where you can either log in or create a new profile.
It is very important that you fill out your family’s and child’s profile with all adults involved email address and phone numbers, as well as your child’s medical information. Often times when one parent or legal guardian doesn’t receive emails from us, it is because their email address wasn’t added to the profile.
Our Programs are designed to teach wilderness safety skills and knowledge, sustainable and safe outdoor recreation skills, and empower youth to develop confidence, self-reliance, build friendships, and be leaders.
The After School Program is planned to include the outdoor sports that suit current conditions – ice skating, sledding, skiing, nature walks, sports, and playing games/working on science projects at our HQ on very cold days. While we have a schedule, it is tentative as conditions may be very different than what we planned. Our number one goal is to have a good time, develop friendships and a welcoming atmosphere, and be safe.
A note on daily plans, communication, and weather: Because of sometimes rapidly changing environmental conditions and hazards, and unpredictable seasonal winter weather, we can’t predict exactly what conditions will be best for until a few days before. Sometimes we have three feet of snow in January, sometimes we have none.
It is essential that parents join our “remind” channel and stay tuned in to their emails from us through our “HiSawyer” reservation system so that you get updates on what gear you may need to pack for the day. We will send out reminders on both of the above channels 72-24 hours before a program’s start.
- Click this link to join our after school program “remind” communication channel.
- or, text @westanchak to the number 81010
Phone: 907.406.5651 or 907.229.9780
PARTICIPANT OR PARENT/LEGAL GUARDIAN INITIATED CANCELLATIONS AND REFUND POLICY
This policy has been established to meet the demands of planning well organized expeditions and programs. If for any reason a program ends early there will be no refund. All cancellations and requests for refunds MUST be submitted via the cancellation form “ITWAK Customer Cancellation Notification” on our website. We have many different types of programs, for which our cancellation policies vary.
In the event that you are unable to join us the following guidelines will apply.
For all After-School Programs, Homeschool Programs, and other programs on a monthly billing cycle:
- We require at least 3 weeks written notice before the start of the following month to cancel monthly billing.
- 75% refunds will be provided 21 or more days prior to the program/camp date.
- No refunds will be provided within 14 days of the program date.
- If a student/participant is expelled due to behavioral issues (please see item 10 below) there will be no refund for their current program/month and the student/participant is responsible for costs incurred from their expulsion. For future programs,months in which they are enrolled and expelled, there will be a 75% refund.
TRANSFERRING RESERVATIONS: We create programs and staff based on the number of participants enrolled in each program. Due to this it creates both logistic and financial hardship to move reservations. With that in mind our policy is as follows:
- Multi Day Reservation Transfer Requests: must be made at least 30 days prior to the start of the camp.
- Programs Billed on a monthly basis Reservation Transfer Requests: must be made at least 3 weeks before the start of the following month.
- Single Day Reservation Transfer Requests: all transfers must be made 7 days prior to the start.
- All transfers are assessed a $25 administrative transfer fee.
Getting out in Alaska over the seasons
Seasonal Sports - Your Guide to Getting Geared up!
Nordic Skiing is a great way to explore your local parks in their winter coat. The sport has it’s origins from Norway, hence the label “Nordic”; but the Norwegian term for Skiing literally translates to “walking on skis”. This is how we will nordic ski on our break days – walking on skis as a means to exercise, learn an amazing seasonal sport, play games, and explore our how winter weather changes our local ecosystems.
You will need:
- classic ski boots (preferably NNN boots and bindings)
- classic skis. In our program we prefer kids to use “wax-less” classic skis with scales so that it is easier for them. If they are already familiar with skiing, then they can bring wax-able classic skis and we can help them apply kick-wax.
- If you child loves skate-skiing and they are familiar with the technique they may bring them, unless we are going into deeper powder up in the Chugach State Park, in which case they should stick to Classic/Scaled Skis.
- Where to buy skis:
- Hoarding Marmot, Play it Again Sports, REI, Barney’s Sports Chalet, AMH
- Or, rent: Alaska Outdoor Gear Rental, REI, AMH
Where We’ll go ski:
- Westchester/Coastal trail (after school program)
- kincaid park
- glen alps/prospect heights
- hillside trails
- hatcher pass
- Chugiak/Eagle River
Other things to note/gear needs:
- dress for winter weather:
- The goal is to maintain the same temperature and stay warm and dry. So…sweat is the enemy! dress in layers so that when you are sweating you can vent most of it out and away from your skin and clothes; when you stop for a break and are resting, replace your wind/heavy outer layers to keep the heat in. See more info on how to pack/what to wear in our gear list!
- Protect the hands and face from wind! Either wear a balaclava or vaseline (petroleum jelly) on your face in order to protect nose, lips, and cheek from frostbite/frostnip/windburn. Even on a seemingly warm day, wind can cause skin damage, from mild to severe/permanent.
- Sunscreen: on sunny bright days, the sun and it’s reflection off of the white snow can cause skin damage and sunburn – there are some great winter weather sunscreens available at hoarding marmot and AMH.
Join us for an after school time spent outdoors!
What We'll Do
Where Winter Sports meets Wilderness Education
Into the Woods Alaska is your local source for authentically Alaskan wilderness safety skills, seasonal sports, and their environmental science counterparts.
Our number one priority, in all of our programs, is to teach youth how to sustainably and safely use, enjoy, and share our wilderness spaces for the rest of their lives. We believe that if youth learn these skills from a young age, the exponential vector of others they will share their knowledge with over the course of their lives will not only add to our local culture of safety, saving lives, but will also bolster our community’s culture of sustainable and safe use of our wild spaces.