By Robert Lucke
For those who want adventure coupled with learning in some of the most beautiful country the USA has to offer, consider the Glacier Institute.
Located in Glacier National Park and founded in 1983, the Institute offers outdoor education serving students of all ages with an array of hands-on, field based programs.
Adult field seminars run from February through October and cover everything from avalanches to grizzlies.
Youth Field Science and Adventure Camps are one-to-seven day learning adventures for children ages seven through high school that occur throughout the summer.
Glacier Naturalists are summer day programs for children ages six to 11.
Discovery School provides kindergarten through 12th-grade school groups with field science lessons during the academic year.
University and other groups can arrange special programs with the Glacier Institute.
There are some physical limitations to the classes. Most programs include some hiking and each class is broken down into levels of hiking.
Level 1 is an easy hike, up to three miles and not over 1000 feet elevation gain or loss.
Level two is a moderate hike of up to seven miles and 2000 feet elevation gain or loss.
Level three consists of strenuous hikes of more than seven miles and up to 3,000 feet of elevation gain or loss.
The variety of subjects offered is as complex as Glacier Park itself. A few of this season's selections include on April 8 and 9, a study of the owls of Glacier Park.
On May 6th there is a hands on study of Glacier's famous but shy Harlequin Ducks.
June 3 and 4, interested folks can learn all about Cougars and their illusive hunting patterns.
June 10th is a study of the effects of avalanches on flora and fauna.
Also on June 10 is a flower study called prairie patchwork, flower identification of prairies and foothills.
June 17th is a program learning about the orchids of Glacier. June 17th and 18th is a program billed "Spring Mushroom Extravaganza".
June 24th and 25th is a study of Glacier's Grizzlies and on June 24th is a bird identification class on the east side of the Park.
Song birds, swallows and swifts and birding on Glacier's west side is held on June 25th.
And the list goes on throughout the summer and well into October of 2000.
For children and young adults there is an abundance of camps throughout the summer.
For instance from July 23 to 28th for ages 12 and 13 there is a wildland hiking and rafting class.
The course description asks, "Do you love to hike? Have you always wanted to learn more about hiking and the environments to be explored along the way? Then this is the camp for you! We will focus on outdoor skills like map and compass, backcountry safety, Leave No Trace, and environmental education sessions that will prepare you to explore and understand the awesome areas in and around Glacier National Park. A whitewater raft trip is included to learn about other exciting means of travel and adventure." There is a limit of 20 students and the cost is $300 a person.
Adult and student programs which are overnight and more are held at the Big Creek Outdoor Education Center at Polebridge or the Glacier Park Field Camp in the park at West Glacier.
There are lodging and dining options.
Costs for adult classes range anywhere from $30 to $200. Youth classes that last longer are more expensive.
For further information or to obtain the Glacier Institute's 2000 catalog, call them at 406-755-1211.