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YUKON FLATS NWR: Camp Nahshii - Best kept secret in Interior Alaska
Alaska Region, August 3, 2012
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Paul Williams Sr, retired FWS employee and land owner of Camp Nahshii, works on the finishing touches of a hand crafted birch freight sled.  GIS specialist Sheila Dufford looks on.  The sled was later raffled off to raise funds for operation of the camp.
Paul Williams Sr, retired FWS employee and land owner of Camp Nahshii, works on the finishing touches of a hand crafted birch freight sled. GIS specialist Sheila Dufford looks on. The sled was later raffled off to raise funds for operation of the camp. - Photo Credit: Mark Bertram-FWS 2012
Freshly harvested 30 pound king salmon is brought into the camp to teach youth proper fish handling and curing.  Salmon are later dried and smoked or prepared for the evening meal.
Freshly harvested 30 pound king salmon is brought into the camp to teach youth proper fish handling and curing. Salmon are later dried and smoked or prepared for the evening meal. - Photo Credit: Mark Bertram-FWS 2012
The line to shoot at the archery range was never ending.  Refuge Staff offered archery instruction to over 60 youth.  Compliments to Alaska Department of Fish and Game for loan of the archery equipment.
The line to shoot at the archery range was never ending. Refuge Staff offered archery instruction to over 60 youth. Compliments to Alaska Department of Fish and Game for loan of the archery equipment. - Photo Credit: Mark Bertram-FWS 2012

Camp Nahshii was carved out of the Alaska wilderness in 2010. Situated within the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, the camp is on the Yukon River about 30 miles upstream from Beaver, Alaska. Volunteers from all over the United States along with many Alaska residents have built this camp from the ground up. Trees have been felled and lumber milled on site to build a multi-acre complex of structures that support a camp with diverse opportunties and activities. Retired FWS employee Paul Williams Sr. has generously offered use of his private native allottment for camp operations. Paul has partnered up with "This Generation Ministries" director Ron Pratt and together they have developed a youth camp that ministers to youth that suffer from domestic, drug and alcohol afflictions. Another major focus of the camp is to learn about Athabascan culture, subistence living and survival training which presents an excellent outreach opportunity for the Refuge Staff. Each June over 60 youth from surrounding villages gather at this camp for two weeks to heal and learn. The camp offers instruction on canoeing, boat building, hunting, fishing, trapping, dog sled building, preparing and curing salmon and moose, tanning hides, and much more. Youth also have access to a complex agility course.

In 2012 Refuge Staff were invited to the camp to educate youth about the refuge system and teach outdoor and science skills. With 60 youth from over 8 Yukon Flats villages concentrated in one spot, we seized the opportunity. Over the course of two days youth learned how to safely and competently shoot a bow and arrow; navigate by global positioning system, map and compass; and operate radio telemetry equipment. Biologist Mark Bertram, GIS Specialist Sheila Dufford, Subsistence Coordinator Vince Mathews, and Law Enforcement Officer Mimi Thomas were well received during the program and deluged with many questions regarding what we do in our jobs, the refuge system, and career opportunities.

Participation at the camp has grown steadily from 30 to 50 to 60 youth over the past three years. In 2013 Refuge Staff will continue to be a part of this program and hope to expand our contributions to the camp by organizing gun safety and archery instruction training for the camp staff and securing a grant to purchase archery equipment.


Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov



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