"Everything I expected and much, much more!"
"To borrow a quote from a NC Outward Bound student, "I don't have much to say because what I saw and did is on my heart and not in my head."  This trip was one of those special once in a lifetime experiences  and I was certain of this almost from Day 1.  This trip and the family that I am now a part of with my fellow travelers has stretched me and changed me.  I will never be the same again.  What a blessing this Odyssey has been." 

"This experience was long enough to fully become a part of the new environment and lifestyle  long enough to fully relax, learn and grow." 

Anne Clark  AKO-02 Elon University

"Accommodations were exactly what I expected  a sleeping bag and the outdoors.  The expedition is well worth everything you get to see and experience.  The activities were everything I expected and more.  With this experience you will gain a "family" and have the experience of a lifetime.  You will laugh, test yourself, work with others and see and do things that others only see in books.  It will change you in the best way possible.  A Once  in  a lifetime trip." 
June Mayhew  AKO-02 UNC-CH

"Alaskan Odyssey 2002 was a once in a lifetime experience that will change your life.  You will look at things much differently and on a brighter note. 
The best activities of the trip in addition to spending time on Denali, Sea Kayaking, and backpacking in the Wrangell's, was the forming of new relationships.  It has been such an experience that I have no suggestions for improvement.  I can't think of any way it could have been better. 
I now look at my life and the world around me in a different way- a better way.  I accomplished new tasks, saw new faces and places, experienced the wilderness in a whole new way.  I made new friends and formed such a bond with all of them that I couldn't ask for anything more.  It was incredible!"  

Kyle Truitt  AKO-02 ASU

"The pace was fast, but we had time enough to relax and unwind. I loved sleeping every night outdoors- in the tent, it was awesome just to wake up and see everyone else looking so peaceful in their sleep- it brought a sense of camaraderie to the group.  In a sense, I wasn't expecting the rewards to be as magnificent as they were.  I know how cheesy this must sound, but this was a wonderful learning experience for me, and I can truly say that it "broadened my horizons." 
Three best activities- only three?  I have too many to name!  Sea Kayaking has my vote for the best activity of all mainly because I am not a hiker, I was able to for once, keep pace with everyone else.  We saw so much wildlife that it was hard to believe.  The views were too spectacular for me to put into words.  Bonanza Mine - The hike was wonderful and as a crew we pressed on through the blisters until we reached our goal  helping each other to the top to be rewarded with beautiful views.  Denali - The time we took to relax was wonderful!  The flight was magnificent!  Just seeing Denali in front of us, staring us straight in the eyes was a very moving experience.  Dave couldn't have put the sight any more eloquently when he described  this area as the "Throne Room of the Mountain Gods."

Jenny Lawrence AKO-02  Mooresville High School

It is one of a kind experience in which unique and permanent bonds are formed and a family like unit is created.  This trip exemplifies a personally stimulating experience from all aspects of life.  We emotionally bond and rely on one another.  Climbing and hiking is physically and religiously challenging as well.  You thank the Lord at the end of the day for the amazing feeling of accomplishment and for the safety of the group only to fall asleep immediately after from the workout.   

James Howard Alaskan Odyssey 2002
                                       Mooresville High School


To the North Country
Anne Clark

About this time a year ago, my mind was overflowing with the possibilities of a semester abroad in London.  When I wasn't cramming for tests, researching papers, or attempting to put together my technology portfolio, I was living and breathing "London."  That is until the topics for Junior Enrichment were made available online.  I had a tough time choosing between several of the options so many worthy causes, interesting travel opportunities in Europe, and possible summer jobs.  I noticed the option called Alaskan Odyssey, and I remember thinking, "Wow!  That would be cool, but there's no way on earth I'm going to ask my parents to send me to Alaska!"  As time passed, however, the idea for venturing northward would not completely leave my mind.  My sense of adventure kept tickling my imagination.  Finally, I called Dave Barlow, a high school geology and astronomy teacher in Mooresville, North Carolina, who is the director of the American Odyssey program, which sponsors the Alaskan Odyssey Adventure.  I suppose I am a hopeless romantic, but from the moment he began describing the breath-taking heights of the snow-capped peaks, the untamed wilderness, the clean fresh air, and wide-open spaces filled only with hardy Arctic animals, I was hooked!  I applied immediately and somewhat nervously accepted that for better or worse, during the summer of 2002, I would be traveling over 3000 miles from home with nearly complete strangers into a land where for half of the year, night comes only for two to three hours a day, where the snow never melts, where mosquitoes are so abundant, they are jokingly referred to as the state bird, and where survival is generally considered a full-time job.
I met my other six traveling companions, who would grow to be some of my closest and best friends, just two weeks before we embarked on our thirty-seven day adventure.  We began in Seattle, Washington and drove a rental van over 8,000 miles to see Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Rainier, the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia and the Yukon, the Top of the World Highway (so named because it is the highest elevated point at which you can cross from Canada into the U.S.), sled dogs in Iditerod, glaciers too numerous to count, and an abundance of wildlife like I never imagined still existed in our "civilized" world.  But, Alaska and Western Canada are not what we in the lower 48 would ever consider civilized.  I remember the excitement that would emanate from the van when we came to a town with more than three buildings!  Among our other thrilling moments were scaling and almost summitting Nigel Peak, a rocky 10,000 foot mountain in British Columbia, riding snow coaches onto the Athabasca Glacier, swimming in the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay (yes, there were icebergs floating only feet away from us!), rafting in dry suits on the Nenana River formed from glacial melting, flying onto the base camp of and spending the night on Denali (Mt. McKinley), sea kayaking off the Kenai Peninsula in southern AK, hiking 4000 feet in elevation over a nine mile trek to an abandoned copper mine, and riding on the Alaskan Marine Highway System, a ferry system which takes travelers to towns only accessible by boat or plane.
It would be impossible for me to express all that I learned and how much I grew over this five week long journey.  In fact, I am still continuing to recognize these things myself.  What I do already know is that this trip was the best experience of my life to date!  I can think of nothing more that I recommend to anyone, young or old, than traveling with this program wherever the road may lead. 
American Odyssey alternates its Alaskan trip and its American West trips each summer.  For freshmen, Alaska will again be the destination in 2004, but for sophomores, the Wild West is the next best thing!  Seniors, Jessie Arnold and Jennifer Caviness went on this western tour in the summer of 2001 and similarly could not speak highly enough of the experience.  Information on both trips, as well as other American Odyssey adventures scheduled throughout the year can be found at:

"Something hidden.  Go and find it.  Go and look behind the Ranges- Something lost
behind the Ranges.  Lost and waiting for you.  Go!"
~Rudyard Kipling

Each Expedition we do is made special by several of the activities we do.  One of the favorites is the "Giving of the Gifts"  
Dave - the Director, was given this gift at the closing ceremonies of Alaskan Odyssey 2002 by June Mayhew  - a NC Teaching Fellow and English Major at UNC-CH.   The "Gift" is a Book of Readings or Quotes from famous authors.  Their words are printed in black text.  June Mayhew's words are in blue text and explain how Dave and the American Odyssey program exemplify these quotes. 
Click on the link above for some pretty powerful stuff.