ROCKLAND — For 26 students and four adult chaperones from the Watershed School on the annual canoe trip down the St. George River early in September was a time for establishing a spirit of cooperation, appreciation, and camaraderie.
Each year, the student body gathers at Ayer Park in Union, to begin their four day, three night journey downriver during which everyone accepts a share of responsibility of group travel, leave no tract practices and meeting the group’s needs. The adventure helps set the tone for the upcoming year together.
This year, the group was challenged by weather conditions at the outset. Paddling all day in a steady rain, they made their way through Seven Tree Pond and White Oak Pond.Rain did not dampen spirits, however, and the first day ended with songs around the warmth of a campfire on Vaughn’s Neck in Warren.
Weather conditions were no better for Day Two which began a difficult portage around the falls at Payson Park, but the group was rewarded later in the day with the truly incredible sight of the largest concentration of bald eagles anyone in the group had ever seen, just below Warren in the salt marshes of Thomaston.
The third day dawned bright and clear, and as the paddlers departed from Hyler Cove, the widening river greeted them with new challenges and opportunities — wider river views, tidal influence, higher exposure to the wind and an introduction to the important concepts of fetch and lee shores.
Waves contributed to the day’s challenges but the wind provided the opportunity for some improvised sailing. Gunnelling up, students formed a raft, and used canoe paddles, a couple of large tarps, and tent poles to creat a sail that sped them across and downriver.
When the group arrived at Gay Island in Cushing, their final overnight destination, a celebratory and jovial mood prevailed, as students well-practiced in camp craft set up tents, prepared for the evening meal, then enjoyed the afternoon sun, each other’s company, and for some, a refreshing swim.
Paddling home on Day Four against a headwind and the outgoing tide presented a final challenge for the group. Family and friends welcomed the group at Meduncook River boat access in Friendship. And despite the sense of urgency engendered by conditions, time was taken for reflection on the last morning, upon the multiple definitions of “watershed” and how each individual’s experience of this trip would help define Watershed’s learning community for 2011-2012.
On the river that gives definition to the geographic watershed in which they learn and grow, Watershed students began to redefine, as they do each year, their vision for the Watershed School.
For more information on the Watershed School contact: 207-594-1873 or go to www.watershed-school.org.