Final Reflections

As the trip is coming to a close I feel like a stronger, more independent person. I know much more now than I did before I left. Now I know how to pitch a tent, catch deep-sea fish, and even work on/edit a website. I do miss my parents right now but I know when I get home I will miss Alaska. I hope to come back here someday, maybe with my family or my kids in the future. In conclusion, going on this trip has probably changed my life for the better even when it had its lows.

Mike Sitar

 

When people say it’s the little things that mean the most I agree. I agree because one of my favorite memories is sitting around the campfire at Seaside Farm singing songs and having a great time with Mossy. That is how I will remember Alaska, as a fun, carefree place.

Alivia Shumaker

 

These three weeks in Alaska have been truly amazing! All the way from meeting new people to kissing a salmon and everything in between. I’m so glad that I have had this amazing opportunity to come to Alaska and be able to see all of the places. I know that I will never forget Alaska and one day I hope to come back to this awesome, pretty, exciting place. I wouldn’t trade this trip for anything. I’m so thankful to be a part of this trip.

Emma Flynn

 

As I look back at the time I have spent in Alaska I believe I truly will miss this experience. I have made so many new friends in these past 25 days that I will never forget. I have also learned many lie long lessons and morals to live by. A few months before the trip I was not sure that I want to go and be away from some of my close friends and family but I thought hard and from the help of a close friend I decided to go and make the best of the trip. I am very glad I went because I’ve learned a lot, met new people, and made new friends. I will never regret or forget this trip.

Bryce Munn

 

This trip has been so amazing! I have been able to see and do so many things that are a once in a lifetime experience. Its so cool being able to tell all of your friends that at age 15 I’ve climbed mountains, fished for Pollock, explored a waterfall, and so many other amazing things in Alaska! We’ve been to so many museums and visitor centers that I’ve lost count. It’s nice going to Alaska but its even better when you get to learn a ton about it. Alaska’s beauty is indescribable; I mean we stop every ten to twenty minutes in the vans to take pictures. I’m so glad I decided to go to Alaska.

Katie Warsop

 

Alaska is such a neat place with a lot of really great people. It was hard saying a lot of goodbyes. I really felt like I was part of the family at Seaside Farm. Although we didn’t really get to talk I felt like I new Jack from Grizzly Bear Campground. That’s what is so great about this trip, there’s no way you could’ve done this if you just vacationed here.

Matt Lubis

 

I truly loved Alaska. I loved the animals and I loved seeing them in their natural habitat. I also loved the view I saw from everywhere I went. I would love this whole trip except the only thing I didn’t like was camping and some of the drama. I hope to come back with different people and have a better experience.

Loren Bates

 

This trip has been amazing. I have ran my first race, went on a boat for the first time, and camped my first night here in Alaska. I have seen animals that I had previously only seen in zoos and movies. Before the trip, I wanted to move to Arizona and be an engineer. Now, I want to move to Alaska and work with sled dogs or be a botanist. This trip has changed my life for the better.

Nicole Wilson

 

Gandhi once stated, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” With this Gandhi believes that we as humans need to help others which will then help us in the journey of finding ourselves. In 2010, I sat in little Marshall, MI with a population of 14, 646 people. I was ONE of those 14, 646 people bound to reach out and find myself and explore who I was. Before I boarded that bus at the middle school I was immature, curious, nervous, but 14 and ready for an adventure. I arrived here but could not find the words to express the beauty of Alaska. When I was here I made mistakes and had regrets. I returned home with so many new friendships, thousands of memories, and was only beginning to find myself. In 2012, I sat in little Marshall, MI with a population of 14, 424 people and was still curious about who I was. Once more I boarded the bus at the middle school but this time I was 16, still curious, giggly, but still ready for more adventures. As I came back as a junior beader I started helping and supporting others. When one was down I was there to pick them up. That’s when I started to find my lead. I returned home with a different look on life to be more positive. In 2013, I sat in little Marshall, MI with a population of 14, 553 people and knew there was still more to find myself. I boarded the bus at the middle school but this time I was 17, still curious, more serious, but was still ready for more adventures. This time I was a junior leader. I helped others when they were lonely, helped kids hike mountains, and even helped kids through high school while they were freshmen and I was a senior. I found myself as a 17 mature, full of adventures, and had my life plan ready to go. I realized I was put here to be a leader and impact Marshall’s youth. When we got home and the past kids told me that I impacted their lives and that they were glad we crossed paths. There was one place, a handful of people, and one organization I could give thanks to. Going back to Gandhi’s quote I agree with him. I believe that you have to help others in order to find who you are. One last thing Gandhi also stated, “Satisfaction lies in the effort not in the attainment full effort is full victory.” With this Gandhi expresses that we as humans won’t be satisfied unless we put full effort into something. But no matter what you’ll never be truly satisfied with yourself. For three years I put a countless amount of effort into finding myself and becoming a leader. I wasn’t supposed to come back this year unless I won a scholarship which I did. But Gandhi also finished with “If you did indeed put in your blood, sweat, and tears into something then it is worth it.” In 2014, I put blood into making sure Arianna got out of the pool with a bloody nose, sweat into making sure my group made it up and down Exit Glacier safely, and sadly tears when it is time to wrap up the Alaska Great Lakes Project and saying goodbye to such amazing friendships, countless adventures, and for helping me find myself over the years. As I’m now 18, mature, full of adventures, and ready for my future. I will cherish everything the Alaska Great Lakes Project helped me with and my goal is to leave an impact on this group like they have to me and to put in blood, sweat, and tears into my life goal of becoming a teacher and to continue to lead our youth. Without the classes of 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018 I would not have been able to find myself. Without my parents continue to explore my happy place. Without you reading this I would just be one of about 15, 000 people in a little town called Marshall, MI.

