Monday, September 21, 2015

Smiling Faces

It was an odd feeling for me, not going out on the first week of FLOW this year.  After last year's experience,  it became clear that it was important to have a point person back on the mainland to handle logistical issues.  So, I sent the first four groups off with high fives and waited until Friday to hear how things went.  The first time I saw the kids was as they came off the bus outside BMS with hoots and laughter.  Everyone was glowing -- both students and chaperones.  

"How was it?" I asked.

"SO AWESOME!" they replied.

Photo © Don Seymour

We made a few key changes to FLOW this year.  First and foremost was recognizing that teaching kids how to live and travel outside on the water takes a lot of time.  We altered our curricular plans to make the schedule more flexible and less stressful.  Students have one hour per day to write in a journal in response to a few key prompts.  Pieces of writing are discussed at night around the fire.  This writing will be revised, expanded and transformed into published pieces as part of the "FLOW Anthology," which will be presented on November 20th at Bath City Hall.

Photo © Don Seymour

With a less cumbersome curriculum coming from our end, the Chewonki Outdoor Classroom Staff were able to teach lessons on outdoor living skills, paddling, tides, geology and map and compass in greater depth.  The mathematical concepts involved in shooting bearings and transitioning between map and land clearly connect to the math we teach back at school.

Photo © Don Seymour
But looking beyond the lessons and the hours spent planning curriculum, it's important to recognize that there is also intrinsic value in the act of simply spending time in the wild with friends.  Taking a break from electronics, pulling yourself across the water in a boat with all your belongings on  board, carefully collecting and piling kindling to build a fire, sharing stories while looking up at the stars -- these are simple experiences that have the power to change us.

As these 8th graders begin their last year together before entering Morse High School, FLOW gives them a common bonding experience.  The memories made out here on the water will do a lot to nudge them a bit further than they ever thought they could go.

Photo © Don Seymour

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