Mount St. Joseph University’s Liberal Arts Students and Faculty Set Sail to Maine!

maine sailing

In June (June 16th-26th) a group of 10 MSJ Liberal Arts students along with faculty members Buffy Barkley, Peter Robinson, and Jim Bodle traveled to Maine. The Liberal Arts students eligible for this trip has to register for HIS 385 “a three-credit, 300-level history elective, so some students took it to fulfill a core requirement while Honors students could use it to fulfill a requirement for the Honors Program. Students attended four three-hour classes in March, April, May, and June, where we discussed assigned readings, examined Smithsonian web pages, and talked about sea chanteys and other folk songs related to the sea.” (Buffy)


Peter Robinson, a Professor of History in the Department of Liberal Arts and also directs the Mount's Honors Program, developed this course in 2013. The main objectives of the HIS 385 course and the Maine trip are “to discover the geographical, political, religious, economic, and aesthetic conditions that shaped New England maritime identity; to consider the significance of these conditions and their effects on contemporary American culture and citizenship; to recognize and be critical of historical arguments and how they are used to interpret the past for use in the present; to develop—through discussion, writing, and other means—useful methods of constructing historical arguments of one’s own.” (Peter Robinson)




Peter has organized the MSJ Liberal Arts History trip to Maine 4 times now. Buffy Barkley, an English Professor and Chair of the Department of Liberal Arts at MSJ, and Jim Bodle, a Psychology Professor at MSJ, were both pivotal in helping supervise and orchestrate this trip for the MSJ students. Peter, being extremely generous, housed all the students and faculty in attendance on this trip at his home in Pemaquid Harbor.


See pictured below the MSJ students sitting in front of the residence:



Back row, left to right:  Angel Snider, Rain Phoenix-Brown, Jackson Simon, Jack Yakimow, Claudia Covarrubias, Kylie Arvin

Seated, left to right: Rachel Zucker, Nate Sweeney, Keegan Phoenix-Brown, Aidan Goodwin


View the list of activities and cities the students had the opportunity to experience while in Maine:


  • Monhegan Land Trust (an island first settled in 1605)
  • Bath (to visit the Maine Maritime Museum and to view the replica of the boat Virginia, “Maine’s First Ship” built in 1607)
  • Freeport (to visit L.L. Bean, the state’s most famous retail establishment)
  • New Harbor (where we launched kayaks into the river and out into the Atlantic)
  • Portland (where folk singer Steve Romanoff of the group Schooner Fare sang his original songs for us with Portland Harbor as a backdrop)
  • Camden (where students boarded the Windjammer Olad for a two-hour sail)
  • Pemaquid (where students visited The Carpenter’s Boat Shop and donated two hours to help clear brush and logs from the property)
  • Damariscotta (where students dined at King Eider’s Pub and watched a Maine-based documentary film in the 19th-century Lincoln Theater)
  • Bristol (where students visited a 19th-century grist and lumber mill being restored by local residents)
  • Boston, Mass., (where students boarded the U.S.S. Constitution “Old Ironsides”, the country’s oldest commissioned warship)
  • To and from Maine, students spent a night at St. Rose College in Albany, N.Y. Students were intrigued that, like the Mount, the college was founded in 1920 to educate women.


Hear more about the Maine trip from Jackson and Claudia, two MSJ students who were in attendance:


Jackson Simon is a Liberal Arts student at MSJ minoring in Criminology and History. He participates on MSJ’s lacrosse team and is planning to pursue a career in law or law enforcement after graduating. His expected graduation year is 2024.

“I really wanted to go to Maine because I have not experienced that region of the country before. I also love being on the water and much of Maine's culture revolves around the ocean. I also think the idea of learning about and discovering a new place with a ton of history is super interesting. My favorite activity on the trip was definitely hiking on Monhegan Island, an island off the coast of Maine. I loved hiking all over the island and exploring the landscape. The views were incredible and my hiking group was awesome. I enjoyed the freedom to roam the island and discover all that it had in store. It was scenic and so picturesque that it felt like we were in another country or on another planet. My biggest takeaway from the trip was how awesome it was to be in the outdoors almost every day and exploring somewhere new. It was an amazing experience that helped me appreciate the beautiful places right here in the U.S. I also really appreciated how well the group bonded even though we all came from different backgrounds and I did not know anyone going in. At the conclusion of the trip, I felt like I had gotten to know all of them better and had made some lifelong friends.” (Jackson Simon)


Claudia Covarrubias is a Biomedical Sciences Student with a Pre-Veterinary Concentration. She participates in the MSJ Theatre and is in the Honors Program. Her expected graduation date is May 2024.

“I decided to attend this trip because I had never been to Maine before. I wanted to create lasting memories with my fellow classmates and I wanted to try my first lobster in Maine. My favorite activity on this trip was hiking on Monhegan Island. We had several hours to hike whatever trails we wanted on the island, so I got together with three other classmates. We went on various trails with stunning views of the ocean where we saw seals swimming around and seagulls flying overhead. At the end of that day, we sailed off the island with mud all over our shoes and legs and the seawater misting our smiling faces. My biggest takeaway from this trip is to embrace new experiences with a smile and a positive attitude because the best memories are the ones you don't plan or expect. I was introduced to several local music artists, visited unique historical sites, and learned how to kayak in the ocean, all of which I never would have tried had I not embraced these new experiences with an open mind. I can now happily say that I've made lasting memories and friendships through this honors course, and for that, I am incredibly thankful to Buffy, Jim, and Pete for their hard work in planning this trip.” (Claudia Covarrubias)


Buffy “loved all of the outdoor and music events (pretty much most of the trip). In addition, I was thrilled to see how “history came alive” for our students who had a rich knowledge of Maine’s history, economy, and music from the four classes prior to the trip.” (Buffy Barkley)


Peter added that “It was a fruitful and fun “voyage” for all concerned.” (Peter Robinson)


Check out the beautiful pictures of Maine below provided by Buffy, Jim, and Peter: