Teens who headed out for the YAKventure Mud Day got exactly what they signed up for.

“Today is pretty sweet,” said 15-year-old Gus Hoyman from Palmer. “I don’t think my mom is going to like how dirty I am when I get home.”

At a tidal mud flat near Beach Lake Park in Chugiak, nearly two dozen kids slipped and slid down silty hills.

“I’ve played on silt beds like this but I’ve never done anything quite as thrilling I guess. I’m not usually covered in mud,” said 14-year-old Heather Swartz from Wasilla.

Swartz said the trips helped her try something new. It got her out of her comfort zone and into the Alaska wilderness, she said.

The YAK is a Palmer nonprofit that gives kids a safe place to stay after school. During the summer, they go one step further to enhance summer vacation for kids in grades 6 through 12. Twice a week the organization offers free excursions that include hiking, mountain biking or kayaking.

“We’re trying to help get them off-screen, not plugged in anymore and [get them] interacting with their peers and friends and neighbors,” said YAKventure guide Kendal Blohm.

Blohm said she loves to see the youth take on new challenges.

“We went bouldering once and seeing kids faces light up when they accomplish or try doing it, it’s just the best,” she said.

Staff encourage youth interested in the program to sign up early because the adventures tend to fill up quickly.

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