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October 28, 2013

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October 28, 2013

Chewonki changes lives. I first became involved with Chewonki as a young teacher more than twenty years ago, and I think of the lessons I learned there as my second graduate degree, or far better, the place that best taught me about how to treat other people, how to pursue intellectual passions, and how to better live in balance with the natural world. I was always an outdoorsy person, but Chewonki taught me to look at and listen to the natural world with more precise senses just as it taught me how to be a caring teacher and a hardworking colleague. Chewonki is always my gold standard for what it means to work in a healthy job, but more than that, it defines what a strong, vibrant community can be.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Replicate it around the country so others could experience its magic.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

October 28, 2013

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October 28, 2013

Currently I have 58 years of Chewonki under my belt. My outlook on life and personal rules of community were learned and developed from my experiences at this organization. I have had children who have experienced and been changed by Chewonki. Currently, I have a grandson who took up white water kayaking at Chewonki only now to find himself accepted by professional kayakers on the west coast. His ability to interact, learn from and be fully accepted by these professional is due to the lessons from Chewonki. I have also helped several Maine islanders to take various programs at Chewonki and have been amazed by their professional development and love of learning due to this organization. Through the years I am continually amazed to watch how the Chewonki experience seeps into the psyche of all who experience this amazing organization.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Discover a way to make this organization more visible to high value donors so that more under privileged children may experience this organization

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of advisors?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

October 28, 2013

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October 28, 2013

I have been involved on the board for over 10 years and was a camper in the 1960s. My sons have been wildness trippers and my daughter a semester school graduate. I can say unequivocally that Chewonki changes lives and it does so in all of its programs. It reaches thousands of young people every year and instills in them a love of nature; teaches them responsible stewardship of our natural resources; leadership skills and respect for others.

There is something for every young person at Chewonki. They will be a better person for it.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Find ways to raise the profile so more could benefit from their programs.

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

July 20, 2012

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July 20, 2012

Where do I start raving about Chewonki? I was a 4 year tripper and before that went to Chewonki's old sister camp, ALC for 5 years. My experience at Chewonki started even before that. My mom worked in the offices there, and as a kid, there was nothing I would rather than run around campus with the other staff kids, playing games in the woods and sneaking popsicles from the kitchen. The 2 years that she worked there were some of the best of my childhood. I also did the vacation day camps every year, at least twice year, for probably 3 years. I remember falling into the farm's duck pond, building igloos, playing Camouflage in the woods, and assembling the skeleton of a whale. Not only was I getting incredible hands on learning experience from a young age, I also was having the time of my life. The same was true when I was on wilderness trips. I started on a trip that has since been stopped due to the founding of the Chewonki Girls Camp (which I can't say I have any experience with). It was an all girls 3 week canoeing trip. We lived in a yurt on base camp of 2 weeks, while doing day paddles, and then canoed down river for the last week. It was the perfect transition for me. After that trip, I wanted to challenge myself more, so for the next three years, I did a different type of trip every year. Sea kayaking, white water kayaking, and a hiking/canoeing combo trip were my choices. Those trips led me to some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. My leaders were inspiring, approachable, funny and super caring on every trip. My trip mates, despite differences in social status, age, and race, all bonded together as a family. On trips, you are a part of something bigger than you realize. After a few days, you fall so easily into your new trip life that you don't realize that is making a stronger, more thoughtful, and happier version of yourself. Even when a day seems like the worst you've ever had, you'll wake up in morning knowing that you made it through and that gives a feeling that is indescribably empowering. I had my fair share of tough days on every trip. My first year, while portaging a canoe for a couple miles, me and my partner lost our grips and the canoe came tumbling down.. on my face. Though my nose has never looked quite as straight, I look back on that day and laugh about how miserable I was, because I know that it really wasn't that bad of a day after the pain stopped. My experience at Chewonki really shaped me into a better person, with a love for everything around me. Despite the fact that I haven't been able to do trips for the past two years, I still carry everything I've learned with me. Chewonki gave me a sense of motivation and personal strength that has benefited my life in every way. I hope to work there next summer as support staff at the boys camp, so that I can give back at least a fraction of the amazing guidance I received as a camper, and to be able to be surround the strongest, happiest community I have ever been a part of once again. To all parents and prospective campers that have managed to read all the way through this, I want you to know that Chewonki has a place for everyone. The best choice I ever made was going, and finding out just how life changing a summer camp can really be.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

myself.

