From the very start of the three hour long van ride, to our arrival back in the Chewonki parking lot a week later, I had an amazing time on my wilderness trip. My group went to the area around Stonington, Maine, to sea kayak. It’s been described as the “Caribbean of Maine” because of all the beautiful islands that you can visit and camp on. On the first day, after unloading the trailer and van onshore, we immediately got straight to paddling. The high winds and whitecap waves were slightly intimidating, especially to me as one of the only ones in the group who had never been in a kayak. But good navigation protected us from the wind, so the group started to get a hang of it. After about an hour and a half of paddling, we reached our campsite on Russ Island, an island that the Chewonki Foundation owns. That night was spent learning how to set up camp, cook meals, and make a plan for the next day. Although it took a while, by the time we went to bed we were feeling confident and ready to take on the rest of the week. But the next day, the wind was so strong that we had to change our route mid-way through, and camp on a different island. It all worked out though, because we got to plan the rest of the week ourselves. The most fun day was definitely Thursday, our last full day. We paddled to Green Island, which is a beautiful reserve that has an old quarry filled with fresh water and a trail that leads up to an amazing view. It was also the sunniest day of the week, so the water was a gorgeous shade of blue and it was warm enough to not have to wear multiple layers of long underwear. When we got there, we jumped in the freezing but refreshing water in the quarry, and the more courageous swam all the way across. After, we had an amazing lunch of Ritz, cheese, and salami sandwiches, we hiked all around the beautiful island. The next activity was a mini-solo for us so we could have some reflective time. We were let loose on one side of the island and each found a spot to spend the next hour. I stumbled across a beautiful section of beach were I sat and watched the waves and lobster boats, and wrote in my journal. After a whistle from the leaders called us all back, we put on our gear and paddled over to another island called Potato, where we explored the beach and took lots of hilarious pictures. That day was an amazing day because we got to do such a variety of things, both sea kayaking and exploring.
The next morning, we packed up camp and paddled back to where we parked the van. We speedily loaded the trailer (thanks to all of our practice carrying boats above the high tide line), and set off back to Chewonki. That car ride felt so different from the one there—the connection I felt with each person was so much stronger than before, and the laughs were non-stop. The three hours went by so quickly as we struggled to eat massive carrots and consumed ridiculous amounts of Sun Butter. As we pulled into the Chewonki parking lot screaming the Chewonki cheer, I realized how lucky I am to have spent such an awesome week hanging out with those people and exploring the coast of Maine.
-Grace P. Lakeside School, Seattle, WA