You can’t beat an Alaskan Summer. The fishing, the camping, the endless days – it’s incomparable. But for youth experiencing homelessness, this is far from their reality. Survival often overshadows the magic that comes along with the midnight sun. But thanks to our incredible community partners, our young people were offered a carefree, fun and exciting weekend on the Kenai. One of Covenant House’s amazing AmeriCorps VISTAs went along on the trip, and wrote about her experience.
Fishing the Kenai with Covey Youth
I’m not sure where most people from the lower 48 first learn to fish but my guess is it’s not on the Kenai River in Alaska. A few weeks ago, I was able to take a trip with Covenant House Alaska and eleven of Covenant House Alaska’s residents to Soldotna, AK where I went fishing and caught my first fish ever! Our trip started with the drive to Manitoba Cabin where half of the group stayed behind to camp and relax around the campfire while the other half of us continued up to a cabin in Soldotna where we would spend the night and wake up to go fishing from very early the next morning.
Our evening in the cabin was full of excitement! Between jumping off a dock into a frigidly cold lake, playing cards and facing off in games of pool. The next morning at the early hour of 4 a.m. we were up and eating breakfast to prepare for our busy day. By 6 a.m. we were on the water, searching for the perfect spot to cast our lines and wait for our dinner to bite. Learning how to cast was enjoyable for me and I understand now why people fish as a way to relax. One of the residents caught the first fish of the day and jumped up and down excitedly, exclaiming that she caught one when it flopped into the boat. A few minutes later. I was just as thrilled when I pulled my own pink salmon up and out of the water. When we finished up on the Kenai, my group journeyed back up North to meet the rest of the residents and staff at Manitoba Cabin. After spending a cold and rainy morning on the water, sitting around the fire, eating smores and telling stories was the perfect activity to end the day.
As an AmeriCorps VISTA this was a very exciting trip for me to go on. Not only did I experience some very exciting firsts, but I got to know the residents as well as the staff outside of ‘the office’ so to speak. Seeing the residents enjoying themselves as well as the company of one another was an image that will be hard to forget. Many of them played a makeshift version of baseball, running around the rock bases they had placed on the ground, some listened to music and sang with one another, others chopped wood and kept a campfire going through the night. Not only was this trip a personally exciting one for me but I also got to experience the joy and enthusiasm of the residents as they tried new things, made new connections and rested in the company of friends.
A huge thank you to everyone that made this possible. At Covey, we provide the necessities, and we really rely on our community to provide the meaningful experiences that every young person deserves to have. A huge shoutout to:
Thank You To Our Covey Community!
Alaska Huts Association for the discount on cabins, APU for the discounts on rented backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, SUPs and inflatable kayaks, Trophy Drifters for the guided fishing and coordination of the second boat and nearby lodging, Alaska Boat Rental and Kenai River Recon for guided fishing, Jolly Wally’s Seafoods for the fish processing, Alaska Creel & Cartridge Lodge for dinner and lodging, and Southcentral Foundation for fishing licenses and transportation.
And of course, thank you to our mentors and staff who chaperoned and got our youth back to Covey safely!