Each and every Friday afternoon after classes, semester students rush to their cabins, dress up in their craziest, most colorful clothing, and run to the tennis courts for an exhilarating game of dodge ball. But this past Friday was one of those dark and cloudy days where a rousing dodge ball game was not enough to lift our spirits. When we finally finished our last class, we were all ready to let off some steam, and we had the perfect opportunity to do that. Instead of dodge ball, we all went for a “mud rove.” Most of us had heard about this from past semester students and now we were finally getting the chance to experience it for ourselves.
We all met in the quad wearing raggedy clothes, and Jason Chandler– a charismatic leader and storyteller– told us the epic story of the first Mud Rove that Tim Ellis (a Chewonki legend) led during an especially rainy summer at boys’ camp. As he finished the story, we all began to sprint down to the forest. We were splashing in every puddle we passed, smearing handfuls of dirt on each other’s faces, laughing the whole time. After roving through most of Chewonki Neck, we came to the Salt Marsh, an expanse of sticky grey mud. On a count of three, all of us sprinted towards the marsh– but we couldn’t sprint for long; once we stepped foot in this mud we couldn’t move at a pace much faster than a snail. I got about three steps in and fell flat on my back. I started laughing and took a look around me: some were crawling on their hands and knees, others were making “mud angels”, and a few were standing motionless, their feet stuck in the depths of the marsh. We all threw mud at each other, rubbed mud on each other, and tackled each other until every inch of us was covered. I couldn’t tell one person from another; we looked like a sea indistinct grey blobs.
The boldest mud rovers took part in the final step of the mud rove – rolling around in the steamy compost pile at the farm. I knew I would regret not completing the Mud Rove, so I went along and jumped into the compost, and from there I went straight to the waterfront to clean off. I jumped in the icy cold water and washed myself off, the perfect ending to an exciting Friday afternoon.
Before coming to Chewonki, the idea of covering my entire body in mud would have sounded worse than spending an entire day at the dentist. But the Mud Rove last Friday was one of the most enjoyable and liberating experiences I’ve had at Chewonki so far!
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