Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Odyssey Adventure Club


Raise your hand if you do NOT know what Adventures in Odyssey is. Anyone? Anyone?

When I was growing up, Focus on the Family created and aired a brand new radio series for families called Adventures in Odyssey. I loved this program. "Loved" is almost too weak of of a word, really. It would be more correct to say that I was obsessed with itMany times I remember nagging my parents to leave events so that we could get home in time to listen to the radio. (They were never in such a rush as I was.) I recorded the episodes off the radio with my cassette tape player and would listen to the stories over and over again.

It has long been one of my anticipated delights to share Adventures in Odyssey with my own kids. My oldest, age 7, has just come to an age where he can follow along and find the stories interesting and so we've been listening to a few episodes in the car.

If you are unfamiliar with this radio drama, it was created in 1987 and the stories surround the life of one John Avery Whittacker, a wise and kind older fellow who runs a bookshop/old fashioned ice cream parlor/and the very famous imagination station which can transport you to different times in history. His place is called "Whit's End" and I've always wanted to go there in real life because it seems like such a fun and amazing place for a kid to hang out.

Each episode in this series focuses on either a moment in history and/or a character quality. The stories are well done, entertaining, and it is remarkably easy to connect with the characters. Mr. Whittacker, Eugene and Connie have long been my friends. Even still, I must quibble for just a moment. The officially stated goal of the series is to teach kids about "moral" or "Biblical values". To be perfectly honest, I don't really agree with their purpose in the sense of pretending like learning moral or Biblical values is a grand idea. It actually isn't. The stated goal of a Christian program - of which Adventures and Odyssey most undoubtably is - should be to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of you may say that I'm splitting hairs and, even if I am, I think that's a hair that is worth being split. You can make anyone conform their behaviors on the outside and it might even make you feel more comfortable to be around them if you succeed in such an endeavor. However, if a person doesn't know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord, then all the moral platitudes and kindly behaviors you teach a person won't mean a thing. Their heart will remain unchanged and it is their heart that must change. In fact, I believe you'll be doing any child a disservice if all you want and ask them to do is to behave "morally right" as defined by Focus on the Family or Random Person on the street. So despite my love for Odyssey and my being excited to share the characters and stories, I'm not offering this program to my kids as a moral pat on the back. May they never receive such a thing from me.

For me, Odyssey is a fun story. When you are lazing about the house, or driving in the car, or just wanting to hear a fun, encouraging story, I see no problem with looking to Odyssey! This is why I was excited to offer the opportunity to be a part of promoting the new Odyssey Adventure Club.

If you loved the stories growing up and you want to share them with your own kids, then you might want to check this out.

focus on the family adventures in odyssey odyssey adventure club
Right now,  you can join the Odyssey Adventure Club for $5 a month.

For a limited time, you can join HERE for only $5 (regular monthly membership costs $15 for up to six users)!

Families will be able to stream the Adventures in Odyssey library - (Episodes all the way back to 1987! My favorite part!) - plus listen to exclusive new monthly episodes. Busy families will find 24/7 access to the content through the Odyssey Adventure Club mobile iPhone app. (I shudder to think what my parents would have thought if I had had access to a phone app when I was growing up. Ha!)

Children can also read daily devotions (although I can't say I'm terribly impressed with the offering), interact with hands-on activities and view video documentaries featuring a behind-the-scenes look into the production of the Adventures in Odyssey stories. (Parents can feel more confident that their children are safe on the Odyssey Adventure Club website — Focus on the Family staff will be monitoring all comments before they’re publicly posted.)

Did I mention you can also watch the Adventures in Odyssey cartoon series based on this radio drama? Yes, we've been enjoying those in our household as well.

Note: A portion of each Odyssey Adventure Club membership will benefit Focus on the Family partner relief organizations, including Christian Veterinary Mission, Operation Christmas Child and Compassion International.

I'm a fan of good deals and the $5 a month is a great deal for the amount of episodes you'll have access to. (Anyone else priced the CD series? I have!) It's smart of Focus on the Family to make them available online! And fun for kids to have a place to go and poke around.

