I absolutely loved my time at Seguinland, and found it to be an incredibly valuable experience. My love for Seguinland can be broken down to the lessons, the surroundings, and the people.
During my gap semester I wanted to continue learning and growing, but take a break from the traditional model of classes. Classes at Seguinland can vary from day to day, but usually feature a seminar-style discussion about a text that everyone had read the night before or discussing a main theme of the day. At least once a week (and often many more times), classes would include a trip to locations around Maine. Sometimes this meant hands on agriculture work or spending time in nature, other times we visited artists' studios or attended lectures. Classes were always varied, and always encouraged us to be more curious and engaged in the topics we discussed. You do still have books to read and responses to write up, but it is all to enrich discussions and curiosity, not just busy work for a grade. I found this to be a refreshing break from college lectures, and other students in between high school and college loved reconnecting with the feeling exploration often missing in high school classes. A number of the themes we discussed have stuck with me even after leaving. Concepts like self-reliance became useful, actionable skills, and discussions about mindfulness and attention have changed how I spend my time after Seguinland for the better.
As the number of trips we took alludes to, Maine, and nature as a whole, is an important part of the program. For the first few days of staying in our cottages, I was truly in awe of how beautiful the marshes and forests were. As the program goes on, we really learned to see the woods and marshes as a part of campus, and we enjoyed finding nooks and hideaways to read or spend time outdoors with friends. Sometimes guest speakers would lead us on walks in the woods or marsh (make sure to bring water-proof boots) to get a better understanding of the ecology or philosophy of nature. This extended to camping trips in various national and state parks in Maine which were always a fun way to shake up the routine, and everyone always had an incredible time. The staff made sure that both veteran and brand new campers had a good time and were comfortable. If you're looking for where to start exploring the outdoors more, Seguinland is a great introduction. The camping trips are where many of my best memories were made, mostly because of the different ways it lets you interact with Seguinland's biggest draw, the people.
When I think about the people at Seguinland, both staff and students, it is astonishing how close we all grew over such a short period of time. The other students were wonderful, and key to the experience itself. There is of course that anxiety the first few days when you realize you'll spend the next three months with the same 20 or so people, but pretty quickly that becomes a benefit, not a negative. With a small cohort that is always eating together and doing tasks together, there really isn't the space for cliques to form or people to be socially left behind. Everyone was a part of one large group, and that meant you really got to know everyone extremely well, and there wasn't the pressure to find your group right off the bat. You find pretty quickly that while the cohorts are definitely selected with a variety of personalities and interests, all of the students are also there because they are genuine and curious people looking for something different. The staff were also wonderful. I was worried that a program like this could attract a lot of camp-counselor types or very new-age people, but everyone was very down to earth. The teachers were all highly knowledgeable and passionate about what they were teaching. They also doubled as general staff that you would eat with in evenings and go on trips with, breaking down the barrier between teacher and student. The 'student life coordinators' who handled events outside of the classroom, managing the cottages, and generally helping students get the most out of the experience were two of the most enthusiastic and good-natured people I've ever met. We were truly blessed with Matt and Elin. In addition, Katie, our food-life coordinator, was wonderful at getting people engaged in and excited about cooking. If you have never cooked before, or love to cook whenever you get the chance, Katie helps you find ways to grow and contribute to dinner in your own way. There were a number of other people in the Seguinland orbit that would come in for certain events or trips, which really gives the whole program a village community feel. The program itself is fantastic, but it really is the people that you remember best, and that make Seguinland what it is.
I really can not recommend Seguinland highly enough. If you are looking to get out of the routine of high school or college and willing to try something new, Seguinland is for you. You'll sometimes have to leave your comfort zone, but the wonderful community is always there to support you when you do. I hope you enjoy your time in Maine!