Co-Curricular Courses

Co-curricular Activities at Maine Coast Semester

Outdoor Education, Backcountry Expeditions, and Physical Fitness

All students participate in our Outdoor Living Skills program, which is woven into the curriculum in weekend programming and trips throughout the semester. Our program emphasizes leadership skills in the outdoors including: communication, decision making, minding the weather and dressing appropriately, following safety protocols, and learning about and respecting places, wildlife, and people. Specific skills taught throughout the semester include: wood processing with an axe and saw, baking over a fire, tying knots, setting up and sleeping under a tarp, and navigating with a map and compass. There are three major outdoor experiences (“peaks”) throughout the semester: Backcountry Expeditions, Outdoor Leadership Weekend, and Solos. During backcountry expeditions in the fall semester, students spend five days canoeing, backpacking, or sea kayaking, often setting up camp in a new location each night. In the spring semester, students spend four days cross-country skiing or snowshoeing and sleep in heated cabins. For Outdoor Leadership Weekend, students participate in a two-day Wilderness First Aid course taught and certified by Wilderness Medical Associates and spend two days camping on Chewonki Neck, strengthening their skill base and their comfort in the woods to prepare for Solos. The culminating peak of the Outdoor Living Skills program is the 48-hour Solo on Chewonki Neck. Solos are an opportunity for students to reflect on their personal growth throughout the semester, explore their independence and interdependence at a crucial time of identity formation, and celebrate meaningful time in the natural world.

Community Service and Work Program

(NC; listed on transcript by hours)

Our Work Program, daily chores, and dish crews are a cornerstone of the Maine Coast Semester educational experience – the part of our program where students do authentic daily work with their hands that has value to the community and that develop a number of skills and dispositions: showing up, developing a personal work ethic, experiencing collaboration and accountability on a team, craftsmanship, and finishing strong. Work Program takes place with adult educator guides from Maine Coast Semester faculty and across the Chewonki Foundation, often with music, satisfaction, and the connections forged in organic conversations. Completing the common, essential, and sometimes inglorious tasks of a community – independently and on teams – offers a tangible rite of passage for adolescents, compelling students from being driven by extrinsic/external motivation to intrinsic/internal motivation – doing a job well not because one is told to, but because it feels good to contribute one’s efforts to the community we call home.

Our Work Program is woven into the fabric of each day. We start each morning cleaning and taking care of our place in student-faculty teams before breakfast. A background and cyclic vitality to each day plays out in the dish room, where students and faculty take part in a weekly dish crew. On two afternoons each week – on Tuesday/Thursday and Friday for 1.5-2 hours – students join Work Program rotations doing community work that is authentic, real, and mentored by adults on Chewonki’s Farm, wood crew, facilities crew (which may include repairing, building, moving, fixing, or painting), kitchen crew, trail crew, invasive plant removal, raking leaves and shoveling snow, outdoor programs, Traveling Natural History Program maintenance, writing blogs, and weekly mop-and-clean and Friday night social planning. 

Our Work Program cultivates an active, connected, community-oriented lifestyle which includes exercise, skill building, and camaraderie.


Physical Education (P/NP)

The Physical Education component of our program is rooted in the many daily physical activities students engage in. This includes: hiking, outdoor skill building, and backcountry expeditions (involving skiing, snow-shoeing, kayaking, canoeing, and/or backpacking); weekly farm chores; daily morning chores; and chopping firewood and tending wood stoves. Students have weekly opportunities for personal training and fitness involving pick-up field games, yoga, running, and/or walking during afternoon periods each week dedicated to self care and physical activity.

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