The pandemic has spurred a lot of innovation and adjustments in all of our lives. Skookum House is a direct response to the need for educational support and socialization for young men. Southeast Alaska offers a unique combination of safety with Stellar opportunities for adventure to augment a young man's education.
There is no question about it COVID 19 is a name that will literally live in infamy for a long time to come. Not everything is bad though. We've learned a lot about doing virtual... well, nearly everything. Many people have taken the opportunity to slow down and take stock of things that are really important in life. Innovations abound. Education has been especially hard hit though. High School and College has traditionally been a time of important social development and the creation of life long memories. There is simply no way to "virtually" do that. Our young people's education is really suffering as a result. Skookum House is our response to this newly presented challenge.
The word Skookum comes from the Chinook trade language and translates as ‘one who is strong, brave and wise’; traits universally regarded as positive attributes in our young men. Skookum House philosophy is that the trail to manhood, while ultimately a personal endeavor, should have mentors that walk alongside at times, and wise elders to oversee the journey itself. In working with young men, it is always important to keep them *occupied, *engaged and *educated, and in this time of isolation, these are difficult tasks, especially when most traditional venues are closed. However, we here have the good fortune to live in a place that is already separated from the main population by distance and ocean, as well as the rural nature of the facility itself. The island is unique in that we’re on the edge of civilization yet we can access the internet and other modern resources. We live on the border of what may be the last true wilderness in the USA. This is a place safe, and there are few places as conducive to health and personal growth than our home in the vast northern rain forest.
*Occupied, living in this adventuresome place has some particular chores associated with it; along with chopping firewood for house use and service to the elderly, there is smoking and drying salmon and halibut, preserving berries and wild game, as well as cooking and lodge chores. We have an affinity for ancestral skills and believe that learning those skills naturally augment (virtual) classroom education.
*Engaged, our mindfulness meditation is fishing archery, or even yoga. Our shop class is carving totem poles and paddles. Our gym class is hiking trails and peaks or paddling around the sheltered coves and fjords of SE Alaska. Our field trips are catching coho, pink or king salmon, or seeing the Iditarod race, or questing for the Northern Lights. The options are as vast and varied as our state.
*Educated, Initially, we will be arranging for students to conduct distance learning with their home school districts. However, we also have associates who are Alaska certified educators and can customized an accredited experience, per the needs of the participant.
There is pleasure in the pathless wood
There is rapture in the lonely shore
There is society, where none intrudes
By the deep sea, and music in its roar;
I love not man the less, but nature more.
George Gordon (Lord Byron)
Prince of Wales Island is the 4th largest island the USA has (roughly 140 miles x 40 miles), and yet has a year-round population of less than 6000 people. As a part of the Alexander Archipelago, there are hundreds of smaller, timbered and uninhabited islands that surround and shield POW itself. As part of the largest temperate rainforest on the planet (the Tongass), this place is extraordinarily well situated as a land of wonder and adventure. In biodiversity, the flora and fauna are unmatched anywhere else. The sensation of just walking under the ancient canopy, of paddling the untouched salt passages, of drinking water fresh from the sky, of breathing air, new-made by towering cedars and hemlocks, is awe inspiring. Here we live on a land that is, quite literally, one of the jewels in the crown of the earth.
Life cant all be adventure but...
Educational support and socializing in a safe, engaging, environment are our goals.
Students will begin their day based on unique time zone needs. If classes are being held in real time then students will be able to be online as needed. Students help with meal prep and house chores. After day to day responsibilities are completed students may take individual time to relax or take advantage of non screen time activities that prepare for weekend adventure plans. We also ask students to take part in weekly service projects that benefit seniors on the island.
One of the world's greatest play grounds is literally in our back yard. Prince of Wales Island is a world class adventure destination. Terrain that ranges from mountain peaks to ocean shores all in the space of a few miles make recreation and adventure an expected part of life here. Students choose, plan and prepare for weekly outings that often support their formal learning. Prince of Wales Island is one of the most geologically diverse places on the planet. Our flora and fauna make even casual after school hikes interesting and fun. Eagles, whales, sea otters, black bears and Sitka Black Tail deer are all members of our local community