Quest Prep

Last Friday, fifteen Casco Bay High School juniors trekked out to Cow Island for the Quest Prep program.

Next fall, these students, along with their entire class, will embark on a 4 day and 3 night adventure. Students will have the challenge and opportunity to explore Casco Bay through a kayak expedition or a backpacking trip through the White Mountains. As part of both Casco Bay High School and Rippleffect’s missions, both organizations wanted to make this experience completely accessible to all students. Sensing a need for more exposure to outdoor skills and comfort, Casco Bay and Rippleffect devised this preparation program. Students who had transferred into Casco Bay after Freshman year and hadn’t experienced Freshman Quest were encouraged to take advantage of the Quest Prep program. Ultimately, the students who came on Quest Prep were anyone looking to bolster their outdoor skills and comfort level.

When students arrived on island, they gathered to speak about their fears and excitements for not only the day but for the Senior Quest trip to come. Guides and staff emphasized that the entire day was about the students’ questions and concerns. After watching a video made by a former Quest senior, students were either sent off to put on wet suits or gathered around a mock-campsite setup. There were two sections to the day: sea kayak exploration and a camping Q & A. In the camping section, Rippleffect guides taught basic outdoor skills, like lighting a camp stove. They also went through the necessary gear and supplies needed to make it through Senior Quest. Since some of the students had no camping experience, this was a perfect opportunity to go through the basics. Students tried out what it was like to be in a tent and sleeping bags. They checked out the food that would likely be brought on trips. When it came to kayaking, some students were excited to get in a boat again while others were scared they would capsize. By the end of the day, every student had gotten in a boat and a majority had tried their own flip.

Mallory Haar, a teacher at Casco Bay High School who helped organize the trip, spoke about the transformation she saw in her students in this one day. She was inspired by “seeing each kid really push out and surpass their comfort zones. For example, a student who said ‘if I do go, I’m only going to watch people kayak’ got in a boat.” When asked what about the day was so successful she replied: “I think the success of the day has to do with an environment where there’s a lot of emotional and social closeness and an ability to be a little more real and vulnerable in the process of learning.” Rippleffect guides and staff thank the Quest Prep students and teachers for an amazing day and for their openness to learning and trying new things. We’ll be looking forward to seeing these new, prepared leaders among the senior Casco Bay class next fall.

Beth Gaughan