Frequently Asked Questions
Rural Alaska Program
What are the program dates? Are there year round opportunities for work?
Full Season: May 20 – July 31 (10.5 weeks)
- May 18 & 19: Staff Arrive
- May 20-31: 2 weeks paid training in Anchorage
- June 2 – July 28: Programming in Rural Communities
- July 29-31: Season Close-out and Reflection in Anchorage
- August 1: Staff Depart
If you would like to work an extra week or two in August, there are usually positions available at our day camp, Si-La-Meo in Anchorage. There are also opportunities for year-round work with our School Age Program that runs August through May! Check out our website for more information about our other programs!
NEW: How much am I allowed to pack? Can I have belongings shipped to Alaska to avoid fling with them all?
Since you are traveling to pretty remote parts of Alaska, you are only allowed to have 1 bag weighing under 50 lbs and 1 small lap item on the planes (they’re very weight sensitive!). You are welcome to send items to the office, but are encouraged to travel light. If you have too much for one checked and one carry on for your flight to Alaska, it will be more than you can take to rural and you may want to embark on a downsizing mission 🙂
If you are planning on doing some traveling after the season and would like us to store some of your items here at the office, we can do that! However, please note that although we will do our best to keep your belongings safe, they will be unattended in the warehouse that is used by other Camp Fire departments. We have never had an issue with staff belongings being misplaced in the past, but we do want to be transparent about the nature of having a shared space.
If you are sending items to the office, please clearly label with the following address:
Camp Fire Alaska (Your Name)
161 Klevin St. Suit 100
Anchorage, AK, 99508
What Lifeguard Certifications do you accept for this position?
The American Camp Association has several nationally recognized providers that are accepted for a Lifeguard Certification (https://www.acacamps.org/resource-library/accreditation-standards/aquatic-recognized-certifications). Our staff would need to complete a deep water or waterfront course. If you have questions about the specific course you are taking, please just reach out and ask. Please note that many Lifeguard Courses include CPR/AED/First Aid, so you likely will not need to take these as a separate certification. Be sure to check with the specific provider just to make sure.
What does the schedule/program look like?
Staff attend a two-week training in Anchorage. After training, teams of 2-4 people travel to rural communities to provide day camp programs that last from 2-4 weeks in each community. Each team will travel to two or more communities throughout the summer and return to Anchorage on July 29th. Staff then spend two days in the Anchorage office to finish up final paperwork, inventory supplies, reflect on experiences from the summer, and close out by the end of the day July 31st.
Primary duties of program delivery in the rural communities include developing and implementing quality youth and community programs. Activities include a range of traditional camp activities such as creative arts and crafts, group games, team building, hiking, biking, cooking, swimming, and sports with special emphasis on wellness, cold water safety, outdoor education. An increasing focus is on traditional Alaska Native activities taught by local leaders and elders who partner with Camp Fire staff. Additional activities can include evening activities with teens and elder involvement including potlucks, camp fires with storytelling, and more!
Programming typically runs Tuesday through Saturday from 12pm-5pm and 7pm-9pm. The work day normally begins around 11am and finishes up around 10pm, although in small, rural communities our staff teams are always representing Camp Fire Alaska, even during days off and on the weekends (which means you can feel on 24-7 which is also part of the beauty of the immersive experience).
What ages do you primarily work with? How many kids are in program?
Since the Rural Alaska Program is community-based, all ages are welcome to attend. The age range of youth we serve can vary tremendously from community to community, but we primarily serve ages 5-12 during the day time and teens in the evenings, with additional programming built in to each session to engage the whole community—elders and families. The number of youth served in each community ranges from 10-200. Typically, staff will see on average 20-40 youth at time, but it really depends on the community size, the activity, and timing of program.
Where do you serve?
The Rural Alaska Program travels throughout the state to provide programming to primarily Alaska Native communities in the Aleutians, Bristol Bay, Prince William Sound, the Y-K Delta, The Interior, North Slope, and Arctic Regions. Every community is rich with its own unique history and culture. Many of the communities that we serve are very busy during the summer months, particularly with fishing and berry picking to stock up for the year, so it is a great time to experience this unique subsistence lifestyle first-hand. Communities range in size from 80 to 7,000 people, most, however, fall in the range of 100-500 people.
The term “rural” has a somewhat different meaning in Alaska compared to the rest of the United States. Rural Alaska is extremely remote and the communities we serve are not accessible by road. Staff will travel to communities in small airplanes, some of which only seat four to eight passengers.
Here is where we went in 2018 and likely to return in 2019!
What is housing like?
Housing can vary and we ask staff to bring a sleeping bag and pad, and be flexible. The communities that we serve are small and space can be limited. Staff have been housed in a variety of settings, from the floor of a classroom or community center to teacher housing facilities, or with a host family. We ask that communities provide a secured/lockable space for staff to live, separate from program areas. Access to restrooms, showers, and water will be attached to your housing or within walking distance. Resources such as water and gas are very expensive in rural Alaska. For example, a load of laundry (not including the dryer cycle), can cost $12! So access to showers and laundry may be limited. We send staff out with an electric burner, water filter, and other kitchen supplies; staff should be prepared to ‘camp out’ on the floor and practice their camp-style cooking skills! Access to internet and cell phone reception is limited to non-existent. Many of our communities rely on land-lines to make phone calls. Staff must be comfortable living unplugged in remote areas for extended periods of time.
