As the season’s first wildflowers begin to bud and the bears venture forth from their long hibernation, Alaskans too are experiencing a re-emergence. We are recovering from the longest, hardest year most of us can ever remember, taking stock of the damage inflicted on our state by COVID-19, grieving our losses, and moving cautiously forward into a post-pandemic world. Many of us still wonder what that looks like.
But some of those most deeply affected by the pandemic are too young to remember much about what life was like before. Alaska’s children have spent the last year more isolated than any parent ever hopes, forced to shoulder the far-too-adult responsibility of protecting themselves and their peers by keeping a safe distance. They missed out on a year of in-person school, lost the opportunity to participate in sports or other extracurriculars, and adjusted to a social life conducted virtually even as they watched the adults around them struggle to do the same. For Alaskan children especially, who grow up on a steady diet of snowball fights and fishing trips, this was no mean feat.
Now, at long last, we have reached the light at the end of the longest, darkest, twistiest tunnel on record. The masks are off, the sun is out, and Alaskans are ready to play. Our children have a year’s worth of pent-up energy to burn off and a summer full of possibility ahead of them.
With that in mind, and in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Services, Rasmuson Foundation, and the Municipality of Anchorage, The Alaska Community Foundation is offering grants from the “Open for Summer” Camps Initiative. The Initiative’s goal is to help children and teens across the state take full advantage of the wide array of summer programs available this year. Day camps, outdoor camps, culture camps, faith-based camps, museum camps, and learning pods are open for business and eager to make up for lost time. Our hope is that the grants will both improve the overall quality of the camp experience and increase the number of young people who are able to access these valuable programs.
So where will your family venture next? Will it be out on a canoeing adventure, or across the bay to catch salmon, or around the block to craft with friends and neighbors? The options are limitless. Our long hibernation is over, and Alaska is open for summer.