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Class of 2022 Joe Key Trip
Tina Zheng

Accompanied by Walkabout instructors Jennifer Clemmer '07, Tim Laramore '99, Ashlee O’Steen '00, and Tim Williams, the Class of 2022 Joe Key Award recipients—Spratt Allison, Nicholas Bajestani, Alex Coley, Emily Dotson, Ibilola Esho, Maren Johnson, Connie Ni, Caleb Nuñes, Kate Rogers, Kara Anne Smith, Couriyah Stegall, and Tina Zheng—spent a week in Maine this summer. 

The group paddled across saltwater in sea-kayaks for a couple of hours to Isle au Haut, Maine, where they camped for five days. Each of those days consisted of a slew of fun outdoor activities for the rising seniors to enjoy: they hiked and snacked on raspberries, blueberries, and the occasional blackberry picked straight off the bushes lining the trail. That wasn’t all they ate on the island, though. Breakfast usually consisted of instant oatmeal, and lunch was bagel sandwiches; however, the students also dined on spaghetti, breakfast burritos, pancakes, and Laramore’s specialty peanut butter ramen. One day, they feasted on a crate of thirty fresh lobsters— one camper trying the shellfish for the first time and another abandoning vegetarianism for this special meal.

Other than lobsters, there was plenty of wildlife.  The group spotted many seagulls in the sky and a majestic bald eagle gliding above. Seals popped up from the ocean, their curious faces looking at the humans passing by. On a hike, the group even glimpsed four otters slinking out of sight. The animals along with the picturesque landscape made for an immersive and blissful island retreat with no acces to phones. Many of the campers did not even keep track of time. They could wake up at the first sign of morning light, tread onto the rocks by the island coast, and watch the sun slowly illuminate the ocean horizon.

When the campers weren’t gazing at the sunrise, they were bouldering, picking up beach trash with a park ranger, or washing up in the freshwater lake. Additionally, in their free time they could lounge in their hammocks, lay out on the rocks, or sit by the campfire— this is when the group would share their life stories.

What started as one person describing her life up until the present turned into a chain of everyone, including the four Walkabout instructors, sharing their own life story and telling the others things they may have never told anyone before. As you can imagine, 16 total stories took a couple days to finish; the light would fade into darkness, and yet the stories would continue under the stars. And so, by the end of the trip, the 12 Joe Key Award recipients had formed new connections and closer bonds.

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