Thanks for the checking out the blog for this Global Leadership Adventures program!
Here are a few things you can expect:
- We typically receive 2-3 blog posts per week here at GLA Headquarters from our program staff and students, so please don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a blog post daily – that’s totally normal.
- Blog updates sent on weekends may not be posted until Monday.
- Due to many factors, including but not limited to internet accessibility, photos may not always be available to post onto the blog. Sometimes onsite program staff are only able to send text back to Headquarters, where our team updates the blog.
Cell Phone Policy: The GLA cell phone policy is currently in place this summer to help foster meaningful connections between students. This means your student’s phone will be collected every day and returned to them throughout the program during designated spaces of time we call ‘tech time’. Actual tech times and regularity will vary greatly by program location. During designated ‘tech time’, your student may use their phones as they wish. Please note that your student may not always choose to use this time to get a hold of their parents. If you are not hearing directly from your student each day, you can assume that no news is good news! We strongly recommend you follow the blog to follow your students’ experience without talking to them every day. If you are a parent and would like to get in touch with your student directly, you can call us at +1-619-758-3031 and we can set up a formal time for you to connect with your student.
Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we hope you enjoy following along on these unforgettable adventures.
For frequently asked questions about the blogs, please visit our Program Blog FAQ page.
-The Global Leadership Adventures HQ Team
BLOG POST FOR JULY 30
Written by GLA students, Diana, Jack and Cassie 🙂
Greetings GLA friends and family!
We’re here, saying hi, from the rugged beauty of Alaska! With all of our students having arrived safely, we are excited to get things up and flowing in a few days. Jack (our talented staff member who is finishing up his graduate degree in science education and acting in the role of Mentor), Diana (the International Director who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker from Colorado who primarily works in the wilderness therapy realm) and Cassie (our returning staff member who was our star Costa Rica mentor from 2019) have been hard at work for the past few days organizing logistics, planning curriculum, and prepping our home base for a great time for our Global Leadership Adventures participants! Everyone here is looking forward to seeing some amazing wildlife, learning about Alaskan culture, and getting some hikes in. We’re excited to be meeting some local reindeer, learning more about the indigenous community here near Anchorage, and spending some quality time with the local flora and fauna as we get to know this spectacular landscape more in-depth.
Onwards to fun in the “midnight sun”! (Seriously. Sunset is at 11:30pm most nights!)
BLOG POST FOR JULY 31
Written by Tyler and Tate
We had an amazing first full day in Alaska. We woke up to some amazing Alaskan nature at the Birchwood camp. After an exciting morning of getting to learn about peers on the trip, we set off for a hike. During the hike we got to see a waterfall, and we had a picnic lunch. After our hike, we travelled to a reindeer farm. We were able to get very close to incredible animals such as moose, bison, alpacas, and of course, reindeer. At the farm, we also had a very educational tractor wagon ride, where we learned about the history of the farm, and the different animals of the farm.
When we were driving back to the campgrounds, we had the incredible experience of seeing a baby black bear in the wilderness. After dinner, we finished the day in our mentor groups. Mentor groups are smaller groups of students, and they have a “mentor”. Tonight we went over what values we find important, and what goals we have for ourselves in the future. With our first day coming to an end, we look to have an even better day tomorrow with many fun activities planned ahead.
Here are some pics from the first couple days!
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 1
Written by Connor and Hayden
This morning, we woke up to the sound of rain on our roofs. Our extreme motivation and excitement dragged us out of bed, though. We had an amazing English muffin sandwich for breakfast, and then had an in depth lesson on the Albatross bird. These are spectacular birds that live near the ocean, and some subgroups of them are endangered. We dissected some collected Albatross bolus. These are things that they excrete because they cannot digest them. Different groups found different things: Squid beaks, bottle caps, rocks, Styrofoam, squid eye lenses, and other plastics. Then, we quickly packed up and made our way to a bird sanctuary/marsh with a boardwalk where we saw many birds and a large group of salmon swimming upstream.
