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Alaska Unit Study – Prescription for Adventure: Bush Pilot Doctor

One Semester, suitable for Grades 6-12

Prescription for Adventure book: 247 pp, paperback by Naomi Gaede-Penner
with Elmer Gaede

Unit Study Guide: by Naomi Gaede-Penner & Ruth Gaede Rupp
By Emerson Sandow

With Alaska in the news so much the past two years, a Unit Study based upon a real family’s life in the 49th state seems very apropos. The book the Unit Study is based upon also happens to be an excellent one, detailing the adventures of Dr. Elmer “Doc” Gaede, a colorful, unusual man who caught “Frontier Fever” even before Alaska became a state.

Dr. Gaede left Kansas with his wife and two small daughters (Naomi & Ruth) in 1955 and struck out on the Alcan (Alaska-Canada) Highway for the wilds of what, four years later, would become the largest state. He was lured by the doctoring opportunities to serve the people there – especially the indigenous ones, but he was soon caught up in the entire adventure mystique of this incredible land, including the animals as well as its people. “Doc” flew a baby from the hospital to his waiting family far out in the tundra, as a passenger in a small bush plane. Later, he learned to fly one himself – with skis, floats and wheels — and spent 30 years “carving the skies” of his beloved Alaska. With his planes, he flew with friends to hunt bear and moose, bringing back meat and trophies almost too heavy to carry in his small planes! Of course, he flew on emergency “ambulance” runs to aid sick or injured patients and flew just for fun as well.

The Unit Study booklet contains a complete Teacher’s Guide for a variety of activities and work centered upon the book and Alaska. Since Doc Gaede and Alaska are the main characters, it makes the Unit Study very personal and memorable. Since the author grew up in Alaska, her first-hand knowledge makes for a very different – and effective — approach than if she were preparing the material from various “third-party” sources.

Each chapter of the book is studied with such assignments as Journaling, to provide creative writing practice; Economics, where applicable; Science, where applicable; Vocabulary development; Writing – discussing the author’s style or other technical points and other study topics as they apply to each chapter. The Unit Study is well-planned, interesting and valuable for its breadth.

If you want your 12 to 17 year-old to experience the wonders of one man’s adventure of life in America’s Final Frontier, please visit the website, and consider using this Unit Study as a valuable and memorable part of your homeschooling adventure. E.S.


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