Emily Marshall

 

Alaska is way different than I expected it to be. I expected smaller towns and a lot less people. I also didn’t expect to make as many friends as I did. I only knew about five people before I came on the trip. This trip has been a great learning experience for me. Alaska is definitely different than when my parents came 25 years ago. Though the view is still absolutely amazing, cities have grown and the land has changed a lot too. I have really enjoyed this trip and I hope that I can come back to Alaska someday.

Alexandra Egnatuk

 

Alaska has become a home away from home for me. I have made so many memories and new friends that I will treasure forever. Before I left for Alaska I wasn’t so sure about being away from home for 3 ½ weeks but now that I’ve actually done it, I’m very glad I did. Being able to get up close and personal with wild animals was a great feeling. We had whales right up next to our boat. In Denali a red fox was on the road right outside our tour bus. There were moose maybe 4 feet away from some vans as we drove by and two of our Denali bus tour groups had a momma bear and her cub in the road. We had the chance to climb Exit Glacier and Mt. Healy. Climbing both the glacier and the mountain were great accomplishments. Being at the top of them both was a great feeling and made you feel like you completed something big. Alaska is better than what I thought it would be, even though I’ve seen many great pictures and heard many stories about Alaska from my brother I never pictured it like this. There’s not a single word, sentence, paragraph, or book that can explain how great Alaska is. You have to be here to see it and understand how absolutely great it is first hand.

Taylor Horn

 

Alaska has changed me. It has changed me for the better and I’m grateful for that. I might not have totally changed but I’m aware of all the little things now. Alaska isn’t just a “once in a lifetime” trip, it’s a place that will be here for years to come. I’m definitely planning on coming back whenever I can. Reflecting back on this trip means it’s almost over, which saddens me. All of this is just a memory now. I hope every memory stays with me forever so I can treasure it and pass it on to others. I’m glad that I got this experience.

Mackenzie Horn

 

Visiting Alaska has been an excellent time. I’ve learned a lot, met new people, and done things I never thought I would or could do. Alaska is better than I expected and no picture can show the real beauty of the last frontier. Looking back it seems like the trip has gone by so fast, yet we have been here for a long time. I am very grateful for the opportunity of a lifetime to visit Alaska and I will always remember this positive experience.

Josie Croce

 

Waking up at 2 a.m., a 3 hour bus ride, a 6 hour flight to get to the last frontier. After all of that traveling the mountains emerged in the Anchorage horizon. My life will be forever changed after this trip. I learned many things about myself and some of my interests have changed along this journey. Alaska is a beautiful place that I hope to visit again with my family.

Noah Coulter

 

Alaska is not what I expected it to be. It is way better! I got to hang out with some of my best friends and make lots of new friends and memories. Alaska has opened up my eyes to new places and new friendships. I got to climb Mt. Healy, climb Exit Glacier, go whale watching, run a 10K, and so much more! I got to experience so many things. Alaska is so beautiful; everyday I see a new view. Everyday I get to be with an awesome group! I have had so much fun each and everyday. Alaska is indescribable there are no pictures, books, or even words to describe what I have done and seen everyday! Alaska is one of my favorite places and will always be remembered forever. Being able to wake up every morning with an amazing view and amazing people is such a joy. It has been a blast and I will always remember Alaska and AGLP 2014. I hope that someday I will come back and experience Alaska all over again. It never gets old seeing a new view and hanging out with so many great people.

