Hermit Island Trip, Marine Biology Lessons & More

by Althea Wilson, Class of 2020


Every year, the Shining Mountain Waldorf School senior class, along with seniors from five other Waldorf schools, takes part in a week-long marine biology course in Maine. We all camped on Hermit Island and attended classes in the “kelp shed”– a building that’s over a hundred years old.

Our travel days were September 8 and 14, and during the weekdays between, we had a biology lesson in the morning, taught by different teachers each day, and then broke out into our groups for the week (each group was made up of students from all schools) to discuss environmental issues. After that we participated in a different lab each day – microscopes, poetry, ecology, or painting.

Most of our classes took place outside on the beautiful, scenic Atlantic coast. During lunch we had time to connect as a class, doing ridiculous things like seeing how many people we could fit in a hammock, swimming in the freezing water, and eating freshly caught oysters.

In the afternoon we went out in our respective groups to the tidepools where we found everything from periwinkle snails to sea stars to edible algae.

In the evenings, we took walks along the beach, had seaweed fights, played ultimate frisbee with other schools, and then cooked dinner.

We never ceased to be in awe of the magical sunsets that would paint the sky with vibrant colors. Each night we had a different activity that involved a campfire. There was an open mic night, and individual class campfire, a book reading, a contra dance/beach fire, and an evening walk to the end of the island. We concluded the trip with a two-hour solo on Friday morning, followed by a student-led poetry reading.

I found it really interesting to meet so many other Waldorf students. It is not often you find someone to bond with over knitting, block crayons, or childhood fairy houses. The trip was both educational and entertaining, and provided our senior class with unforgettable stories to carry with us through this last year of high school.

To see a video of moments from this trip, click here.  Many thanks to Rebecca Blum, Mike Hawkes, Fiona Katz, Lawrence Mathews and Robin Mathews for the beautiful photos!

- Sarah Gillis, SMWS Class of 2012 and Sr. Space Operations Engineer at SpaceX

“I feel like one of the really important things that you get out of a Waldorf education is curiosity—curiosity to go and learn and explore what’s out there in the world. I fell into engineering and a path that I don’t think I would have anticipated, but having an arts background where you’re bringing creativity and imagination into problem-solving, there’s a really incredible synergy between those.”

- Sarah Gillis, SMWS Class of 2012 and Sr. Space Operations Engineer at SpaceX

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