Chewonki has always been more than a place for me. Before I went to the Semester School last fall, it was still a dream. During my time as a student, the dream became a river, alive with spirit and presence. I was filled with discovery: discovery of reflective peace, the revelation that food (like many other things) tasted better when you knew and could appreciate its story, and even a recognition of the ocean of learning yet to be done. A tidal metaphor is, as always, applicable to the semester school personality: what with the filtering of knowledge, and the changing seasons perennially bringing in new students; the currents that make up Chewonki are always cycling in and out, but retain the same flow and spirit. And I’ve come to realize that, salt or freshwater, Chewonki has always been a home to me.
Sure, that’s a big thing to say after just 12 weeks in a place. It was actually something that I felt ready to say after just the first weekend camping out on Hoyt’s Point with my cabin. By the time the snowdrifts were piling up outside the Farmhouse, my connection to the program and all of the wonderful people who were a part of it with me had grown deep roots. I’ll be spending six weeks, half that time, at Girls Camp this summer; a place I’ve heard a lot about, but have never been to. What’s prompting- no, urging me to do this is a feeling not unlike the sensation of walking along an unexplored street, and suddenly smelling something shockingly familiar. You stop right there, inhaling and thinking wildly of whatever in your childhood it might remind you of. That smell is just so good. It’s like the wheezy sound of your brother’s harmonica, or the velvety underside of a leaf, or maybe something as simple as sunlight. And so you follow the smell, trying to understand it, because whatever it is, it is as much a part of you as your own name.
Any trepidation I may be feeling for this summer is immediately vanquished when I think of how excited I am to meet, and reunite, with the Chewonki staff and campers this summer. Because in reality, that ocean of things to be learned is just a reflection of the sky, star-strewn and infinite. Oh man am I jazzed! Electrified!