what is "a little alaska"?
"a little alaska" is how we refer to a short but immersive experience in cordova. our eclectic town features a perfect balance of civilization + wilderness, and lends itself well to sampling alaska in 12 fun-filled days. the 2020 year dates are july 12-23 and correspond with the Copper River Salmon Jam,a two day family friendly music and more festival.
what types of people enjoy a little alaska?
we host teens aged 14-19 (flexible) from many different places and cultures. young people of any sexual orientation, gender identity or gender presentation; unschooled, homeschooled, and self-directed learners come to our community to be themselves while expanding their boundaries in the Last Frontier.
how many people participate in a little alaska?
we invite teens from all over the world to join us in groups of 6-10 at our home in Cordova. we find this size group to be ideal for facilitating a safe and quality experience; whether we're indoors or out, in one group, several, or spending time in solitude.
when can we visit a little alaska? how long will we stay?
our 12 calendar days session is July 12-23, 2020. the first and last day are reserved for arrival to & departure from cordova. the 10 days in-between are spent becoming a little alaskan.
a little alaska's adventure stay corresponds with Cordova's
Copper River Salmon Jam Festival. a little alaska covers the entrance fee to one day of the festival. if you're a musician and would like to perform on stage we can probably get you a 15 minute slot. if you're a runner, consider participating in the
Alaska Salmon Runs that are part of the Festival (race fee not covered with entrance fee).
how much does the experience cost? what does the price cover?
our stay/play/learn time in a little alaska costs $1850 if you apply by January 31, 2020 and $2,250 for applications submitted after January 31, 2020. payment plans are available. the price covers full accomodation for the duration of your stay, all ground transportation including pick-up from and departure to the airport or ferry, all meals, laundry and detergent and all a little alaska sponsored group activities including one day entrance fee to the
Copper River Salmon Jam Festival.
for more information, please see the faqs "all this sounds fun and adventurous, how do I sign up?" and "what if i sign up, then discover i can't go?" below as well as our registration, payment & cancellation policy on our sign up page which can also be found
what is not covered in the price?
souvenirs, toiletries, electronic devices, chargers, batteries, other personal items, Alaska Salmon Run fee and activities not sponsored by a little alaska are not covered.
attendees must also purchase their own transportation to and from Cordova.
how do I pay?
we realize not everyone can plunk down the full fee at once and are open to working with you to make it feasible for you and your family. you can pay in installments at no extra charge. arrangements will be made on an individual case basis.
there are multiple ways to send payment to a little alaska. you can pay by check, credit card, paypal, venmo and some cryptocurrencies.
a check can be mailed to a little alaska, po box 1033, cordova, ak 99574. we can take your credit card info over the phone at 907 429-3219. for paypal, venmo and crypto, please email or call us.
please see the "all this sounds fun and adventurous, how do I sign up?" faq below for more details. also, see our SIGN UP page for details on how to apply before considering payment and to access our registration, payment & cancellation policy. you can also see that policy
are there scholarships or discounts?
there are no scholarships or discounts at this time. our all-inclusive stay has been priced competitively and allows us to provide a safe, quality, and memorable experience for all participants.
is experiencing a little alaska, in Cordova, safe?
yes! the community of Cordova is a tight-knit one; very kid-friendly and safe for residents and visitors, alike. neighbors watch out for each other, people leave their property unlocked, and children travel freely to friends' homes and the town. cordova was once again ranked as the
safest city in Alaska.
at the first day welcoming & orientation session we go over our common sense principles and ground rules, many of which cover safety. in general, participants must inform us of their planned destinations and estimated return during unsupervised time. Eric and Molly have cell phones that parents and participants can reach us on (barring unforeseeable out-of-service moments). we also ask participants to carry their cell phone (with our numbers programmed into it) in order to check in with us and in case of emergency.
we encourage discovery and independence and we provide the space and freedom to achieve it, but for the sake of community and safety, we impose certain rules and ask that each person respects and agrees to these during our time together. these will be discussed in more detail during our videoconference meeting that occurs after we receive your application and will be in the enrollment and welcome packet.
how do I get to Cordova?
even though the town is on the mainland, there are no roads to and from Cordova. the only way to access the community is by plane or boat. Cordova has twice daily 737 jet service operated by
Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines has a popular
mileage plan credit card and low cost companion fares that often has a significant mile bonus upon signing up. alternatively, the
Alaska Marine Highway system operates almost daily ferry service with either a 3 hour fast ferry or a 6 hour ferry from Whittier or Valdez. Click on the highlighted text for links to more information about getting here.
where will we stay? what's the lodging like?
