Our place on the Chester River, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is the perfect backdrop for environmental studies and prime territory for groundbreaking research in history, anthropology and archaeology.
The Chester River is an essential part of Chestertown, and Washington College students have taken advantage of the unique opportunities it offers, from developing competitive varsity programs in rowing and sailing and club sport programs for waterskiing and wakeboarding, to learning to sail in class and enjoying recreational activities such as kayaking along the river’s edge.
The waterfront area includes the Hodson Boathouse and the Lelia Hynson Pavilion, adjacent to Wilmer Park. In 1971, the College acquired a warehouse on banks of the Chester River to use as a boathouse. In 1983, the Hodson Trust donated funds to create the Lelia Hynson Boating Park and Pavilion on the grounds surrounding what is now the Hodson Boathouse.
The Hodson Boathouse houses locker rooms for the rowing and sailing teams, bathrooms, two offices, a team lounge, a 35-seat classroom, and an ergonomics training room with 32 stationary rowing machines. A state-of-the-art tank room with a 16-station, 25-by-54-foot rowing tank enables rowing team members to perfect their sweep technique and practice when the weather is too cold or inclement for on-the-water training.
Today, the College uses the waterfront property to hold concerts, events, and celebrations such as the Waterfront Festival at the Lelia Hynson Pavilion.
A Learning Environment
The lure of the river extends to academic explorers who attend class on board the College’s workboat, the R/V Callinectes.
The R/V Callinectes is outfitted with top-notch scientific instrumentation, including laptops with hydrographic survey software.
Using a seabed scanning device and a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), archaeology students delve the deep for clues of Native American and colonial settlements, or explore old shipwrecks. Biology and chemistry students investigate the impact of pollutants on the Chester River, testing water and sediment samples. Environmental studies majors use the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed region as their outdoor laboratory.
The river is the classroom for students in the sailing class, which incorporates nautical knowledge with other liberal arts disciplines. Exploring wind and tidal dependence with an emphasis on safety, even beginners can become skilled at handling the small dinghies used for class.
Whatever your discipline, you can probably find a connection to the river that defines this community and its inhabitants. English majors find inspiration there. Sociology students can explore the vanishing culture of the Eastern Shore waterman. Students interested in politics and policymaking will find no greater bone of contention than land use issues.
Varsity Crew Team
Crew is one of the oldest collegiate sports but despite the college’s prime waterfront location, Washington College didn’t have a team until 1967, when a group of rowers formed a crew club. Today, the men’s and women’s crew teams are nationally competitive varsity programs.
Varsity Sailing Team
In 1987, a group of Washington College’s sailing enthusiasts started a club team. Ten years later, Washington College was committed to developing a premiere sailing program to rival any in the country, providing full financial support for the varsity team’s facilities, equipment and travel. Since launching the women’s and co-ed varsity sailing program in 1997, the College has established its sailors as a competitive force in the mid-Atlantic region.
Sultana Projects, Inc.
A to-scale reproduction of a vessel that traversed the Chesapeake in the years leading up to the American Revolution, the schooner Sultana now sails as the “Schoolship of the Chesapeake.” Members of the Washington College community are invited to take advantage of its public sails, tours and activities, as well as the kayaks and paddles hosted by Sultana Projects, Inc.