Reflections on the Senior Trip to Hermit Island

Each September, MCWS seniors join fellow Waldorf students from across the country for a remarkable immersion into coastal ecology and marine biology. This year, our own seventeen seniors added to the throng of 110 students representing eight Waldorf high schools from Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Hermit Island in Phippsburg, ME provided the backdrop for (very) early morning field investigations of tidepools, followed by main lessons on marine invertebrates. Our afternoon workshops included microscope work, beach ecology, watercolor painting and writing poetry by the sea. There were musical campfire sharings and readings from local Maine writers. The week came to a rousing close with contra dancing and sharing our week’s work together.

The trip is a rich, hands-on experience of living and learning outdoors, making new friends, deepening class relationships and reflecting on the future while surrounded by the rugged beauty and vitality of the Maine coast. Our students see their own coastal backyard with new eyes, while raising their vision to new connections and new horizons.

With immense gratitude for our students, their good cheer and willingness to dive right in, and for the many, many hands that make such a trip possible: Régine Whittlesey, David Sloan, Jessica Scannell, David Eichler, Susan Sonntag, Chris Lee, and numerous parent volunteers who shopped, drove and camped out with us! Another amazing week, that always gets senior year started on strong footing.

Ellen McCann Labbe, High School Life Sciences.

Reflections about Hermit Island from members of the Class of 2020

When I found out we were going to wake before dawn to sit on cold, damp seaweed and stare into tide pools, I was. . .not overjoyed. But as I sat halfheartedly looking at the same flora and fauna I have seen since childhood, I saw the other students from New York and Pennsylvania absolutely enthralled by periwinkles. These people lost their minds over starfish and eagerly gathered piles of Irish moss to show their friends. I forget sometimes how incredible the Maine coast is. . .Hermit Island, or more specifically the people I met there, reminded me just how much I love the crazy, cold waters of Maine. Myah Garrison

I really enjoyed the night when all of the schools gathered around a campfire to share songs and stories. We all had a great time laughing and enjoying ourselves, and I left that campfire feeling awed by all of the talent and musicality of the other Waldorf seniors. Miles Lloyd

Around the large circle uniting eight Waldorf schools, our class stood, the fire reflecting in 17 pairs of eyes. Singing together, we stood as one, bringing life to (Billy Joel’s) “Piano Man” and the dark night around us. Myla McLain

I had a lovely moment when a friend and I climbed to the top of a seaside cliff to paint the incredible view and talk. Grace Sanford

We spend hours coated in sand after we played spike ball in the sun with the noise of the waves drowning out our laughter. Kipling Samuelson

My favorite part was the in-betweens. Every morning and evening we’d sit around a fire and appreciate each other and the day we had. Only one theme was constant: the rule of “dibs” on our four shared camping chairs! Ava Teegarden