The Prince of Wales Surf and Turf camp doesn’t serve up steak and lobster. Instead, something much more valuable is on the menu for students on the island: survival skills. The course, offered through a partnership between the school districts and Sealaska’s Natural Resources department, provides all students in the Prince of Wales (POW) school district — including many shareholder and descendant students — an opportunity to learn both water- and land-based survival skills, experience essential to safely work, recreate and engage in traditional ways of life on the island.
“You know, people like to hunt, like to fish, it’s our way of life,” said Bob Girt, Sealaska Rural Community Liaison, who helps organize the course. “And so the threat of something happening is higher here, I believe. Having students know those skills, in case something happens — if they’re out with their family or in a career on the water, they’ve got the knowledge of what to do. We’ve all had close calls. But this type of thing makes sure those stay close calls. Because that’s what keeps us from getting the other type of calls, the ones that we all hope we don’t get.”
The course also helps build community and confidence in partnerships from around POW. Participants in the Alaska Youth Stewards program completed this year’s course alongside new Forest Service trainees.
“Getting this training together with young students that live here, there’s this opportunity for the students to get to know the new Forest Service staff,” Girt said. “There’s a community relationship being developed. The training lasts for two days, but these relationships keep going, is our hope.”
Surf and Turf began in 2022 and takes place every spring.
Sealaska proudly invests in community- and skill-building programming like Surf and Turf, providing hands-on learning opportunities for youth with a goal of increasing the number of shareholders on the path to higher education and employment in natural resource stewardship.