I roll onto my left side as my bed squeaks me awake. I’m nervous that the rest of the cabin heard it. I look around and see all of their eyelids shut and mouths open as the sunlight hides behind the shades. I assume the squeak didn’t bother them. I start to shiver and notice that our woodstove, Kevin, had not been restocked during our slumber. As I tiptoe to the other side of the cabin, my toes curl in from the cold wood against my feet. I flip on the lights and gently say “wake up SOHA,” (the name of my bunk) as they all slowly start to groan and shiver as well. The clock blinks to 5:46 am and the bleeping of the alarm signals us to put on our farm clothes. We start to slip on overalls, boots, and fleeces as we discuss weird dreams, our frozen feet, and how our hair hasn’t been washed in over a week. We make our way out of the cabin, the door swinging closed behind us. The cold air hits our faces as we walk towards the farm. Our boots crunch bright red and yellow leaves. We made it to the barn at 6:00 am just on time for our first day of farm chores.

I am told by the farmer that my job is composting. My friend and I grab 8 buckets of leftover food, our compost, and pour it onto the pile of already decomposing food. I take a garden fork and start to poke at the brown mound. Steam rises from the egg shells, oatmeal, and apple cores. I turn the compost with the help of my friend who is capable of lifting the heavy buckets and continuing the process of pouring the food into the pile as I cover it with hay and soil. Next I am told to check on the sheep and baby cows. I step into the barn and instantly feel warm and protected by the animal’s presence. I look to my right and see two girls from my cabin working hard milking our adult cows. I look to my left and see my friends feeding the chickens. I smile and mumble “how beautiful” as I replace the sheep and cow’s water. I look at the sky and see the sun rising, creating a shade of pink. I look at my watch, 7:15 am. It is time to return to campus. I pat Ginger, the baby cow, on the head as I make my way out of the barn. I push the wagon of empty compost buckets to the dish room. Feeling accomplished, we return to the dining hall where the rest of campus has just woken up, finished their chores, and made their way to breakfast. We all sit down at a wooden circular table and enjoy breakfast together as a family.

This past fall semester I attended Chewonki Maine Coast Semester School, a very special place where you learn to use your hands and heart in the work you do. Chewonki is a once in a lifetime experience where you spend half your Junior year learning outside of the classroom. Maine Coast Semester School gives you the opportunity to change your normal routine and learn new skills in nature and school. Chewonki taught me how to canoe, farm, garden, cook, sing, live alone, live in the moment, and live happily. It is truly a magical place, for those reasons and especially because it taught me to get my homework done in 2 hours. If you get an opportunity to challenge yourself don’t let it pass you by.