How did I end up at Chewonki? The hardest part for anyone involved in a summer camping experience where everyone is valued, everyone contributes to the community and friendships are deep, is how to re-enter the “real world” where camp ideals are not always exemplified. Fortunately, I saw a notice on the counselor bulletin board describing Chewonki’s Maine Reach School. My soul leapt as I read the description and mission. It matched my college interest in alternative education. Inquiring about available positions, I learned there would be a year’s wait. Tim Ellis queried as to where else I had applied. I think it was one of the few times I ever saw Tim, an experienced educator and great leader, startled when I replied, “Nowhere else—this is where I want to be!” So I waited. That next spring I was invited to join the Environmental Education staff, which led in the fall to a teaching position at Maine Reach where we lived, played, worked and learned together, using the State of Maine as our classroom. We lived simply, learning to be stewards of the earth and of our world. We were all in this amazing experience together—men and women. The very structure of Maine Reach, where we all arose early and did community chores, cooked, worked on clean-up crews, made decisions by consensus, went on wilderness trips where we depended on each other—created a sense of community—something greater than male or female. Each person was valued for who they were and what they contributed. We held each other responsible for living the values we had agreed to—our word, our personal integrity—where living authentically mattered. It was about committing to live to our highest potential and to the greater goals of Maine Reach and Chewonki. Living for goals greater than our own individual ones seemed to bring out the best in people. Of course there were ups and downs, joys and disappointments, and silly moments mixed in with living those ideals, but there was the belief that school could be different, and Chewonki provided the forum. There was a depth of wisdom demonstrated in the boys’ summer camp where life skills were taught, to expand the arena to include men and women with common interests into the winter months and the rest of “real life.” -Carol Gentry Bio: Carol Gentry, B.S., LMT/Shiatsu, Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, Usui-Tibetan and Karuna Reiki ® Master-Teacher, Jin Shin Jyutsu ® Practitioner / Certified Jin Shin Jyutsu ® Self-Help Instructor. I have been teaching and working with people of all ages throughout my life. The constant theme of helping individuals to become all they can be – with respect for themselves, the environment and how these are interconnected – continues to inspire my work now as a Massage/Energy Therapist. Read more Chewonki essays in Chewonki: 100 Years of Learning Outdoors. Purchase on-line here. Learn more about Chewonki Semester School. Do you have a Chewonki story to share with us? We’d love to hear it and post to our blog. E-mail Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 207-882-7323 x158.