attendees arrive as guests, and immediately become part of our family. accommodations are our house and an octagonal basic bunkhouse with bunkbeds. the bunkhouse has heat, electricity and a private bathroom with a shower. sleeping quarters are co-ed or separated by gender/gender identity depending on the preference of participants and their families. depending on the situation and family input, staff may or may not sleep in the bunkhouse. staff does routinely check to see that particpants get decent sleep and respect each other's boundaries. the bunkhouse is located on our property about 20 feet from our home. our home is in town, a quarter of a mile from main street. participants have round-the-clock access to our home, including a full bathroom, kitchen, living room, dining room, deck and loft. there is a cat that lives in the house but does not and never has, occupied the bunkhouse.
there will be an overnight stay in a
US Forest Service cabin with an outhouse. the cabins do not have running water, electricity or flush toilets.
what is expected of me at a little alaska?
our values include respect, kindness, acceptance and personal responsibility:
we respect each other, all creatures, and property
we are kind to each other
we accept people for who they are and what they believe in
we take responsibility for ourselves and our well-being; our behavior and our words
we encourage connection with one another but sexual activity is not allowed
we foster a culture of open communication and collaboration
we do not censor an opinion or use of swearing and profanity as long as it is used in the spirit of friendly conversation
we will not tolerate hate, bigotry or disrespect of another human, being or culture on any level
we're responsible for your safety so we do have some basic non-negotiable guidelines for unsupervised time that include letting us know where you are going, checking in with us while you are out and about and not being gone for prolonged periods of time.
while we don’t have formal bedtimes, we ask that you act like a responsible young adult and not bother other people in the bunkhouse during the night. If we see that you’re not getting enough sleep to participate in our group activities, we’ll work with you to help you get rest.
potentially risky or dangerous activities such as going on your own wilderness hike requires discussion and approval.
once accepted to a little alaska, you'll receive a code of conduct in your enrollment and welcome packet to review and sign. please let us know if you have any questions about this.
I have a disability...can I come to a little alaska?
we'd like to automatically say “sure!” but we’re not certain we can accommodate everyone. a good portion of our outings include hiking and other physically demanding activities. let’s talk about it and if we feel we can find a way to make it work, we will! if you have more questions about this, please contact us via email or phone.
is this experience affiliated with a religion?
no, a little alaska is not affiliated with any organized or otherwise religion. we welcome all, whatever they believe or do not believe, and encourage thoughtful and respectful dialogue about spirituality and religion.
all of this sounds fun and adventurous. how do I sign up?
the first step is to visit our "SIGN UP" page. there, you'll find a step-by-step explanation on how to apply to and register for a litte alaska.
after meeting each other via video conference and being accepted at a little alaska, your next step is to make a $450 USD deposit to hold your space. this deposit must be received within 30 days of the email sent to you saying you've been accepted.the $450 deposit is not automatically refundable, although part of it might be depending on circumstances. please see our registration, payment & cancellation policy on our SIGN UP page as well as
in the same email, you'll receive enrollment paperwork including a packing list, code of conduct, medical questionnaire and a waiver and liability releases. the signed code of conduct, medical questionnaire and releases must be received by us within 30 days of the email sent to you saying you've been accepted.
you can make payments. arrangements will be made on an individual case basis. all payment agreements will be outlined in the personalized enrollment paperwork we'll email you. you'll need to complete the paperwork and submit it with your deposit.
final payments are due 2 months prior to the start date of each trip.
what if I sign up, then discover I can't go?
if you cancel the trip prior to 2 months before the start date of the trip, we'll fully refund any payment beyond the initial deposit of $450. there's a good chance we'll be able to refund some or most of the $450 deposit but we can't guarantee it.
for cancellations after the 2 month cut-off date, we'll try to refund the payments made beyond the $450 non-refundable deposit, but can't guarantee it. if we're able to place another participant in your spot, there's a good chance we'll refund payments made beyond the initial $450 deposit. this refund is discretionary and if refunded, may not be issued until a few weeks after the end of the trip, as we'll be busy with preparations, the trip and post-trip restocking. the same applies to the $450 deposit. there's a chance we'll refund some of it but can't guarantee it.
in summary, there is a $450 non-refundable deposit. payments made after that are fully refundable provided you cancelled the trip at least 2 months prior to the start date. after that there is no guaranteed refund of any payments. depending on circumstances, we may refund all but a partial amount of the $450 deposit.
we understand unexpected things happen and if that is the case, we're willing to discuss the best way to handle the situation and are open to the possibility of refunding, but can't guarantee it. please understand we incur costs as we plan our time in a little alaska, and cannot provide a refund guarantee beyond what we have already stated.
what is a little alaska’s policy on drugs, alcohol, and tobacco?
we have a zero-tolerance policy on the use of illegal drugs (including non-prescribed medications) and alcohol. ideally, even if you are of legal age, our preference is no smoking or vaping of tobacco products during your stay in Cordova. if you are of legal age and it is a hardship for you to not smoke or vape legal tobacco products, let’s talk. smoking and vaping are never allowed inside our building and our vehicles, and are not allowed by participants under the legal age.
