You might wonder what remote Alaska children do for fun. When we lived in the tiny village of Nelson Lagoon, the kids played indoors in the school gym and at home, read books, or played Myst – the computer game craze of 1995-96. On a rare day, we took the kids outside to beach comb for treasurers or to fly a kite in the Aleutian wind, which inevitably resulted in at least one lost kite each time.
Once we moved to Prince of Wales Island in 1997, their outdoor adventures became plentiful. Our family hiked through the Tongass National Forest to the old Salt Chuck Mine, boated with other teachers, canoed around Sarkar Lake, and fished at Angel Lake. Our boys fished for salmon and trout.
In the winter, the kids loved to sled down the steep side streets in Craig and Thorne Bay and to be pulled along the old logging roads or through Eagles Nest Campground. They swam at the Craig City pool, attended special community classes in martial arts and emergency medical services, and built potato guns to shoot from Sandy Beach over Clarence Strait, part of the Inside Passage.
The school kept the kids busy with traveling opportunities to places as far away as Edmonton, Alberta, Washington D.C., and Boston, Massachusetts. They offered training in archery, kayaking, hunter’s safety, and cold water survival. They even built an indoor rock wall for students to learn how to rock climb. For years, my son Ethan organized weekend Halo Tournaments for the community.
Don’t be fooled by all these adventurous activities; the boys spent much of their time indoors, out of the rain and cold. We seized the opportunities for outdoor adventures when they knocked.
Now, for the rest of the Alaska story.
As the kids grew older, teenagers filled the boys’ rooms, and even though it was cold outside, it was hot inside their small bedrooms with so many bodies huddled around the TVs and game consoles. Some weekends, the gatherings lasted for two full days.
A quote from my book The Call of the Last Frontier, “The most striking difference between bush children and city kids was the age span of their friendships. Children in the bush had friends of all ages from elementary through high school, and a few of these friendships have lasted a lifetime for my boys.”
Time marched on, and the boys all left for college by 2007. Before we knew it, our grandchildren began arriving in 2009. Riding bikes, hunting for Easter eggs, berry picking, beach combing in Alaska tennis shoes (boots), hiking through the forest, playing on the docks, and campfires on the beach became routine until we left in 2016.
Other Alaska Bush Posts
Alaska’s Kids Don’t Float Program – Life vests save lives, and Alaska takes their children’s lives seriously with the Kids Don’t Float Program
Unique Alaska Snowman on Prince of Wales Island – My son builds his daughter a unique Alaska snowman.
Remote Alaska Schools – Check out this unique floating school from the logging days of Southeast Alaska – J.R. Gildersleeve School.