We are delighted to have Tom Foley, an alumnus of Maine Coast Semester 43, back on campus this summer to lead the birding program for Camp Chewonki for Boys. As the birding activity leader, Tom teaches Puffins, Owls, Herons, and Ospreys (our four age-based camper groups) about their avian namesakes and other bird species present on Chewonki Neck. For early-rising campers, Tom leads a birding walk around campus to help boys build their species knowledge and bird-watching skills. He also coordinates the birding challenge, a friendly competition that encourages campers to identify birds and bird calls throughout the camp sessions (a pair of Nikon binoculars is the coveted prize).
Tom also leads bi-weekly Puffin Cruises. These trips take students to New Harbor for a boat trip to Eastern Egg Rock, a seven-acre island in outer Muscongus Bay. Eastern Egg Rock is the southernmost puffin colony in the United States, one of only three. Ninety nesting pairs live on the island, which is managed by the Audubon Society. Tom says the cruises are a great opportunity to explore coastal Maine beyond Wiscasset and experience something special and unique about the state.
This is Tom’s second summer at Chewonki as a Boys Camp counselor. He first came here in the fall of 2009 to join Maine Coast Semester 43. Although his decision to apply was spontaneous, his experience at Maine Coast Semester has had a lasting influence. After returning home and finishing high school, Tom decided to attend Sterling College in Craftsbury, Vermont, a small, private college dedicated to environmental stewardship. With just a couple hundred students, Sterling’s curriculum is based on many of the values we hold dear: community, place-based education, and appreciation for the natural world. While at Sterling, Tom received his bachelor’s degree in ecology, with a focus on natural history and outdoor education. He also met his fiance, Jesse, a fellow student and ecology major.
Since graduating from Sterling in 2015, Tom and Jesse have been working as educators at The Ecology School in Saco, Maine, an education-based nonprofit that emphasizes the magic, mystery, and wonder of nature so that students can better understand and care for the environment. Jesse joined Tom at Chewonki this summer as the arts activities head for Boys Camp. At the end of the summer, they plan to return to Portland, Maine, and will be married this fall on the Eastern Prom there. Then they will figure out next steps for the adventure ahead. We hope Tom and Jesse will continue returning to Chewonki in the years to come!