To provide all Alaskans with quality opportunities to enhance understandings of health, independence, and teamwork through experiences in the wilderness of Denali National Park and Preserve.
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 living with physical disability, 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.
In the 18 years that W.I.L.D. about Denali has been in existence, one thing has been overwhelmingly shared by participants on why they want to return: because it’s fun!
When asked, our partner agencies’ staff members have consistently described W.I.L.D. as an organized and flexible program that inspires independence, teamwork, and educational experiences only possible in Denali.
W.I.L.D. about Denali is a program designed to serve all Alaskans. It is the only program in Alaska that provides National Park access and transformational wilderness experiences to underserved and vulnerable populations. Our partnerships with Alaskan social service agencies that benefit at-risk youth and people living with disability has ensured that W.I.L.D. can continue to serve and benefit those seeking independence and new opportunities for personal growth.
W.I.L.D. is the only program of its kind in 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 this program, participants engage in activities that expand independent living skills and strengthen notions of teamwork through wilderness experiences in Denali National Park and Preserve.
We currently offer two program options. Our introductory W.I.L.D. option is organized as a three-day, two-night camping trip at Savage Campground and involves interpretive hikes focusing on local ecology and wilderness stewardship; camp activities centered around creating a supportive group dynamic and building new skills; and an exciting whitewater rafting trip on the Nenana River.
For those who have participated in a Savage W.I.L.D. program and want to have a deeper wilderness experience, there is W.I.L.D. Wonder Lake. Participants travel on a Camper Bus to Wonder Lake, 90 miles inside the park, and stay at the Wonder Lake Campground for three nights. With the added challenge of being in a remote wilderness setting, W.I.L.D. Wonder Lake further enriches skills learned in prior programs and deepens participant’s understanding of Denali as a protected place.
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
Health through Wilderness- Physical and emotional health is enriched through wilderness experiences and transfers as respect for oneself, others, and the environment.
Independence through Learning- Independence is enhanced through learning basic outdoor skills and expands into universal self-efficacy.
Teamwork through Challenge- Teamwork is strengthened by recognizing and persevering through challenges and develops into group empowerment.
Growth through Denali- Personal growth is accelerated through a discovery of Denali’s Wilderness and expands into self-actualization.
2017 Program Dates
- Wonder Lake Campground
- July 31-August 3
- August 14-18
- August 21-23
- August 28-30
For more information please contact:
Patrick Kelly, Youth Programs Manager