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How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 11, 2011

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May 11, 2011

My son will attend Chewonki for his third summer this year. It has been a fabulous experience for him. He has grown from an awkward, impulsive, quirky little boy, into a helpful, compassionate, and responsible 13 year old who has the confidence to try new things, make new friends, and express his ideas. Each year his councilors and activity leaders have serve as amazing positive role models for him as he explores his developing self. He will tell anyone who is listing that he love's Chewonki. Over the past few years, he has learned to eat salad, how to manage his emotions when hiking and discovering you are NOT there yet, found his power in a paddle, and a love of Archery. We're excited to see what stories he returns with this summer!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My Son

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Find ways to help others have the same experience!

January 7, 2011

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January 7, 2011

Review of Chewonki Camp for Girls. Our daughter attended this camp in the summer of 2009. We would NOT recommend this camp. Unlike the Boy’s Camp, the Girl’s Camp is far more rigid with emphasis on areas one would not expect. Focusing on a girl’s willingness to try what the camp defines as delicious food rather than a girl developing independence to make one’s own choices is one example. We will focus on the rigid rules around food because it is unexpected when one is choosing a camp and this rigidity extends to other aspects of how the girl’s camp is run.

Food was a particular concern of ours due to a diagnosed medical condition diagnosed at a leading Children’s Hospital that limits the variety of foods our daughter can eat. She needs simply cooked foods with no spices or strong textures. The camp director, Genell Vashro, said that alternatives would be provided to her.

While the camp did provide alternative to vegans, it did not to our daughter. Instead, we assume the director made a judgment that our daughter’s condition was actually pickiness and arrogantly thought that by forcing our daughter to eat the camp’s food, her condition would disappear. Even when a food made her physically ill, she was forced to eat that same food again several days later in front of the entire camp. Our daughter adopted a dangerous strategy to eat little until a food appeared that she could tolerate and then she binged. Our daughter was not alone she said. Many girls who did not like the food also did a mild form of fasting and binging.

The director assumes that girls who do not like the camp’s unusual food need “weaning off their addiction to sugar and their expectation of a processed-food diet.” We suspect that most, if not all, parents who choose to send their girls to a remote wilderness camp are not feeding their children a processed food diet. Be sure to read “Food meets Philosophy” in the fall 2009 newsletter (http://www.chewonki.org/alumni/thechronicle.asp) to understand the policies. We were surprised that the girls receive letters at the end of the summer assessing whether they ate the food heartily. Our daughter’s letter read: “Sometimes you were a bit reluctant to try new things such as food. We hope that you realize and appreciate where our food comes from, and will be willing to try new adventures.” We were stunned that trying new foods was important enough to make it into a letter to our daughter about her camp experience—that was certainly not one of our goals in sending her to camp!

The camp had many spoken and unspoken rules that lead to a tightly controlled environment. It was not what we hoped for in a camp: It was not a place to spread your wings.

After the summer was over, we talked to Genell Vashro, who basically dismissed our concerns. We then wrote to the president and the Chairman of the Board about our concern about their rigid approach to food as well as other aspects of the camp. For months and months, we didn’t get a reply, despite several phone calls to follow up. Finally, we did have a lengthy phone conversation with the president, who listened and said he would follow up with us, which he never did. (This was more than 3 months ago.) So we don’t know if the camp has implemented any changes. We hope it has, particularly since it is dealing with girls at a vulnerable age when eating disorders emerge for so many.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The poor results are described in my review

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would make radical changes in the leadership and the philosophy at the GIRL's camp

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

April 30, 2010

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April 30, 2010

It is my strong belief that the summer camp at Chewonki is a bedrock of environmental education. Providing solid information and hands-on learning about the environment and the impact you have on it begins at camp. My grandson spent his first sleepaway at Chewonki this past summer and is returning along with his younger brother because he thrived on this experience. Spending so much time outdoors and learning how important it is to be kind to the environment and the benefits for everyone as a result. When you live in the city you lose a sense of nature at work and the Chewonki experience was a springboard to understanding how vital it is to know your environment. Sharing this information with children at an early age is key to a successful experience for them. In my case, it was extraordinary. Most summer camps concentrate heavily on competitive sports and the refreshing program at Chewonki provides children of all ages an opportunity to learn and respect the earth. I might add, the staff at Chewonki is superb. After a Chewonki summer session the camper is undoubtedly a better educated and happier individual. With a Chewonki attitude the world will be a sweeter place.

