5 Things I will never forget about Chewonki

  1. Polar Plunges – My alarm goes off and I realize it’s 6:45 AM, a bright and early start to my Saturday. I get out of bed, put on my best pair of shorts, grab a towel, and run to get my water shoes. I get ready to go and wait outside of the Allen Center with the other usual plungers, a small group of spectators, and two of our teachers. The weather does not stop us or slow us down, we move down the steep hill and across the field, and to the waterfront. Whether it is trudging through the mud, sliding down the hill from the ice, or limbering through the snow, or walking in a little above zero weather. For example, the first polar plunge, almost everybody decided to do it, so on January 21, the first full day at Chewonki, we got on our water shoes and walked through the deep snow to the water. Except, it was frozen over, so after breaking a small hole in the ice, we went down in pairs, sat into the freezing cold water with our new friend, and laid down to submerge our heads, baptism style. There was nothing like it, having to slide your feet under the ice, and the adrenaline rush of freezing cold water covering your body, it was both type one and two fun. After that, I couldn’t wait to do it again, and I have done it every week since.
  2. Playing monopoly with people I did not know for hours on arrival day – It was a surreal experience to say the least, saying goodbye to my parents, with a look of awe on my face, thinking “wait, my parents just left me in Maine for a semester?” and then feeling a rush of excitement, firstly because this was the best thing to happen to me, secondly because I just saw my best friend, Oona. We hug it out then we go our separate ways. I walked in, and met a few people and we decided to play a board game, specifically Monopoly: Lord of The Rings Edition. There is one thing you need to know about me before you continue reading this blog post, I am VERY competitive, so I take my board games very seriously, and Monopoly happens to be my favorite. I start off, gaining what properties I can, scraping by, eventually persuading people to trade me the last yellow property I need for my plan, for domination. The game drags on as it usually does, and a nice girl named Ines sits down with me, and I invite her onto my team. We slowly accumulate housing, and then it happens. Someone tosses the dice, rolls a nine, lands on one of our properties, “how much is rent?”. Here it comes … “three hundred twenty-five power please!”. They are in shock, we cleared out a quarter of their bank account, and when it becomes our turn we add another two houses into one of our properties. Eventually, the rent is now 925, and people are having to mortgage their items. I am bound to win, nobody has a chance, then it’s dinner time. We pause the game, but don’t ever resume. It’s okay though, I accept my victory with open palms. 

  3. First Field Lab – We bundle up, take our newfound Rite in the Rain notebooks, and walk out to The Point on Chewonki Neck. We arrive and split into groups, one group takes observations and questions on what they see now, and the other takes some notes about the biome that surrounds us. I first explore around, and climb down to the rocky shore, inspecting the shells encased in the mud. I notice the abundance of seaweed that seems to wrap the edges of the shore like a trim on a window or a doorway. I wonder what type of rock is here? We then move to notes, jumping from rock to rock over the seaweed, and settle down to take our notes. We focus on Ascophyllum Nodosum, or more commonly known as Knotted Rack, or Rock Weed. Megan talks with such enthusiasm that you can’t help but become interested, taking in all of the knowledge you can get. This is when it clicks that this is where I had to be. 

  4.  The first species quiz – The tension builds as we get ready outside, writing date, name, and class block. Megan and Chloe open the door, the science tables are covered in species samples. The species that we were given for our first week were Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus),  Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea), Red Maple (Acer rubrum), American Beech Tree (Fagus grandifolia), Knotted Wrack (Ascophyllum Nodosum), Black Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus), Eastern Blue Bird (Sialia sialis), Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), and the White Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus). We were supposed to identify just the common name, the best score possible being a 95, and if you get all of the latin names correct, you can make that a 100%.  The pressure builds as I move methodically through the room, #1 Branta canadensis, #2, I see that the tree is largely deciduous, but still holding onto some of its leaves, BOOM Fagus grandifolia. I see a red smiley face with a circled 100 next to it. This makes me want to learn all of the species that I could, now when I go outside, whether for a walk with my friends or on a run, I can identify most of the trees that I see. 

  5. The nature and community around me – This is something that I must impress that I will never forget. The community at Chewonki is something that I had never experienced before, you are able to talk with your friends about anything and teachers and faculty listen with open ears, helping you brainstorm creative solutions that can solve your problem. The friends that I have made here are life long, and I will not forget them. Nature is something that I will not forget because of how important it is. Our science classes we will research plankton, learn about trees, and do anything that relates to the natural coast of Maine. My favorite thing to spend my Sunday doing is going on a gigantic hike with friends, often with Liz, and finding interesting landmarks. We try to find paths to the small islands that dot the coastline, hike up hills and find unmapped places like Osprey Knob, and even find a cave, which we now know as Emerald Cave. The freedom to explore is like nowhere else and this is the thing that solidifies my thought that I truly belong here at Chewonki. 

These five things I will never forget and I will always remember all of the experiences that I have had here, and all of the type two fun, the hands numb from the cold, standing in the grass barefoot, sitting in trees *below head height*, and bird watching. Chewonki is the most enriching and important experience of my life so far, and I am forever thankful.

-Magnus Caspersen, Tiverton High School

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