A Letter from Our New Camp Director

Swim Time at Wildwood

Greetings, Wildwood Friends!

It’s truly a pleasure to join the Wildwood family. In my first three whirlwind weeks at Wildwood, I have enjoyed getting to know the staff, taking hikes to explore the property, and learning all the hidden trails and secret spots I never knew about. I think spring might actually arrive in Rindge, but there is still snow in many areas at camp! 

I have also toured every building and have fallen in love with the Fossey Unit Wooden Tents. I am excited to see us expand the wooden tents to the Thoreau Unit next. I am impressed with the great thought that went into designing these innovative structures which connect campers even further to the outdoors.

After more than a decade at Drumlin Farm Day Camp, it feels great to be back at a residential camp and I am looking forward to a summer full of campfires, songs, and getting to know all of the campers that come to Wildwood and their families. I can’t wait to learn Wildwood’s favorite camp traditions and even create new ones with you. The camp team and I are working hard and looking to the future to build an even better Wildwood for everyone who sets foot in this very special place. We’ve got lots of great plans in the works!

I hope to meet many of you on your first day of camp or at one of the events we have planned for this spring at Wildwood here in Rindge, NH or at Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln, MA.

Here’s to a great summer! See you at Wildwood!

Sincerely,

Becky Gilles
Wildwood Camp Director

Welcome Becky Gilles, Wildwood’s New Camp Director

We are thrilled to announce that Becky Gilles has been hired as the new Director of Wildwood! Some of you already know Becky from Drumlin Farm, where she has been Camp Director for twelve years. Becky will start at Wildwood on April 9.

Becky Gilles

Becky Gilles, Wildwood’s New Camp Director

While at Drumlin, Becky developed innovative programs that expanded opportunities for children and teens while staying true to the camp’s spirit and mission. When the camp program outgrew its on-site location, Becky built partnerships with local conservation organizations to design and operate two specialty summer camps – Assabet River and Wolbach Farm for children ages four to ten. Becky and her team also developed teen-focused initiatives including stewardship and leadership clubs, birdwatching and 4-H Clubs, and off-site, week-long hiking, backpacking, kayaking and canoeing adventures. To learn more about Becky’s work at Drumlin, see the current camp brochure.

Outside of Mass Audubon, Becky is a leader in the camping world. She has served on board committees at both the New England and National American Camping Associations, is a popular conference presenter, and has served as an ACA Accreditation Standards Visitor. In all this work, she has focused on the confluence of children, camp, and nature.

We received many enthusiastic recommendations for Becky, including an unsolicited one from a Drumlin Farm Camp staff member who said, “It wasn’t until I moved up into administration that I realized how brilliantly Becky works with her staff, adjusting her approach to each individual counselor in order to help them develop as best she can.” Staff members from throughout Mass Audubon spoke highly of Becky’s leadership, thoughtfulness, creativity, and dedication.

“I have never done anything else in the summer since I was 16 years old but work at camp! I can’t imagine doing anything else. This is my passion!”

When we interviewed Becky she told us, “It’s always been my goal to return to the overnight camp world, therefore this unexpected opportunity to apply to Wildwood Camp and potentially stay within the Mass Audubon family at an overnight camp is something I could not let pass by. Getting to know hundreds of families, and building relationships with parents, campers, and staff [at Drumlin] have been truly rewarding experiences.  Sharing the Mass Audubon mission and my love of nature and camp with everyone is honestly priceless. ”

From her initial cover letter to her final interview, Becky impressed the search committee, and we unanimously selected her as the best candidate to lead Wildwood into the future. Please join us in welcoming Becky to Wildwood!

“What Do You Do When It’s Not Summer?”

Wildwood Compass and Hubbard Pond Waterfront in Winter

Wildwood Compass and Hubbard Pond Waterfront in Winter

As full-time Summer Camp Staff, the question we hear most often is, “If you work at a summer camp, what do you do for the rest of the year?” It surprises people to learn how much there is to do in the non-summer months.

The year-round team spends the fall months taking a deep look at feedback from staff, campers, and their families to evaluate all aspects of camp from programming to staffing to facilities and see what is working well and what needs improvement. October is when the next camp season really begins us as we set next summer’s schedule and begin opening registrations.

