I had coined the phrase “extra tuff boot camp” in one of my early blogs about taking the Environmental Rhetoric course. I shared it with Dan, and he immediately adopted it. For those outside of “extra tuff boot” habitat, extra tuffs are a brand of fish boat and dock friendly brown rubber boot, standard issue for pretty much every Alaskan who works and plays outdoors.

For example, upon re-entering extra tuff boot habitat after a 25+ year hiatus, my grown daughter and I were visiting friends in Haines. On a whim, we went to a local bar where a beautiful young guide and war vet (aka Hurricane ‘Rita) was teaching a beginning salsa dance class. She was stunning, in her striking salsa garb and… yes, extra tuffs. Utterly charming. Hands down, they are the most common foot gear you’ll see in Alaska. Some are dismayed, though, by the far inferior durability of the current made-in-china incarnation of extra tuffs. Some are even jumping ship to a sort of neoprene booty with a more substantial sole than kayak mukluks. But I digress…

Extra tuffs on the left, the alternate on the right,

for those who don’t like the non-US-made brand

currently on the market.


From 9am to well into late evening, Zach and Dan shared valuable information about human and natural history, stuffing 10 lbs of material into a 5 lb sack (Dan’s words.) Every day, we traveled to some different part of the island and studied natural history.


The group heads off to “class” on the far side

of the Hobbit Hole. The Inian Island Institute is

in the distance.


Prof Brown and his young assistant illustrate the

effect of the moon and the sun on Earth’s tides.


Lunch break, natural history class.

During the day and at night around the campfire, we made presentations in front of each other, practicing what we’d learned about speech structure and the ability to garner trust, confidence and credibility from the listener, aka “ethos,” a term used in classic debate.

We started with short stories about ourselves, then longer “testimonials” (the same structure used for public commentary for civic and other policy issues.)

Then, we brainstormed issues that would become our topics for our practice debates, voted on our favorites, teamed up and squared up, the Affirmative 1, the Negative 1, the Affirmative 2, the Negative 2, the crossfire for 20+ minute, juried (by staff, interns and instructors) debate sessions.

Examples of the debates… voting should be mandatory in the U.S., we are now in the Anthropocene epoch, (barely 11,500 years into the current epoch, the Holocene), we need a carbon tax levied on fossil fuel corporations… you get the picture.

The two teams that won the most points debated the following, in front of the entire group on our last morning together. “Trump is not the enemy.” The Affirmative and the Negative sides both did excellent jobs stating their cases. One side won by a large margin. I’m not going to say which. What do you think, and why?


New life from old.