do I have to attend every outing?
no, but we hope by committing to join us, you'll bring your desire to participate in as many things as possible in the spirit of discovery and support of other group members. even if it's outside your comfort zone or you're not very interested. at the same time, we recognize that quiet personal time is important, and if you want to just do your own thing that will almost always be an option.
what if I miss my plane or have other travel delays?
we recognize there may be travel delays. we're less than two miles from the ferry terminal and thirteen miles from the airport, so it's easy for us to accommodate delayed schedules.
what is a typical day like?
summer days are long in Cordova; it never gets fully dark, only dusky. at midsummer, it’s full daylight by 5am and light past 11pm, with twilight lasting for hours.
in general, our participants enjoy the opportunity to explore the area on their own, collaborate with the group on the daily outing, participate in prepping meals, and meet new friends. a typical day consists of breakfast and clean up, an outing in town or in the wilderness with us, a sack lunch to eat while out adventuring and returning to our home where we'll regroup and have some downtime. there is also an overnight hike to a forest service cabin and hike out the next day as well as one day for participants to plan themselves be it hanging out on our property or venturing on their own or in small groups (with facilitation by and keeping in touch with us).
adults participate in all outings. in between the outings, there is time to venture out on your own. for example, when some of us are cooking dinner, others might walk to the local park for a spontaneous game of ultimate frisbee. at the first day welcoming and orientation session we will explain in more detail but basically, if you're going out and about let us know and let us know the estimated return time.
the evening finds us gathering for dinner at our home and potentially more unsupervised free time after dinner, when you might decide to head to the grassy field to play soccer or into town to get ice cream. we may accompany participants because, hey...we like ice cream too...but participants may also be unsupervised. we do not provide 24-hour adult supervision of participants. we do require participants to stay in touch and let us know if they are going out on their own and what their plans are. please see the "is experiencing a little alaska, in Cordova safe?" faq below for more information as well as the "how much unsupervised time is there" faq.
how much unsupervised time is there?
a little alaska offers more freedom and responsibility to participants than a typical organized trip, tour, or camp geared to teens. we do not provide 24-hour adult supervision of participants. we do keep track of and in touch with participants who may, for example, decide to walk to a local restaurant or go elsewhere. we have outings planned for every day but one, and in between the outings, is time to venture out on your own, checking in with us before doing so, letting us know your plans and agreeing on a return time.
we have one day that is unscheduled where participants can make a plan on their own or with others. we'll facilitate those plans but will not necessarily be with each person or group for part of the day. please see the "is experiencing a little alaska, in Cordova safe?" faq above for more information as well as the "what is a typical day like" faq. if you still have questions about this, feel free to contact us directly.
do I have to be an unschooler, homeschooler or self-directed learner to attend?
no, you do not need to be any of those to attend. we are unschoolers and give young people large amounts of freedom and responsibility (usually much more than traditional camps and schools) to design their lives as they see fit. if you feel you're able to handle and navigate that type of freedom responsibly, and are motivated and conscientious, we welcome you to join us. if you still have questions about this, feel free to contact us directly.
is this one of those camps that doesn’t allow devices like smartphones and texting?
not at all, how would you share memes or maintain streaks if you leave your devices behind? we won’t limit your use either. we know you won’t be on a device all the time because who really is? we’re confident you’ll be having fun doing lots of things with the group, including sharing memes. of course, if you don’t want to bring a device that's fine too.
in all of our years exploring the wilderness of Cordova (and Kodiak Island, which has by far the highest concentration of brown bears in the world) we've never had a dangerous encounter with bears. we almost always travel in big groups in the wilderness, which in and of itself is a deterrent to bears in the wild. bears don't like to be surprised, and they don't like to be around humans. when bears become aware that humans are around, their instinct is to move away; this same instinct typically keeps bears out of town.
at the first day welcoming and orientation session we'll cover wilderness safety in general and specifically bear biology and staying safe in bear country. all participants will be issued bear spray and trained to use it. we can’t guarantee you will see a bear, but when we do, we always marvel at the experience. if you still have questions about this, feel free to contact us directly.
what happens if I get sick while in Cordova?
