Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wrapping up FLOW 2015

The students on week #4 of FLOW enjoyed some of the most glorious weather we've had this fall.  They paddled their boats through brilliant sunshine on the glassy waters of Montsweag bay, and slept under a windless sky overflowing with stars.

Photo © Lauren McKenny

As I greeted them on Friday, hauling their belongings up to the Chewonki driveway from the waterfront, it had just begun to drizzle -- it was the first precipitation of the week.  Despite the damp weather, spirits were anything but.  I listened to laughter,  saw big smiles and received a lot of high fives.  One 8th grade girl who had told me the week before that there was no way she would attend FLOW, asked me to help her load her bag into the back of the bus.   She had changed her mind.   "So, how was the week" I asked.  With a grin she yelled "It was great!"

Photo © Don Seymour
We will be debriefing FLOW 2015 this Friday with middle school teachers and administrators .  We plan to discuss the aspects of FLOW that are working, and those that need some retooling.  We will reflect back on the reasons we proposed this trip in the first place.  Are we being true to the original objectives of FLOW?  Are we seeing the effects that we anticipated?  Are we seeing effects we didn't anticipate?  As a large organization, it's exciting to get together for real conversations about the program.  We have the responsibility of identifying the specific role FLOW plays for our students, and shaping it to best meet that purpose.

Photo © Don Seymour

On the night of October first, my FLOW group sat around the campfire enjoying our last evening meal together.  We had great conversations, laughing sometimes, and speaking earnestly at other times.  The next day at lunch we decided that that was the moment when we came together as a group.  Sitting in a circle in the dark, looking at each other's faces, dappled in firelight, the wind wafting smoke this way and that, connecting over a home cooked meal without so many of the distractions we face when back in civilization.  Following the lead of BMS's former guidance counselor, Matt Hamilton, I proposed that we gather together in our small FLOW group for lunch on the first Wednesday of each month to commemorate that moment.  To get things started before the afterglow of the trip wore off, we snuck in our first lunch this past Wednesday.  It felt special to sit together and reminisce about the trip.  But we also talked about other things --movies we had seen, books we were reading, plans for the future, brothers and sisters, food.  FLOW lasts just a week, but it creates connections that last much longer.   When you feel connected to your community in a positive way, even the biggest challenges can be overcome.

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