Students awoke this morning to a truly vivid day – the green of the trees, the pale blue of the sky, the deep green-yellow-blue of the ocean – all impossibly bright in the September sun. The air was crisp and refreshing and had the feel of fall to it. When I checked in with the Providence Country Day and Applewild groups, there were smiles all around. The distinct smell of campfire lingered on everyone’s clothing bringing to mind the meals and conversations around the campfire they must all have had last night. All of the Friends Academy groups checked in this afternoon via cell phone. Apparently, it has been a gorgeous day out on Montsweag Bay. A few groups are off of their itineraries due to wind, but report that students are safe and having fun. Because the winds are reported to build tomorrow afternoon and evening, we have asked all salt water canoeing groups to return to the main campus early tomorrow morning. They will likely camp out on one of the 11 campsites here on Chewonki Neck for the last night of their trip. Up on the St. Croix River, the Pike School is probably trying out one of the new campsites on the U.S. side of the river. The St. Croix runs along the border of the U.S. and Canada, and for many years, paddlers were allowed to camp on either side of the border as they ran the river. Two years ago, that changed, and now U.S. groups can only camp on the U.S. side. To make this work better, new campsites were built on the U.S. side, and on Friday, we should hear what the Pike students think of them! Another wonderful Wednesday at the “Wonk!”
Campus is awash with the speckled light of late afternoon sunshine, and all is quiet in “Town” (where all of the buildings on campus are) as groups begin to head out to their campsites for the evening. We welcomed the Applewild 6th graders this afternoon – they made record time and arrived a half hour early! The teaching team that came up this year is impressive – all three of them are teacher-chaperone veterans, having come on the trip for 9, 13, and 17 years! Wow! The students seemed thrilled to be here and enjoyed the excitement of an afternoon thunderstorm (from inside the Center for Environmental Education building), and are now moving out to their campsites under clear skies and lovely afternoon sunshine. Both the Friends Academy and Providence Country Day groups reported in after the thunderstorm, having weathered it well. They are all moving ahead with afternoon travels/activities. The Pike School called in to report having made it safely to the Vanceboro put-in on the St. Croix River around 1:00 this afternoon. They have a short paddle to get to their first site today, and we are unlikely to hear from them again until they get to the takeout early Friday morning. From my office I can hear a bard owl hooting, and I’m envious of the students and teachers out in the woods and on the water on this glorious day!
We started the week on Monday with overcast skies, but that did not deter the enthusiasm of the Friends Academy 7th graders, the Providence Country Day 8th graders, or the Pike School 9th graders who all arrived on Monday eager to begin their class trips! Teachers from Friends Academy reported that there was much singing on the bus ride up, and that there was not much that could dampen the spirits of this year’s class. Indeed, when I spoke with instructors working with Friends this morning, they all reported that the class is overwhelmingly kind and fun to be with. PCD arrived late due to construction on 95, but had a great start. I myself witnessed well-wishes and luck being passed between the boys’ group and the girls’ group when they separated to go to their respective campsites late yesterday afternoon. Despite the gray skies, we did not have rain until very early this morning, and as I write this at 10:22 am Tuesday, the rain has already stopped. We had an early morning thunderstorm, so the Friends crew got on the water for their salt water canoe trip a little later than expected, but by 11, they should all be headed to their island campsite destinations. The Pike School was on the road by 7 am to head up to the St. Croix River, and the PCD groups are all in camp getting started on their day’s activities – team building initiatives, climbing on our indoor ropes course, and doing our gulch ravine crossing. We are looking forward to greeting the Applewild School 6th graders mid-day today.
