Intentional Community

The intentional community at Camp Denali is unique. It may well be the single biggest factor that makes new staff eager to work with us, and it brings staff back year after year. Arriving as a new staff member, you find yourself surrounded by strangers. The anticipation of that is often scarier than the reality, because those strangers are also your coworkers, roommates, and neighbors, which fosters fast connections. Studies show that friendship-building is directly related to the amount of time spent together. One of the greatest gifts of Camp Denali’s live/work arrangement, is the genuine friendships that are cultivated through sharing a season in close proximity to one another.

The Rewards and Realities of Our Small Community

Being situated in a remote location without cell phone service and with limited wifi access means that staff are able to be present and invest in relationships with one other. Stepping away from some of the “conveniences” of modern life can seem like a sacrifice to certain staff, whereas for others it is a welcome change, but hopefully we all perceive that the biggest reward–our tight-knit community–heavily outweighs the costs.

Living at Camp Denali does not provide much personal space and there is virtually no privacy. Think of all the ways it is possible to pick things up through observation alone–budding romances, heartbreak, being sick, having a conflict with a coworker, etc.–and you can easily imagine how it can feel like everybody knows everything about everyone. Most staff generally feel they are living in a supportive, tight-knit small town, but you should be prepared for those times when it can feel like you are living in a fishbowl, and your every move is being watched.

Among the staff there will be at least one town gossip who will revel in telling you everyone's business, and at least one person who will pretend they don't know everything about you, although they probably do. Within a few weeks, most of us find a personal balance point between knowing all about our fellow staff and being known by them. It is crucial to allow others to have different balance points.

About Your Coworkers

Our staff come from all across the United States and bring a wide variety of experiences and interests. One of the first identifiable points of connection is our shared commitment to Camp Denali’s mission:

To provide active learning experiences and foster stewardship of the natural world through a tradition of community, excellence, and place.

Staff members range in age from 13 years old to 71 years young, with the average age being around 30. As you can imagine, collectively we bring a rich tapestry of life experience, work experience, personal interests, hobbies, and passions.

Community Building

Staff arrive a week prior to our first guests for Orientation Week. This time serves several purposes–cleaning and refreshing the lodge and guest cabins after being closed for the winter, job training, and also having time to get to know one another. It is highly unusual for us to hire staff who have a conflict with Orientation Week, and it is equally important for returning staff to participate. Orientation Week provides our staff with a solid foundation for a successful season, and much of that comes from the time we have to learn about each as coworkers and as friends.

Building our community is work that we all participate in. It is often as simple and organic as staff members wanting to share their talents and interests with others. Staff organize and lead all kinds of activities, whether they are planned and promoted or spontaneous and off-the-cuff. Additionally, the company typically sponsors one non-alcoholic event per month. Examples include:

  • A talent show
  • Murder mystery party
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Field day
  • Trivia night
  • Handmade gift exchange

To learn more about the social life at Camp Denali, VISIT THE PLAY page.

Community for a Lifetime

The end of the season is always bittersweet. Everyone is tired and ready for some well-deserved rest, but it is hard to sweep out your empty cabin and say goodbye. The off-season provides new opportunities for staff to travel together, visit each other in their winter homes, or even plan events that bring a slew of former staff together from across the country–like friendsgiving or a wedding!

Working at Camp Denali is an experience that connects you to an extensive community of fellow staff members, whether you shared a season together or not. For many, those are connections that last a lifetime.

An artist at work (Bill Berry) with a moose looking on

It was our camp. It wasn't the staff's or the management's, it was our camp together that we were building...It became sort of an extended family, because now we have kids all over the world! Anyone who has ever worked at Camp Denali can go and visit anybody else who worked there. It's a fraternity; it's family, you have to take 'em in."

– Ginny Wood. Boots, Bikes, and Bombers

Megan Meyer, Personnel Manager
PO Box 67, Denali National Park, Alaska 99755
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