Ariana Johnson

 

Before I came to Alaska, I thought it was going to open spaces. Boy was I wrong! Alaska has mountains, everywhere you look. There are trees but they are mostly from the pine family. I can’t wait to bring my family back to Alaska. This has been a great trip and I have learned so much that I want to share with them. We have traveled north to Fairbanks and south to Homer and Seward. What an amazing state!

Matteo Solis

 

Look at all we’ve done in 3 ½ weeks. From Palmer to Denali to Fairbanks back to Denali then Palmer again, then Seward then Homer and Palmer again. We’ve been all over and done so much. Sleeping in tents in broad sunlight for 3 weeks isn’t an easy thing to do but we all did it. All of us. Even when we didn’t have anything to do, we still had fun. I am sad this is the last year but I am happy I had such a good experience even van drives were awesome. This has been one of the best trips of my life.

Jack Merucci

 

This trip has been great with all the ups and downs everyone has enjoyed this trip. But sitting back and thinking about it the same sad question arises. Will I ever be back to the places I went to? Will I ever see people like Mossy and Captain Jack again? To be honest, I don’t know yet. But, what I do know is that there are more people like them out there you just need to look for them . This trip has clearly taught me that every one has a story. These stories are what influence others. So, will I be back? Maybe, this giant state is too big to ignore. Alaska is a magical place where I hope to come back to one day.

Seb Loonen

 

Before I came to Alaska I was nervous, excited, worried, and happy. At the end, I’m so glad I came. I’ve had a great time and wish I didn’t have to leave. I love it here and had a great time with my new and old friends. This trip was my first time sleeping in a tent, but my tentmates made sure that I enjoyed it. I was concerned about the long drives being boring but I was never bored in my van. I can’t wait to go home and sleep in a real bed but I will always remember my first trip to Alaska.

Natalie Wilson

 

My first year I was enthralled by all the beauty and freedom that Alaska captures so perfectly. I loved the open air and beautiful sights. This year I felt as though I was returning home. I connected with so many people, that I have never even met. I saw the same sights I saw last year through different eyes. I saw the beauty of Alaska once again and it was just as awe inspiring. The sights would never get old and I am deeply saddened by the trips retirement. However, this experience will stay with me forever and all of this beauty will always be here waiting ready for many others to experience it. Perhaps I will return some day to capture new beauties.

Asher Werthimer

 

This trip has been one of the greatest experience of my life. Without it I would be a different person. In the past twenty days I’ve made friends, gotten to know people better, learned about the environment and my surroundings, and I’ve even picked up a bit of Dutch. I’ve grown so much in the past three weeks in ways that I never would have without the Alaska Great Lakes Project. Over the past three weeks I’ve witnessed a world so different than the small town on Marshall. I’ve met warm, friendly, accepting people here when I thought it’d be just the opposite. The people I’ve encountered during the Alaska Great Lakes Project have changed my life in ways that can’t be reversed. In many ways I had forgotten what it was like to be completely inexplicably happy; here I’ve rediscovered the feeling. This trip has exceeded my expectations by miles. When I signed up for this project I no idea of what I was getting in to. As the days went by I realized that it was so much more amazing than I could imagine. Quite simply, you can’t put this experience into words that are even close to being accurate. The pride I felt at the top of Mt. Healy was so much more than just pride. It was pride and amazement and exhilaration and so many more feelings mixed together. In a way the entire trip was just that, so much more. In conclusion, this was an amazing experience for me. I learned about myself, others, and the environment. I’ve filled twenty-five days with happiness and laughter and without it I wouldn’t be the person I am now.

Derry Kramer

 

I have been reading back through my journal and all that I wrote. As I read through it all I think of is how amazing it is that I can do all those things and how much fun I had doing it. I then read what I wrote before the trip. I was surprised with what I had wrote. I thought it would be cold and that I would always be hungry but I was wrong. This trip will stay with me forever.

Brian Huyge

 

At the beginning of the trip, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t want to research anything about Alaska because I wanted to experience it firsthand. Learning about Alaska this way lets me think abot Alaska how it is, not how somebody else does. Before I worried about time and wile I sill do I feel like there wasn’t much else we could do in our 3 ½ weeks. Being on this trip makes me not want to leave. I am still glad to have come here.

Kendra Laupp

 

1 day, 2 days, 21 days gone within a second. Do you want to go home? No, because waking up to snowy mountains, a cool summer breeze, an outlook over the bay, can you see that in Michigan? No. This trip has changed me in many ways, personally I believe I have grown up a little and found that my friendships I already had have grown, and already had have grown, and I also have a new perspective on life. At the beginning of the trip Ishtar asked me why I applied for the AGLP trip, my response was “I want to explore and learn new things, and my curiosity of being somewhere new.” Because I’ve got to explore just some of its beauty, I will come back to hopefully see the rest. I’m glad I was accepted on the AGLP trip because if I had not gone on this trip I wouldn’t have come later in life.

