Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 1:40 PM on Tuesday, November 22, 2011

'Evening of Adventure' benefits HoWL programs

By Angelina Skowronski
For the Homer News

To christen yet another ski season, the Homer Wilderness Leaders (HoWL) is holding an "Evening of Adventure" with the debut of their student-made film and the screening of "Solitaire" by Sweetgrass Productions. The HoWL benefit also will feature a live and silent auction and door prizes.The evening begins at 7 p.m. Saturday at Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center.

Soon to be archived next to classic Warren Miller films, "Solitaire" follows two skiers who travel to the verticals of the Andes to feed their addictions of high altitudes and first ascents. Mode of transportation? Parachute gliders.

With the film's tour schedule listing a number of extreme-mountain-towns USA, Homer is the film's only Alaska stop.

"The filmmakers are friends with Libby. We're so excited to be able get the film here to Homer," said HoWL office manager, Marla McPherson. Libby Bushell is HoWL's executive director and lead guide.

Setting the stage for these international experts of extreme will be a film made by Homer's own extremists in training. The premiere of the HoWL movie, made by this summer's HoWL students is a sneak peak into what HoWL is all about as well as Alaska's new school curriculum of "Leave No Trace."

"HoWL has been looking for ways to integrate into schools and schools have been looking for more guest speakers to provide hands-on education for kids, so we combined the two," said McPherson.

The "Leave No Trace" film, shot and directed by HoWL students in the field, teaches kids the principles of leaving the wilderness free of human impact.

McPherson and Bushell have been contacting physical education teachers and science teachers throughout the state to spearhead the "Leave No Trace" program in school. HoWL instructors and students will travel to Alaska schools to teach these seminars in the coming year.

In addition to the double-feature showing, refreshments and door prizes will be included as part of the evening, as well as a silent auction of items donated by local businesses including Homer's Jeans, True North Kayak, Grant Aviation and Timeless Toys to name a few.

"The silent auction will be a great way for people to get gifts for the holidays and give back to the community at the same time. We have some great items ranging from outdoor gear, clothes and toys to adventure trips and airline tickets," said McPherson.

With this year's participation at 120 students in 14 expeditions, HoWL is growing with interest exceeding Homer's city limits. Students from Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Colorado participated in HoWL adventures this summer.

Graduates of the HoWL program can stay involved with the new JAMES program. Named after former student, James Gustafson, the Junior Assistant Managers of Educational Stuff (JAMES), allows older students to give back and teach the younger generation of HoWLers.

JAMES' inspiration, Gustafson was nominated for Alaska's Youth Spirit Award for his keystone involvement in HoWL. At 18, Gustafson guided Denali and is heading to Argentina soon to match the summits of Patagonia.

In an interview for the Youth Spirit Award, Gustafson said, "When you're out in the back country, it makes you really humble and it makes you feel that there is so much you can do. Every time you go out you can improve yourself and learn from the mistakes you have."

Information on HoWL's many programs are available at the "Evening of Adventure" and at www.howlalaska.org.