2015 Week on the River
The second year of Week on the River was a joyful gathering. This year we held the program at a new location, on David and Jenna’s resplendent willow bar and fish camp. Counting visitors, we had 28 people ranging in age from 7-80-something tromping around in the mud. We enjoyed high water and warm days, with lots of mid-day swimming.
We welcomed a whole gang of dynamic new instructors. Kat McElroy of Nenana was the queen of fish cutting and smoking and taught everyone a thing or two about fantastic camp cooking. Willow basketry instructor Sara Hensel found endless inspiration in the willow bar that was our camp and led us in creating baskets, lures, forts and more. Primitive skills enthusiast Jeff Yacevich led antler fishing lures, tracking, knife sharpening and fish cutting. Bird expert Kristen Rozell led an exercise-rich bird walk and made some really good fish cakes. Fisheries biologist Laura Gutierrez led a hunt for juvenile fish and aquatic invertebrates with nets and unearthed the “king of the willow bar” baby pike. Science writer Ned Rozell canoed in just in time to lead a river-focused writing workshop that turned our one rainy day into a wonderful one. Tara helped with fish cutting, wild edibles, and net checking. Returning instructor Marianne Stolz led the boat building and bark carving. David Jonas served as a jack of all trades again, teaching dip nets, tracking, fish cutting, knots and more. Jenna Hertz was a bossy ringleader, taught some wild edibles, tin can fishing, fish prints and fish cutting and gave out prizes.
We caught, cut, smoked and cooked over 20 salmon and worked together to prepare daily “catch of the day” treats such as caviar, mushrooms, highbush cranberry juice and wild teas. Sonja Truffer won the boat race, beating out creative and river-worthy crafts like the “S.S. Margaret Thatcher” and the “Battle Barge”. The Tin Can Fishing Derby competition heated up as 18-year-old Grant Acerkman released his can along with a burst of flame from his hand. The judges were also wooed by an impressive performance by his father, Geoff, and the two tied as victors. This year’s fish prints were installed and displayed on the willow fort for a snobby art show that included willow monocles and live music. We started a new tradition on the last day of creating a giant land art sculpture to greet (or scare) river travelers. This year’s creation we named the “Manana” and it stands strong, (if headless after a wind storm) on the willow bar, watching the Tanana flow by and waiting for next year.
The 2016 Week on the River dates will be August 13-17. If you have any questions or would like to get involved as an instructor or participant, please contact program director Jenna Hertz at Jenna.Hertz@gmail.com.