In December, we begin hiring staff. As January arrives, registrations roll in as campers new and old sign up for an exciting summer on Hubbard Pond. The winter is also a big travel season for the Wildwood team as we tour New England, visiting camp fairs to recruit new campers and staff and attending trainings with our Mass Audubon colleagues across the state.

In March, we attend the American Camp Association New England Conference to network with camp staff across the region, learn best practices, and gain lots of awesome ideas to bring back to Wildwood.

With the conference behind us, camp is just around the corner. We’ll spend the next few months setting up the property, planning programming, and training staff to prepare for the summer season.

We’re busy getting ready to bring you another great summer full of outdoor fun! What do you do to get ready for camp? We have all kinds of helpful resources on our website to get you started!

Getting to Know You: A Conversation with 2017 Wildwood Counselors

Get to know some of our counselors and staff! We sat down with Charlie, Kaitie, Steve, and Ian at the end of summer 2017 and got their thoughts on what makes Wildwood special and keeps them coming back year after year.


Charlie, Unit Leader, 3 years at Wildwood

Charlie, Unit Leader, 3 years at Wildwood

What are your names and your roles here and how long have you been at Wildwood?

CHARLIE: My name is Charlie. I’ve been with Wildwood for 3 years starting in 2015, working as Unit Leader every year. I worked with the 11 and 12-year-old boys in 2015 and again in 2017, and I worked with the 9 to 12-year-old boys in 2016.

KAITIE: My name’s Kaitie. This is my 3rd summer at Wildwood, and each summer I’ve been the Trips Coordinator. I’ve been in charge of all of the Teen Adventure Trips where they go out for a week or two weeks at a time, as well as getting all the gear and food set up for the overnight camping trips at the residential camp.

STEVE: I’m Steve. I was the director of the LIT program this year and last year, and I came in in 2015 as just an LIT Counselor. Our ages for LITs range from 14 to 16, and we train them to be leaders not only at camp, but also in their own communities back home and in school, wherever they are. A lot of LITs go on to be Junior Counselors.

IAN: My name is Ian. I am the JC [Junior Counselor] Director this year at Wildwood. This is my fifth year working and my ninth summer here in some form or another.

Steve, LIT Director, 3 years at Wildwood

Steve, LIT Director, 3 years at Wildwood

What brought you to Wildwood originally? How did you hear about it? What made you think, “This is something I want to do”?

STEVE: I was at Franklin Pierce University for four years for college, so I was right in the area, and I was training to be a teacher. I’ve always loved teaching. I was looking for teaching jobs, and my college held a camp counselor symposium with different camps coming to talk. Lisa [Wiley, former Wildwood Administrative Coordinator] was there. I talked to her, and this camp seemed like a nice fit. I originally applied to be a naturalist counselor, but Welch got back to me and said, “Hey, we have a leadership program we think you’d be better for.” And I’ve been here since then.

KATIE: My route was a little bit different in that Wildwood actually found me. A friend and I were working at another camp. Our two positions were going to be combined into one, so neither one of us were a good fit to take on both roles. However, our camp had a booth next to Wildwood at a camp fair. Everyone talked, and then Wildwood staff actually reached out to us and told us a little bit about the camp. We looked at it and were like, “Yeah, it’s a nature camp, it’s what we do, there’s some great programs, let’s give them a call and talk about this a little bit.” And I’ve loved it. Gosh! It’s been great.

CHARLIE: My experience finding Wildwood was that one of my close friends, Ian, whom I’ve known since seventh grade, had come here as a camper for, I think, a year or two, and then in 2015 had been working here for three years. I asked him about camp—I was looking for a job for the summer—and found out about Wildwood. I really just fell in love with the experience, and getting to work with kids at that age range was really fun.

Kaitie, Trips Coordinator, 3 years at Wildwood

Kaitie, Trips Coordinator, 3 years at Wildwood

What’s something you love about Wildwood? What makes it special? What makes you come back every year?

CHARLIE: For me, it’s definitely the community. The example I always think of is from one day at the dining hall. It was during lunch, which is free seating, and three of the Abbey boys (that’s the 13- and 14-year-old boys) were sitting at a table, and one of the Carson girls came up to join them (Carson is the 9- and 10-year-old girls). I look over, and they’re engaged in a full, “adult” conversation between each other. It’s sort of that atmosphere where the different age ranges interact, and it was so cool to see and it was something I had never seen in my own schools when I was growing up. Seeing kids of different ages chat and just talk to each other was really engaging for me.