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The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Patient, knowledgeable, caring, relaxed and obviously enjoyed their time at Chewonki summer camp.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

April 22, 2010

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April 22, 2010

Even two years after my semester ended, I cannot overestimate Chewonki's importance to me. I had never before been in a community that upheld and taught its values with such genuine enthusiasm, nor had I before been challenged so to support what I believe.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my own life. I returned to my home school a changed person, more open to new experiences, and much happier with myself and my values.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the community. Chewonki as a whole is an amazing extended community of faculty and staff, and within the foundation, Maine Coast Semester is an incredible atmosphere in which to learn–I have never been so close to my teachers.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Truly make a difference in promoting sustainability and environmental awareness through education and community action.

Ways to make it better...

My experience could not have been better.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Funding.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2007

April 22, 2010

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April 22, 2010

The months I spent living at Chewonki still rank as among the best of my life. I had no idea what to expect from the semester when I arrived. What I found was an entirely new way of thinking about the world and about my life. I was able to step outside the frantic, competitive world I was raised in, and I gained an immense new understanding of what really matters to me: community, meaningful work, natural beauty. Thanks to MCS, I've spent countless hours over the past two years working for the environment, and I plan to spend the rest of my life doing the same. But, more importantly, thanks to MCS, I've discovered how to live a better life. I'm happier, more confident, more open to new experiences. I couldn't have ever found that without MCS: without the walks in the woods, the community meals, the intense class discussions of philosophy and history alongside with lessons in gardening and woodstoves and sailing.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my own life.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

again, expand financial aid and recruitment efforts (for MCS specfically, and for all programs).

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the four months I spent on the coast of Maine, living with people I loved, doing chores, learning tons, walking in the woods.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Incredible: dedicated, brilliant, and close knit.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Expand its financial aid and recruitment efforts, so that all kinds of students could have the experience I enjoyed.

Ways to make it better...

there had been more diversity in the MCS class: racial diversity, socioeconomic diversity, general diversity of opinions and backgrounds.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

it still isn't as well known as I think it should be!

One thing I'd also say is that...

I'd love more than anything to some day return to the Neck.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2007

April 22, 2010

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April 22, 2010

Chewonki changed my life starting at age 9. My first experience was as a camper and it left me with a profound appreciation for nature and a significant boost in self-confidence. It was the first place that I ever strapped on a backpack and hiked several sections of the Appalachian trail. They also took me to remote island off the coast of Maine with a naturalists who could identify just about everything we saw, from plants to birds, to species in tidal pools. I later returned with a school group and then worked there as a counselor. With each step I've taken deeper into the organization, I have been more and more impressed. The quality of education they provide, the sincerity and drive of the hard working staff and the vision that they both teach and live is inspiring and impact-full. Chewonki is a spectacular, top-notch organization, well deserving of every accolade it receives!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my heart, my life, and my life choices.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

possibly increase the outreach offerings-- encouraging more visitors to the region to stop in for a look around, or provide more classes for locals. That said, they may be doing this already.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The sincerety with which they engage their mission and the spirit of teamwork that enables them to accomplish so much!

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

positive, confident, informed, eager to help, curious, pro-active and good natured!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Create extension programs elsewhere in the region, further broadening its great sphere of influence.

Ways to make it better...

...I honestly can't think of any improvements! They are true leaders in their field.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Growing while maintaining a sense of intimacy. But I think they'll do just fine.

One thing I'd also say is that...

I am currently a director of Adult Education and Research at an organization in Texas and I look to Chewonki to inspire us in new directions.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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