Alaska

Program Itinerary

25 Day High School Service Program

Below is the planned itinerary for the 2019 VISIONS Alaska program. The actual schedule may be a little different because work, community activities and excursions can vary depending on changes in the weather, unexpected invitations from new local friends and other opportunities.

 

June 29–30: Arrive at the Fairbanks airport, where VISIONS leaders will be waiting to meet each student. All teens make a quick call home before the group heads out. (Additional calls home happen about once a week during the rest of the trip.) We stay the first night at a community center in Fairbanks and make the 5-hour drive to Tetlin the next morning, taking in Alaska’s astonishing wilderness along the way. Once in Tetlin, we settle into our homebase at the school, meet our primary community contacts and come together as a group for program orientation, icebreaker activities and our first Circle meeting. We wrap up the busy day with a welcome dinner.

 

July 1: Take a worksite orientation and tool safety class with our local VISIONS carpenter, breaking into small, rotating groups so each person gets to try all of the power tools and gains a solid handle on the work to come. During this introduction, everyone will complete a small carpentry project. This first full day in Tetlin also includes time to get oriented in the community, do a scavenger hunt and learn more about our immediate surroundings. To solidify our plans for community building during our stay, we end the day with a Circle meeting.

 

July 2 – 5: We start our first week with a full slate of worksites. For a couple days, rotating groups will take turns visiting and getting the hang of each project, whether it’s carpentry work on a community member’s home, building a smokehouse for preserving food in winter or leading informal day camp activities for Tetlin children. After that, participants choose which worksite they want to attend each day. Work ends a bit later than in other VISIONS programs—between 3 and 4 pm. But in this “land of the midnight sun” that still leaves plenty of time to play games with local kids, hear stories from elders, take short hikes in the surrounding wilderness and a boat trip with a local fisherman — all of which helps us get rooted in the community. We start implementing “homebase crew days,” when a rotating subgroup stays back to perform various errands for the larger group. We have Circle meetings every other evening for about an hour, and leave other evenings free to invite guests for dinner or attend community gatherings. On the Fourth of July, we host a big BBQ with local friends. Next up: prepare for ice climbing. preparations for ice climbing.

 

July 6 – 8: Drive to the wild-western town of McCarthy, where we set up campsites for two days of adventure, including exploring this former copper-mining hub at the foot of the Wrangell Mountains, ice climbing the Root Glacier and touring the historic Kennicott mine. Upon returning to our home base in Tetlin, we cook a hearty dinner and get a good night’s sleep in preparation for starting work again.

 

July 9 – 12: Dig in for a big week of work, which will get us to our 45th hour of community service! But it’s not all work and no play. We also take a boat trip to Big Lake with Darron, a local fisherman and friend of the program; travel up river to visit “Old Tetlin,” the original village; play games with local kids; help prepare fish and wild game for smoking; share meals with community friends; go canoeing in the Tetlin Wildlife Refuge; and learn about native plants while berry picking and taking short hikes. On the last day of this week, we’ll take it easy, sleeping in and hanging out with community friends, having a cookout and playing pick-up sports games.

 

July 13 – 15: Take a two-night backpacking trip in the Wrangell Mountains. We hike to our basecamp the first day, take day hikes the next day, make our meals over campfires and cook stoves, hang out with friends, take in the nature and wildlife, and hike out the last day.

 

July 16 – 20: Continue making progress on community projects, and relaxing after work with activities that may include a canoe trip at Moon Lake; lessons in birch bark basket weaving; fishing; learning to make local cuisine, going on picnics or taking a traditional steam bath in a structure built by past VISIONS volunteers. Now well established, our every-other-night Circle meetings deepen our communication and listening skills, and our understanding of what it takes to be part of a productive group.

 

July 21 – 23: After completing our last big workday, we acknowledge all of our accomplishments, take project pictures and celebrate with a fun-filled talent show. As we prepare to depart, we do a Big Clean to make sure we leave our home base in ship-shape condition. On our second-to-last day, we make a short jaunt to the town of Tok and visit Alaska’s famous amusement park, MukLuk Land. We fill our hearts and bellies at the goodbye dinner and then pack up for the trip home. The next morning after breakfast, we bid farewell to our Tetlin friends and hit the road to Fairbanks, making stops along the drive to drink in every drop of Alaska’s natural majesty. At the Fairbanks airport, leaders ensure everyone makes their flight. Most departures begin the evening of the 22nd and go into the early hours of the 23rd.