Next, we took a beautiful, scenic drive along the Alyeska highway towards an aerial tram that went up a mountain to a restaurant where we had lunch. At the bottom of the tram, we saw international superstar chef “cookingwithlynja” (1 million Instagram followers, look her up). We indulged in a beautiful hike to a higher peak. Our calves on fire, we made our way to the top where we touched snow- in August! Then we descended the mountain on the tram and drove home, after a brief stop at the Great Alaska Tourist Trap (a gift shop). Then we came back to our camp in Chugiak, Alaska where we had fish tacos for dinner. We then engaged in a group leadership activity as led by Diana, our Director, to learn about what our natural leadership styles say about us and how we can best use our given skills.
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 2
Written by Anna and Allie
At an early hour we welcomed the day. We finished packing and sweeping the cabins at Birchwood in preparation for our new home after enjoying a nutritious continental breakfast. Then the vans were packed with suitcases like a game of Tetris, and we took the scenic route to Fred Meyer to stock up on snacks for the road. After that, we headed to the Alaskan Native Heritage Center to learn about the various groups of indigenous people that inhabit this beautiful state. We watched demonstrations of traditional dances and Alaskan games, and explored replicas of Native buildings to learn about the indigenous way of life.
Following our educational promenade around the Center, we took a detour to munch on lunch at Beluga Point. The promise of the namesake was fulfilled when various members of the GLA group caught sight of a pod of belugas. Post lunch, we made our way to the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center where we spotted a myriad of mammals! Our ambulatory safari included black and brown bears, bison, porcupines, lynx, bald eagles, muskox, and finally coyotes. Our final destination, the Alpine Inn Motel, was waiting for us in Cooper Landing. Here, we indulged in a delicious salmon bake featuring Alaskan salmon and healthy roasted vegetables. Lastly, we sat by the fire and planned for our next Alaskan adventures.
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 3
Written by Daniel and Griffin
Breakfast was earlier than usual today… but boy was it worth it! Andy, who is the chef/owner of The Buckaroo food truck, was kind enough to make us a spectacular breakfast of scrambled eggs, reindeer sausage and bacon. After enjoying our top tier meal, we packed our things up and got ready for our first day of service. We took a quick van ride to the Kenai River Water Shed where we immediately saw lines of fishermen hauling in Sockeye Salmon along the riverbank. We met our guide, Brandon, and his colleagues Kevin and Alexis, who split us into two groups in which we would do our service. We took a quick ferry trip across the river and began our morning of work. Our jobs were to pick up fishing line and/or trash that we found near the river, but along the way we were granted with a plethora of expert information on the fishermen and the salmon that they were catching from our guides.
After finishing our service and eating a quick lunch, we drove to the river rafting location down the road. We once again split into two groups for the different rafts and were soon on the river. It was a calm experience, but a beautiful one and once again we had the privilege of being with experts. Our guides were knowledgeable and knew every fact about everything around us. Hearing them talk about our surroundings and the wildlife was beyond interesting and made for a nice afternoon. The water was also particularly beautiful because it is glacier water, as we were told. The copper content from the melting glacier gave it a gorgeous teal tint like something you would see on a postcard.
Lastly, we headed to dinner at a local pizza spot and headed back to the Inn where we had another leadership activity. In groups of two, we were tasked with having one of us be blindfolded with the other directing us on the outside of a circle. We had to find balls in the middle of the circle using our partner’s instruction and subsequently tag one another out until there was one of us remaining. This was a nice combination of fun and learning communication skills. Overall, this was an amazing day and each of us are looking forward to tomorrow, where we will do more service.
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 4
Written by Xavi and Ryan
Today we woke up to a chilly but sunny Thursday morning. We had a delicious breakfast of fruit, sausage, bacon and eggs made by the wonderful Andy. Then we packed our day bags and headed out to the Russian river for a nice 2 mile hike to a lookout point over the river. At the lookout we spotted hundreds of sockeye salmon making their way up a natural salmon ladder. We got to see the salmon jump up the falls and took lots of great photos. After a nice lunch of sandwiches by the river, we spotted a bear and its cubs way up high in a tree.