Here are some reflections that campers on the Renewable Energy Sailing trip wrote: It is amazing to think of how much can happen in a week: how much you can learn, all the friends you can make, how many memorable experiences you can have. I laughed more in the past week than I have all summer long! From singing “Dancing Queen” and playing charades to making solar battery chargers and sleeping under the stars, this trip has been unforgettable. – Emma This trip was a trip of firsts for me. It was the first time I have ever steered a catamaran, let alone sailed on one. It was also the first time I have ever soldered. It was the first time I have ever picked and pulled seaweed. It was the first time I have ever met 8 really entertaining people. It was the first time I have genuinely appreciated a mosquito head net. It was the first time I have learned to manage on no showers, no fresh water for anything but drinking, no laundry, and limited electricity for 1 week. It was the first time I have ever triangulated my position in a boat. It was the first time I have navigated through a large cluster of lobster buoys. Last of all, it has been the first experience I have been through with so many different and entertaining memories. – Abigail When I first arrived at Chewonki, I had no idea what a strange adventure I would have. From Liam releasing the mooring too early, to exploring caves on Harbor Island, to playing charades in the evening, my time here has been very memorable. I think I’ll remember Liam’s hilariously insane behavior for a very long time. I think that I’ll sign up for this again next summer so that I can have another great adventure on the sea. – Daniel OMG that was awesome. It was really fun sailing. The first day I undid the mooring too soon and the boat floated to the dock. We explored lots of places and walked. The enormous wind turbines were awesome. The boat hit a max of 6.1 knots on the first day and 9.1 on the last day of the trip. The food was amazing (I love food). We also played lots of fun games. PS – I’m the Dancing Queen – Liam In the past week I have had a great time. I can’t really think of anything bad except for the time it was really foggy and there was no wind. I remember when we were going 9.1 knots, we were so happy to be going so fast (9.1 knots is actually 10mph). I really loved the whole trip and I loved learning about renewable energy. I had so much fun sailing and on land doing renewable energy projects. – Eli I had a great time on the Solar Sail. Between the laughing, sailing, having fun, and the learning experiences, I had the best time of my life. I learned so much about renewable energy and I want to progress my learning. I learned a lot of sailing vocab and skills. I will always remember these fun times! – Grant
Another beautiful day at Camp! Coastal Camping Adventurers set off with bathing suits, sunscreen and barbeque supplies for the rocky shore and beach at Reid State Park today. Nature Day Camp spent the day learning about “Bugs” and are gearing up for the “Bug Parade” around campus to the tune of “Ants go marching one by one.” Northwoods trip leader, Peter Bakke, wrote in late Wednesday to say: Today we paddled into Ambajejus Lake and checked out the Boom House. We helped the caretaker Chuck with a little work project. The kids were great at paddling! Right now the kids are getting a fly fishing lesson from Seneca, the young expert. Tomorrow the kids will decide whether they want to hike or canoe. We are having a great time! It won’t be long until pickup time for our overnight campers! We’ll see parents at noon tomorrow.
The waterfront was a big hit today with the Coastal Camping Adventurers. There was kayaking, water sliding, raft wars, and a special appearance from “Sharkie.” When asked for a report for parents “Team Hat” also known as the “Mini Bears” and “Team Awesome” (much debate was had over the team name at lunch today . . . final decisions were not made) responded that they were having tons of fun! A consensus could not be made as to the best meal they’ve had yet, although mac and cheese seemed to be highest on list with burritos and breakfast sandwiches close behind. The girls were particularly taken with the owls program last night and expressed sincere wishes that they could snuggle with the Eastern Screech Owl! The entire group seems to love wood chopping and fire building. Cooking on the campfire is a favorite activity with all. Group leader, Todd was extremely impressed with the group’s performance in the Barn Climb yesterday. Group members were all proud that a member of their group completed our toughest climb, the Moonwalk! This morning much excitement was had in the sea kayaks – especially when one camper “accidentally” bumped group leader Adam and flipped his boat over! They were excitedly headed for the Gulch Ravine Crossing when I last saw them this afternoon. “Team Raft Warriors,” also a much debated team name with the D.C. contingent thinking it “weird,” were having a blast at the waterfront when I last saw them. Discussion of the team name inevitably led to a friendly debate about why exactly Washington, D.C. is the capitol – what else would you talk about at camp, right? When asked for a report for parents they asked me to make sure parents knew that the food was very good and that no one was hungry. Campfire pizzas are on the menu for tonight, and they are all eagerly awaiting dinner! They were most excited about having completed the Gulch Ravine Crossing this morning and of course about raft “wars” at the waterfront. I will be curious to hear what social studies debates come up over the campfire tonight! Nature Day Campers spent the day learning about the farm, with sprinkler and game breaks in between. They harvested carrots and had a potato scavenger hunt. To celebrate Thor’s birthday they made ice cream with our old fashioned crank ice cream maker! Apparently it was delicious, but might better be described as milk shakes than ice cream!
