Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
KODIAK: Hitting the Pavement with Salmon (Pop-up Salmon Camp)
Alaska Region, January 19, 2017
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The concrete canvas: The before picture of the location for the first Kodiak Pop-Up Salmon Camp.
The concrete canvas: The before picture of the location for the first Kodiak Pop-Up Salmon Camp. - Photo Credit: Shelly Lawson/FWS
Children and parents begin to gather.
Children and parents begin to gather. - Photo Credit: Shelly Lawson/FWS
Participants gather around teen volunteer Mattie Gross who is giving them a stamp for completing the salmon station.
Participants gather around teen volunteer Mattie Gross who is giving them a stamp for completing the salmon station. - Photo Credit: Shelly Lawson/FWS

Hosting an outdoor science camp in a paved city space surrounded by walls might seem like a poor location choice. It does have its drawbacks. However this concrete canvas was transformed into eight different interactive and wild areas for learning and sometimes location is everything. The camp took place in front of Main Elementary School which hosts a lunch program that serves over 100 children every day throughout the summer. Creating a camp that started after lunch right outside the cafeteria doors made it easy for nearly one hundred children to join in for hours of science play and education for the first “Pop-Up Salmon Camp” in Kodiak, Alaska.


Students became salmon weaving and dodging bears (other campers wearing bear hats), fisherman and other threats as they ran through a salmon life cycle game. Later at another station the children became baleen whales and experienced different feeding adaptions of gray verses humpback whales (Did you know gray whales suck and filter mud for food?).

A Pop-up Salmon Camp would not be complete without a station dedicated to classic science camp games such as “Bear, Salmon, Mosquito” which is a game involving two teams, luck, strategy and quick feet. Camp songs were also featured including Salmon Camp favorite, the Salmon Song. Check out the video link below for the movements and lyrics for this much loved song.

The Kodiak Refuge launched the Pop-Up Salmon Camp as an effort to reach broader audiences. As 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of Salmon Camp, this milestone added to the celebratory mood and coincided well with this new method for outreach.

The teens of the Kodiak Refuge Youth Conservation Corp (YCC) led many of the Pop-up Camp stations. To gain skills and experience, in the weeks leading up to camp the YCC shadowed the regular Summer Science and Salmon Camp crew to observe lessons, songs and games.

As Pop-up Salmon Camp drew near, Kodiak Refuge rangers and the YCC crew stopped in at the lunch program to personally invite children and parents. Other programs in the community also received an invite. The Kodiak Island Housing Authority (KIHA) was invited to bring youth from their summer program. The KIHA helps to provide housing to low and moderate income families and also provides mentorship and leadership programs for youth. Their group of upper elementary and middle school aged youth were exceptional participants and set a great example for the younger learners. The Kodiak Island Borough School District’s special needs summer school programs were also invited and their students were enthusiastic learners and excited to participate in camp.

The success of the event and the professionalism of the teen leaders inspired refuge staff to tears; they thanked the teens for their dedication and offered congratulations for a job well done. Participants and staff alike look forward to more Pop-Up Salmon Camps in the future.

The take home message for the event is to be creative and think outside the box for ways to reach different audiences in communities. The Kodiak National Wildlife suggests recruiting some teens to help lead, to find out where the kids are and bring the resources to them and of course be open minded about location because in rare cases salmon and pavement pair well together.

Hear the youth of the Kodiak Refuge Salmon Camp describe camp and find out what question stumped the campers.
Contact Info: Michelle Lawson, 907-487-0283, Michelle_Lawson@fws.gov
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