We’re Nearly Full Circle, All Thanks to You

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What a tremendous community we have! We are so inspired by the incredible outpouring of support and stories as we strive to meet the 360 Full Circle Challenge.  When we were presented with the opportunity to receive $360,000 if we raised the same amount before year’s end, we knew it was a worthy but aspirational goal, and certainly needed. Now, at $290,000, we are 80% of the way there and, with ten days left to complete the circle, our goal is in sight. If you haven’t made your gift, there is still time.

Each of us has had a moment in our lives when someone stepped forward, a teacher, a guide, a counselor, or a friend, and showed us a new path that changed our lives.

For Ponch Membreño, (OC Staff ‘91-95, Camp Parent ‘19, and Trustee ‘21), Greg Shute, Director of Northwoods and Coastal Properties, was that person. Membreño recalls a training trip in ‘91 where Greg pointed towards a black speck moving across the sky and quickly identified it as an osprey. “It was so far away that I couldn’t imagine [how] he knew for sure what it was, but it eventually flew over us and it was definitely an osprey,” recounts Membreño. “Greg explained that when he’s in a place, he knows to be ready to see only the species that would be possible, then he notes the part of the sky a bird is in, then wing-flapping vs. soaring, wing shape, then size. Doing this, he was able to eliminate all the birds it wasn’t likely to be, leaving only an option or two.” 

Ponch writes, “I still use this method all the time – definitely for bird identification, but also for decision making. It wasn’t intuitive to me until Greg shared how simple the process can be. You don’t need to know all the things in the world, just the ones that are likely to show up and know them well enough to be prepared.”

Ponch recalls a memorable canoeing lesson on another occasion: “I had paddled before, but never with the idea that I would be helping 8 other canoes filled with young people get from one shore to the other in changing tides, currents, and weather. We set out from the dock, paddled through the salt marsh and then out towards castle island. All of us were two to a canoe except Greg. Yet, he was going faster and straighter in all currents and wind conditions and seemingly with very little effort. Greg had gone over some canoe skills with us, but we hadn’t been on the water yet. Some of us were zig-zagging all over the bay.

When my canoe finally caught up to him because he slowed down, we asked how he was doing it. He showed us his J-stroke. One by one we started practicing our own J-strokes. His was fluid and seemingly required little effort. Ours initially resulted in banging the canoe or losing grip of our paddles. Greg didn’t “teach” us any more about it, just showed and let us know that it would eventually become more natural. After a few days training on the ocean, camping on islands, we headed back to the dock straighter and more efficiently. Learning the j-stroke remains one of the most perfect examples of experiential learning I’ve had.”

Ponch says, “I didn’t show up at Chewonki as a student, but I spent the next five years learning. Greg was quiet, yet I hung on each of his words.” 

Thank you for helping us create opportunities for those who come next. And, if you haven’t made your gift, please consider a donation to our 360 Full Circle Challenge.

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