At Chewonki, backcountry trips are a core part of the camp experience.we all go on trip as part of our experience. Chewonki trips include backpacking, canoeing, sea kayaking and whitewater kayaking. Our youngest campers, the Puffins, canoe to one of our campsites on Chewonki Neck.
Our Canada Geese venture as far as northern Quebec. Whether out for a night or five weeks, all Chewonki trip participants play a role in making each day successful. Trip groups rotate through being the Leader of the Day and Crews. Participants are responsible for navigating, setting up their own tents, maintaining a cooking fire, and preparing the meal. Everyone has a job to do every day.
In addition to learning how to travel in the backcountry, trip participants learn about the ecology and human history relevant to of their itinerary, they develop their leadership skills, and they develop a tight bond with their trip mates. When returning to campus the participants have a new sense of confidence and competence that comes from overcoming the challenge of thriving in the woods and waters for a few days or weeks.
A Day in the Life
Wake up when it’s light, sleep when it’s dark, eat when you’re hungry. Life out on trips is much simpler in some ways. We learn to work together as a collective unit to make our way along the coast, over mountains, or down the river.
Up and at ‘em! Start the campfire, prepare and enjoy breakfast; review plans for the day; choose the leader of the day; break camp; depart on the day’s adventure.
Hike along the Appalachian Trail or paddle on one of Maine’s beautiful lakes, rivers, or bays.
Find a nice spot for a midday picnic. Don’t forget to hydrate and reapply sunscreen while enjoying the beautiful view!
Curl up in the sun, read a book, journal about the morning’s adventure, or learn about the local plants and animals in a new neck of the woods.
Continue hiking or paddling to your campsite for the night.
Set up camp, start a campfire, cook and enjoy dinner, chores, enjoy stories, music, cards, skits, and conversation around the fire.
Reflect on the challenges and successes of a day on the trail. Preview the itinerary for tomorrow’s adventure. Brush your teeth and settle into your sleeping bag with a good book.
Packout is Chewonki’s command center for all things outdoors. This is where campers prepare for their trips. Whether they’re going out for just one night or for five weeks, this is the nerve center for equipment and logistics. Even the youngest campers become part of the planning and packing. Someone did the following count in 2019: 30,000 field-based meals each year; 40 sea kayaks, 30 whitewater kayaks; 80 canoes; 2,000 pounds of cheese; 625 pounds of chocolate chips; and 230 pounds of marshmallows. Not to mention tents, camp stoves, dry bags, flashlights, maps, and enough foodstuffs to make every Camp Chewonki adventure possible.
We approach eating together on trips with the same philosophy as eating together on campus. Campers participate in crews to help prepare the meal whether it be tending the fire, chopping ingredients, or finding a quote or reading to share with the group before everyone begins eating.
Meals on trips happen in a variety of places – around the campfire, on the beach, or at the top of a mountain. At the end of the meal, everyone helps clean up including washing dishes, putting leftovers and kitchen equipment away, and making sure compost is collected, including any food scraps that may have ended up on the ground.
Cleaning up our meal area is one of the many ways we practice the principles of Leave No Trace.
Hygiene on Trips
On your Chewonki trip, you will learn all of the skills you need to camp and travel comfortably and responsibly while camping. This might be the first time you will spend a prolonged time camping in a remote environment and you may feel nervous about staying clean. Your trip leaders will teach you multiple ways to stay clean on your trip. Below are some tips about how to prepare for a successful trip!
Bring comfy underwear and shorts that are easy to wash, quick to dry, and allow adequate ventilation–baggy running shorts work well. Stick to the quantity on the packing list -with a couple of washings the amount is sufficient and helps your pack stay light! Give your body a chance to breathe! Wear loose-fitting clothes to sleep in.
Going the Bathroom
One of the first things your trip leaders will teach you is how to go to the bathroom in a way that is environmentally responsible and sanitary. Depending on what type of trip you are on, this might be digging a cat hole, using a privy, or something called a WAG bag.