Stephanie Leugers

 

Even though AGLP 2014 will be the last trip and the end of an era I am glad to have been apart of it for the past 10 years. AGLP is much more than just an adventure in Alaska. Much more than awesome scenery, watching whales, climbing mountans, or seeing glaciers everywhere. I have had the privilege of making this trip 4 times and I believe it’s the people that make each trip unique. I enjoy making long lasting friendships with the kids, the leaders, other drivers, and the people I’ve met that live in Alaska. All because of AGLP. AGLP is also about self discovery for all who participate. Its so much fun to watch these kids grown and discover so much about themselves in such a short time. There are so many things on this trip that the participants experience for the first time like flying in a plane, seeing and climbing mountains, being right in the middle of a pool of whales, finishing a 10K race, watching a baseball game with no lights at 2 a.m., or taking a bus ride through Denali National Park and seeing all types of wild life and seeing Denali the Big One. They can now say that they have done all of these things and much more. I am glad to say that I was a part of all of that with them. Even though this adventure is ending the friendships made will last forever.

John Vaughn

 

It’s sad to see this trip come to an end but like all good things this too must come to an end. These 25 days have gone by way too fast. It feels like our adventure together is just beginning. I’ve met some amazing people and made memories that will last a lifetime like hiking beside a glacier and an orca swimming beside our boat. Alaska Great Lakes Project has made such an impact on my life. I’ve never been so attached to a place; it’s like my second home. I don’t want to go back to Michigan but I know someday I will come back here. Without the same people it won’t feel right but nothing will ever compare to this experience.

Asha Ritchie

 

At the beginning of this trip I had no idea what to expect. Now that the trip is almost at an end I can say that this trip has forever changed me. I have experienced things in these last few weeks that some people will never experience in their entire life. The people on this trip have become part of my family. This trip and the people on it will always have a place in my heart and this has been one of the best adventures in my life thus far.

Kelsie Hicks

 

This time around has taught me many things. This was a different kind of trip entirely. It feels as thug these 3 weeks have been stretched and condensed at the same time. The people I have met have canted me. The places I have been to have changed me. This trip has further brought me closer to myself. With each day, I’ve grown in some way; sometimes I cannot pinpoint how I have changed. However, I know I am in some way more evolved than the day before. I in no way regret coming back to Alaska, and I think everyone involved with AGLP for having an impact on me.

Garrett Sander

 

Coming to Alaska has been an amazing experience.  I really enjoyed coming back to the land I left 20 years ago.  There is so much that I remember, and also so much that I forgot.  The fireweed is more gorgeous than I remember.  The vistas are still breathtaking.  Every person we met was amazing, including all of the AGLP travelers.  As with any group that is together for an extended period of time, we had our ups and downs, which only led to us becoming closer as a group.

Courtney Cavinder

 

The past few weeks have been filled with awakening experiences. Living out of a van and tent with over 60 other people has a tendency to open your eyes to the differences between “needs” and “wants”. I believe I can speak for the majority when I say that this simple living lifestyle is a relief from our typically complicated lives. We have learned to depend on each other and work as a unit. If someone is unsure on how to complete a task, there are at least a few others feeling the same and at least a dozen who are eager and willing to help find a solution. There is never a single person to blame for failure and this gave many people the courage to try new things. The AGLP 2014 crew has been truly inspiring. None of us are the same person we were three weeks ago, and I would not want to change a thing about AGLP 2014. It has been a great run, AGLP. Thank you for making me who I am today.

Olivia Gary

 

And the 25th year sends AGLP out with a bang! There are elements of this trip that past participants reminisce about. There was the time they saw a bear and her cubs, how clearly Mt. McKinley stood out among the clouds, the time they stumbled across a moose on a playground, in the street or a local parking lot. Maybe they were lucky enough to see a whale breach. The view from Mt. Healy took their breath away. This year, we saw it all, did it all, and lived every moment to the absolute fullest! After 25 years, this trip runs like a well-oiled machine. All parts come together to complete tasks and ultimately create an end product. The exciting part is that placing a new group of participants in a nearly identical environment with consistent activities and experiences results in a strikingly unique outcome every year. AGLP isn’t about coming to Alaska for the mountains and the wildlife. It isn’t about sleeping in a tent for the first time, then continuing to live outside for three weeks. It isn’t about the museums, trails, and boat rides. Those are just the things we see and do. AGLP is about the people. Each year the self-growth, developing perspectives and budding friendships come together to create a unique dynamic that cannot be replicated. So here we are at the end of another trip. I’ve been here before. Typically I would say it is only the beginning. Friendships are solidifying, ideas are forming and minds are being opened to new possibilities. But this year is different. I am grateful to achieve closure. I have had the pleasure of traveling with AGLP as a participant, a junior leader, and now as an adult. I hope that I’ve had even the slightest portion of an impact on this trip as it has had on me. I feel sorry for the younger participants who will not have the opportunity to revisit Alaska with AGLP. They will have one version of this great story ingrained in their minds. Some of us have chapters. Others have entire volumes and collections of this great AGLP story. All I can think is, thank God we went out with a bang! This memory will have to last a lifetime.

