A group of approximately 30 Bowdoin students and community members braved the waters of Popham Beach to raise money for Camp Sunshine last Saturday. The dip was Bowdoin's first official Polar Plunge fundraiser.

The Polar Plunge was a huge success, according to co-coordinator Krista Bahm '11. Bahm said the Plunge raised more than $3,000 for Camp Sunshine.

Camp Sunshine, "a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families" is located in Casco Bay. The camp is free of charge and exists to "address the impact of a life threatening illness on every member of the family—the ill child, the parents, and the siblings," according to its Web site.

The group of fundraisers gathered at the Polar Bear statue in the center of campus before traveling to Popham Beach, where they engaged in one of Maine's more famous traditions of "polar-bearing."

In the act of polar-bearing, people go to the beach when it is cold, run into the water, count to three and then dunk. Although this plunge did not abide by the traditional timing and rules, people still faced the cold as they ran into the water after the countdown.

"Everyone was really excited. It was great," participant Amy Collier '12 said. "They had us all gather together and then they counted down. Then we all ran in together."

"It was great because it was a showing of both the Bowdoin community and the larger community of Brunswick...People were really into it," said co-coordinator Sean Morris '10.

On the topic of tradition, Morris said that it was "kind of a shame there wasn't an event like this" when the polar-bearing club, which previously held a strong presence on campus, still existed.

According to Bahm, the commitment and energy given to both the activity and the cause were evident on Saturday as the participants came out of the water saying "let's do it again."

The eagerness of participants might indicate that braving the icy waters was easy, but Morris said that polar bearing is "a challenge."

"It's not an easy thing to do," he said.

Bahm said the funds raised through the event will be put to good use. Camp Sunshine is run almost entirely by volunteers and relies on donations of time and money to continue its mission. The camp hosts about 40 families per week on average, and covers medical costs, facilities, food, housing and other such expenses.

Collier, who has volunteered at Camp Sunshine for the past four years, said that fundraising plunges have been held all throughout New England and are starting to spread as far south as Virginia and as far west as Washington state.

Polar Plunges in honor of Camp Sunshine have raised over $200,000 dollars nationally, said Bahm.

Morris and Bahm said the amount of enthusiasm demonstrated at the event gave them hope that the plunge may become a Bowdoin staple. Morris said he believes the first Polar Bear Plunge created "fertile ground for a new kind of tradition."

"This will be a tradition and people should get excited for next year," said Bahm.