On Friday, students returned from week long wilderness trips, which included sea kayaking, canoeing, hiking, sailing and whitewater kayaking. I went whitewater kayaking on the west branch of the Penobscot River at Big Eddy Campground. Our kayaking adventure began with an introduction to whitewater; we learned how to “peel out” and “ferry” and we gradually became adjusted to the feel of the river. Our endeavors became more challenging each day and as we compiled our skills we were able to “shred the gnar” on more difficult rapids. Leading us on the river was Ryan Linehan, a very skilled kayaker and the director of Chewonki’s summer wilderness trips. Leading us at the campsite was Paul Arthur, wilderness extraordinaire and Ethics teacher. As we were getting used to paddling whitewater kayaks, Paul was adjusting to his brand new whitewater canoe. Also helping us in the water was Kit Hamley- a MCS alum who has been working at Big Eddy.
Each day our group of 7 students drove to our “put-in” (usually at Big Eddy) and our van was shuttled to the end of the rapid. When we made it to the end (usually very wet from being splashed), we loaded up the van and either headed back to the campsite or another put-in for the next river adventure in the afternoon. I fortunately made it through the week only flipping over on the first day when we had to practice our wet exits, but several other students had to put their wet exit skills to good use, sometimes in the middle of very rough water. Back at the campsite, we had some free time to journal, go fishing in the river, or explore the area. After a hearty camp dinner, we sat around a fire and were punished by Paul’s puns. We were always tired after a long day of paddling, so sleep came very easily.
Upon returning to Chewonki, we unloaded everything, cleaned dishes, emptied food containers, and finally got to shower. Friday night each group put together a compilation of pictures from their trip. It was very cool to get a glimpse of everyone else’s experience. I’ve heard nothing but positive comments about everyone’s trip. It was a great opportunity for everybody to try something new and get close to people who we hadn’t spent much time with prior.