Iliamna, Alaska, a community of approximately 100, recently made the news with a video that brought tears to the eyes of those who watched it. Take a look for yourself below.
The video talks about Camp Fire Alaska’s rural program, which has been giving kids in rural parts of the state a day camp-like experience for more than 40 years. This summer the program served youth in more than 27 villages, providing education about healthy life choices, including cold-water safety and swim lessons.
Camp Fire Alaska started its rural program to address the needs of remote parts of Alaska, including a rate of drowning 10 times higher than the national average. “Positive messaging for healthy lifestyle choices in rural communities is extremely important,” said Nicole Lebo, the council’s Director of Program Services. “Unfortunately, in this state we’re number one in the worst kinds of things, so youth have a hard road ahead of them. We just want to increase the amount of positive adult relationships that they have and increase the opportunities they have for different types of programming that they don’t get to see throughout the rest of the year.”
The small rural villages of Iliamna and Newhalen are connected by a six-mile road and share a school but are still fairly isolated. “A lot of the rural villages we’re in…because they’re off the road system, are pretty remote, so they only have the people in that community there on a regular basis,” Nicole said.
“They are sometimes disconnected from other communities, disconnected from resources—typical things, like food or the availability of a day camp. And so…having us bring a food program, bring our staff, bring the energy, contributes a lot to the community in the summer,” she continued.
The video reflects with eloquence and effectiveness the unique nature of the community, the geography in which the residents share their lives, and, for Camp Fire staff, the challenge of traveling to Iliamna every summer!