Campus Consciousness Tour: A Look Back at the Last Leg

by Eric Magnus

Eric here with a look back at the last leg of the “CONSERVATION ROCK TOUR ALL STAR GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP ECO-FRIENDAPOLOZA ‘14” that Dan and I have been immersed in for the past month, otherwise known as Reverb and L.L. Bean’s Campus Consciousness Tour.

After a week-long jaunt through the Midwest, our tour stopped in at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cold rainy weather during the event, which miraculously was a first for the tour, brought our Eco-Village inside the student commons. The crowd in the MIT commons was the most diverse we’ve encountered, with high school students and many graduate students interested in the whole spectrum of SCA programs, compared to the mainly undergrad we encountered at the other schools. A bonus was meeting and joining up with regional SCA recruiter Beth McCarthy, who also gave us tips on things to do in beautiful Cambridge.

New England is beautiful.

Thus began our New England adventure. Our next stop was the University of Maine, Orono. En route we camped and hiked in the White Mountains National Forest, setting up tent in one of the few campgrounds open and not still covered in ice along the gorgeous Kancamagus Highway. We day hiked to the massive water flow running through Franconia Falls on the Lincoln Woods Trail. Falls have kind of become “our thing”. From there, on to Maine, where we found hot bowls of clam chowder, local oysters, and the quirky charm of an independent motel.

Scavenger Hunt plays one of the last shows of the tour.

University of Maine was an exciting event, as we were on LL Bean’s home turf.  Students in the outdoor club tabling next to us were particularly ecstatic about SCA, saying they had been looking for just such a program for after graduation and couldn’t believe this was the first they had heard of it. Maine was so beautiful, and we were able to see much of the landscape in our quest to avoid the major turnpikes and tolls. On our trip south we were able to stay with friends of mine, living in Kennebunkport, who were in the process of building out an eco-friendly “tiny home” built on a 10’ x 18’ truck bed. The smart design’s small quarters actually reminded me of one of my last apartments in NYC, although Dan and I agreed the surrounding Maine landscape, and the accompanying lifestyle, was enviable.

My friends’ tiny, eco-friendly home in Maine!

Next, in a curious change of direction, we followed the tour down to New Jersey for a stop at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft. We were able to stay the night before with Dan’s parents in Staten Island, only a half hour from Brookdale! Dan and I, fresh from our nights camping in New England, gave some needed advice to the Penzi’s foreign exchange student from China,  Lambert, who was sufficiently freaked before a mandatory campout with his school. “Yes, you definitely will want a pad to sleep on!” Brookdale was a big success as we were able to connect interested students directly to the NYC/NJ SCA crews we are involved with.

Next we wasted no time returning north for the next day’s event at Quinnipiac College in Connecticut, which was followed by another stop in Massachusetts, Assumption College in Worcester.  Quinnipiac was the first stop where we had time to stay and see Capital CIties perform that night. I picked up a Steely Dan vibe, which to me is an enormous compliment, though one I decided against sharing with the lead singer in line for lunch a few days later in Massachusetts.

All this driving in New England has left Dan and I capable of comparing the crazy drivers in NYC with those around Boston at length and in detail, like connoisseurs of fine wine. We’ve also noticed, comparing campuses up and down the East Coast, that they all share a keen and growing interest in sustainability- exemplified by their embrace of the Campus Consciousness Tour- and a true excitement about the immersive conservation experiences SCA offers to young people interested in saving the planet.

Happy trails to the Bootmobile!

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