Growth and Gratitude: Reflections from Family Weekend

Last Friday, Semester 63 students welcomed their parents to Chewonki for Family Weekend, a showcase of their experiences so far here at Maine Coast Semester. It was a non-stop celebration featuring student-led activities, discussions, performances, art, and even a “Polar Bear Dip” at the waterfront!

For many parents, Family Weekend was the first time they had seen their child since the start of the semester, 3 long months ago. We were curious to know what changes they observed, so we asked parents to share a few thoughts before leaving campus… Their responses are full of admiration for their teenagers’ tremendous growth:

1) Increased Confidence

“I see a comfort and confidence in my child that has developed in her time at Chewonki. She wants to organize and manage her world.”

“Our son seems more ‘at peace’ after 3 months here. He appears more secure and less in a rush to get to the next thing. He’s willing to speak up more in groups than previously.”

2) Commitment to Community

“Our daughter has learned so much about herself. She is now willing to explore more, redefine her energies, and grow into herself in the best way possible as a community-minded individual.”

“She feels deeply connected to community in a way I have not seen previously.”

3) Renewed Love of Learning

“Academically, I’m thrilled to have my kid – literally – jumping up and down about an essay she’s written, and plans to share with Terry Tempest Williams.”

“She now loves science and math!”

4) New Knowledge & Skills

“We were walking in the woods to visit her solo site, and with great enthusiasm and confidence, she named different trees, showed us two species of algae (by name), explained how to find a common periwinkle, and recognized a bird call.”

“Our son smiled ear-to-ear as he told us that he still has a perfect score in his biological identification tests. Before Chewonki, he had no notable skill or interest in this area.”

“Watching our daughter and her classmates demonstrate how to tie a ridgeline, put up a tarp, and share stories about their solos was remarkable. It struck me that my kid was out here by herself for 2 nights and 3 days in terrible weather… and she loved it. My pride was overwhelming.”

5) Journaling & Creative Expression

“I am very impressed with my daughter’s journal and with all of the students’ journals, which are so carefully and lovingly composed. The journals are emblematic of their complete immersion in their time here.”

“Our son was sharing his love of journaling, reading, and the books he has collected that have meant so much to him this past semester. He was proud, articulate, and enthusiastic.”

“It has been magic to watch my daughter take in the natural, wild place around her and translate this into her own expression of authenticity and beauty.”


We wish all of our students and families a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! We are so grateful that you are part of our community.

Interested in joining us next year? Learn more about applying to Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki. Applications are now open for 2020 – 2021.

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