Category Archives: Staff Highlights

Summer camp for all ages of kids. Yes even the older ones.

Congratulations to our Camp Director, Shawn, on his appointment to the American Camp Association New England board! And now a message from Shawn as you continue your plans for a summer of fun and learning!

Shawn at the ACANE offices in Lexington, MA

It is now May, and summer camp is right around the corner. Only 6 weeks until camp begins on June 17. I got to spend Wednesday May 1 at the American Camp Association New England (ACANE) offices in Lexington at a new board member orientation. It is a wonderful honor to be accepted to the board of ACANE because I started my camping career in New England, and my first conference presentation was at an ACANE event when I was in my early 20’s. It was great to meet other camp professionals from CT, ME, and MA and to hear all about their programs and some of the reasons they also got into camping.

As I finish up hiring for the summer, work on staff training plans, and work out summer program details, most of everyday is spent thinking about camp for at least several hours. Not a bad way to spend the day. And each day I get a little more excited about the start of camp. I am so happy that we have about an 80% staff return rate this summer, we have a couple of new Junior Staff who have been long time campers and Leaders-in-Training, and we have new staff who are going to be great!

Day camp here at Moose Hill Nature Camp is different than many other programs. We don’t use a lot of equipment, we don’t have a pool or a lake. We do have great staff, 25 miles of trails, and just under 2000 acres of property. And we have nature. Nature can be an amazing teacher for us, and every summer I learn more about the world around us. But our camp is not just for younger kids. Parents are often surprised when I tell them that our day camp goes up to 15 years of age in many of our different programs. Many people think that day camps are only for young campers and that kids over the age of 10 will find nothing to do at a day camp – that is simply not true!

taking a moment to stop, think about what we are seeing, and explore the nature all around us at Moose Hill

In our Nature Camp, programs starts at age 3 with our Peepers program and goes up to 12 years old in our Investigators program. The Investigator program has campers from age 9 to age 12. These campers get to explore farther and more in-depth than our younger campers. The staff that work with them know how to engage them on their level and not as little kids.

For those kids who want something a little different, we have our selection of Specialty Camps: Art, Science, Adventure, Shoots Garden, and Nature Adventure camps all focus on our older campers. These specialty camps each have their own unique focus and are still grounded in nature – we have some new offerings in our specialty camps this summer.

  • Art Camp (9-13 yrs old) – we have added 2 weeks of Theatre camp, a Nature Journaling week, and a Special Effects Make-Up week.
  • Science Camp (10-13 yrs old) – two new weeks in our Animal Adaptations and Slime Science weeks. 
  • Adventure Camp (11-14 yrs old) – heading out all over Massachusetts and even into New Hampshire to explore the amazing natural wonders of our state.
  • Shoots Garden Camp (10-12 yrs old) – tending and harvesting from our new garden over at the Farm House, plus receiving a share from our CSA to cook with each week.
  • Nature Adventure Camp (12-15 yrs old) – it’s back and the campers will be exploring even more areas of the property and learning more outdoor skills while gaining some awareness skills too.
  • Leadership Camp (13.5-16 yrs old) – for campers who want to be in a program where they will learn skills of leadership that they can use anywhere and they will have the chance to use some of our new Team-building elements.  
  • Leaders in Training program or Nurturing Experiences for Staff Trainees (N.E.S.T) ages 14-16 – this is the top of the list, for our oldest campers who are looking to grow and thinking about skills for the future.

All of these specialty programs work with our older campers and provides them a chance to learn more about their own gifts and passions and gives them opportunities to share those gifts and talents with others. And if your older camper(s) are ready, and you are too, Mass Audubon has a wonderful overnight or resident camp at Wildwood in Rindge NH. 

Moose Hill is Hiring!

the Nature Center at Moose Hill

Moose Hill, Mass Audubon’s oldest sanctuary, was established in 1916 and protects 1,971 acres of land in Sharon, Massachusetts. With diverse hiking trails and all-season programming, we connect adults and families with the natural world. We aim to serve as a resource to the local community, inviting people to explore our sanctuary while bringing opportunities for engagement to people where they live, work, and play.

We are on the search for some additional part-time, seasonal, and per diem staff in a number of areas. Check out the options below and the links to the fuller descriptions – we look forward to growing our family!

Weekend Visitor Services – we are expanding our weekend hours and looking for some new smiling faces to join our team.

heading for the morning harvest

Farmhand – our organic farm will be in full swing this summer and we are seeking a few staff to harvest and market produce through our summer CSA and weekend Farm Stand.

a summer of fun!

Moose Hill Summer Day Camp – there are a number of positions available as we enter our 70th year of summer day camp.

exploring our outdoor classroom – the wildlife sanctuary

Moose Hill Education – during the school year we connect curriculum standards through nature and conservation education both at Moose Hill and at schools.

