Wednesday, November 15, 2017

FLOW 2017 Reception

Tuesday, November 14th, we held the fourth annual FLOW reception at the Patten Free Library. Over 100 people were in attendance, filling the room with conversation, laughter and stories. We changed the venue from Bath City Hall to the library this year because student artwork was a featured product. We wanted a space where the art could be displayed prominently with good lighting and easy viewing access. The Community Room on the second floor of the Patten Free Library was perfect!

I helped Jackie Johnson, BMS' art teacher, hang the show the day before, grouping paintings to emulate the different times of day: dawn, day, dusk and night. The space was transformed into a professional-level gallery.

In addition to the artwork, students wrote poetry, persuasive essays, personal narratives, and memoirs inspired by their experience on FLOW. Our partnership with KELT was also celebrated. Two students shared pieces of writing describing how building bridges on the local trail system acquainted them with our local green spaces, and encouraged them to get outside more. One student described bringing her family out on the Whiskeag Trail on a sunny afternoon to look at the bridges she had helped build. It was their first time out there, and they were amazed at the beauty right in their backyard. 

As I wrapped up the evening, I had the distinct feeling that FLOW has matured a bit since its inception. What began as an exciting prototype has developed into a rite of passage that is woven into the fabric of our community. And by community I mean schools, families, businesses, organizations, charitable trusts and citizens. FLOW is a team effort in the truest sense of the word. 

We are very fortunate to have The Chewonki Foundation on our team.  Their vision, expertise and generosity make FLOW possible. We are also grateful to partners offering financial assistance: The George Davenport Trust, First Federal Savings and Loan, Bath Savings Institution, and the Sewall Family Foundation. 

This year's 7th graders are already excited about next fall's FLOW trip. Between now and then, we will be busy planning to make sure their experience is the best it can be.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Kennebec House Week #2

Week #2 of FLOW is back after another round of gorgeous Maine weather. We have just completed our fourth year of  the program --next year will mark half a decade!

Things began on the warm side this week, but cooled off considerably by Friday. The cold front was delivered by a stiff wind out of the north, so on the last day all groups had the chance to experience an "alpine start" to take advantage of favorable tides and calm waters. Groups woke up around 4am, broke camp and ate breakfast in the dark, and were well underway plying the mirror of Hockomock Bay with their loaded canoes before dawn.

The artwork and writing from FLOW already seems inspired, even in its infancy. All pieces will undergo multiple rounds of editing and revision before they are ready for publishing in mid November. Stay tuned for an announcement for our culminating event where all this work will be featured.

Congratulations to everyone for another unforgettable year of FLOW!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Baxter House: FLOW Week # 1

It's hard to believe that the first week of FLOW 2017 has come and gone already! From all accounts, it was an amazing experience. Even though the weather wasn't wholly cooperative, the kids came back with smiles on their faces and with an air of pride in their accomplishment of living off the grid for a week. Chaperones were also excited with the way the week went.

The creation of an outdoor painting studio was a new slice of FLOW that we added this year. Ms. Johnson set up shop on True Point and was able to work with each of the five groups to sketch and create water colors.  Students will continue to revise and refine the work that they began here, turning it into a finished piece later this fall. Ms. Johnson and the kids loved this experience!

Kids had ample time for solitude and reflection, one of the Expeditionary Learning Design Principles. The Baxter house is doing a study of Transcendentalism along the lines of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau as part of their fall expedition. What better place could there be to contemplate nature than right in the heart of it?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Trail Work With KELT

For the few Baxter kids who did not attend FLOW this week, we did some important trail work on the Whiskeag Trail. Four bridges were built and two old ones were demolished. You can read about it here. It was a great week!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hola, José...

Dear Families,

We have all been paying close attention to Hurricane José as the first FLOW trip approaches. Luckily, it looks as though the storm will remain out to sea and will not affect Maine significantly. However, as a precaution we have decided to keep all FLOW groups on the mainland for the week. Groups will still be camping, but at established sites on Chewonki Neck. The kids will likely have the opportunity to go on day-paddles, conditions permitting. It's a bit disappointing not to be able to sleep out on the islands, but the absolute safety of your kids takes precedence. They'll still have a chance to get out on the open water and see some beautiful places.

 I will update this blog if anything changes. Here's to a great first week!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Gear Reminder

Dear families,

As we get closer to FLOW 2017, I wanted to reiterate some of the specific gear needs for your students. First of all, be sure to take a look at the gear list. If an item is on the list, your student should have it. Likewise, if an item is not on the list, they do not need it and should not bring it.

Shoes are something you may be wondering about. Each student should have two pairs of closed-toe shoes: "dry" shoes for around camp, and "wet" shoes for canoeing. Often times, loading a canoe means wading out into the water. For most situations, an old pair of sneakers or running shoes are perfect for this purpose. If the water is below knee level, bog boots can work, but they may get swamped. For around camp, a different pair of sneakers, or light hiking boots, or even bog boots are fine. Students may do a short hike here and there, but hiking boots are not needed for these excursions.

One of the many wonderful benefits of partnering with Chewonki is their deep inventory of high-quality equipment available for students to borrow. Two essential pieces of gear that Chewonki provides for FLOW (meaning you should not buy them) are a camping ground pad, and a a dry-bag.

The camping mats are Thermarest© Z-Rest  or Ridge-Rest pads. They are closed cell foam and the most comfortable option for non-inflatable pads.

The dry-bags provided are made by Seal-Line© and are completely waterproof. They are a critical piece of gear for water based travel and camping. Students need to get their gear to Chewonki in whatever vessel that works -- duffel bag, suitcase, garbage bag -- it doesn't matter. The bag that comes from home will be stored until the end of the trip when kids will transfer their belongings from the dry-bag back into the bag from home. Backpacking backpacks are not needed for this trip, so please don't buy or bring one! 

Hopefully this information helps. We are all very excited for this year's trips! Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or concerns.

Best wishes,

Lawrence Kovacs