Yesterday the Downeast Maine Explorers finished their 7-day stretch of paddling down the east lakes. After traversing waterways named Scraggly, Getchel, Wabassus, and Pocumcus, the group spent their last night on Big Island before an early rise and their transition to the oldest national park east of the Mississippi Rivier: iconic Acadia National Park. I met up with the group as they were pulling in to the park. After registering with the rangers, they drove to their camp sites where running water and flushing toilets were met with great appreciation! I watched them empty the trailer of tents and wanagans with remarkable teamwork. They efficiently set up their tents, and went about gathering water and unpacking food. With their prayer flags gently waving at us from a nearby tree, the girls were all smiles and full of laughter as they regaled me with stories from their trip. I was struck by how proud they are of the strength they have gained both physically and emotionally, by the thoughtful poems and drawings they shared with me from their trip journal, and by the memories they have made already. It is remarkable how much these young women have changed from when I last saw them waving goodbye to me at the start of their journey until now. There is an ease in the way they sling their packs onto their backs, move about the campsite, and lend a helping hand. They have grown in confidence, in wisdom about their own capacities, and in community. Over the next seven days the girls and their trip leaders expect to hike Cadillac Mountain and bike Carriage Trails. Local forecasters predict (mostly) sunny skies for the remainder of their trip. I look forward to greeting them at their journey’s end next week. -Nancy Kennedy, Visiting Director of Girls Program Development Learn more about Chewonki’s Adventures for Girls programs here. See more photos of Downeast Maine Explorers 2015.