A Maine Coast Semester Birthday!

What do you get when you cross 42 students with four months time? A lot of birthdays! Throughout Semester 70, quite a few of the students have celebrated another trip around the sun on campus, and each day has been special. I recently spent my 17th birthday here, and had an absolutely wonderful day filled with friends, outdoors, and community.

My day started with an early wake up call at 6 AM, to go on an optional morning walk to one of Chewonki’s scenic points. The minute I opened my eyes, I saw a surprise my cabin mates had made for me: a gorgeous poster filled with birthday well wishes and love. Titled “17 reasons we love Laurel” and filled with pictures and very sweet notes, the poster was the perfect way to start my day. I left Orchard cabin a few minutes later feeling loved and appreciated, and ready to get the most out of my birthday here at Maine Coast Semester.

After a blustery morning walk to Montsweag Brook (the estuary of brackish water that feeds into the Atlantic), morning gather, and chores, the birthday celebrations continued during morning meeting when the local news shared for the day was my birthday! I was hit with a chorus of “happy birthdays!”, which persisted as the day went on. The fellow students of Semester 70 were incredibly genuine and sweet in their reactions, and made me feel special throughout the day.

I was also able to spend some good time catching up with family and friends back home; I had a long call with my parents and exchanged emails with extended family as well as friends from my sending school. 

After dinner as a semester, I returned to my cabin to find another surprise (literally) cooked up by my cabin mates—a delicious tray of a brownie-cookie-oreo concoction. In the time before study hours, the eight of us celebrated, complete with candles and singing. During the party, I opened cards and gifts semester students had given me, as well as those sent from outside family and friends. We laughed at the odd ones (my uncle had sent a “mystic eight button” which we peppered with a plethora of bizarre questions), celebrated the good (a snack box to share with the cabin), took polaroids, and played games.

It’s not every day that one has a birthday, and it’s not every year that they are at Chewonki! Getting to celebrate turning 17 at this incredible place that has made such an impact on my year was an amazing experience, and I’m looking forward to helping make it the same for others in the coming weeks.

Laurel Buescher, Cleveland Heights High School, Cleveland Heights, OH

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