Last summer Cecil Forest, a Falls Church area resident, spent a month of summer vacation in a remote Alaska native village with VISIONS Service Adventures, an international community service based adventure travel program.
Forest was part of a group of high school students who did volunteer community service projects while living in an indigenous Athabasca village in the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. About 100 people live in the village, situated on the Tetlin River, and they welcomed the teen volunteers into their community with open arms.
In partnership with Tetlin Village Council and local community members, the teen volunteers constructed an outdoor cooking facility for use at community meals and events. This project entailed clearing and leveling ground, measuring and cutting lumber, digging postholes, placing and securing post beams, erecting and staining walls, framing the roof and installing screens and windows. Other services the teens provided to Tetlin included moving an outdoor community basketball court, assisting community elders with chores and small projects and organizing a small day camp for local children.
Forest and the other students also learned firsthand about Athabasca culture, backpacked and ice-climbed in the Wrangell-St. Elias Wilderness, attended Fourth of July celebrations in McCarthy, Ak., viewed wildlife and toured an old mining town.