W.I.L.D. about Denali provides opportunities for youth to experience and develop respect, self-confidence and team building through excursions in the wilderness.
Since 1999, the Denali Education Center has been using unique wilderness experiences to improve the mental health and quality of life for Alaskan youth and adults suffering from mental illness, behavioral challenges, and developmental disabilities. We partner with social service agencies to reach Alaskans who will most benefit from our W.I.L.D. program.
W.I.L.D. teaches respect, self-confidence, and teamwork during a three-day, two-night wilderness camping experience in Denali National Park.
W.I.L.D. is the only program of its kind in interior Alaska. The program’s success is due to its simplicity – the time spent enjoying nature allows participants to reconnect with themselves, form lasting bonds with their peers, and connect with their environment.
During each W.I.L.D. program, participants hike, raft, and explore Denali, all while learning basic camping skills. Activities around the campground encourage participants to relax and have fun together. Time skipping rocks and exploring Savage River provides opportunities for introspection and reflection. Roasting marshmallows around the campfire provides an inviting atmosphere for conversation and fellowship. Discovery hikes push perceived physical limitations, build self-esteem, and inspire curiosity about our environment. The whitewater rafting trip exposes participants to positive role models and challenges them to face and overcome fear. Self-confidence and courage are direct results of this fun and lively adventure.
W.I.L.D. Wonder Lake was created for those who have participated in a “regular” W.I.L.D. program and want to have a deeper wilderness experience. Participants travel to Wonder Lake, 90 miles inside the park, on a Camper Bus and stay at the Wonder Lake Campground. With the added challenge of being in a remote wilderness setting, W.I.L.D. Wonder Lake builds upon skills learned in prior programs and will deepen participant’s understanding of Denali National Park and Preserve as a protected resource.
W.I.L.D. is supported by the Maureen Sims Memorial Endowment. Maureen was a board member who helped to establish the W.I.L.D. about Denali program and championed its success. The endowment currently provides scholarships to W.I.L.D. participants via agency recommendation. Denali Education Center is committed to growing the endowment so dividends can be used to sustain the program far into the future. To learn more and how to contribute, visit the Maureen Sims Memorial Endowment webpage.
W.I.L.D. is also generously supported by the following businesses and organizations:
- Denali National Park And Preserve
- Denali Outdoor Center
- Old Sourdough Studio
- Doyon/ARAMARK Joint Venture
Goals and Objectives
Respect learned from wilderness translates to respect for oneself, other people and everyday surroundings.
- Participants will discover sense of self
- Participants will enhance their awareness of wilderness
- Participants will learn to value others
Self-confidence gained from learning basic backcountry skills will enable participants to make more informed decisions, and enhance self-esteem.
- Staff will implement positive reinforcement
- Staff will teach basic backcountry safety
- Staff will encourage active participation in all activities
Participants will learn team-building skills through interaction with other participants and staff.
- Staff will demonstrate active role modeling
- Participants will practice social skills
- Participants and staff will examine problem solving
2016 Program Dates
- June 28 – 30
- July 5 – 7
- July 12 – 14
- July 19 – 21
- August 2-5 (Wonder Lake)
- August 9-12 (Wonder Lake)
- August 16-18
- August 23-25