Amid a global pandemic, our SCM master’s program orientation began in August. Typically, orientation is the time when the students come to campus and go through an intense crash course/training of team building activities to get to know each other, their strengths and weaknesses. This time, however, the orientation was forced to go online, and most of the students attended it from their home countries. All classes and activities were held on Zoom, including the Thompson Island Outward Bound Professional program team-building trip. We adapted well to the situation, built our SCMr boat and tested it in our kitchen sinks! Having built boats with my classmates and having watched numerous others boating down the Charles every day, I dreamt about doing this someday. When I finally caught up with my classmates who were in the Boston area right after the orientation, I proposed the idea of kayaking under the moonlight, and the idea was very well received.
Since we had just one full moon left before it got too cold, I immediately reached out to different vendors to rent a boat/kayak near Charles/MIT. But all the excitement soon gave way to a sense of despair because nobody was renting kayaks for moonlight hours anymore. I refused to give up and took the risky decision of buying boats for the class. To ensure we complied with all rules and followed the best practices, we made a list of steps to ensure safety while having the fun we all deserved. I received the order well in advance, read up on all the manuals, inspected the gear for defects, and stored the items in my housing storage space.
On Oct 1st, we finished our classes and met on the lawns beside Tang Hall at 5PM. It took us 45 minutes and a crew of 15 to move all the gear close to the river, rig two boats, don all the life-jackets, and be ready to touch down the waters on time. Interestingly, only two of us had any past rowing or kayaking experience. We launched the two boats with five students each and learned how to synchronize paddles. Since we had only two boats and around 15 of us, we took turns on the boat. Finally, at 7:10PM, we saw the moon rise from behind the many skyscrapers in Boston downtown – it was magical. Everyone was speechless at this moment of seeing the rising moon while on Charles.
This moonlight boating was a real Thompson island team building activity for all of us, where we built our own boat and actually performed the entire exercise with the class. I still kept the boats with plans for more during the spring.