Sunday, October 28, 2018

Week #3, Woolwich 8th Graders

The last week of 2018's FLOW trips was another success, despite the weather's lack of cooperation. It rained every day but one, and the temperature didn't rise much above 50ยบ. But you know what? The kids not only endured it, but actually thrived. I've always said that the trips with the worst weather make for some of the best memories. After dealing with days of rain, one has a deep appreciation for the sun once it comes out.

Ms. Devin and Ms. Johnson, the art teachers at Woolwich Central School and Bath Middle School respectively, made sure they taught similar lessons on landscape painting during FLOW this year. Ms. Johnson developed the plein air art curriculum for the 2017 trips for BMS, and was eager to help get Woolwich kids on the same program. While out on Beale Island, students learn about foreground, middle ground, background, horizon line and atmospheric perspective. Once back at school, the work continues as students spend weeks revising and improving their paintings until they are ready to be displayed. This year the student artwork will be hung in the community room at the Patten Free Library with an opening set for Thursday, December 6th.

It's great to see the excitement in the kids' faces when they see their art teacher waiting for them on the island, two or three days into their wilderness experience. I think the feelings generated by seeing a familiar face along with a new appreciation for the beauty of this place inspires the kids to produce authentic, high quality art.

Look for more information soon about the art opening on December 6th. It promises to be a great night.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Week #2 Acadia House

The big story for week #2 of FLOW was the weather, and more specifically the wind. It was blowing a gale for most of the time the kids were on the trip, so traveling out to the islands was out of the question. Itineraries were shifted, and contingency plans were made. Each of the groups was relocated to one of the campsites on Chewonki Neck, which, while less remote, offer some distinct creature comforts. 
For starters, there are lovely, clean outhouses at each of the sites. After enduring hours of pep talks from adults on how they would have to use the WAG Bag system for going to the bathroom, the kids now had the use of state-of-the-art privies. Then there is the fact that the views at these sites are spectacular. And obviously, the paddle to the sites on the neck is a fraction of the distance to even the closest island site. They all have sturdy tent platforms and an established fire ring complete with a supply of firewood at each site. Basically, thanks to the inclement weather, this week's groups got to go "glamping" instead of camping.

Art lessons shifted from Beal Island to the Eden Farm peninsula, a short paddle from Chewonki Neck. Thankfully, there were enough breaks in the weather at just the right times to allow Ms. Johnson to instruct the students without having to seek shelter. 

Being close to the mainland also meant there were ample opportunities to swim and practice rescuing swamped canoes. 
When I met up with the chaperones for our quick debrief on day 4, one of them had painted her face with the mud that is in such ample supply in the Sheepscot watershed. One of my favorite aspects of FLOW is the equalizing aspect of the mud. At school, teenagers tend to be focused on every minute detail of their appearance. Likewise, on day #1 of FLOW, they can be seen tiptoeing lightly from rock rock while moving canoes and gear by the shore, trying to keep themselves clean.Usually by day #2 they submit, trudging  through the mud like it's no big deal because, really, there is work to be done! By day #3, the kids aren't enduring the mud as much as they are celebrating it.

Woolwich students are out on FLOW as I write this, culminating our 5th year of trips. Look for a write up about their experiences coming soon.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Week #1 2018, Seguin House

Week #1 of FLOW 2018 is in the books, and it was another great one! The Seguin House had four groups  head out to Castle, Berry and Ram Islands with following tides and gentle breezes on Tuesday afternoon. Traveling to campsites on the same day that we arrive from school makes for a long one, but the kids dug in and had their tents set up and dinner cooking by evening.

One of this year's curricular connections at BMS is reflections on Growth Mindset. FLOW is a perfect experience to connect to the concept of mindset because it places kids in a wilderness setting and pushes them into new and unusual situations, stretching the boundaries of what they believe their capabilities are. Students may be in a group with kids they don't know very well, they may have never canoed before, they may have never slept under the stars before, they may have never cooked over an open fire before, they may have never had to navigate using a nautical chart. Novelty activates the brain, and being on FLOW is like trying to drink from a fire hose of new experiences. 

Another curricular connection this year that has become a staple of FLOW is Ms. Johnson's  plein air watercolor lessons on Beal Island. Each group navigates the gentle currents of "Little Hell's Gate" to land on the expansive southern beach of this rocky outpost, dappled with patches of blazing green moss under stands of soaring pine trees. The students spend an hour exploring color mixing and watercolor techniques in this majestic, natural setting. Once back at school they continue to work on these images, revising and reexamining them until they reflect the unique features of Beal Island, and the effort they put into them.  

Even though the week's weather started out rainy, it ended up being a quintessentially beautiful, early fall week. In fact, the weather was warm enough that students were able to swim and practice T-Rescues with capsized canoes. 

This week, the weather pattern is more active, so the itinerary has been shifted to keep groups at the campsites on Chewonki Neck for the first night. The wind is forecast to slow down beginning Wednesday, so the groups will likely venture out to the islands at that time.

Check back next week to hear about the Acadia House's experiences on FLOW. They were all very excited to get the boats loaded and headed out on the water this morning. I'm sure they will have some great tales to tell!

Monday, July 16, 2018

FLOW 2018

We have been working hard on the plans for this year's FLOW trips, and it's shaping up to be another great year. It's hard to believe this will be the fifth year of FLOW! Hundreds of 8th graders from RSU1 have had the chance to paddle through the islands of Hockomock Bay, and as of this year, all students in grades 8-12 will have had this common experience.

This year's trip schedule is:




  • You will receive a health form and permission slip to fill out in the first days of the school year. YOU WILL NEED TO FILL THESE OUT AND RETURN THEM TO SCHOOL NO LATER THAN SEPTEMBER 5TH. 
  • Students will come to school as they normally would on the day of their trip, and take a bus to Chewonki. 
  • Students will return from Chewonki by dismissal time on the last day of the trip. 
  • There will be an informational meeting for parents at BMS on September 10th from 6:00pm-7:00pm.
  • If you have any questions or concerns that you would like to discuss in private, Keith Crowley (Director of Outdoor Classroom) and the Chewonki Nurse will be available to meet with you individually at BMS prior to the meeting from 3:00 to 6:00. You can reserve your spot here.
  • Please look carefully at the packing list and reach out if you have any questions.
  • We have worked hard to make FLOW accessible to every 8th grade student in RSU 1. The cost for the trip is $50. If the $50 presents a challenge for your family, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Lawrence Kovacs at There are scholarships available, and financial hardships will not be an impediment to your child participating.

    We hope you are as excited about this year's trips as we are! In the meantime, enjoy the summer and try to find some time to enjoy the warm weather while it's here :-)
Best wishes,

Lawrence Kovacs

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

FLOW 2017 Student Artwork

The artwork created by 8th grade students as part of their time on FLOW speaks for itself. There is no doubt that kids were inspired by their experiences traveling through the waters and islands of Hockomock Bay. BMS' art educator, Jackie Johnson, set up an open-air studio, and guided students as they created these works that are intimately connected to this unique, coastal wilderness area.  

The quality of the work convinced us that art programming will be a focus of FLOW from here on out. Thank you, Jackie, and congratulations to the students for your amazing accomplishment!