The Big Eddy Campground Manager, Susan Adams, checked in with the Northwoods Adventure group on Tuesday afternoon and sent me this message about what they have been up to: The boys climbed to Blueberry ledges today in Baxter State Park. They are planning to bake a cobbler for desert tonight with the liter of wild blueberries they picked up on the mountain! It has been a beautiful sunny day, and they are now swimming “the big eddy circuit” in the river to cool off. She had this to say after touching base with them Wednesday morning: Today the boys made blueberry pancakes and are now headed to the Boomhouse at Ambejejus for some local history and a lot of paddling. I have been told that the museum “curator”/Ex-log driver, Chuck Harris, has 2 birch bark canoes there that he has made, and rumor is, he has found another “perfect tree” to start a new canoe with. It will be interesting to hear what the boys glean from their experience today. I hope they get to meet Chuck during their visit. The Boomhouse is a logging museum that has been made out of an old logger’s bunkhouse. The group will have to paddle to get to it!
Today is a beautiful day at camp. The sun is a welcome sight after gray skies yesterday, and all reports from groups have been positive. Todd’s Coastal Camping group could hear coyotes from their campsite last night and looked awesome climbing in the barn this afternoon. Rachel’s Coastal Camping group was all giggles when I checked in with them at lunch. They were doing a team building activity and coming up with some very creative solutions to our “pipelines” challenge. Tonight both groups will meet up for a live “Owls of Maine” presentation under the whale in Chapin Hall. The Northwoods Adventurers arrived at the Big Eddy Campground safety around 6 pm last night. We should hear more news from them tomorrow. Nature Day Campers had a full day of activities all under the theme of “Forest.” I visited with the group at rest hour. I’m not sure how much resting was going on, but it sure looked like fun. They had set up tents for resting in and were listening to Colin and Chris play some sleepy songs for relaxing to. I could just hear the songs over the giggles from the tents. My guess is that bedtime will come early tonight for these campers!
Leaders Peter, Tom, and Mary report that the Renewable Energy Sailing Camp is going well. They left this message last night: The first three days of the Renewable Energy Sail have been packed with adventure. We’ve been exploring ideas of sustainability by constructing solar powered battery chargers and harvesting veggies from the farm. We’ve designed wind turbines and made bio-diesel by hand! While living aboard the boat we’ve had many opportunities for swimming. Sleeping on deck has given us the chance to watch a meteor shower! We will be setting sail just after sunrise to begin the sailing part of the journey. Please send thoughts of fair wind and calm seas. When I visited with the group they were designing a flag to hoist up the mast. They were being pretty silly – I predict a lot of giggles on this sailing trip!
The Center for Environmental Education is alive with activity today as Coastal Camping Adventure, Northwoods Adventure, Saltwater Adventure, and Nature Day Camp campers arrive. The pack shed is piled high with adventurer’s packs, and the sounds of “get to know you” games are echoing through the halls. Gray skies have not put shadows in the eyes of any campers as counselors report in that kids are excited to be here and anxious to make new friends. Thanks to families for patience with our check-in process! Northwoods Adventurers packed up their van and trailer and hit the road for the Big Eddy Campground right after lunch. Peter and Tom, the group leaders, expect to make it to their campsite around 5:00 this evening. Coastal Camping Adventurers were off into the woods carrying their packs and wanagans straight after lunch. We should be seeing them in the morning for a report of their first night out. Today’s theme for Nature Day Camp is “Birds.” This morning they went on a bird walk, and this afternoon they made pinecone bird feeders. Leaders Jane, Chris, Colin and Dom report that the group is high energy and very enthusiastic. Check in tomorrow for more updates. All is well on Chewonki Neck for tonight.