Denali Dispatch

It is our pleasure to present Dispatches, a journal of the goings on at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge.


Written by members of our staff, Dispatches is an opportunity to peek into life in Denali: wildlife sightings, Denali National Park issues, recipes from our kitchens, and insights into the guest experience at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge. Dispatches will carry on through the winter, when we hope to share stories of snowy ski adventures, deep cold, and the events of a small Alaskan community.


Our Community...A Family

October 22, 2015

Seated in tradition. Our 2012 Staff pose with one of Camp Denali's more classic pieces of transportation. Notice anything remarkable about that door?


After six years of spending my summers working in front of and behind the scenes at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge I have come to realize the importance of community. I have often been asked about life as a staff member. What is it like to live and work in a place like Denali National Park? 


For staff the days start early. Fueled by either coffee or black tea we greet the morning, often before morning has officially begun. From there a well-timed dance begins. Bakers and bus washers, breakfast cooks and naturalist guides moving in a synchrony that can only come with extensive practice and care. Performing duties with a diligence that can only come from a desire to own the results.


As a naturalist guide my days were often spent with the guests, exploring the tundra, seeking out those amazing processes that were happening all around. I cannot count the number of sandwiches that I have eaten while sitting in the tundra. I can say that the roasted vegetables, house made spreads, and fresh baked breads have never disappointed. I refuse to think of the number of cookies I have consumed over the years... lets just say more than three.


With 50 staff working full time between both lodges I consider our community small; the perfect size. After working a minimum of 10 hours each day you might expect people to scatter, to head for their cabins and not look back. Not so at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge. If anything, those hours between shifts are a time to come together. We often sit on one porch or another and look out on the landscape that we have found ourselves in. For many staff the sense of community and place is what draws them back year after year; the same could be said of our returning guests.


Somewhere between May and September a community is formed. You fall into your routine. Bonds are forged at bus wash and laughter is shared over laundry. Without realizing you start to rely on that one breakfast cook's laugh to brighten your morning. In a blink the summer is over, but the family that we formed without realizing holds fast and is present long after autumn colors have faded.


For myself, I could tell you the name of every staff member I worked with this year. I know where they came from and where they think they are going. I have listened to their life goals, the music they prefer and know if they sing off key. I have open invitations to visit on three continents and countless states. Like any family we have had our bright moments and times that, if anything, have drawn us closer together. But, in the end that’s exactly what we are behind it all, family.

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