Master of Ceremonies: Moose Hill’s Shawn Moriarty

Shawn Moriarty, Moose Hill’s Education Coordinator and Camp Director, recently attended the Un-Conference in Colorado. Curious as to what that is? Read on and learn from Shawn!

view of the mountains from Boulder

My name is Shawn Moriarty and I am the Education Coordinator and Camp Director at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. Recently I attended a three day event in Broomfield Colorado called the NCCPS-The Un-Conference (formerly National Challenge Course Practitioners Symposium). I have been going to this conference fairly regularly since 2002 and have been there 15 times since 2002. This year, not only was I an attendee, I was also the Master of Ceremonies for the gathering.

This conference is rather unique in a couple of ways. First, it is run almost entirely in the framework of Open Space. And secondly, it draws people from a wide range of backgrounds and professions. Open Space Technology is based upon work by Harrison Owen. The basic concept is that most of the conference is not created before the event actually starts. At NCCPS, the morning contains a brief 30 minute welcoming session to get people going for the day, followed by a 1-3 hour planning and organizing session to build the conference, and then some sessions. After lunch there are more sessions, dinner, and finally an optional evening program. On Saturday we end with a 2-3 hour sounding, or closing session, where people can speak about their experience at this conference.

the conference room is set

This year there were about 130 people in attendance. The number of participants fluctuates each year from about 130-190, so this year was a little smaller, but no less dynamic. There were high school students from a school in Denver that have an adventure based learning program at their school, therapists, corporate trainers, teachers, camp professionals, recreation specialists, professors, people from faith based programs, and environmental educators.

As the Master of Ceremonies, I ran the morning sessions where I brought people through a series of activities to get the brains and bodies moving and warmed up. Because we have both returning and first time participants, the activities provide a period of connection before content. These morning sessions have a mix of low and high energy to allow people to transition from their arrival to the conference space to getting into the learning of the day. I also facilitated and lead 2 fun evening events: Stay and Play, and The Talent Show. Stay and Play is an opportunity to come and play and/ or teach games with a goal of…playing. The best part is that often one game leads people to teach their own variation of that game. Time flies fast, and is filled with laughter. The Talent Show had jokes, poems, readings, a Taiko performance, original songs, and dancing. A nice evening of sharing skills and talents.

The process of creating the sessions for the conference begins with people stating the needs they have where they are looking for solutions. It could be anything from new activities, to safety concerns, to a new job. This lets people reach out and allows the community to know what people need. Opportunities for people with skills or backgrounds that might be able to help a need mentioned can connect directly with the individuals who are looking for that help. It also begins to build the ideas for session. Keep in mind that there are people who are brand new to this field of experiential education and folks who have been doing it for nearly 40 years. There are published authors in the group and people who frequently attend several national and international conference as presenters, as well as high school students. A wonderful range of people and backgrounds.

For me, it is always a joy to attend NCCPS and rewarding in a multitude of ways. I always get to reconnect with old friends, meet new people, learn new things and offer at least one session. This year I ran 2 sessions. The first was called Mindfulness through Nature Connection. In this session we shared thoughts on what mindfulness is, and several methods on developing it by engaging with the natural world. My second session was called Connection before Content. It focused on techniques to build connection between people in a group before you delve into delivering your content. In addition, I also lead a plenary session with 2 therapists, a corporate trainer, and a brain scientist on what we called Radical Empathy. Leading up to the conference, I had been talking with the hosts of the conference, Tom and Jen Leahy, about how to address the need for facilitators of groups to be more aware of the emotional and physical issues that they may or may not be aware of in the groups they work with. We wanted to look at how facilitators can be empathetic to people in their groups when they are working with them. We know that people might have gone through traumatic events in their past, they might not feel safe in their communities because of their age, gender identification, religious beliefs, political affiliation, or ethnicity. At this conference we work hard to create a space where every person can feel safe and welcome to speak their truth. It was a dynamic and rewarding session which lead to 2 other session being created to delve deeper into aspects of leading with radical empathy.

my gift for the participants

NCCPS is all about process. Exploring how to guide people through processes, and going through the process of creating a conference. And this year for me, there was an additional process. A tradition at NCCPS is to offer a gift of some sort, usually a book. I had my first book, Ropes of Ecology, published in October of last year, but it was not a broad enough topic for this group. So, in three weeks, I created and then self-published a book of readings called Around the Campfire for the conference. It was a tight turn around. The printed books arrived the day before the conference, and I had not actually seen the printed version before I arrived in Colorado. I think they came out alright!

On Tuesday, April 2, join me for an interactive talk from 7-8:30 pm at Moose Hill, touching on some of the concepts presented at this conference and to learn more about ropes of ecology: connecting people to nature, community, and place. Both my books, Ropes of Ecology and Around the Campfire, will be on-hand to view and for purchase. I look forward to sharing more about my work with you!

Shawn also works with schools, groups, and companies both large and small on Team-building and Community-building programming. To learn more about how you can learn to take time-out from your daily routine to focus on what makes your group work more effectively towards your goals, you can contact Shawn at 781-784-5691. Every program is custom-tailored to your needs and can focus on topics such as leadership, communication, planning, problem solving, and conflict resolution.