Students Gain Amazing Insights Kayaking in Greece . . .

Hill ’17, Greece, 4/27/2015
The Peacefulness of the Ocean

For the past five days we have been sea kayaking around different islands in Greece. It was so amazing. Over the five days, we went to three different islands in the area. . . I have never been sea kayaking before this, and I thought that the whole experience was so cool. As we got in the boats, I looked down in the water and I could clearly see the bottom of it. I thought that it was 2 or 3 meters deep, but when I asked the guide how deep it was and he said a about 15 meters deep; I was in awe the whole time after that moment. As we were kayaking, I went to the front of the pack and I looked out in to the open ocean. I spent about an hour paddling alone looking into nothing. It was so silent and peaceful that the only sound I could hear was the ocean and my paddling. As you are paddling in open ocean like this, you can close your eyes and just go; it is so calming just sitting out there letting the current take you wherever it wants to. On one of the islands that we camped on, there were no towns so the stars were not drowned out by man-made lights. There are no sounds of people or cars. In an instant like this, you are closer to nature than some people will ever be. The entire time I was awestruck by all of the beauty that was around me.

Colton ’18, Greece, 4/27/2015
Crossing Open Waters
We began the kayaking trip with a beautiful sunrise and a knock upon the door. We walked our way into town and saw our stop for breakfast. Around nine o’clock, we met up with our guides, Neil and Chris — “Raz” for short because his last name is Berry, Raz Berry. They then shuttled us to a port from which we would launch. We started to gear up for an awesome day. Once we began our paddle out, we felt the calm serenity of the islands and saw their pristine beauty. As we reached our crossing from Skopelos to Alonissos, Neil gathered us up and told us to stick together as a group until we reached the halfway point. This was because a lot of ferries passed through that particular channel and we wanted to make sure that we weren’t in the boats’ way. It was an amazing feeling being out in the open, exposed on all sides. All in all, it was a thrill, and when we finally got to our spot, I was ready for my five o’clock nap.

Elle ’18, Greece, 4/27/2015
Conquering Kayaking
For the past five days we have been out at sea, kayaking. For most people it was an exciting experience filled with adrenaline and adventure; however, it was a much different experience for me. For as long as I can remember I have been mortified of kayaks. I was scared to the point that I couldn’t even stand to look at them. The thought of kayaking had been haunting me for the entire trip, and it was finally upon us. The day before we hit the water I was utterly terrified, the fact that we would be spending a week kayaking rapidly dawned on me and I didn’t know if I would be able to go on the trip. The first day on the water was completely nerve-racking, but I knew I had to do it. I wanted to prove to myself that I was able to accomplish something that I never thought I would be able to. We started paddling and I was dead last, not because I didn’t have the strength to go fast, but simply out of fear. Being in the back, however, was a major blow to my self esteem. I am an extremely competitive person and being in the back, despite my fear, was not going to work for me. I made it my goal to stay up front, which in turn helped me forget about the fact that I was afraid. Coming on to the beach that night was one of the most accomplishing feeling. To most it may not seem like a big feat; however, it made me feel on top of the world.
The next day, we set out on the water and I was motivated to accomplish my goal of being upfront. One of our guides, Neil, noticed that I wasn’t enjoying myself on the first day and set up a scale ranging from okay to epic, the ultimate goal being to reach epic. I now had two goals, to reach the front, and to feel epic. By the end of the second day I still hadn’t reached the front. I had a mental block that wouldn’t allow me to attain the goal. I was also utterly exhausted and ready to give up. On the scale, I was only okay. On the third day I woke up determined and ready. I started the day in the middle of the pack; however, I quickly raced to the front and stayed there for the duration of the day. I was invigorated and excited for the fact that I had reached my goal, but on the other hand I was disappointed. I had been so focused on being first that I completely ignored all the beauty that was surrounding me. By the end of the day I was around “good” on the scale.

The morning of our fourth day was terrible. I hit a point where I did not think I would be able to go on and was on the verge of giving up. The weather was cold and foggy, the sea was far from calm, and I had fallen to the back again. The second half of the day was the complete opposite. I finally found my pace somewhere in the middle of the group, I had some great conversations, and the time started to fly by. We went in and out of amazing caves and marveled in the nature surrounding us. We set up camp on a long beautiful beach looking out at glorious islands and the calm turquoise sea. That evening, watching the sun set over the crystal clear water as I sipped my tea, I reached “epic” on the scale. The next morning we packed up camp and paddled for about 45 minutes to the port. I don’t want to kayak professionally, nor do I have a new found love of kayaking; however, through this experience I have learned that you can not overcome a fear by simply ignoring it. You have to push your limits and find comfort in your discomfort.

Silas ’18, Greece, 4/27/2015
The Last Two Days
The fourth and fifth days of our kayaking trip we’re definitely my favorite two days. Even though the caves on day three were amazing to see, they did not evoke the same feelings that came with the rough weather and open waters of day four or the nice, sunshiny, coastal kayaking of day five. On day four, I felt so many different emotions: fear from the stormy weather and awe from the completely open ocean. These feelings were difficult for some people to overcome, but it’s what made day four great for me. I talked to a few people the entire time, which helped to keep them calm and focused. The day was long and rough, and we all felt tired by the end, but it also made day five my other favorite day. It was the last day and the shortest day. We only paddled for about an hour and a half before reaching the port. Sea kayaking for a week was an interesting experience that I won’t soon forget!