Learning to use a compass

Tess Beem is the Island Institute's education associate. 

For this year’s fall field trip, the Outer Islands TLC headed inland to the foothills of the White Mountains! This adventure brought us to the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School campus in Newry, Maine—just north of Bethel/Sunday River ski area and not anywhere near the actual Hurricane Island.

This trip was special not only for members of the TLC, but also for those at Outward Bound. The TLC field trip served as the final teaching practical for Outward Bound’s semester-long Instructor Development Course. If you’re not familiar with the Outward Bound organization, this is a bit different from how a typical program works for them, as their participants are predominantly over the age of 18 years old. So not only would TLC students get an awesome outdoor, experiential, hands-on learning experience, but the students of Outward Bound would get a chance to teach real, live children as part of their final practicum. Win-win!

The Outward Bound instructors tailor-made a teaching program for our students that was outdoor-based, hands-on, and fun. Below are several snapshots from our adventures in western Maine. The TLC got to “rough it” while staying is bunk-style cabins at Outward Bound. No bathroom? No problem! TLCers showed their true grit while staying in cabins without running water or electricity. Our rockstar group dove into the “glamping” experience, using outhouses, headlamps, and wood-stoves for heat.

In one lesson led by the Outward Bound Instructors, students learned about the impacts humans can have while enjoying the great outdoors. They practiced digging “cat holes” while learning about how far to travel off trail to go to the bathroom. It was very amusing, to say the least! They also examined how human food wrappers affect wildlife behavior. For island kids, it's easy to understand visitor impacts on natural spaces, given the influx of summer people to their homes. However, hearing how these same issues affect “wild” spaces in the mountains helped translate a close-to-home topic into a larger discussion about stewardship and outdoor ethic.

In another Outward Bound lesson, TLC students practiced their map and compass skills. Students discussed maps while drawing schematic floor plans of their own homes and bedrooms. Older students got to bushwhack off-trail while following compass bearings through an orienteering course. As all students and instructors were accounted for, the lesson was dubbed a success.

Along with awesome lessons planned by the Outward Bound Instructors, students also got to choose their own recreation time. The ladies above decided to enjoy some well deserved indoor time playing brain puzzler games. Others chose to read, draw, build gnome and fairy homes, and explore the streams that meandered through the property. And after that…. We played a good old fashioned game of Capture the Flag! All can agree that some well-deserved downtime with friends will persist as a lasting memory from the trip.

Seen above (from left to right, starting with the back row): Rockstar, Rockstar, Rockstar, Rockstar, Rockstar, Rockstar, Rockstar, Rockstar, Rockstar, Rockstar, Rockstar, Rockstar, Rockstar, Rockstar…… you get the picture. From the rocky coast to the deepest forests, this group is adaptable! And nowhere was it exemplified more than when we made snowy, soggy s’mores around the campfire on our last night. This was one for the books!

Contributed by

Tess Beem