Danielle Hurst

 

Each Alaska trip has always taught me something new about myself, provided many laughs along with great stories to share, and friendships with others whom in which our paths may have not crossed otherwise. Alaska has reminded me of the importance of simplicity in life and living life to the fullest. It is bittersweet knowing that this is the end of an amazing trip, but thinking about all that this trip has given me I can’t help but say I have been beyond blessed to be a part of the AGLP family.

Kimber Tarkiewicz

 

My favorite activity on this trip was running in the 10K and getting a personal best time. This was my favorite activity because I was running my limit on how far could I could run and it felt like my legs were about to fall off. On this trip I learned that I like running in races. I wish I could come back to Alaska as a junior leader but I can’t. One day I hope to come back with my family.

Andrew Kiessling

 

Final reflection has to go back to God, our heavenly father and creator of all this. This being Alaska and the ginormous, bodacious, topography, the people, and interactions of AGLP. To step out of our comfort zones, to step out of our “normal” day and see the awesomeness of the “not normal” to us. And the challenge of bringing the awesomeness back to Marshall back to my day-to-day normality. AGLP has provided the opportunity for this awesomeness, this gift from our creator.

Bob Moss

 

Alaska, I can’t get you out of my mind. I keep thinking about how much I enjoy visiting, how great your mountains and glaciers look. I daydream about the people I have met, the towns and animals I have seen. Replaying pieces of my visit I’ve memorized Hatcher Pass and the way it looks has melted my heart. Every time I think about it I catch myself smiling. Even though none of us know what the future holds, I know one thing for sure Alaska is one of the best things that’s happened to me. I hope to see you again.

Stanley Vetter

 

One of the best decisions of my life was to say yes to Bob and accompany him to this trip to Alaska. Observing God’s incredible handy work in this state is truly humbling. From the mountains to the sea creatures that live here; they are miracles for my eyes. Meeting and getting to know so many new people who care deeply about kids and learning and life. I thoroughly enjoyed the comraderie and teamwork. I am thankful for a job that was allowed me to travel for 25 days away from home to experience this great state and this trip; a blessing that most people do not get to experience. Lastly, I loved the last day at Hatcher’s Pass; it was a perfect ending which included the mountains, 2 beautiful lakes, a hike some historical learning and fulfilling years of tradition with sliding on glaciers, jumping in the frigid lake and dunking heads in the rushing river.

Carol Moss

 

There is a condition known as ‘Paris Syndrome’, named after the city in which it was first recorded. It is the hospitalization of a patient due to a mental breakdown when the place they are visiting doesn’t live up to their expectations. They have built it up in their mind to be a place of life changing beauty. And when reality doesn’t match their fantasy they are crushed. This is not a problem I had with Alaska. It blew my expectations out of the water. Alaska is a place of life changing beauty. It is hard for me to remember a time before I became involved with the Alaska Great Lakes Project. I first started working at the annual pancake breakfast the first time my dad came on the trip when I was about five years old. Ever since that first exposure I dreamed of going to Alaska, the word itself held a special place in my imagination. I watched as over the years my mom and sister also went on the trip. That was the goal of my young life, to travel to the far north. From the moment I first stepped off the plane in Anchorage I fell in love. I fell in love with the same land that had grabbed ahold of many young men hoping to make it rich in the gold fields of the Yukon, of writers and poets like Jack London and John Muir, and adventurers like Chris McCandless, the same land that will hold the imagination of many after me. Alaska is everything you could ever Hope or Fear all in one. For me, it belongs to dreamers and misfits, to doers. It belongs to people who aren’t content to merely watch a mountain, the people who get that itch, that irresistible urge to go and conquer it. The people who won’t let a race be run or a fight be fought without them. The people who, when they see a mountain, always stop and ask themselves, “I wonder if I could climb that one?”

