Over two mixed-weather weeks, the 7th grade took their long-overdue annual trip to the Chesapeake Bay to continue their study of Bay ecology.
Unlike in years past, the grade split and visited a tiny island adjacent to Tangier Island in successive weeks to limit overcrowding in the lingering days of COVID-19. The first group did all their learning about fishing practices, canoeing, mud mucking, and cooking through a mix of gray skies, heavy rain, and some surprisingly warm temps. The next group enjoyed blustery but bright sunny days for their bayside adventures.
Classroom studies about water quality, rising sea levels, and pollution landed differently while in the place where the impacts of climate change and poor waste management are so observable. Students snagged buoys with a shepherd’s crook, baited crab traps (and kissed fish), sat beside campfires, took turns preparing meals, and paddled their way through brackish inlets. They studied the myriad critters that wash up along the shoreline, from horseshoe crabs and oysters to blue crabs and tiny jelly-like blobs.
Facts learned in the classroom about the composition of mud along the Chesapeake Bay can quickly fade, but when you are coated head-to-toe in that rich mixture of silty sand, clay, and decomposing organic material, you will never forget. That firm (if sloppy), long-lasting foundation can also anchor deeper understanding about the implications of, for example, sediment distribution changes on an ecosystem and the resulting impact on local economies that depend on it. Also, it’s just super stinking fun to be outdoors with your peers, kissing fish, making s’mores, mucking around, and more. What’s the point of being young and youthful if you can’t enjoy it?!