Again, I've been a big fan of Odyssey and I still am one. Least you misunderstand anything I've said in this review/notice, I appreciate the messages shared in the series and how Bible verses back up stories to make particular points. I think that's all well and good but I will quibble with the notion that we ought to support "moral" and "Biblical values". Which is not to say that we ought not to do that but that our focus should be on sharing the Gospel which takes us all straight to the sinful heart of the matter. Only the Gospel can change behaviors and change lives in the truest and best sense and we need to be careful of what we are promoting as being a good and/or life changing thing. God can most certainly use Odyssey in anyone's life to solidify the truths in His word and I think that is a fabulous thing. Just as long as Odyssey comes second to the Gospel and it's not just a "morals" pusher than I'm all good. (Why was liking Odssey so much easier when I was younger? I could just LIKE it without wondering about how everything was worded.)

At any rate, here's an Adventure Club I'm happy and excited about it because it gives my kids access to characters I loved growing up with stories that I found entertaining and encouraging. If you feel the same, check out the multiple resources made available to you by joining the club.


*carrie* said...

Cool! I enjoyed listening as a kid, too. And Nathan recently listened to some for the first time. I found some cassettes for free recently, and we still have one tape recorder left.

Did you know that FOTF's headquarters include an interactive (free!) area devoted to Odyssey for visitors? We'll actually be going there in a couple weeks when we're in town with my sister-in-law, whose family loves the show.

Mark Baker said...

I love, love, love Odyssey. I haven't listened in a few years, but I listened well into my 30's. And yes, I remember starting to listen when they were "Family Portraits" on Focus on the Family.

When my family went on vacation to Colorado Springs, one thing I absolutely wanted to do was visit their "Whit's End" area at Focus. It's really a kid's play area, but it was so much fun to actually order a WodFamChocSod in their ice cream parlor. It was pretty good, too.

Barbara H. said...

We loved Odyssey when the kids were growing up. In fact, I still have several of their cassette tapes and a few DVDs of the show and have argued with myself numerous times about whether to keep them for grandchildren or sell them while some few people in the world still have cassette players to listen to them with. I did just learn recently you could listen to some online so maybe by the time Timothy is old enough to listen to them, that will be the best way to go. I agree $5 sounds like a great deal.

I'm not too bothered by the emphasis on moral or Biblical values. They didn't teach them apart from the gospel (one of my absolute favorite episodes is when Eugene finally becomes a believer). I don't recall ever getting the impression that they were trying to teach "just do these things and you'll be ok" rather than believing on the Lord.

Somehow we fell out of listening to the later episodes - I'm not as familiar with some of the newer characters (I have to admit Wooten really irritates me). But I hope Odyssey is still around when Timothy and any other grandkids to come are ready for it.

Krista said...

Thanks for your thoughts! Now I can put my finger on why I was so bothered by that first paragraph as well. (I left it out)
I don't know that we'll do the daily devotions either and I might argue with their idea that comments are moderated. I read down through some of them and they were just... weird. Not useful nor pertaining to the questions asked. I don't think I would let my kids on that forum even if they were old enough to do so. (which they aren't obviously)
Tell me, I don't remember clearly, but is the gospel presented through the stories or is it just "wholesome" audio drama? Which I have no problem with describing it that way. ;)

Krista said...

Oh, and have you ever been to the FOTF headquarters in Colorado Springs? I went through there once pre-kids and was more interested in meeting the Brio staff as I was 20 at the time, but I do recall they had a pretty awesome 3 story slide and a whole area of the welcome center that was Odyssey themed. :)

Kate Scott said...

I was obsessed with Odyssey too when I was growing up. I rarely listen to it anymore, but every once in a while, maybe once a year or so, I break it out and have a grand time reminiscing.

Focus on the Family isn't exactly the kind of organization I would normally align myself with, but what I appreciated about AIO is that they stayed away from pushing their political or social values and stuck to the gospel and super-basic right vs wrong scenarios (like treating other people as you want to be treated).

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