Stuart Murch

 

This trip was truly the trip of a lifetime. I saw so many animals and cool things. Going to Alaska was a dream come true and I am so thankful to be on the last AGLP trip to Alaska. I did so much and I loved it. I hope to come back soon.

Rhiannon Hubbell

 

Overall this trip has been more enlightening than I expected. It has made me realize how much I have changed since I was here nine years ago. I am able to appreciate and understand more now that I have lived more. I have again met some amazing people and I have seen amazing and wonderful things. Thank you AGLP.

Stephanie Parshall

 

Alaska, the last frontier. That’s where I was for 3 ½ weeks. Alaska changed me as a person, it made me better. I had time to think who my real friends are and who my better friends are on this trip. Sure there were arguments and stuff like that but that is what’s supposed to happen. It makes the friendship stronger in the end. This experience has changed my life forever and will always be remembered. I’m so glad I applied for this trip and got accepted. This was an amazing trip with some amazing people and I will never regret a day on this trip in Alaska.

Ashton DeLong

 

I cannot write a final reflection. There will never really be a final journey of the AGLP. The group travel might have ended, but its impact, memories, and influence will last into the years. I’m proud to have brought the AGLP to life and sustained it through the years. Whoever would’ve guessed that it would thrive through 25 years and over 1000 students. I could not for see its evolution from solely a teacher led trip to one with the participants themselves taking ownership. The Marshall community itself is responsible for making it something special. Thanks to Marshall’s citizens, businesses, organizations, and select involved in the project it has remained affordable to all. Perhaps most essential to this love life is the commitment of past participants to continue to bring life through their efforts on behalf of the AGLP some, returning every year, others offering support from afar. A final reflection will be written far into the future.

Thank you for the wonderful ride, AGLP.

Dale Rosene

 

My first trip changed my outlook, my second made me fall in love, and my third solidified the fact that Alaska will always have a special place in my heart. No amount of words will ever be able to describe the changes I’ve gone through, the adventures I’ve been on, and the bonds I’ve formed.

AGLP changes lives and mine has been changed for good.

Blake Blair

 

Wow, that is all I can think right now. This trip has been unforgettable and I just can’t believe it’s over. Instead of saying “I went swimming, I hung out with friends” or the normal sayings over break I can say, “I climbed two mountains, saw whales, seals, moose, caribous, and went to a national park. I have been to some very amazing places in Alaska that hardly anyone has bee. I have met some great people who I can really look up to and I have made some great memories I will treasure forever.” Though I can’t return as part of AGLP, I will try my hardest to return to America’s Last Frontier. May the legacy of AGLP live on forever.

Josh Kilbourn

 

I never would of believed that this being my third year coming to Alaska I would still be so excited and see so many new and different things. I have to say seeing the BIG BROWN BEAR has made this trip complete. Seeing all of the beautiful scenery and all the great activities has been wonderful but my best memories are watching how all of these kids (and some adults) change and grow. This has been the best group of students and adults! I know that in years to come I will look back at pictures or my journals and reflect back to all the knowledge I have gained, the friends I have made, and the great times I have had in Alaska, none of this will be final.

Barbara Gary

 

As I sit remembering my 12 years on this trip its overflowing with great memories. From year 1 to year 12 they start to overlap but each one is special to me the great times with new and old friends, starting a new adventure, even doing an old adventure but seeing the face on someone who’s on their firsttrip. I’m always asked why I go on a trip with a bunch of kids and I always say they are more than kids and you would e surprised traveling with them. I’m also asked why this trip with this group and I say it’s hard to explain, you just have to come and see. To watch strangers become family and see everyone pitch in to get meals ready, getting cleaned up, and to support one another on hikes. This trip is one of a kind, there will never be a trip like this and it’s very sad to see it go and the hope for it to continue is still there, but this project will never fade and it will live on in each of us. I will always have a great Alaskan story to tell, a great moment that I will always think of, and always an AGLP friend that I will hug when I greet them. So as I sit here I will let all the great times fill me and I say I have no regrets. I’m truly blessed for all the great friends I have made on this trip and there’s always laughter so I sit and get lost in the memories.

Matt Crapo

 

I remember my first day in Alaska. I was exhausted after a week of exams, which I had stacked up on since I was leaving school a week early. Marshall’s school calendar in no way aligned with mine. The day before I told my friends that I would see them at school before I left, but I didn’t end up going. There was no time. I was packing my suitcase while simultaneously finishing an online class. Roadtrip mixtapes and friendship bracelet string seemed implausible. My mom drove to the ferry separately so that my Dad and I could drop off my sister at a friends without missing it, and accordingly, my flight. Oddly I didn’t feel sad leaving my sister, because I didn’t have any feeling associated with leaving my family for an entire month. I had never left for so long before.

