School’s in Swing

Posted on Tuesday October 27, 2009

The new academic year is now underway at Wayfinder Schools, and as Residential Program Director Joseph Hufnagel says, “It’s been an incredible three weeks.” As Hufnagel ticks off the accomplishments of the new group of students, who hail from Lewiston, Calais and everywhere in between, it’s easy to see why he feels so proud of the students, and their school.

The new year started with a four-day orientation session at the Tanglewood 4-H camp, where students shared stories, dreams and goals, hiked trails, pitched tents, set up camp, cooked over an open fire, and slept under the stars. Four of the students had never been camping before, and two of the students learned, during the course of the orientation, that they are actually related to each other as distant cousins.

While at Tanglewood, students participated in academics during the day, and also performed two community service projects for the camp, including helping to combat invasive species and pulling the swimming docks for the season. “The kids are working hard, and having fun,” said Hufnagel. On one of the camping evenings, the entire CSchool staff headed to Tanglewood for a potluck dinner.

After returning to the school, the students headed out again, this time to Acadia National Park, where they went rock climbing, practiced wilderness camping, and took a short detour to Bar Harbor for pizza, ice cream and a tour of several art galleries.

Wayfinder Schools Residential student, Karen Johnson, receives instruction on rock climbing from Pete Fasoldt, co-owner of Atlantic Climbing Co., in Acadia National Park. This outing was part of the school's Experiential Learning Expeditions program.(

Wayfinder Schools Residential student, Karen Johnson, receives instruction on rock climbing from Pete Fasoldt, co-owner of Atlantic Climbing Co., in Acadia National Park. This outing was part of the school's Experiential Learning Expeditions program.

In between all this activity, students have been working on math, science, social studies and English Language Arts and Literature. In addition to all of this, they have written resumes and cover letters, gone on job searches, learned how to complete college applications, and practiced business math and budgeting.

Students are about to embark on internships at Pen-Bay YMCA, The Camden Public Library, Owl’s Head Transportation Museum, Tanglewood Camp, Goodwill Industries, and other work-place sites, including a local animal shelter and nursing home.

In the meantime, all new students have secured library cards, visited the library every day, volunteered to serve lunch to school children, visited the Common Ground Fair, and worked out at the YMCA.

It doesn’t end there, as students have also planned and prepared meals, completed daily chores, gone for walks, rented movies, gone bowling, visited local art galleries, baked cookies, started weekly trips to the Newforest Institute in Brooks, and more.

While this schedule of activity might make the heads of most adults spin, the kids are loving it. When asked what he thought of the school year so far, new student Zech McIntosh said simply, “Awesome.”

For more information about Wayfinder Schools’s alternative education programs, including its Residential Program, call 236-3000 or visit www.wayfinderschools.org