2017 Camp

Hot Times - Fire in the Forest!

Welcome to our 2017 Summer Camp: Hot Times - Fire in the Forest!

Monday, June 26 - Friday, June 30

Come spend a week outside exploring nature, being creative, hiking, making art, making friends, experimenting, and working with scientists in a real experimental forest. Wildfire is a fact of life in interior Alaska, and its aftermath has fascinating impacts on the forest's plants, soil, animals, and water. Come explore the regrowing forest at our camp in the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research Site and discover the surprises it has for us. Campers will leave with a deepened understanding and appreciation for fire in the forest, experience with professional science tools and methods, and potential continuing projects to develop science and leadership skills after the camp is over.

Photo: Bonanza Creek Bluff, where our camp will be held (credit: A. Lloyd).

Banner Photo: National Park Service

When does the camp take place?

The main part of the camp will run Monday, June 26 through Friday, June 30, from 9 am to 5:30 pm. We will also have an introductory meeting on the Saturday before camp (June 24, 3-5 pm, 3rd floor of the Murie Building on the UAF campus) and a Sharing Day at our camp site on Saturday, July 1 (10 am - 1 pm). On Sharing Day you can invite guests (friends and family) and show them what you have learned and made during the camp.

Where will the camp be held?

We will be spending a week in the forest of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research Site (BNZ LTER), learning about the impact of fire on many different aspects of the forest. The BNZ LTER is located about 20 miles south of Fairbanks, off the Parks Highway. It is a designated research area, so not only will you get to do your own research, you'll get to meet some of the researchers who are working there.

Who is eligible?

To participate in this camp you must:

  • Be in care at the time of the camp (e.g., in foster care, a group home, the temporary custody of a relative, or a shelter)
  • Be entering 7th, 8th, 9th or 10th grade in the fall of 2017
  • Be willing to spend a week (mostly) outside in the woods
  • Be excited about learning and trying new things!

You do NOT need to have any particular skills in science, nor do we care about your grades.

What does it cost?

The camp is free. We will provide snacks and lunch.

How do I apply?

All you need to do is fill out a simple application.


Applications will be accepted through May 15. We can only accept 14 campers this summer, so if we get more than 14 applicants we will select people by lottery. We will also keep a waiting list. We will let you know your status as soon as we have the list of accepted and wait-listed campers.

Who are the instructors?

We have six main instructors: the program director (Dr. Christa Mulder) and five camp counselors (Dr. Katie Spellman, Steve Decina, Kendra Calhoun, Theresa Villano, and Bessie Green). You can find out more about them here. We will also have guest scientists who are experts in the topic of the day and will teach us about their research.

What will my day look like?

  • You will either get dropped off at the Murie Building (on the UAF campus) between 8:45 and 9:00, or get picked up by one of our vans a bit earlier and brought there.
  • At 9 am we will drive to our field site at Bonanza Creek
  • We will start our day with some group activities and planning.
  • Then we will head into the field to explore the theme of the day. For example, we might investigate how fire affects landscapes one day, how it affect vertebrate animals on the next, and how it affects microbes on the third.
  • We will have lunch (provided) either in the field or back at our camp site
  • In the afternoon we'll participate in further exploration of the topic (e.g., look at samples under microscopes) and get involved in an art project related to the theme of the day
  • We'll close with some reflections on what we've learned and what we want to do next
  • You will be brought back to the UAF campus by 5:30 or to your pick-up point by about 6 pm.

What if it rains?

A bit of rain won't stop us from being outside but... we have some indoor activities planned if it buckets down all day. Those indoor activities will take place in a lab in the Murie Building on the UAF campus.

What do I need to bring?

You will need to bring clothes and sturdy shoes appropriate for spending a day in the woods! Bring rain gear and rubber boots if you have them, but if you don't, we will provide them. Electronics should be left at home.

After the camp

We will have regular activities after the camp to maintain connections between campers, and between campers and instructors or researchers.


If you have questions or concerns, please contact us.

Photos: Learning about invasive plants (R. Gilbert) ; pollen grains under the microscope (K. Spellman) ; sampling water (K. Spellman).