In what has become one of the most anticipated and enjoyed happenings of an island school year, the annual inter-island event took place on Frenchboro on Sept. 27- 28.

Students from the Monhegan, Matinicus, Islesford and Isle au Haut descended on the town like a swarm after being shipped over on the Sunbeam, the Maine Seacoast Mission’s vessel. To see them arriving from across the harbor, the procession of them with bright T-shirts and backpacks bouncing, you would have thought that the whole island was made up of kids.

Around the same time, five members of the Portland-based educational arts group, Spiral Arts, arrived and began setting up different activities for the students. Spiral Arts had been out on Frenchboro for an inter-island event nearly seven years ago and they were excited to make a reappearance.

“It’s such a treat to be out here,” said Priscilla Dreyman, the executive director of the organization. “From the boat ride to such a beautiful place to working with such creative minds and wonderful people, it’s a real joy.”

As soon as the students and their teachers had a snack and a chance to reacquaint themselves with each other, Dreyman led the group in an overview of the two days, as well as a reading of the song “No One is an Island,” an idea that she asked everyone to keep in mind while they were working and thinking and playing together.

The students then broke up into smaller groups to work on projects with the Spiral Arts instructors. One instructor specialized in origami and the students enjoyed learning how to fold paper into different kinds of animals. Another practiced bookmaking and taught the children how to bind a book with decorated cardboard and twine. Yet another sat in the ball field with his students and showed them techniques in using pastels for landscapes. And finally, another taught them how to make giant decorative hats out of brown paper bags.

“Spiral Arts was amazing,” said Frenchboro School teacher Erica Davis. “They knew just how to keep the kids busy. And that was also nice for the teachers because it gave them some good down time.”

Later, while a barbeque dinner was being prepared at the community building, an epic capture the flag game got into full swing on the ball field. All the kids, and those who wish they had the skill and agility of their kids, split into two giant teams and spent over an hour running from one side of the field to the other, trying desperately to uncover their rivals’ flag. By the time the dinner bell was rung, a winning team had been crowned, brows had become slick with sweat, knees of jeans were stained by the grass, an appetite was worked up all around, and your own humble reporter had blown out his ankle while being chased by a 10 year-old.

“Capture the flag was awesome, especially with such a big group,” said Lance Bishop, a seventh grader at the Frenchboro School. “We don’t get to see the kids from the other islands very often, so it was really great to hang out with my friends from elsewhere.”

The kids seemed to stop for only a few minutes to inhale a hamburger before heading back out to play, but everyone else stayed to admire and enjoy the spread of salads and pastas and desserts, prepared by the folks of Frenchboro. The weather, although still thick with fog, allowed everyone to sit outside with their food and catch up.

As it grew dark, the whole group assembled and began a flashlight hike down the road to Eastern Beach. When they arrived at the shore, a bonfire was already roaring. The kids chose to explore on the rocks, waving their flashlights around like lasers, while the adults sat close to the fire, gathering some heat and letting out big sighs. The walk back was quiet, everyone being eager to get in a sleeping bag and call it a day.

But the night was hardly over. Just a few hours after teeth had been brushed and scary stories had been told and everyone was comfortable in a tent or on the floor of the school or the church, the sky opened up and buckets of rain dropped on the island. Those with flooded tents retreated, making mad dashes towards the church. Others chose to wait it out (or wade, depending on your point of view. For the record, the group of Frenchboro boys that your reporter tented with decided that, although there was half a foot of water in the tent, they would continue sleeping. And they did. Your reporter did not.)

By the morning, it had cleared up and everyone convened in the parish hall of the church where Frenchboro lobstermen were cooking a pancake breakfast. Kids played checkers and Battleship and Uno on the floor before heading back up to the community building where a final arts activity took place. Priscilla led everyone in designing small boxes painted with watercolors. The purpose? To keep phone numbers and email addresses of all the friends that were made over the course of the event. The students showed them off with great pride.

After a closing ceremony, it was time to say farewell. Tents were packed up and the walk back to the ferry terminal began. Hugs went all around.

“See you next year!” one girl yelled from the Sunbeam.

The Frenchboro crew yelled and waved excitedly.

“Hopefully sooner!” another shouted back.