I would imagine that happens at a lot of overnight camps. You’re all going through these shared programs, you’re living in similar arrangements, you’re eating meals together, and so you get that sense of community from each other. But at Wildwood I think it also has a lot to do with the counselors. The counselors really hold up that atmosphere, and it’s their interaction with each other and it’s how close they get that really then lets the camper see that, Hey, I can be friends with these people. I’ve only know them for a day, but I can talk to them on an honest level and be myself.

KAITIE: I think for myself, I’ve always enjoyed taking teens out into the woods. It’s a great opportunity to get them out of their comfort zone—especially for those coming from the city where they’ve never had those kinds of experiences—and just watching how much they can grow even within a week. The other really big thing for me is the support I get from [Former Camp Director] Welch and [Program Coordinator] Meredith while I’m at camp and in the off season. They genuinely care about me and where I’m going and what I’m doing, so that’s also been a huge thing—always feeling welcome and feeling like I’m wanted and needed.

STEVE: For me, I keep coming back every year for the kids. I work with the same age group that Kaitie works with. I’ve never seen a leadership program like ours at other camps. We’re not just training teens to be counselors, we’re training them in leadership skills. Getting to see their growth within two or three weeks is phenomenal. I have counselors on staff this year that went through both years of my program and are now full counselors. Seeing them change and evolve over the years and using what they learned, and becoming more confident not only in themselves but in their abilities as leaders is just wonderful. Wildwood brings in a nice, diverse range of people from the introverted, “back-of-the-room” leaders to the energetic, hyperactive, “front” competitive leaders, and getting to work with those different personalities and the way they run things is super fun, so that’s why I keep coming back.

IAN: I agree with Steve and Kaitie and Charlie—that it’s the kids, for sure, everyone who comes to Wildwood. And for myself, a long time ago, it wasn’t necessarily an “I have to come back to this place” thing, but I ended up coming back. There’s just some kind of unspoken community. At the candle ceremony we do at the end of every two-week session, the kids who are here for two or more weeks just have these enormously complex things to say about the feeling of community and growth they find in this place. Compared to their semesters at school or the much longer time that they spend in other places, they come here for a couple weeks and they instantly form connections and instantly have this greater connection to nature and everyone around them. As Steve mentioned, I’ve had campers who were in the 13- and 14-year-old unit my first year, and this year I was in charge of them as they were Junior Counselors, learning to be counselors. One of the things I love to say is that it’s about giving back to the community that gave you something. It’s a really good thing for these kids when they transition into counselors, to remind them of all the wonderful things that happened to them as campers. Basically, the goal is to try to give that experience back for them, especially when they’re returning for so, so, so many years.

Ian, JC Director, five years at Wildwood

Ian, JC Director, five years at Wildwood

It sounds like, for everybody, it’s really cool to watch the kids grow and evolve and come into their own in their leadership and community. What has Wildwood done for you in that regard?

STEVE: For me, I’m planning to be a high school English teacher. I spent a lot of time in college being a student teacher. Teaching and learning from kids in that environment and then coming to camp was a different experience entirely: camp is less structured. You have to use different teaching styles—it’s just a completely different. I was always a very introverted person—I still am—and I didn’t have any of the energetic, on-the-fly improv that I have now. At Wildwood, getting to work with the age ranges that I do, getting to work with the other counselors and being put on the spot constantly to do things, I now have a much wider variety of tools at my disposal, both at camp and in any other job that I want in the teaching field. There is marked improvement from my first day to now in what I’m able to do.

CHARLIE: During the staff closing banquet, the director says a little something about every person. The thing that was said about me was how much I had changed over three years. At the beginning, in 2015, I came in very quiet, the kind of person who didn’t want to be that loud, center-stage person, to now, being the one who’s yelling out during meals and up on stage during skits, just front and center whenever I can be. That growth for me in terms of confidence and experience, leading activities and wanting things to be done well was a big thing for me, too. I came in with a desire to do things well, but maybe I didn’t have the same work ethic that I have now. In every aspect of my life, now, I think I’ve come around to wanting to do things better than I did when I first came. It’s been a “character arc” for me, so to say.

