On October 7, 2002 , my United Airlines plane was touching down on the warm, dry tarmac of the Calgary International Airport . My body was filled with a variety of different emotions, though relief and dread were the most powerful ones battling it out in my stomach. My head raced with stories and anecdotes I couldn't wait to relay to my waiting family on the ground, while my heart was still sitting in a tiny airport in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The aircraft circled around the landing zone and docked itself in the appropriate bay. With a sigh, I stood up from my seat, grabbed my laptop from the overhead bin and made my way off the plane. The most exhilarating experience of my life was over, and it was time for me to retreat back to the world of normality... at least what was normal for me. My journey to Odyssey was over... but what I brought back was a whole lot of memories and an experience I'll never forget.
I'll never forget the things that happened while I was down in the United States , nor will I forget the countless people I met, places I saw, or things I did. Now, I know what you're thinking: that was well over a year ago. Why did it take a full year to finally sit down and write everything down on paper? I'll be honest in that I have no good answer to that question. When I first set off on my trip, I kept a log of everything that was happening. I typed up pages upon pages into my laptop, recording every tiny observation I made and all the little actions that made up my day. Unfortunately, this habit was quickly broken and I resorted to keeping simple jot notes for the duration of my trip. Sitting on the laptop in my room is an eight page account of only my first day of the trip. Upon reading it however, I find that there does exist a story hidden beneath the layers of spelling errors, run on sentences, and grammatical snafus. So while most of the original text is contained in this journal, it has been heavily modified with personal commentary and confidential information omitted.
So what do I hope readers gain out of my journal? Lots. Though first and foremost I intend to give fans a glimpse into the structure behind Adventures in Odyssey, with pictures and stories that will serve as a guide to people who are interested in the behind the scenes magic of our favorite radio drama. However, because of my unique position as a Canadian amongst the American ministry, I would also like to note some cultural observations of my own. This was an adventure for me on so many different levels and I know I will have plenty of topics to discuss. So if you get bored while reading this long winded journal... please feel free to just browse the many images I have compiled in a slide show format. But if you stick with the reading, I hope you can come away from this journal having learned something new.
So where do I begin? I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Shadowpaw. For the past several years, I've run a website devoted to Adventures in Odyssey called "The Soda Fountain". The website has gone through spurts of updates, usually reflecting the amount of free time (or lack thereof) I've had away from the internet community. If you haven't heard of The Soda Fountain until now, then perhaps you've heard of "AIO Survivor", which I wrote during the summer of 2000. It later spawned an official sequel called "AIO Mole", which I co-wrote during the summer of 2002. Both were highly acclaimed fan fiction stories that got the Odyssey internet community involved in voting out characters from the show. During this time, I had developed a friendship with Nathan Hoobler of the AIOHQ. He was asked to be an intern with the Adventures in Odyssey team at Focus on the Family in May of 2000, which you can read more about here. Incredibly, Nathan was later hired onto the Odyssey staff as a writer. Though if you're visiting this site, you likely already know who Nathan Hoobler is.
Now, in May of 2002, Nathan brought up the idea of me interning with the AIO team just like he had done two years prior. The proposal was exciting: Who wouldn't want to work with the Odyssey team? Especially when I had been listening to the show since I was 3! I had just turned 18, was approaching graduation, and was already taking a year off to evaluate where I wanted to go with my life. The prospect of going down to Colorado seemed to fit perfectly with my plans for the future... except for one thing: It was too good to be true. Nathan had warned me that there was a possibility it wouldn't happen, and so I was very careful in not getting my hopes up. My parents, as supportive as they are, seemed to be convinced it would never happen. My friends knew I was in love with this show, but as none of them had really listened to it, they didn't understand the significance an opportunity like this presented. But as I wanted so badly for the internship to happen, I did everything I could on my end while Nathan guided me through each step of the internship process. Then, on August 8, 2002, I received word that the internship was a definite. I was blown away! To think I would actually be working on a show so near and dear to my heart was enough to make a grown man cry. I didn't cry mind you, but I came pretty close!
With less than a month to go (the dates were set from September 7 - October 7), I needed to kick my plans into high gear. I filled my laptop with programs and games to keep me occupied during the lonely nights and weekends, got my housing set up through Focus on the Family, and purchased several dress shirts and ties to wear around the office. Wear around the office... I had never worked in an office setting before, and I never would have imagined the first office building I worked in would be in a completely different country. But I was excited and pumped about the experience of a life time (as anyone would be) and packed my bags for the month long expedition.