Maine with my “Main’s”

Canoe Trip Combines Art, Literature and Nature


Mr. Connell and Mr. Sustin with their Maine Student Canoers

When you think of summer, you might think of spending time with friends and family, sleeping in, or lazy days at the beach. One particular group of kids spent their summer canoeing along rivers in Maine and reading the works of Henry David Thoreau.

     Mr. Mike Sustin and Mr. Chris Connell took 14 students to Maine this past July and had an absolute blast. The planning for this trip took over a year! Mr. Sustin did most of the activity planning, while Mr. Connell took over the learning aspect of the trip. They put a lot of hard work into learning Thoreau’s writing and background, while having fun and experiencing new things. They couldn’t plan such a successful trip without a tour guide! They went through an outfitter whose family had been canoeing in Maine since 1910. He was extremely helpful because he knew all the interesting spots on the shoreline of the river.

Now what exactly did they both spend a year planning? The itinerary for this trip included a lot of canoeing and a lot of Thoreau. They would wake up, eat, and then canoe for the first half of the day. Around lunch time, they would stop on an island or the shore to eat lunch and go swimming – a lot of swimming. They would then canoe until they found a campsite, where they would eat, write entries in their journals, play cards and sleep.

The trip wasn’t all about canoeing, though. “The kids really learned how to take risks,” said Mr. Connell. “They developed real leadership skills, learned to lean on each other and when to ask for help.” The point of the trip was to develop an appreciation for nature, a sense of adventure, and to become familiar with Thoreau’s work. “I think we really hit the goal of this trip on the head. They enjoyed themselves and were made aware of their surrounding and that’s really what Mr. Sustin and I wished for.”