Franklin Countys First News

Class following Farmington native’s low-tech, 740-mile canoe adventure

Teacher Sarah Carlson discusses her daughter's 740-mile canoe journey with her students.

W.G. Mallett School teacher Sarah Carlson discusses her daughter's 740-mile canoe journey with her students.

FARMINGTON - Second graders at the W.G. Mallett School have been following a Mt. Blue High School graduate's 740-mile trek along a famous canoe trail, exchanging postcards and letters through their teacher.

Emma Carlson, who graduated MBHS in 2003 and Colby College in 2008, is traveling along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail with friend Emily Rooney of Vermont. The pair launched their canoe at Old Forge Pond in upstate New York, and will paddle through Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire and into Maine, arriving at Fort Kent around June 1.

Carlson's mother is Sarah Carlson, an elementary teacher at Mallett School. Her class has been receiving letters and notes from Emma Carlson, who is undertaking the 40-day trip without the use of cell phones or computers. Reading an excerpt of a New York newspaper article to the students, Sarah Carlson paused to ask them what "unplugged" meant.

"It means you're not using any technology," a second grader answered, solemnly.

Students gasped as Emma Carlson reported snow falling, discussed New England geography, compass directions and vocabulary: portage, terminus and ice axe. Some wrote their own letters, to be dropped off with Emma Carlson when the pair resupply.

While at Colby, Emma Carlson attended the Adirondack Semester through St. Lawrence University, spending the semester working in the woods. Now she works for that program as an assistant director in the summer and fall semesters.

Sarah Carlson intends to meet her daughter on May 19 for a resupply drop. After her trip is complete, the canoeist will finally be able to meet her pen pals at Mallett School.

Emma Carlson

Emma Carlson (Photo courtesy of Sarah Carlson)

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11 Responses »

  1. What a great adventure- best wishes for safe travels!

  2. My son is in Mrs. Carlsons class and is really enjoying learning about this journey. I get to here about the trip often. Thank you Mrs. Carlson for sharing this with them.

  3. That's my girl! Go Emma! She is always so inspirational with her constant questions about the way things are and are becoming. Make me more conscious of always challenging myself and reminds me that being "unplugged" is really good for the soul.

    Good for you Sarah for taking this experience that is close to you and seeing it as a HUGE learning opportunity for your students! We are SO lucky to have you in our community as a teacher. I am sure that this is a lesson that your students will remember for many years to come.

    :) Katie

  4. What fun, to be on the trail with Emma and Emily, and still be comfortable at home with Mrs. Carlson! It's generous of Emma and Emily to share their 740 mile trek with the second graders, but I'll bet that all of them have a better time because their experience is shared. Just please don't bring too many mosquitos home to Maine -- we will have plenty by June 1!

  5. Inspiring others to lead an examined life. Thanks, Emma!

  6. Fabulous for everyone involved! Wonderful! Great example for the students! Thank you Mrs. Carlson for all you do!

  7. Yo - Em-C,
    Be real chill using the skill,
    digital nil
    .....peace out.

  8. Super lessons! Congratulations on bringing the real world into the classroom!!!

  9. Great work Emma!

  10. Way to go Emma! Inspiring and teaching others makes the world a better place.

  11. My daughter MaCailia Foy is in Mrs. Carlsons class. I am thrilled to see her so excited about learning all about Emmas journey. Thank you Mrs. Carlson for including your students and making this journey an enjoyable learning experience. Best wishes to you Emma and may you have safe travels.