Who Doesn’t Love Camp!

Youth practiced fish cutting skills in 2021 at Camp Sivunniigvik, run by Aqqaluk Trust near Noorvik. (Photo courtesy of Aqqaluk Trust)

A well-run summer camp experience can be life-changing.

Yet even in Alaska, not all kids have opportunities to hike and swim, fish and canoe, scramble up boulders and build a roaring campfire. Our President and CEO Diane Kaplan, raised by a single mom in New York City, still appreciates how philanthropy provided means for her and her brothers to get to camp. We want Alaska kids to have that opportunity, so launched a Camps Initiative in 2020, just in time to help camps go virtual early in the pandemic. By 2021, camps were back in real life. With the help of our partners — The Alaska Community Foundation, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Municipality of Anchorage — more than 14,400 children attended camps in 2021 run by 83 organizations in 36 Alaska communities, from Shishmaref to Skagway.

The initiative expands access through scholarships and also enhances the quality of the experience. At a camp near Kotzebue, Aqqaluk Trust provided opportunity for kids to catch and prepare salmon, pick berries, bead crafts and learn from elders. Lynn Canal Adventures hosted running camps in Juneau, and Gamers Sports Travel offered a baseball camp in Anchorage. Culture camps, music camps and theater camps, language camps and science camps, camps for Girl Scouts and for Boy Scouts, camps for young children and for older teens. The breadth of experiences is as vast as Alaska. The Foundation has invested more than $550,000 so far and has committed another $3 million over three years.