The next day I actually flew. My worry at the time was not being able to find my gate. Luckily it was right in front of Security, where I bid the rest of my family adieu. My brother said he wouldn’t miss me.
The flight was short and worry free, but when I stepped off into Alaska, there was no one there. I had a minor panic attack, especially after the rest of the group’s flight didn’t show up with other landed flights. As I went to get my bags, I had a welcome party of three awaiting me.

After a long drive we arrived at a church where everyone else had already started setting up tents. I was nervous and excited to see people that I hadn’t talked to in over six months.
This day, nearly a month later, contrasts greatly with the frantic nervousness I experienced at the opening of this trip. I’ve grown accustomed and hopefully closer to my peers here. I washed my dished with no complaint, set up my sleeping bag as a part of my routine. Sleeping under that same church’s ceiling seems a luxury, albeit an unnecessary one. Starting and ending the trip in the same spot makes one realize how changed they are. I hiked glaciers and mountains, seen whales and porpoises, touched sea urchins, jellyfish and huge starfish, and felt the thrashing of salmon against my legs. I’ve talked to Alaska Natives and homesteaders.
One month later. the world has uncovered a sliver of itself to me.

Anneka Fleming

This place (Alaska) and this group (the Alaska Great Lakes Project) are pure magic. The two combined open my mind and heart greater than any other place I have traveled. Together, they’re a combination that celebrates weird, encourages community, and pushes dreams further and further into what will someday no longer be unknown.

It still amazes me that, back in 8th grade, I almost said no to what has become the opportunity of a lifetime. I was one conversation away from staying home, laying low. I was one conversation away from letting what has been the greatest privilege of my young life pass me by. Eight trips later I am a better man, son, brother, friend, and steward because of Alaska and the Alaska Great Lakes Project. I am weirder. I am more engaged. I am forever a dreamer in pursuit on the richest reality life has to offer. Thank you Ishtar, thank you friends, and thank you Alaska. My life is forever rich because of you. I’ll see you in my dreams. I’ll see you in the future.

Ian Stewart

 

This final reflection is a hard one to write. I don’t know where to start. Its been a great five years on this trip and too many memories to remember. I don’t think that I could have written a script better than this last trip was. I had so much fun and had the privilege to meet many new friends. Although the whales and the wolves add to the trip this is not why the trip is exceptional. It’s the failures and accomplishments of the group that provide this group with smiles and laughter. Which on this last trip were endless. It is going to be hard to say goodbye to some of these people that I have come to know and love in Alaska. These people have become a part of my life and will never be forgotten. I will remember them as I do my family. Although the trip is over my love for Alaska will always be here.

Matthew Siebert

 

Thank you so much for letting us come on this trip and for your hard work making it possible. I am sad to see it end, I would have loved to come back as a junior leader or driver, but I know that if I cannot come back with AGLP I will come back with my family this has bee an amazing and I would not change it for the world. Thank you so much.

Cali Berry

 

You know when people tell you to go to your “ happy place”? When I was younger, I dreamed about my house, then as I got a little older it was the woods or a beach, but now, my happy place is Alaska. Mountains everywhere, birds chirping, maybe even the occasional moose peaking out of the woods.

Alaska never ceases to amaze me. I’ve been on top of a mountain both literally and figuratively. My experiences on this trip have helped me grow more independent and patient.

Alaska is unforgettable. The one concern I had before this trip was that the time we spent here wouldn’t be long enough. Though we have to leave, I will definitely be coming back.

Meena Ritchie

Alaska has been the greatest thing that has ever happened to me in my life. The two times I have been here, have both been life-changing experience for me. Without this trip I would be a struggling, unhappy, and maybe even depressed, teenager. This trip has taught me how to be a leader, to be a part of a group, and to be a happy person.

Alaska is truly the greatest place on earth, not only because of the scenery, but because of the things it teaches you. It has taught me to adjust and to get out of my shell to meet new people and experience new amazing things. Without Alaska I would not have the friends I have today or the experiences that have shaped my life and made me who I am.

I love Alaska, it is my home away from home. I will be back someday, to share my experiences with those I love and cherish. Thank you Alaska. Thank you for changing my life.

Joe Rockwell

Every time I come to Alaska it has been a different experience and each time its been hard to adjust to the new community and my new role. This time has been the hardest and I imagine he next time I come without the AGLP group will be the worst. But ill make the best of it with all of the happy memories from my Alaskan adventures, because that is what the trip has taught me to do in all aspects of life.