During training and orientation in Anchorage, housing is in a large, dorm-style house with an industrial kitchen, staff lounge, and two bunk beds in each room. We do ask that all local and non-local staff live in the staff housing during this time as it provides important community and relationship building time. Plus our staff team is full of fun and interesting people from diverse backgrounds who are great to hang out with!
What is the connectivity like in Rural Alaska?
Phone and internet access can vary greatly across the state and staff are not assigned to communities until the second week of training. However, all communities have land lines, but please note sometimes our use of these phones can be limited as they are shared with local community members. Staff should have a calling card number for personal calls on these phones.
We additionally send cell phones with each team. Rural Alaska is continually becoming more and more connected, and close to 80% of our communities have GCI cell phone access at this point. Staff are welcome to use the Camp Fire cell phones for personal calls and texts in the communities where they have access.
Internet is more unpredictable (less than 50% of communities) and depends on the community and the staff housing arrangement in the community. Some staff do choose to travel with a device and are sometimes able to email and stay connected to family and friends in this way. However, data is expensive and limited in many communities so we are unable to stream videos, movies, etc.
What are meals like? Are there vegetarian options? What if I have food allergies?
During training, groceries are provided at the housing facility for staff to cook and prep their own meals individually or as a group. Groceries are also used to pack lunches for training.
Once in the communities, staff will have food boxes that are shipped from Anchorage. The food is shelf stable and consists of grains, cereals, pastas, freeze dried fruits and vegetables, and canned goods. Fresh produce and other perishables just don’t survive the trip. Some examples of what you would be eating for the summer include: granola, rice, canned tuna or chicken, canned vegetables, powdered milk, cheerios, cheese, tortillas, beans, oatmeal, quinoa, etc. Staff will need to be creative with ingredients and share recipes! You are more than welcome to purchase some additions in Anchorage and send them out in your food boxes.
We do our best to accommodate dietary needs. Please keep in mind that we order food in bulk and specialty items cannot always be purchased for the whole group. Staff will have the opportunity to pick and choose from our bulk food to pack their own food for the season. Vegetarian protein options will include beans, cheese, peanut butter, and nuts. We will try to accommodate allergies to the best of our ability.
It is not uncommon for community members to offer staff fresh food including salmon, seal, walrus, moose, or whale. It is by no means required that staff eat this food, but it is a great opportunity for cultural exchange, not to mention delicious! Additionally, staff may have the opportunity to go berry picking in communities during the summer months when they have time off.
What positions are available and what is the salary?
- Travel Camp Lead Staff (26 positions) will develop and implement program, facilitate activities, maintain a safe environment for youth while managing risk, create and maintain community relationships, use advanced problem solving and decision making skills as needed, and play a leadership role with their team. Also responsible for weekly staff meetings with supervisors, required paperwork, and all other logistics involved in implementing program.
Benefits: Minimum Season Compensation of $5,400 + Room and Board + travel stipend upon completion of the season + in-state transportation + two weeks of professional training, including a certification in Youth Mental Health First Aid + the opportunity of a lifetime for cultural exchange and travel in Alaska!
Dates: May 21-July 31;
- Travel Camp Lead Staff and House Manager (2 positions): In addition to Travel Camp Lead Staff responsibilities, this position also plays a key role in supporting staff training, transporting staff, handling food/supply logistics, and acts as the House Manager of the dorm facilities during staff training and season closeout. House managers should be prepared to spend all nights and weekends at the facilities during training and close-out.
Benefits: Minimum Season Compensation of $5,800 + Room and Board + travel stipend + in-state transportation + two weeks of professional training, including a certification in Youth Mental Health First Aid + the opportunity of a lifetime for cultural exchange and travel in Alaska!
Dates: May 10-August 1
Is there any compensation for travel to and from AK?
Yes! There is a travel stipend available to help staff get to Alaska. The stipend does not pay for the entire round trip ticket from most locations, but definitely helps! Staff receive this stipend at the end of completion of the season. Also all of your in-state travel is provided, and there really isn’t anywhere to spend your money in Rural Alaska, so most staff end their season with a good chunk of their salary in their savings.
When do people normally arrive and leave?
- Training begins the morning of May 20, so plan to arrive Saturday May 18 or Sunday May 19
- Season close-out ends by 6pm on July 31, so please book your flights for that evening after 8pm or the following morning.
We provide housing for staff beginning on the night of Saturday, May 19 through the morning of August 1 (10:00am). For staff who arrive and leave on these dates, we will provide transportation to and from the airport. Many staff do fly in early or stay late to travel on their own to get a little more time in this beautiful state! If this is the case, please communicate this ahead of time with leadership and set up a time to meet us at the Camp Fire housing facility in Anchorage by the evening of May 19. You must schedule your arrival time with us so that we can check you into the dorms.