Claws: Casco Bay

Expedition 1: Sunday July 10, 12-1 dropoff - Saturday July 16, 1-2 pickup <> Expedition 2: Sunday August 14, 11am-12 dropoff - Saturday August 20, 12-1 pickup

—a co-ed sea-kayaking field environmental philosophy adventure for 13 to 18 year olds, exploring the Casco Bay archipelago

> 6 on-the-water days of marine biome exploration, paddling from island to island & camping on jewels

> led by Owen Heil, Maine Sea Kayaking Guide and Teacher 


The goal of Claws programs is positive character transformation.

It’s achieved by pushing boundaries. Students assume and surmount challenges, gaining confidence and valuable self-awareness. New ideas and abilities are experienced, and new spaces—physical, conceptual and existential—are opened for the kind of personal growth that contributes to long term happiness.

We’ll learn essential safety, outfitting and kayaking skills, visit oyster and kelp farmers as they tend their gardens, enjoy the deep energies of tides, rivers and oceans, and celebrate our seal-ish abilities and awareness.

Claws learn the biocultural history of the southern Maine coast as they paddle, explore and island camp in a supportive and humorous team. They learn essential sea kayaking skills so they’ll return to the water without fear and with wisdom.

It’s said that if you can paddle Casco Bay you can paddle anywhere else in the world.

Probably true! Known for its steep and rapid tides and vacillating weather, this stretch of water presents conditions perfect for training mindful, adventurous sea kayakers.


Parents drop off and pick up students in Freeport.

Our group includes 10 students and 2 teachers, paddling in 6 two person kayaks. 

Participants must be physically fit, as we paddle several miles everyday with gear through lively waters, setting up and breaking down camp, and engaging in island and marine biocultural history explorations. This is a steady marathon through a challenging terrain, exposed to the elements.

If we have good weather our itinerary is this; if not we modify for safety purposes:

Day 1: begin at Winslow Park in Freeport, learning essential kayak skills, organizing gear there and camping out.

Day 2, paddle to oyster and scallop farms, building technique on our way to Little Chebeague Island where we’ll overnight.

Day 3, practice rescue techniques and make our way to Jewell Island.

Day 4, re-water at Dolphin Marina and head to the Goslings islands.

Day 5, paddle to Little Whaleboat Island/Freeport farms

Day 6, paddle to Lane Island.

Day 7, return to Winslow Park. 


Cost: $1100

Claws: Casco Bay is a a 7 day, 6 overnight session.

> Expedition 1: Sunday July 10, 12-1 dropoff – Saturday July 16, 1-2 pickup

> Expedition 2: Sunday August 14, 11am-12 dropoff – Saturday August 20, 12-1 pickup

Tuition includes all kayaking and camping gear except that described in the student packing list.

Tuition payments can be staggered; a deposit of $400 is required to register.

Student Packing List:

  •  Hydration system (Camelbak,  Platypus, or water bottles), 3-5 Liter total capacity
  •  Stuff sack/bear bag for “smellables”
  • Dry bags for personal gear, clothes, etc 
  • Sleeping pad
  • Sleeping bag (backpacking style, rated 40° or lower)
  •  Sleep clothes (one set)
  • Spork or spoon (knife/fork unnecessary)
  • Mess kit bowl and cup (full mess kit pot/pan, etc not needed)
  • Headlamp & extra battery for headlamp
  • Compass
  • Bandaids (2-3 each of small, medium, and large bandaids)
  • 2 inch roll of gauze or 4-5 gauze pads
  • Emergency blanket
  • Duct tape/moleskin/Leukotape P for hotspots & blisters
  • Underwear/Sports Bra (1-2 pairs, synthetic compression style)
  • Hiking shorts or swim shorts (1 pair)
  • Short sleeve shirt (synthetic or wool, 1-2 is sufficient)
  • Long sleeve shirt (synthetic or wool, 1 shirt)
  • Midweight layer (fleece, synthetic, or wool insulation)
  • Rain shell/jacket (Rain pants optional)
  • Hat with brim
  • Water shoes (sturdy shoes that can be worn in the kayak, while launching, and while landing–not flip flops or loose sandals)
  • Bandana or Buff (optional)
  • 1 roll toilet paper packed in ziploc bag
  • Daily medications
  • Menstrual products (if applicable)
  • Sunscreen & chapstick with SPF protection
  • Folding pocket knife
  • 1 paperback book or eReader (optional)
  • Small notebook & pencil for duty rosters and journaling
  • Backpacking style towel
  • Camera/phone for pictures
  • Earplugs (optional, but useful if crew-mates snore or if forest noises keep you awake)
  • Ziploc bags (2 1-gallon bags for trash, 2-3 quart bags for organizing small items)
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste (travel size)
  • Sunglasses with UV protection/polarization
  • Bug spray (should contain DEET)
  • Bug headnet (optional)

If you would like to learn more, please call 413.320.0522 and speak with Our Place director Kurt Heidinger, or send a note