Delaney Hurst

When I first thought of going to Alaska I thought it would be freezing and surrounded with bears, snow, and storms. But I was so wrong! This place is so beautiful with mountains and the Gulf of Alaska. The water is so pretty with the sun shining when it’s down pouring but rain doesn’t hurt. It’s so peaceful here and the wildlife is amazing! Thank you Mr. Rosene and AGLP.

Kylee Laupp

 

Alaska is where everything is large- its vistas, its mountains, its animals, its sky, its seacoast … it’s a place where as a person one feels insignificant in the big picture of creation. It provides a time and place for a person to stop thinking and just be one with your surroundings – at the top of a mountain, staring at the vastness of the pacific from the gulf of Alaska, having an orca slide past your boat, watching a humpback fluke, or a grizzly and its cubs searching for food. Its’s a place to see the forces of mountain building and erosion do their yin and yang. It’s a place to feel the sudden change to the microclimate caused by glaciers. It’s a place where its people revel in their surroundings and with stories to see the delicate balance of nature and reinforce our role as humans to be good stewards of the earth.

Mark Gilbert

 

Alaska itself can change a person, but being involved in a project in Alaska, is a whole other story. Making close relationships with your vans and tent is key you are with them the most and you can’t get rid of them! As you ride in your van listening to (well, whatever you listen to) you look around and maybe notice the way the fog hides the mountains, then that reminds you of something …Where else are you going to see exactly what you just saw? So you soak it in and be thankful for what you got. Alaska is memories that cannot be forgotten.

Korinne Winnie

 

Alaska and AGLP has left me at a loss for words. I know that I must come up with something for this FINAL, final reflection, but what?

What is it about this place that turns kids into young women and men? Is it this place or is it just the canvas where adults provide a safe place for kids to discover themselves? Free of the worries of status, judgment, or wondering how I fit in? Alaska has become the place, for Marshall kids, where they find themselves. With this trip ending where will future Marshall kids find their safe place?

A lways

L aughing

A larmingly

S urprising

K ids

A maze me.

Douglas Murch

 

This trip has helped me to examine my path in life. In Alaska I have learned that life has so much to offer and I need to make some changes to have these happen. The places we visited were so beautiful and more than I could ever have envisioned them to be.

Karla Solis

 

As we wind down the final trip it is hard to condense the feelings into a few sentences. The impact on our family has been immense and so powerful. We have all traveled with the group a combined total of 16 years and so grateful that all 4 of us could travel together this year!

The Murch family has been forever changed as a result of this gift to Marshall.

Claudia Murch

 

The 2014 AGLP adventure started with a roll of duck tape. As we were leaving Chicago the stewardess said they wanted to play a game and he said who ever had a roll of duck tape raised it up and pushed the call button got a prize. Well I did and I won, I said what did I win and he said an upgrade to first class. What a ride. It was perfect as it set the tone for the entire adventure. “First Class.”

The 25th and final adventure couldn’t have been any better as Dale selected a crew of 69 and in all my adventures I have never seen all of them blend into one big family.

It never quit, place after place it just kept getting better. Everything we did was outstanding. One of our last stops in Homer was my best trip ever. We saw a lot of whales, caught a lot of fish, got to spend quality time with the Field family as they shared their knowledge and visiting with Mossey at Seaside Farm.

I need to thank our Alaskan family that made our visits so special. Tim and Lisa from Palmer Church, Jack and Edie and their family from Grizzly Bear Campground, the crew from Kenai Fjords, Jack and crew from Rainbow Tours, Conrad, Carmen, and Eryn Field that taught us so much, Mossey and Coni from Seaside Farm, and all the other people in Alaska that enquire about our group and they are many.

I did have a first class adventure and was able to share it with my special friend, Dale. I feel privileged to accompany Dale and the AGLP. In 16 years I have made so many friends of all ages, and have seen so many young people grow in 3 weeks. Thanks for taking me along on this great ride, Dale.

Steve Washburn

 

Alaska has become a home away from home with a family unlike any other. It has taught me to be a leader, to see the good in all, and to slow down and embrace the world around. This trip has changed my life in so many ways and I will cherish these memories for the rest of my life.

Emily Murch

 

Alaska…what a trip.  I always assumed that Alaska was a beautiful state, but I never knew just how spectacular it could be.  From day 1, I have been in awe of the beauty around me and never believed that it could get any better…but I was always mistaken. Each place that we visited was more beautiful that the last and made me fall more in love with Alaska with every passing day.  Alaska is more than just the diverse geography and breathtaking views.  It’s the quaint small towns, passionate locals, knowledgeable nature lovers, the feeling of belonging and so much more.  A piece of me with remain in Alaska when I leave, and this is the only place I can imagine calling home.

Renee Baril