The SPA Odyssey program is based on a rigorous wilderness challenge. With over 37 years of history at Paul Academy and Summit School, Odyssey is an important part of our educational tradition. The Spring Odyssey will allow students to participate who otherwise could not due to academic, athletic or other reasons. SPA faculty members and outside instructors who have extensive wilderness experience and first aid training lead the Odyssey program expeditions.
Odyssey is both a journey in the wilderness and an inner journey designed for personal growth. Odyssey is about putting your life in perspective and discovering what is really important. Students will test and extend their limits of physical and emotional endurance, have responsibilities that demand action, build self-awareness and self-confidence, learn about their natural environment and their own relationship to it, and develop understanding and compassion for others.
Utilizing wilderness areas in the Utah Canyonlands, the course provides an opportunity for students to experience an extraordinarily beautiful part of our country.
THE CORE OF THE COURSE IS A STRENUOUS SEVEN DAY BACK-PACKING EXPEDITION.
Download the Winter Application
Download the Spring Application
The expeditions will take place during February and Spring Break. There will be a required "shakedown" preparation overnight on in Afton State park on February before each trip. Training begins the first weeks of each semester and will occur either on Saturday mornings or after school from 3:00 – 5:00 PM on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. A weekly schedule will be supplied for the nine-week course once participants and schedules are determined.
All students entering grades 10 through 12 are eligible, provided they:
- Are in sound health.
- Are in good academic standing.
- Have permission of parents, advisor and school administration.
No experience is required, either in backpacking or camping. Participants will be taught skills needed for the expedition.
There will be a maximum of ten students per course.
GROUP SIZE and SELECTION
1. Because of limits placed on the practical size of groups in wilderness areas and the amount of equipment the school can provide, the group will be made up of no more than ten students with two adult leaders.
2. An effort will be made to establish a balance of boys and girls.
3. Since part of the adventure of the Odyssey is the social dynamics of the course, effort will also be made to select a diverse group of students from among those who apply.
4. Applications will be accepted through December 10th after which the group selection will be made and all applicants notified during exam week.
The seven-day expedition will consist of three parts:
A. The expedition with instructors – the first three days students use map and compass to navigate on a prearranged route. The route involves strenuous backpacking, wilderness camping and cooking, and attention to the needs of all members of the group. This section of the trip will focus on learning wilderness skills and learning how to work together as a group. Instructors spend time helping students prepare for the solo experience.
B. The Solo - a period in which each student is alone for about two days and nights with sufficient equipment and supplies, including food, to be protected from the elements. During the solo, instructors check students at intervals determined by conditions, but essentially it is a part of the course devoted to contemplation, isolation, and self-sufficiency.
C. The final expedition without instructors - a two day trip during which the students travel as a group without the instructors if the group is ready and conditions are safe, utilizing the skills and experience gained during the pre-trip planning, the expedition with the instructors, and the solo. Instructors follow the student group at a distance of 2 – 3 hours foot travel, in case of emergency.
PRE-EXPEDITION PLANNING AND PREPARATION
During the planning and preparation leading up to the expedition, students will spend 5 weeks and one weekend overnight acquiring the knowledge and skills they need during the expedition. These training sessions will include instruction in:
- group dynamics
- personal goal setting
- physical conditioning
- use of map and compass
- first aid skills
- clothing and boots
- use of sleeping bags, stoves, water pumps, tarps and other equipment
- food planning, purchasing, and packing
An overnight camping trip is held, during which the students can test their skills, clothing, and equipment. Attendance on this “shakedown” trip is a prerequisite to going on the Odyssey expedition.
The school will provide each participant with the following equipment:
- Sleeping bag
- Foam sleeping pad
- Compass & maps
- First aid supplies
- Stuff sacs
- Solo tarp & ground tarp
- SPA will also provide group gear such as stoves, sleeping tarps, water pumps, and cooking kits
Each participant will need to provide:
- Personal clothing to include good hiking boots and rain gear (a detailed clothing list will be distributed to participants)
The estimated cost to be billed to each student is between $800-1000. This figure includes food during the expedition and cost of air fare to Utah and ground transportation within Utah. The family is responsible for the cost of outdoor clothing and boots that may need to be purchased. Students will be held financially responsible for any school equipment damaged, stolen or lost. Scholarship money may be available to students receiving financial aid. Please contact Heather Ploen directly if you have questions about financial aid eligibility.
Applicants and their parents should understand that wilderness travel is not without risks. There is the possibility of injury and at times the group will be as much as two days travel from rescue services. Unpredictable spring weather presents the possibility of encountering hot sun, rain, or snow on this trip.
Much of the training for the expedition is devoted to learning how to travel safely in wilderness and coping with various weather conditions. Emphasis is on learning how to minimize risks and how to react to emergencies should they arise. As part of their training, students will learn:
- How to assess weather and travel conditions and to recognize possible danger.
- How to eliminate or minimize risks.
- How to give first aid for cuts, burns, choking and hypothermia.
In addition, the following precautions are taken:
1. A route plan will be filed at the school and at the wilderness agency nearest the expedition site. Thus, at any given time during the expedition, the location of the group will be known both by the school and by local officials who supervise the area.
2. Students will be checked twice daily during the solo.
Participating on Odyssey requires mature academic preparation. This means working closely with your teachers, doing academic work ahead of time, and doing make-up work. Students who are in academic jeopardy will not be allowed to participate.
Haseena Hamzawala is certified as a Wilderness First Responder. She has instructed fall and spring Odysseys in the Canyonlands and traveled extensively.
John Wensman is certified as a Wilderness First Responder. He has instructed fall and winter Odysseys in the Canyonlands and Voyageur’s National Park for the past ten years.
Download the Winter Application
Download the Spring Application