Father & Son Reflect on Summers Spent in Wrangell
SourDough News | September 10, 2013
Janet and Jack Carver got bear hugs from Smokey (aka Greg Carver) during BearFest in 2013.
Jack and Greg Carver have spent the last three summers living out of an Airstream trailer at the Nemo Campground while volunteering for the Wrangell Ranger District.
Why volunteer for the Tongass National Forest? You get to spend time in beautiful places, interact with people from all over the world, and well, there’s always the opportunity for something special to happen. Greg Carver recounts one of the more memorable events from three summers spent volunteering for the Wrangell Ranger District.
“I was at our campsite drinking coffee, watching the fishing boats in Zimovia Strait, when a robin flew from the brush and landed on my head,” said Carver. “It sat there with me for about a minute before flying off again. Even the wildlife is welcoming in Wrangell!”
Greg, his wife Janet, and son Jack were on vacation in Alaska in 2007 when they stopped in Wrangell. While camping at the Nemo Campsites, the Carvers met the campground’s volunteers and chatted with them about their responsibilities. The position sounded appealing to Greg—he really enjoyed his week camped in Wrangell and liked the idea of a volunteer position that entailed physical outdoor work.
A few years later, Greg and Jack applied to be the Wrangell Island Recreation Maintenance (WIRM) volunteers. Greg is a school teacher in Colorado, and he thought returning to Wrangell to volunteer with the Forest Service would be an adventurous way for him and Jack to spend their summer vacation together. Jack was twelve at the time, becoming one of the Forest Service’s youngest campground volunteers.
In addition to serving as campground volunteers, they perform general maintenance at Wrangell Island’s numerous recreation sites. This includes cleaning the restrooms, restocking firewood, cutting brush, painting, wood splitting, and picking up trash along forest roads. They also host a weekly potluck and interpretive campfire program at their campsite, which is popular with both locals and visitors. And of course, there is that unique opportunity presented by volunteering with the Forest Service—both Greg and Jack have cheerfully donned the Smokey Bear suit for the Fourth of July parade and other community events.
During three summers on the Tongass, the Carvers have made friends with many in the local community, canoed to remote cabins, and have been lucky enough to spot Alaska’s major wildlife, including wolves, bears, moose, and more porcupines than they can count.
For Greg, it’s also about quality time. He said, “The most special part of the job is just being able to work alongside my son for the summer. Not many fathers get to spend as much time with their kids as I do, and I appreciate every minute of it.”
In addition to providing so much needed work for the District, the Carvers love this opportunity. Greg said, “We’d just like to add that the USFS staff here in Wrangell has helped make our three summers here an incredible experience.”
By Corree Delabrue, Wrangell Ranger District