Below is the planned itinerary for the 2019 VISIONS Alaska program. The actual schedule may be a little different because work, community activities and excursions can vary depending on changes in the weather, unexpected invitations from new local friends and other opportunities.

June 29–30: Arrive at the Fairbanks airport, where VISIONS leaders will be waiting to meet each student. All teens make a quick call home before the group heads out. (Additional calls home happen about once a week during the rest of the trip.) We stay the first night at a community center in Fairbanks and make the 5-hour drive to Tetlin the next morning, taking in Alaska’s astonishing wilderness along the way. Once in Tetlin, we settle into our homebase at the school, meet our primary community contacts and come together as a group for program orientation, icebreaker activities and our first Circle meeting. We wrap up the busy day with a welcome dinner.

July 1: Take a worksite orientation and tool safety class with our local VISIONS carpenter, breaking into small, rotating groups so each person gets to try all of the power tools and gains a solid handle on the work to come. During this introduction, everyone will complete a small carpentry project. This first full day in Tetlin also includes time to get oriented in the community, do a scavenger hunt and learn more about our immediate surroundings. To solidify our plans for community building during our stay, we end the day with a Circle meeting.

July 2 – 5: We start our first week with a full slate of worksites. For a couple days, rotating groups will take turns visiting and getting the hang of each project, whether it’s carpentry work on a community member’s home, building a smokehouse for preserving food in winter or leading informal day camp activities for Tetlin children. After that, participants choose which worksite they want to attend each day. Work ends a bit later than in other VISIONS programs—between 3 and 4 pm. But in this “land of the midnight sun” that still leaves plenty of time to play games with local kids, hear stories from elders, take short hikes in the surrounding wilderness and a boat trip with a local fisherman — all of which helps us get rooted in the community. We start implementing “homebase crew days,” when a rotating subgroup stays back to perform various errands for the larger group. We have Circle meetings every other evening for about an hour, and leave other evenings free to invite guests for dinner or attend community gatherings. On the Fourth of July, we host a big BBQ with local friends. Next up: prepare for ice climbing. preparations for ice climbing.

July 6 – 8: Drive to the wild-western town of McCarthy, where we set up campsites for two days of adventure, including exploring this former copper-mining hub at the foot of the Wrangell Mountains, ice climbing the Root Glacier and touring the historic Kennicott mine. Upon returning to our home base in Tetlin, we cook a hearty dinner and get a good night’s sleep in preparation for starting work again.

July 9 – 12: Dig in for a big week of work, which will get us to our 45th hour of community service! But it’s not all work and no play. We also take a boat trip to Big Lake with Darron, a local fisherman and friend of the program; travel up river to visit “Old Tetlin,” the original village; play games with local kids; help prepare fish and wild game for smoking; share meals with community friends; go canoeing in the Tetlin Wildlife Refuge; and learn about native plants while berry picking and taking short hikes. On the last day of this week, we’ll take it easy, sleeping in and hanging out with community friends, having a cookout and playing pick-up sports games.

July 13 – 15: Take a two-night backpacking trip in the Wrangell Mountains. We hike to our basecamp the first day, take day hikes the next day, make our meals over campfires and cook stoves, hang out with friends, take in the nature and wildlife, and hike out the last day.

July 16 – 20: Continue making progress on community projects, and relaxing after work with activities that may include a canoe trip at Moon Lake; lessons in birch bark basket weaving; fishing; learning to make local cuisine, going on picnics or taking a traditional steam bath in a structure built by past VISIONS volunteers. Now well established, our every-other-night Circle meetings deepen our communication and listening skills, and our understanding of what it takes to be part of a productive group.

July 21 – 23: After completing our last big workday, we acknowledge all of our accomplishments, take project pictures and celebrate with a fun-filled talent show. As we prepare to depart, we do a Big Clean to make sure we leave our home base in ship-shape condition. On our second-to-last day, we make a short jaunt to the town of Tok and visit Alaska’s famous amusement park, MukLuk Land. We fill our hearts and bellies at the goodbye dinner and then pack up for the trip home. The next morning after breakfast, we bid farewell to our Tetlin friends and hit the road to Fairbanks, making stops along the drive to drink in every drop of Alaska’s natural majesty. At the Fairbanks airport, leaders ensure everyone makes their flight. Most departures begin the evening of the 22nd and go into the early hours of the 23rd.

Celebrating 30 Years