The next few hours were spent doing some trail maintenance. Our job was to clear out bushes and trees from the trail to create a wider trail path. We used loppers to cut the branches off of overhanging trees and brush. At 4:30, our hard work was finally done and we went back to camp. In the afternoon, we took a quick visit to a nearby artisanal boutique. We purchased some cool items and returned to the Alpine Inn. We feasted on a fine dinner of chicken and salmon made by Andy. We wrapped up another excellent day with tech time and made our way to bed.
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 5
Written by Colby and Alex
Today, we woke up to a cold, rainy morning. After waking up early, we had to prepare our own breakfast, which was bagels and fruit. After the quick breakfast, we packed our bags, loaded up the vans, and set off to the salmon hatchery. Once we arrived at the parking lot, we were greeted by two staff from the Bear Creek Weir Fish Hatchery with little metal boats. After multiple boat trips across the lake, we had all arrived at the hatchery. We weren’t able to do much volunteer work because it was raining, so we got to help increase the salmon population. We did this by pulling the salmon out of the fishing traps, hitting their heads with a miniature baseball bat to kill them instantly, cutting open the females to extract their eggs, and milking the sperm out of the males. Some of us got to do this ourselves. After helping with extracting the eggs and sperm, we took the boats back to the vans, and continued the drive to Seward.
After the drive to Seward, we had sandwiches under a pavilion in the park. After eating lunch, we got to walk around and explore the shops. Then, we got back into the vans and drove to the Nauti Otter. At the Nauti Otter, we got to see and explore the yurt and hostels, which were a group of tiny wooden buildings, each with unique designs. After getting settled in, we got back into the vans and went to the aquarium. There, we got to see lots of cool fish, crustaceans, seals, and an octopus. We then went back to the Nauti Otter and did the anchor activity, which is an activity about debating whether or not to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Then, we had tech time while waiting for pizza. So concludes another memorable day which we will not soon forget!
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 6
Written by Aiden and James
Today we awoke to a brisk and chilly morning in our new home, the Nauti Otter. After a lovely breakfast of waffles made by Jack, we gathered into our last and final mentor groups. From there we packed up the vans and headed towards the harbor. While we waited to board the Wild Life Cruise, we headed into a gift and coffee shop. We bought some souvenirs and trinkets, and went further into the shop to find a small café. We enjoyed snacks and coffee to pass the time. Soon after we boarded the cruise ship and embarked on a 4 hour journey. We got to see lots of wildlife including bald eagles, sea otters, puffins, seals, and best of all a spectacular humpback whale.
When we arrived back to the Nauti otter in the evening, we had free time where we indulged in a game called SPUD. We played this until dinner was once again prepared and served by Jack. The incredible meal consisted of corn, watermelon, potatoes, grilled peppers and onions, grilled chicken, and a variety of chips. After dinner we prepared for our debate. After about 30 minutes every group was ready. The 3 groups each represented a side including Oil companies, conversationalists/environmentalists, and local Alaskans. Most groups wore costumes to represent their sides. The conversationalists/environmentalists dressed up as animals to represent the wildlife they were defending. Each group had the opportunity to call 3 witnesses to the stand to be questioned about their topics and why they should win the debate. In the end the judges reached the verdict that drilling with limitations was the best option. Once tech time ended everyone made their way to the campfire where we bonded and made s’mores. Our new friends in the group from Mexico taught an impromptu dance lesson and we had a small ice cream party to celebrate the near-end of our time together. Once quiet time approached we all went to our rooms and went to sleep. Tomorrow we will close out our session by hiking at a glacier, meeting sled dogs, and taking a long train ride through scenic Alaska to our last hotel, The Lakefront Anchorage.
Full photo album coming soon!