KAITIE: I’ve been able to gain a lot of skills about working with lots of different people. Being here as the Trip Coordinator and working with and supervising staff, that role was very different for me and it was one of the reasons I wanted to come here. I like helping staff find the best path or the best solution to a problem, not necessarily by giving them the answer but by helping them find it. I think I’ve grown from not really knowing quite what to do to feeling more confident supervising the staff and being able to give them appropriate feedback at the appropriate times.

IAN: For me, it’s really just everything. I’m pretty much a Mass Audubon “lifer.” When I was three I went to Wellfleet Bay, Mass Audubon’s Cape Cod sanctuary, and did the day camp there. My mom actually came to Wildwood in the 60’s so that’s a fun fact I like to pull out sometimes. I went to other camps—a boys camp up in Maine that my father had gone to—and in terms of just camp environment, I really liked that Wildwood was co-ed, and that it was a place where campers can be themselves and be their most fun, outgoing, campy-type of person. Five years ago, when I first started working at Wildwood, I found a place where work didn’t feel like work. And now, five years later, being in charge of a program…it’s just everything. I’ve kind of based the last five years of my life, not around the nine months that I’m not at camp, but around the three months that I am. Suddenly I have five years of experience working with kids and developing programs and now managing staff and managing a lot of different age ranges of staff. It really is an alternative path.

A Fond Farewell to Welch

Dear Wildwood Family and Friends,

Welch, holding his infant son, Tate

I am reaching out to you today to share the news that my time as the Director of Wildwood comes to an end this month. I consider myself very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to serve as director of such a meaningful and long-standing camp program. My departure comes as the result of an opportunity for my family to relocate back to our home state of North Carolina. We look forward to being close to home again, with our extended family nearby.

The team at Wildwood is incredibly strong, and they have all been a pleasure to work with. Meredith, with her passion and experience in her role as Program Coordinator, joined by Kyle, with his tremendous amount of outdoor education knowledge, will continue to guide the program in new and exciting ways while maintaining the high quality you have come to expect from Wildwood. Astro literally keeps the lights on, and Amy continues to build support and tell the story of what makes Wildwood so special. The newest member of the Wildwood team, Heather, is already loving the opportunity to connect with many of you as you register for camp. Supporting all of that work at Wildwood is Mass Audubon, an organization which continues to lead the way in inspiring nature heroes of all ages.

Kris Scopinich, Mass Audubon’s Director of Education, is leading the search for Wildwood’s next director. She has reminded me that Mass Audubon will call upon its far-ranging and deep connections with many camps and environmental and educational organizations to find a great director for Wildwood. The search, which has already begun, will be nationwide, and will likely include both internal and external candidates.  I am confident that Mass Audubon will find a director who will embrace the spirit of Wildwood, and lead the camp forward. If you have comments or questions, or would simply like to chat, please be in touch with Kris. She would be happy to hear from you and can be reached at kscopinich@massaudubon.org and 781-259-2122.

Connecting with so many of you and hearing about the positive impact camp has had on you and your family has been the greatest joy of my work here at Wildwood. I hope you will join me in continuing to support Wildwood and its mission of connecting campers with nature.  My deepest and most sincere thanks to all of you. I hope our paths will cross again.

Best,

Welch Signature

 

 

Welch

Welch and Campers

A Peek Inside Family Camp: Interviews with Parents

At the end of summer 2017, we sat down with some parents near the end of their Family Camp session to ask them what brought them to Wildwood, what they and their kids love about Family Camp, and what makes the experience at Wildwood so special. Below, you’ll hear from Alec, a first-time Family Camp attendee but a long-time Mass Audubon member, as well as Shane, whose family has come back to Wildwood for summer fun for more than five years, despite not identifying as big “nature people”.

Family Camp 2017 © Mass Audubon

A young girl recounts her latest adventure to her mom at Family Camp, August 2017

Alec: “…the floor is dirt and the walls are trees and I am happy.”

Have you been to Wildwood before?

No, this is our first year at Family Camp.

Why did you sign up for Family Camp?

We signed up for Family Camp because my daughter just finished Kindergarten—she’s starting first grade—so this is the first summer we’ve had need for any kind of camp. There was a camp fair in our town, which I guess happens in a lot of towns, and we went to it. There was an Audubon table and we are already [Mass] Audubon members, so I said, “Let’s see what they have.”

