Alaskan Villagers Prepare for Trip of A Lifetime

A school teacher in the Alaskan Bush encourages her k-12 students to dream BIG; planning a field trip to the lower 48. A film crew from Santa Barbara, California will document the historic journey. Please visit this site for frequent updates on their progress.

A Dream Come True

Club 33 was such a treat

Friday, May 20, 2011

A First Class Farewell

Nearly a week ago, at 1am, outside the main entrance to Disneyland, I told the group from Stony River that I am not long on goodbyes. The trip to Disneyland, California Adventure Park, and Club 33 was Disney-licious, and we were all worn out from the seemingly endless string of activities of the past several weeks.

So the kids gathered around Jenna and me. We embraced in a group hug, exchanged a few thoughts and high-fives, I gave Robert some last minute advice to take with him to college, and we went our separate ways.

In the days since then, my thoughts about Stony River, the trip, the kids, the village, and the film have been maturing in my mind. I know that many are anxious to see the images on film; to see the adventure unfold on screen. I too am excited about the story of courage and encouragement, commitment and hard work, amazement and education, fun and opportunity, and the difference that each of us can make in the lives of others if we listen to the calling.

I am certain that it will take some time before I am satisfied with the telling if this story before it is ready to be viewed on film. But in the meantime, I will try to forward more bits and pieces like the link below to a wonderful story from the Santa Barbara Independent:

There are two more newspaper stories, a TV news story, a radio interview and more photos to come so please check back every so often. It seems like once a week is the blog update schedule for now.

I do want to thank Cox Communications, Alaska Airlines, and Planet Solar again for making it possible for the film crew to get this far on the journey. In the coming weeks expect to hear more about sponsorship opportunities within the television half hour.

I also want to thank Debi Rubera, Brian Volk, Mary Macar, the kids from Stony River and all their parents for trusting us enough to allow us in to follow and document the trip. I know I can speak for Mike Braniger, Branden Aroyen, Paul Mathieu, and many others involved, who feel privileged to have spent time getting to know all of you.

Lastly I want to thank Santa Barbara, the home-school families who welcomed and provided for this group throughout their long journey, the businesses and individuals who went out of their way to show these kids a good time, the media who covered the trip and made the group feel "famous" while they were here.

Thanks to all of you, and please keep up your support for this blog and this project. I feel more strongly now than ever before that this story is INSPIRATION! Just Imagine what could come next...


  1. Thank you, Michael!
    Each blog post is just a treasure with your heartfelt journaling and the beautiful photos. I so appreciate all you are doing to share this amazing story!
    Thank you, too, for including the link to the Independent's article. That makes it so easy to share with others!
    I'm so glad Jenna got to go with you all to Disneyland! :)


  2. Thank you Michael for all that you have shared here. My husband and I taught these children two years ago and had such a hard time leaving them. We had a wonderful experience and my love goes to all of them especially Robert taking on the new challenge of college. Ginny Somerville

  3. Dear Michael,
    My name is Tim and I live in Pennsylvania, but I have traveled to Alaska twice on missions trips as a counselor for a kid's camp called Kako. This camp is located in the heart of Native territory and serves Alaskan Natives of all ages. During my two visits, in 2009 and 2010, I had the privilege of staying at Stony River and ministering to the Natives who call the island home, including a majority of the kids that traveled to California. I am so thankful that you took the time and effort to capture their experience. We really can learn from what their culture offers, I have experienced this first hand.

    As you might expect, I will not be able to view your documentary from Pennsylvania, but if possible, I would love to buy a few DVD copies for those of use here who call these kids our friends.
    Thanks again!