Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 9:54 PM on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Winter's not over at Wynn

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff Writer


Photos courtesy Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies

McNeil Canyon Elementary School sixth graders, Lauren Jones and Christopher Basargin, enjoy the snow cave they built at Winter Ecology Camp at the WYnn Nature Center this winter.

Imagine waking up warmly nestled in a tent on top of the ridge. Outside, birds are singing in the snowy landscape and an open fire is heating up your morning meal.

The day ahead holds a variety of winter recreation, education and good food in a spectacular setting.

The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies' Family Winter Ecology Camps offer a chance for fun, fresh air and learning in a safe environment.

"It's all about getting families outside and comfortable enjoying winter without having to be too far away from home," said Beth Trowbridge of the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.

Campers sleep in heated, insulated yurts at the Ageya Wilderness Education Camp adjacent to Wynn Nature Center off East Skyline Drive. The center staff, and participants if they wish, prepare meals over the fire or in Dutch ovens outside or in a newly-constructed lodge.

"We're hoping it will be enticing," Trowbridge said. "You just get so much more out of being in a place overnight."

Between the Wynn, adjacent homesteading cabin and Ageya properties there is more than 300 acres of land to explore.

The weekend usually includes activities like snowshoeing, building fires and snow caves, testing the snowpack for stability, looking at stars and animal adaptations.

"We teach people about having fun outside, being safe outside and what birds and animals are doing."

Trowbridge said there are different options within the program based on interest level and abilities so everyone will get something out of it.

"It's really for any age. Anyone who has that curiosity and wants to be outside," Trowbridge said.


Dutch oven cooking is part of the curriculum at the Cneter for Alaskan Coastal Studies' winter ecology camps.

The center also recently hosted a group of sixth graders from McNeil Canyon Elementary School for an overnight program which included many of the same elements as the family camps.

The days are longer and temperatures warmer, but winter's not over yet. There's still lots of fun and learning left to do in the snow. Other nature programs at the Wynn include noon snowshoe walks on Wednesdays through first week of April; one more family bonfire 2-4 p.m. on April 3; and a nature ice sun catchers project 1-3 p.m. Sunday.

The last family ecology camp is scheduled for April 2-3. The cost is $100 for adults, $85 for kids and includes food, lodging, instruction and use of snowshoes for the weekend. For more information or to register for Family Winter Ecology Camp, call 235-6667 or visit www.akcoastalstudies.org