I’m really looking forward to my Alaska Expedition class. This will be my first real camping trip! What should I expect?
If you’re eager to learn new things and see places that very few people will visit in a lifetime, then this first-year experience course and the Yukon expedition are right for you.
Expect to be challenged academically as you read, discuss and reflect on course topics. Expect to find friends among your classmates and to collaborate with APU faculty.
Expect to understand more about what it means to be involved in setting and achieving your academic goals – the APU foundation that we call “active learning.” Expect to have fun!
What’s our route?
We’ll start with preparation and foundational studies in Anchorage on the APU campus. We’ll then travel to APU’s Kellogg Farm Campus in Palmer, taking a step outside of the traditional classroom. From there the expedition begins. Starting in the former goldmine town of Eagle, about 485 miles northeast of the APU campus in Anchorage, you’ll either float or paddle the Yukon River for about 160 miles to our take-out point at Circle in the Alaska Interior.
We’ve chosen a section of the river that poses very limited challenges for beginners. Students enrolled in the Outdoor Studies section will travel in paddle canoes; all other students will float the Yukon in rafts. It’s the best way to experience Alaska!
Is it really true that the university president is floating the Yukon with us, as one of our faculty team leaders?
Yes! Not many of your friends at other schools will be able to say they went camping with the university president.
Look for the Introduction to Sustainability Studies course that includes the Yukon River expedition.
Expedition Alaska involves a “field study” course. I’m not sure I know what that is.
Field study means that Expedition Alaska – like most of your APU courses – offers lots of chances to apply theory and knowledge from classes into the real world, or “into the field.” Through field experience, you apply crucial inquiry skills such as observation, sampling, journaling, and risk management.
Your Expedition Alaska course is a field study class that introduces you to active learning at APU. Traveling by bus and raft or canoe, you’ll be away from campus for about 12 days.
Your field experience begins about 45 miles north of Anchorage at Kellogg Farm, site of APU’s Spring Creek campus. Kellogg is a working farm and home to APU’s community service agriculture project. We’ll spend a few nights at Kellogg to practice basic camping skills.
As field study, you’ll be documenting what you observe in the natural and social worlds from Anchorage to Eagle.
Expedition Alaska meets on campus and along the Yukon River. How does that work?
Expedition Alaska is scheduled during a four-week period in the fall where students enroll in one intensive course for the full period, which we call a “block.”
Except for the on-campus-only section (Epic Journeys), Expedition Alaska meets on campus during the first and fourth week of the fall block; you’ll float or paddle the Yukon during the middle weeks.
On or off campus, expect to learn how to succeed academically and socially as a new APU student.
The schedule shows five Expedition Alaska courses during the fall block. How do I know which one is right for me?
Expedition Alaska courses are themed to advance your academic goals:
- Natural History Alaska is a good choice for science majors.
- Introduction to Sustainability Studies: The Human Dilemma is an interdisciplinary course suitable for all majors, and particularly focused on the importance of problem-solving in the 21st century.
- Introduction to Psychology: Adjustment and Change is an overview of transitions people typically encounter throughout life. This course is well suited to all majors.
- Introduction to Wilderness Skills is for students majoring in Outdoor Studies.
- Epic Journeys is a good choice for students who cannot be away from Anchorage for the 2-week Yukon trip. This course is well suited for all majors and satisfies a foundational study requirement.
How do I choose?
APU academic advisers will talk with you to learn more about your goals and interests and then enroll you in an Expedition Alaska course of your choice. Registration is first-come, first-served. Choices may be limited for students who enroll later.
I’ll get to meet lots of juniors and seniors, right?
Nope. We’ve reserved Expedition Alaska for first-year students who are new to college and sophomore-level transfer students who are new to APU.
Expedition Alaska challenges you academically while it helps you feel at home among your new classmates and APU faculty. We’ve learned that students do better academically when they feel part of a team from their very earliest days on campus.
Traversing one of the world’s longest rivers – in a season known for good weather and stunning fall colors – is one of the best ways we could think of to introduce you to your new life as an APU student.
What are the chances to meet everyday Alaskans who live in the region?
The Yukon River for centuries has been among Alaska’s prime transportation corridors. Your Expedition Alaska trip starts in one Yukon River village, Eagle, and ends at another, Circle. That means we’ll encounter rural people going about their day-to-day lives.
What kind of safety training will expedition leaders have?
While traversing the Yukon, you’ll be one of 12 students led by three instructors, including an APU faculty member. Leaders are skilled in emergency medical response. Each leader is outfitted with a satellite phone, capable of transmitting where cell phones can’t.
What will this cost me?
Your Expedition Alaska class is among fall block courses covered by your tuition. There is no extra fee for this course.
You’re responsible for costs of some clothing – warm socks, hat, gloves, jacket, clothes for layering. These are things you’ll want to own to stay comfortable and enjoy the outdoors throughout the school year here in Anchorage.
APU supplies all camping gear, including tents, sleeping bags, cook stoves and fuel as well as boots and outerwear.
Should I pack my own food?
No. Food is provided each day we’re on the river. Please let us know about food allergies. Expect good, hearty meals and not many salads!
No electricity while we’re camping, right?
No cell phones?
Your cell phone will work while we’re traveling the highways. That’d be a great time to grab some only-in-Alaska pictures to send back home. Once we leave the road system, cellular service will be spotty to non-existent.
Early autumn on the stretch of river where we’re headed sees very minimal mosquitoes. In fact, nighttime may bring some frost, which deters bugs.
I’ve checked and it looks as if foliage colors will be at their peak in mid-September on the Yukon. What will the weather be like?
Temperatures range from a daytime high of about 60 degrees to around 34 degrees at night. Plan for some intermittent drizzle, but Interior Alaska typically is pretty dry.
What should I know about keeping safe in bear country?
All of Alaska – including much of Anchorage – is bear country. It’s possible we’ll see bears on the Yukon. The bottom line is, you’ll be traveling with veteran backcountry leaders. Each campsite will adhere to protocols designed to avoid attracting bears.
And keep in mind that bears typically shun large groups of people, such as teams we’re assembling for our expedition.
I really wish everyone on this trip well. But I just can’t see myself taking part. What option is there for me?
We’ve planned as much as possible to make Expedition Alaska a fun, interesting and learning-centered adventure that’s manageable by virtually every student. But we know that some will want a closer-to-home introduction to life at APU.
If that’s you, look for the on-campus-only course, Epic Journeys. During the first and fourth week of this course, you’ll still meet with peers who’ll be traveling the Yukon, so you’ll still have a chance to bond with all the other first-time students.
Your course will feature interesting day trips and learning opportunities near Anchorage while the others are on the Yukon, introducing you to active learning at APU.