Chair’s Office

André Heard, Board Chair
André Heard, Board Chair

Dear Chewonki Community, 

If you’re reading this, it’s likely because you, like me, have felt the unmistakable power of nature. Maybe you’ve traced the rugged texture of tree bark with your fingertips, listened to the scrape of rocks underfoot as you climbed, heard the trill of bird calls on a forest walk, or breathed in the ocean air as you waited for an approaching storm. In those moments, and even in the memory of those moments, we are connected to places in time, moments with friends, and deep feelings that are punctuated by the natural context in which we experienced them.

But when did you first discover the world outside? I would wager that your first adventure into the outdoors was in childhood: before you understood much of what you experienced. That discovery for my children began with the Chewonki camp staff, trip leaders, and Maine Coast Semester teachers. In a time when the world needs opportunities for positive interaction with nature, I was able to bring my children north to the Maine coast and through the years of camp, to the leadership expeditions, to the academic program at Maine Coast Semester, and now summers on the trip staff they discovered the world outside.

More than just a connection to nature, Chewonki inspires transformative growth, builds personal resilience, and gives young people the tools needed to create and sustain healthy, thriving communities. The mission is alive in all seasons on the Neck, across participants as young as second grade in the summer to high school juniors in the dark of January. The programs are robust, venturing as far south as Eliot, ME through the Traveling Natural History Program, to the school groups encamped on the Neck with the Outdoor Classroom educators immersing participants in nature, ecology, teambuilding and challenge, all the while passing on a lifelong appreciation for the value of wildlife and nature.

That connection with nature is why I want to serve; that might be what connects us all. This place, the people, the learning, the nature—all worth working to ensure Chewonki can thrive and continue for my children’s children.

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