Cordova has a fully functioning hospital wth doctors and nurses on staff and emergency room facilities. in the case of serious illness, we would arrange transport and accompany you to it. we will also call parents immediately to notify and ask for their desired course of action. in the case of routine illness (e.g. cold, flu, stomach illness), we support participants with basic health advice and over-the-counter medications approved on their health form.
at our welcoming and orientation session, we'll outline safety procedures including emergency contacts, hospitals, and emergency procedures. we'll make sure everyone understands these procedures. each participant’s family will provide the proper release forms so that should medical attention be needed, we'll be authorized to act on your child’s behalf.
do I need health insurance?
a little alaska requires all participants carry health insurance. this can be in the form of regular health insurance from the U.S., a supplementary travel insurance policy purchased by the participant, and even some credit cards offer types of trip coverage.
we do not require, but do recommend, checking your policy to see if air ambulance service is included. in the event a participant needs more extensive care than what's available in Cordova, air ambulance (helicopter) would transport the patient to Anchorage. if medevac service isn't included with your current policy, we suggest the purchase of it separately.
how do I keep in touch with people Outside while in a little alaska?
in alaska, we refer to anywhere not in alaska as "
Outside". the town of Cordova has wifi and roaming data service, although when we're out exploring or spending the night in a
cabin like this one, we may be out of range for part of a day and night.
each participant is encouraged to bring devices with videoconferencing capabilities to keep family at home up to date. if you don’t have a device or these capabilities, we're happy to work with you to use ours. depending on the participant’s communication style, parents may reasonably expect to hear from participants on a frequent basis and are free to contact them.
do participants help with cooking, dishes and cleaning?
you bet! we’re all in this together.
can you accommodate Unaccompanied Minors?
as of last check, we can accommodate Unaccompanied Minor arrivals and Unaccompanied Minor departures. it's very easy for us to get to the airport and we have the staff capability to assist with departures (inlcuding waiting for a minor to board the plane). nonetheless, contact us before enrolling a participant that will require U.M. service in case U.M. policies have changed.
what kind of food can I expect?
for the most part, we cook for ourselves and you can expect meals with meat (including local game and fish) and vegetarian options. if we know ahead of time that you are vegan and/or gluten or dairy free we can happily accommodate you. if your dietary habits are particular or unique, be prepared to choose from the more limited selection of food available in Cordova. please note this on your application and we'll discuss this with you during the videoconference that occurs after we receive your application. meals are available every day at our house although participants may elect to try one of the local restaurants; most establishments have some, but often limited, vegan and gf options.
can you accommodate special dietary needs?
we will do our best. it will be up to you to describe in detail the full extent of the accommodations needed. we'll discuss this during the videoconference, so please be sure to note this on your application form.
are there opportunities to volunteer?
why yes there are and we're glad you asked. Cordova has a strong tradition of community and environmental interdependence. we plan to spend at least part of one day giving back to the community. it may be helping set up event tents for the
Copper River Wild Salmon Festival, pulling invasive weeds for the
Copper River Watershed Project or chopping wood for a neighbor in need.
what's the weather like in Cordova?
there's a saying up in a little alaska: "there's no bad weather, only bad clothing". there's rain, and then there's
Cordova RAIN. we live in a temperate rain forest so our activities take the weather into consideration. wet conditions lead to activities like a hike among the big spruces, which keep things drier, or an exploration of the
Eyak museum which (along with hundreds of artifacts) has one of the few fully intact
Orca whale skeleton displays in the world. we also have plenty of inside activities such as canning salmon, making jam, playing games, and making music.
and really, once you suit up and get outside...it's usually not as bad as you think.
does the sun set in summer?
if you are in
the sun doesn’t set for 60 days! but we're about 600 miles south of Utqiaġvik and the
sun does set around 11pm and rises again right before 5am. it's a long twilight and doesn’t start to get very dark at night until mid-august. it catches us by surprise every year when we sit down to dinner thinking it's around 7pm then realize it’s well after 10pm.
what if I have asthma, allergies, or diabetes?
please make sure to note your condition in the online application and and we'll discuss it during the videoconference.
i have a question that wasn't answered
ask away! send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give Molly a call or text at 907 429 3219.
what kind of outings?
each day centers around a planned outing. a sampling of potential outings include hiking to Crater Lake or the top of Mount Eyak; kayaking in Orca Inlet; walking on Sheridan glacier; canoeing Alaganik River; hanging out at GI Joe Island and swimming in the Eyak River; glacial mud bathing alongside the Copper River; a town day where we tour Main Street and the local museums, City Center and boat harbor. two days are a hike to a Forest Service cabin where we spend the night in a rustic cabin, explore the area and hike out the next day. one day is an on your own day where individuals or small groups decide what they want to do with facilitation from and keeping in touch with us. our session dates correspond with the Copper River Salmon Jam, a family friendly music and more festival. outings are weather dependent and depending on weather and group interest may also include activities based out of our house such as smoking and canning salmon and making jam and cottonwood salve.
because we are a small group, there is some flexibility and opportunity to customize your stay with specific interests you may have such as bird watching, wilderness photography, artist studio tours and wetlands restoration to name a few. let us know if you have specific interests and/or if you'd like to perform in the
Salmon Jam festival and we can discuss it further when we meet one another in the videoconference that occurs after you complete your application.