They mentioned Family Camp when I was stopping by the table and I said, “Oh, that sounds very fun,” so we decided to try it. And if you want the testimonial, it’s that this morning Sophia asked me, “Daddy do we have more days here?” and I said, “No, Pumpkin, we have to go home tomorrow.” She said, “No, I want to stay an extra day!” So she is clearly having a good time.

What things in particular is she enjoying the most?

If you ask her what things she’s particularly loving, she’d say, “S’MORES!” But that’s what she always says. Honestly, I think it’s just the wide variety of things available to her. What she’s loving right now and what she’s loved repeatedly is unstructured play in the woods with packs of kids about her age and emotional level, where they are finding things to do together. She definitely did like the Fairy House construction program.

Yesterday, on the Ropes Course, there was one activity that she just fits into the harnesses for and she loved just flying through the air. She’s not at the point that she wants to do high wire walks, but she definitely loves just being tossed through the air. She loves the boating on the waterfront and she’s always asking me, “Can we go out on the boat? Can we go for a paddle?” So, I think she’s kind of liking everything.

What do you see as the value of a camp experience like this?

A couple of things: One, it’s a chance to be with my daughter, in nature, in a relatively low-stress situation. Normally, I mean the past couple years, we’ve just gone car camping for a couple of days and it’s been super fun, but it’s also pretty labor-intensive because, most of the time, I’m either prepping for a meal, cleaning up a meal, setting up the tent, taking down the tent, and her ability to help with those is still a little bit limited. She’s only six so she gets distracted very easily and sort of complicated mechanical things are not her strong suit, so this is a chance to do things a lot more low-stress where we can focus on “Hey, let’s go do this fun thing! Let’s go do that fun thing!” and the tent and the food are taken care of and that is definitely a big plus.

It’s a chance to introduce her to a lot of activities and also to start introducing her to the notion of the summer camp as an environment to see if, in a couple of years when she is old enough for proper sleepaway camp, if she’s had good experiences here and I say, “Hey, do you want to just go to Wildwood for a week without me?” I suspect the answer will be, “Sure!”

So those are things that I feel that we, as a family, are getting out of it and really making it enjoyable. Plus, I get to do all the things that I used to do at summer camp that I was, at the time, too busy being a sulking teenager to enjoy properly.

What about the nature aspect of camp?

A lot of it is about being in the natural environment and just discovering what we can discover. She loves insects of all kinds and so has been fascinated to just see the wide variety of interesting caterpillars around here. Yesterday, somebody found a beetle, so she was fascinated by the beetle (right until it jumped on her, then she was freaked out).

A chipmunk is exciting to her because she spotted it and no one else did, so it’s that sort of thing. Right now we’re still at the age where it’s more about the emotional experience, where “I’m in an environment where the floor is dirt and the walls are trees and I am happy.” And I like being in this kind of environment, so I’m trying to create positive emotional experiences for her so that, when she’s older, she will still want to do these things and/or she will want to do them with her kids.

For society at large, it would be nice if more people felt that nature was something worth preserving in its original and relatively biodiverse, species-rich state, so yeah, I am hoping that some awareness of the value of the natural world, that the seeds of that are being planted right now. That is definitely important, but some of the value for me is just plain selfishness, like, “Hey, I have fun here, I want my kids to have fun here so that when they’re older maybe they’ll want to do stuff here, including with me.”

Some of it is also teaching a certain amount of self-sufficiency and independence. So one of the things that has really been pleasant for me about these past couple of days is that she has displayed a level of independence that I was surprised by but I’m loving. Yesterday, when she got bored with archery she said, “I’m going to go back to our tent.” I said, “Do you know the way to our tent?” She said, “Yes, I do.” And she sort of tromps off down the track and I thought, “I’m going to find you in another twenty minutes, in the middle of the woods, lost, but there’s enough staff around that if you start screaming for help, someone will come find you.”

But I was wrong! She knew the way back to our tent and I came back to find her happily resting in our tent. She’s now perfectly fine with tromping anywhere on the campground by herself, as long as she’s been there before. And she doesn’t care if I’m there or not for an activity. Right now—even though there’s a perfectly good great horned owl to look at [at a live animal demonstration]—she would rather be over the hill, playing with her friend and her stuffed armadillo looking for natural objects and hunting for fairies.

