Trading a Smartphone for a Scrapbook

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Trading a Smartphone for a Scrapbook

It seems crazy, but it’s true: Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki students willingly turn in their smartphones upon arrival, and they don’t get them back until they leave four months later. What’s crazier is that our students love their break from technology. Without a smartphone in their pocket, they have to get creative about documenting their experience–a challenge that semester 67 student Sophia Waterson (The Brearley School, NY) clearly relished. Over the course of her four months at Chewonki, Waterson created a vibrant scrapbook of notes and doodles that frame photos of her and her semester mates (taken with their own digital cameras and printed from our flickr page). Before she left Chewonki in December, Sophia graciously allowed us to scan a few pages of the bookf, which we’ve presented below alongside excerpts from her blog “67 Moments I’ll Never Forget.

These pages highlight a farm work program where semester 67 harvested kale, carrots, and took grandpa the calf for a walk, as well as beloved times in the hayloft

2. Our first night in Orchard Cabin we shared details of our lives, played board games, and stayed up laughing. 

3. I was brought to my phenology spot the day after we arrived, and Pinky Point turned into my second home at Chewonki. 

6. Coming back from our first work program, we had a dance party on the quad.

14. I spent so much time in the hayloft. I wrote in my scrapbook to describe the hayloft as a place “where we go to ‘work’ but never get anything done; instead we walk away with hay all over our clothes having spent an hour laughing and listening to music with friends.”

During a fall field lab, students studied forest ecology on Chewonki Neck. One picture shows students sitting on the porch of Sunrise Cabin, the summer home of Chewonki founder Clarence Allen.

20. On the St. Croix backcountry trip, when we arrived at our first campsite, “Porters Meadow.” The sunset was so beautiful, and I was excited for the coming days to get close with people I hadn’t had the chance to yet. 

23. While canoe sailing on our last day of the St. Croix trip, we put all our boats together to make a raft and then put a tarp up as our sail.

25. On our fourth field lab to the salt marsh, Kemi and I gave up staying dry and basically went swimming for the whole field lab even though it was mid-October. 

28. Orchard cabin woke up early to do farm chores every morning for two weeks, and I loved getting to know the turkeys and seeing the insanely beautiful sunrises every morning. 

The left page shows memories from Sophia’s leadership expedition -- paddling the St. Croix River, which lies on the border between Maine and Canada. The right page highlights another favorite field lab — studying our own spartina salt marsh.

35. Having the opportunity to get close and go on walks with teachers.

36. Being checked in every night and sometimes even being read bedtime stories. 

39. First arriving at my solo location and literally running around screaming out of joy I was so excited. 

42. Knowing that I could spend 48 hours alone in the woods at age 16 and be okay!

Sweet fall memories at Chewonki - pumpkin carving and changing leaves

43. The day we got back from solos was Halloween. Orchard Cabin dressed up as Crazy Creek Chairs and we won the best costume award! After, we then went trick or treating around all the faculty houses. One of my favorite nights at Chewonki.

46. At the end of our [self-planned] prom, the song “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker played, and we all linked arms in a circle and belted our hearts out. 

47. Spending afternoons with a bunch of people piled into one bed learning about each other’s lives and laughing hysterically.

48. Not having a phone for a semester!

Pictures of students doing headstands on the quad and posing for group photos around campus are surrounded by hand-drawn stars and short notes

49. Feeling like a little kid running around in nature. 

51. Isaac, Jack, and I (the Mandarin students) planned a Saturday dumpling dinner with Yingying, our amazing Mandarin teacher. She helped organize everything and stayed with us for six hours in the kitchen. The effort was worth the result of our delicious meal — we made over 500 dumplings!

54. After our trip to the bog, Stella, Skylar, and I decided we loved the word ‘bog’ just as much as the place itself, so we decided to make it an adjective that translates to “dope” or “cool,” and we began to use it in our conversations.

Sophia writes about bathroom parties, laundry fun, a trip to Popham Beach and a new frog friend in these scrapbook pages

57. Though I was sad to spend Thanksgiving away from my family, it was a week full of activities and fun in my second home. Some highlights included a beach trip, a hike, a sing-along, and another coffee house! The coffee house acts included singing, hot takes, dancing, stand-up comedy, and much more. 

60. Waking up in the morning with a fresh coat of snow on the ground. Even though it was only a couple of inches, Chewonki looked like a whole new world. We had many snowball fights, went sledding, and then cozied up indoors to play board games and drink warm beverages. 

62. We rearranged our cabins beds, and although we had to take apart our first creation – a mega bed – because of risk management protocols, we still found many other fun ways of re-organizing our cabin. 

On the left page, Sophia remembers a field lab to Morse Mountain and Seawall Beach to study coastal ecology. She tapes pictures of a favorite farm sunset, grandpa the calf, and turkeys to the right page.

63. I made an activity book for my cabin to do one night. It included many pages of winter-themed comic strips, word scrambles, coloring pages, crossword puzzles, and more! It was a memorable night of us gathered around the fire, laughing and filling in our activity books. 

64. During our last school meeting, we wrote notes to every single person here. I am going to treasure my notes forever!

67. Watching myself and others grow throughout the semester, surrounded by nature and people I love, will be something I will never forget. . . Thank you, Semester 67, for everything!

These pages highlight outdoor leadership weekend activities, including wilderness first aid certification and an encampment on the Neck where students learned outdoor skills.