Putting the Coast in Maine Coast Semester

One of the aspects about Chewonki that was a big part of me deciding to come here was the ocean. It’s right in the name, Maine Coast Semester. I was excited to learn more about the ocean, because there is a lot of fresh water where I live, but no salt water. I also wanted to go kayaking, or canoeing, and just experience the coast of Maine. Some of the activities I had heard about sounded pretty interesting like polar bear dips, jumping off rocks into the water when the tide was high enough, going swimming, and some of the boat based backcountry trips. I wanted to try them all.

My first experience with the coast was a polar bear dip. It was hardly a polar bear dip at that time of year, which I was fine with. It was still a little chilly though, and it was nice to be in the water, and I wished I could have stayed in longer. I stopped doing the polar bear dip when it got colder though. The next thing I tried was the mini cliff dive. We weren’t directly on the ocean, and there was a river of sorts that the dock was in, and on the other side was the ‘cliff’ which was about 10-15 ft tall, so not very high. We swam out, got ashore, and jumped off, and I thought it was pretty fun, so I went a second time before going back. 

One of my favorite water experiences was the sea kayaking trip, which was one of the backcountry options. I had kayaked at home a lot, so I was excited to see what it would be like. The kayaks we used were a lot skinnier and faster than any kayak I had used before, and they also had rudders that made it super easier to steer (when they weren’t broken). I had a lot of fun on the trip, and loved getting to spend my day on the water seeing a lot of really cool different places. I think it was definitely one of the highlights of my time here. 

The most recent water experience I had was the Popham beach field lab, which was one of my favorites, despite the wind and cold. Popham Beach is one of the few sand beaches in Maine, and we had gone right before sunset, so it was super pretty watching the sunset on the sand with my friends, which created all sorts of beautiful colors against the clouds and the sky. At the end, right when the sun had almost fully set, the teachers offered to let us jump/run into the water, and my friend had managed to convince me to do it with him. Right as we were getting ready, it started to snow a little, which I thought was crazy, because I was about to run into water on a beach while it was snowing. I had a great time, even though my toes went fully numb afterwards. It was a fantastic ending to the field lab and to probably my last time in the water here at Maine Coast Semester.

Grant Gebler, Madison West High School, Madison, WI

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