Avery Lowe ’18 explores the water's edge at Mamacoke Island.
Exploring the water's edge at Mamacoke Island.

With each year that I’ve been at Conn I’ve continued to discover natural landmarks that surround our campus and make our living here even more exceptional. It wasn’t clear to me before I came to college how having a beautiful campus along with wonderful natural resources close by would be an essential part of my experience. These natural aspects of the College are perhaps not advertised widely enough. Conn is located right next to two fantastic beaches, Ocean Beach Park and Waterford Beach, and is home to the Connecticut College Arboretum, which runs throughout campus. I could go on and on listing our vast access to nature, but what I really want to touch on today is a special little island called Mamacoke.   

To set the scene: the day was Wednesday. The time was around 5 p.m. and my friends and I decided to ditch the library after our academically heavy day for a more natural and serene environment. After three classes, club meetings and a few hours of homework, the day was pretty busy and sometimes stressful. Our desire to leave that all behind in the book stacks led us to Mamacoke Island. Mamacoke is part of the College’s “Natural Areas” (https://www.conncoll.edu/the-arboretum/natural-areas/) and is also part of the Arboretum, the Arbo for short.

As my friends and I walked through the Arbo to get to Mamacoke, I thought about how special it is to be able to walk from your dorm to a preserved little island in under ten minutes. Before reaching the island, we first had to walk across a little marsh. Mamacoke is pretty hidden and there’s more than a marsh to separate the island from the mainland. A set of railroad tracks also cuts the island off from the Arboretum mainland trails. Once over the tracks and through the marsh we climbed rocks, saw funky looking mushrooms and moss and eventually made our way to the water’s edge. We almost went for a swim, but practicality stopped us. Instead, we waded into the Thames River while we watched the rowing team briskly row by and waved to our friends on the sailing team in the distance. Schools of minnows nipped at our toes and beautiful egrets swam past us. It felt as if we were miles away from the dorms and the dining halls when in fact this little haven lay right in front of us at the easternmost edge of campus. 

We ended up collecting cool looking plants that my friend Madeleine pressed into glass frames. Though a bit muddy and wet, our journey to Mamacoke gave us something that many college campuses lack: access to vast natural spaces. I left feeling newly formed bug bites on my legs yet also a new calm to round off my day. As I mentioned in the beginning, each year here shows me pieces of this land that surprise me and continue my appreciation for the beauty here. Mamacoke is just one example of the countless ways in which Conn’s campus is much more than just a campus.

Avery Lowe and friend pose for a photo on the salt marsh between Mamacoke Island and the mainland.