Having this kind of very unstructured, and yet at the same time a little bit “safe,” a  little bit “sandboxed,” where, even though we’re in the middle of the woods, and even when she’s out of my sight, I feel really confident that she’s safe and that lets me feel comfortable letting her go off on her own and explore and that’s really important at her age to be building confidence in her own abilities and her own independence.

Family Camp 2017 © Mass Audubon

A parent and child having fun at Wildwood’s High Ropes Challenge Course, Family Camp August 2017

Shane: “We don’t really ‘do’ nature at home…”

Have you been to Wildwood before?

Yes, this is our 5th or 6th year…we can remember exactly how many.

What brought you to Wildwood in the first place?

We came to Wildwood because we have a daughter and I want to make sure she had a chance to have summer camp experiences so we started at Drumlin [Farm Nature Day Camp], as many families do. She loved it and I was wicked impressed with the counselors. Both the program and the counselors’ interactions with kids and with adults.

So, we say, “Maybe we should try the Family Camp thing because she wasn’t old enough to go to overnight camp and she had never been away from home much, so Family Camp was the perfect introduction, which is one of the major reasons you have it. That introduction worked great for all of us, so I said halfway through the camp, “I want to come back next year,” as a parent and we’ve kept coming back.

What’s special about Wildwood that keeps bringing you back?

The location is perfect for the camp. And it’s Mass Audubon, so you know it’s going to have reliable staff and be put together well and be respectful of nature. So, that’s another big thing of ours is that we don’t actually “do” a lot of nature, so when we do “do” nature, we want it to be with somebody like Mass Audubon to show us how to do it “right”, so to speak.

But really, it’s people. At this point, it’s some of the families and other parents who, both parents and kids, have made some friendships, but over the long term, it’s really been the staff. I’ve been incredibly impressed. We started when Bob [Speare] was here, but Welch [Narron] and Meredith [Dean] have done an amazing job, have kept all the standards up, have added new programs.

I’m always impressed when we come at the end of the summer and all of the staff have been doing crazy work with one day off every other week, or whatever it is, and they interact with the parents and joke around a little bit, they’re super goofy with the kids, they make sure they’re safe, they lead all the activities, and they do it all with a smile right up until the last family leaves at the end of the summer. So I can definitely see the “Wildwood Family” aspect that way. Any place that has that many good people is just good to be around.

What do you feel your daughter has gotten out of being at Wildwood?

The basics of nature—she’s not huge into it, but when she does pick a program, she really enjoys it and she pays attention—and independence and self-sufficiency. Now she’s twelve, so we’re happy at this point to have her go off on a Family or Kids-Only event and come back or, when she’s with another kid here, go off and play in the woods by themselves for an hour. You know, use their survival tool or look for herps [herpetological wildlife, i.e. reptiles and amphibians] themselves.

And the other thing is the appreciation for nature. Mass Audubon, overall, helps you get out and enjoy nature, helps you to appreciate all that is there, and usually has some experts, so if you want to learn more about the butterfly that went by, then a counselor will be like, “Oh that’s so-and-so, and they come around, usually around 3:30, they come across this field and yesterday we saw about 20 of them over here.” Or, for birdwatchers, of course—I’m not a birdwatcher, but I definitely can see the few birdwatchers when they come out and Welch is like, “Oh, we saw so-and-so last time!” and they’re all like “Wow, that’s awesome!” And one of the staff is an expert in the details of the different parts of nature, so it’s both the introduction for newer families of all the basics and then the families that really want to get into something, you’ve got a program that’s solid science and it’s interesting and gets into the details of the 20 different kinds of pond creatures they found.

What about that appreciation for nature is important to you?

As a friend of mine who writes comic books said, “Don’t bet your planet.” We only have one environment, so whatever the rest of your politics or policies, we only have one and we need to be careful of it. Our daily life doesn’t interact with it much, other than, you know, we fill up our blue recycling bin and we have solar panels, so we do that part, but it’s nice to support environmental causes in a way that’s fun. For all of the other things, the other Mass Audubon sites that we probably won’t visit for a while, it’s still worth supporting that with people who are local who really get both the “We need to preserve it and understand it,” but also “We need to be realistic; we need some of it that we can go enjoy as humans.”

