Wild Alaska... with Kids

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A retreat company inspired by the king of self-reliant escapism can only mean very good, very exciting adventures are on the way. Founded by middle school teacher and Eagle Scout Joseph Dennis, Emerson Adventure Co is intent on helping people get retuned to nature with action-packed retreats in the Alaskan rainforest. And they’re not just for adults, but also for the kids that keep them wild. 

You heard that right: A retreat. In the wild rainforest of Alaska. With your kids! 

Joe and his team know this kind of adventuring can seem daunting for city folk, so they’ve handled all the logistics for you. All you have to do is show up, family in tow, and be willing to open your eyes to some of the most fun-filled, heart-opening bonding you can imagine. Watch in amazement as your kids step into empowerment, and feel gratitude as you yourself return to a sense of childlike wonder. 

Read more about Emerson Adventure Co.’s mission below and book your trip to Alaska here.

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Tell me a bit about the inspiration behind Emerson Adventure Co.

Throughout the twelve years it took to become an Eagle Scout, I developed a deep love and respect for nature, and for the challenges of survival. I'm also a life-long wrestler, which has gifted me discipline and patience. I've come to understand the vital balance between work and play, grit and zen, and time spent indoors and outdoors. I was inspired to create Emerson Adventure Co. because I long to share my passions as a teacher and an outdoorsman with others, in one of my favorite places in the world: Ketchikan, Alaska.


Transport us to Ketchikan – what makes it the perfect setting for this adventure?

When you land in Ketchikan, you'll hop on a fifteen minute ferry ride to the mainland; and in those brief moments, you'll hear the hum of floatplanes, see bald eagles soaring, breathe in crisp, clean air, and witness the sublime vastness of the Alaskan rainforest, big sky and sea. The sun glides beneath the horizon at eleven PM, and comes up again at four AM - endless summer days. When our tour runs, weather is never extreme: always a mild balance between gentle rains and cool, sunny days. Ketchikan is a small town filled with adventurous souls. It's a town built for beautiful experiences in nature.

How does your background as a teacher influence the programming you've lined up?

All of our programming is based on experiential learning. While we'll do plenty of verbal education on this trip (practical knowledge, like which berries are safe to eat), the majority of our tour will be spent getting our hands dirty. Sometimes, the classroom can lack those teachable moments that enable tangible, physical understanding - like tying a knot, learning efficient kayaking technique or proper zipline form. We take lots of time to reflect afterwards, too. These are all important parts of experiencing the adventure as individuals within a team.


Why do you think this is such a valuable experience for parents and kids to share together? What do you think parents will get out of this experience? Versus what will the kids get?

It's always important for parents and their children to spend uninterrupted time together, away from their screens. This trip offers the unique opportunity for participants to "switch roles" - adults get to return to their childlike selves, while the kids get to step into empowered positions of responsibility, like baiting a line or even reeling in a fish! The time and hard work it takes to achieve our visions are so worthwhile in the end. And to the parents: you won't have to plan a thing – no coordinating, no worries – we've got it all figured out for you.


What is your mantra for the trip in August?

Our company mantra is, "Unearth something wild within you." But for this particular summer, our mantra comes from our figurehead, Ralph Waldo Emerson: "All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen." Even as the founder of Emerson Adventure Co., I have to remind myself to trust the process and be open to the special folks that show up to join me on this adventure.