Altamaha Odyssey: Nature and Culture in the Wilds of Georgia

June 6-June 15, 2014: Athens, GA and the Altamaha River

Fire-building with Steve during the June 2014 Altamaha Odyssey.

Have you ever wanted to learn to draw alligator skin? Or check out what fish are up to in the middle of the night? Or really get to know a plant you’ve only ever met in passing?

Do you have an unmet desire to cook dinner on a tiny stove on a big, white sandbar on Georgia’s largest river? 

If you answered yes to any of the above, join us on Fall Line South’s inaugural course, Altamaha Odyssey.  We’ll  investigate rivers and river systems – the bloodlines of the Southeastern landscape – through scientific, cultural, historical, philosophical, and creative lenses. We’ll do it all while camping under the stars, sitting around campfires, and waking up to birdsongs instead of alarm clocks. And we’ll leave well-equipped to take the next step in our own educations – wherever our boots, binoculars, pencils, and paddles might lead us.

Dinnertime on the river, June 2014.

Course Description:

The course begins in Athens with an introduction to our main strands of inquiry, including the nature of inquiry itself. While camping out for the first four nights at our home base, we will hike through headwater streams and creeks, learning about their ecological importance as well as the natural and cultural history of the region. We’ll practice archery (as a tool for developing mindful awareness), and practice paddling (as a tool for making sure we don’t run aground on the river!). The second half of the course will be spent on the Altamaha River, putting in near Lumber City and paddling nearly forty miles to the Moody Forest Natural Area.

At all points in our journey, we will incorporate literature, writing, drawing, and scientific field-journaling as complementary (rather than conflicting) tools for getting to know the environment around us. Throughout the course, students will work directly with experts in the fields of art, animal behavior, creative writing, cultural geography, ecology, and philosophy to deepen their understanding of river systems and their role in the larger world. Because we will be outside and physically interacting with the places we are learning about, every aspect of the course is experientially integrated with the places we are traveling through and learning about. By the end of the course, students will have practiced collecting scientific data, and used this to create a group field guide. Also, students will have produced writing, drawings, and other independent and collaborative projects to share with the group. Most importantly, students will have gained confidence in themselves as individuals and as members of a community through the joys and challenges of outdoor living and learning. Over the course of the ten days, you will:

  • Explore the largest river system in Georgia.  
  • Work hard and play hard with a small group of fellow travelers.
  • Use scientific and creative inquiry to examine the natural world.
  • Learn to identify and draw plants and animals of the region.
  • Read and write about rivers and river journeys.
  • Experience the natural world without the distractions of daily life.
  • Reflect on your relationship with nature, and the role of humans within the environment.
  • Become competent in wilderness camping, paddling, and river navigation.
  • Challenge yourself, both intellectually and personally, through hands-on group experiences, study, and reflection.
  • Create memories that will last a lifetime!

This is as close as it gets to a “normal” classroom at Fall Line South!

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