Hubbard Pond Campers Come to Wildwood!

In 2017, six young people and one family came to camp thanks to a new partnership between Wildwood and two social service agencies located in urban areas of Massachusetts. These agencies identified under-resourced children and families from Lawrence and Cambridge and introduced them to Wildwood. Together, we worked to address all possible barriers to participation by providing significant financial support, assistance with completing forms, help with transportation, and camping gear to borrow as needed. We are calling campers who come to Wildwood through this program “Hubbard Pond Campers”, after the majestic body of water that lies at the center of our camp.

Hubbard Pond Campers enjoyed the true Wildwood experience. They went swimming and kayaking. They learned about plants and birds and bugs. They sang silly songs and challenged themselves on the ropes course. They began to see themselves as stewards of the earth. After camp they wrote to us:

“I got to do a lot of fun things, and I got to feel as though there are other grown-ups who care about me.”

“Our children had a lot of fun while exploring new and different activities not usually within the reach of inner-city kids…Being away from all kinds of technology helped our family enjoy nature’s beauty and each other’s company.”

“This camp experience was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

We plan to expand this program in 2018 so that we can accommodate both new and returning Hubbard Pond Campers. As so many of you know, one summer at camp can be fun and transformative. The benefits multiply when a camper returns year after year.

If this particular program speaks to you, please consider making a gift to our Kids to Camp Scholarship Fund. Your gift—helping a camper come to Wildwood—can have a lasting positive impact in the life of a child.

Session 6, 2017 – Part Two

Session 6 is coming to a close and everyone is making the most of their last day at camp. Archery, ropes, and art all enjoyed the morning sunshine and sailing ended up with exceptional conditions on the pond with a cool breeze keeping everyone moving.

Since it is the last lunch of a two-week session, that means it is cook-out day! Everyone gathered in front of the dining hall for a delicious cook-out meal. It was perfect weather for it, too! The Trek group will be arriving back at camp later this afternoon finishing off a great week of hiking in the beautiful White Mountain National Forest.

We will be busy enjoying our final afternoon and tonight’s campfire for the rest of today. For families arriving tomorrow for pick-up, please arrive between 9:15 and 10:00am to be on time for the closing ceremony at 10:00am. See you there!

Session 6, 2017: The Eclipse! and More

Did everyone at home get a chance to see the eclipse? We sure were lucky to enjoy this amazing phenomenon at Wildwood, complete with eclipse glasses generously donated by a few of our campers’ families. Not only were campers able to check out the eclipse with the glasses, we also learned about light projection by making pinhole cameras to have another view.

Tuesday brought with it clear skies, warm temperatures, and the first full day of programming. Each IG got off to a great start as they got to know each other and framed the week’s activities. This afternoon in DGs we kept it cool while participating in a number of other great  programs. Some highlights included Archery, Water Games (with water cannons), Scrap-booking, and lots more.

The Leaders-In-Action departed today for a two-night overnight at Mt. Ascutney State Park in Windsor, VT. They will be doing some hiking, service projects, and visiting some local sites while they are out there. We also received some photos from our Trek program who is out backpacking the White Mountain National Forest north of Gorham, NH. They will be starting the bulk of their hike today and making their way to an AMC hut at Cabot Mountain this evening.

Stay tuned for another update later this week!

Session 5, 2017: Part Two

August is such a wonderful time to be at Wildwood! As the end of summer approaches for campers and staff, we are so fortunate to have such great weather and enthusiastic campers. There’s no chance that you all at home are having as much fun as we are here at camp.

As always, today included a big variety of activities for everyone to enjoy. The waterfront was of course a popular destination at OATs with plenty of campers sliding off the iceberg, jumping off the lily pad, and paddling around the pond. You may also notice in some of these photos some campers enjoying a spa, complete with natural facial treatments. They used ingredients found both in the kitchen and in nature to create a soothing concoction.

As this week draws to a close, our one-week Session 5 campers will be departing on Saturday, with families arriving between 9:15 and 10:00am. For the Abbey and Dillard campers here for two weeks, they will be headed to Mt. Monadnock on Friday for their 2-night campout, with their hike up the mountain scheduled for Saturday. Other two-week campers will be headed out for campsites at First and Second Point for one night on Saturday evening.

Stay tuned here next week for an update from Session 6!