In Your Words: Dustin Ledgard

Three of Wildwood’s amazing counselors were recently featured in the spring issue of Mass Audubon’s Explore member newsletter, as part of the regular “In Your Words” feature—Each issue, a Mass Audubon member, volunteer, staff member, or supporter shares their story—why Mass Audubon and protecting the nature of Massachusetts matters to them. This week on the blog we’ll be sharing the stories of Jackson, Nina, and Dustin, who all came up through the Wildwood program as campers, Leaders-in-Training and Leaders-in-Action, and Junior Counselors. Next up, Dustin Ledgard!


Dustin Ledgard leading a silly Camp Olympics activity involving shaving cream
Dustin Ledgard leading a silly Camp Olympics activity involving shaving cream

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by nature. I’ve lived near conservation woodlands all my life, where I explored every nook and cranny as a kid. I caught frogs and snakes; tallied the hawks, warblers, and cardinals; and fed birdseed to baby Mallards. I read book after book about whales, dinosaurs, and penguins and devoured episodes of Planet Earth. As a Wildwood counselor, I found a place where that nature-loving child in me can return as I sing silly songs, canoe around the perimeter of the pond, bury myself in sand (long story), and search the camp for a stuffed toy raccoon (longer story).

This past summer, one of our mid-session overnight camping trips saw temperatures soar to a scorching 100°F. As a team, the staff proposed to the campers that we could avoid the heat by waking up at 3:00 am to climb the mountain and see the sunrise. We were all aware of the challenges involved in taking 50 13- and 14-year-olds up a mountain in the dark, but to my surprise, they were game! When the alarm rang in the early morning, my campers ran over, fully awake and ready to hike. We clambered up the mountain by moonlight and flashlight until a sliver of pink pierced the horizon as we ascended above the tree line. At the top, we were rewarded with the most beautiful sunrise I’d ever seen. The mist blowing across the valley distorted the sunlight, and we found ourselves inside a giant rainbow. It was a magical moment, and we all felt accomplished.

We are in unbreakable connection with nature—we inhale what plants exhale, our food grows from the soil, and we’re constantly at the mercy of natural phenomena. Humans haven’t conquered nature as we like to believe: we are nature. At this critical time when the health of our planet is in our hands, camps like Wildwood, which foster that connection in children and teens, are exceedingly special places.

Dustin Ledgard enjoying an outdoor lunch at Wildwood with chopsticks
The 2019 Wildwood camp staff took part in a “Chopstick Challenge,” eating every meal (even soup!) with chopsticks.

Since first coming to Wildwood for family camp in 2011, I’ve treasured this special place for its community, sanctuary, and opportunities. I’ve spent some of the best weeks of my life at Wildwood, whether as a camper, a trekker, a Leader-in-Training, or a staff member. I’ll be returning this summer for my third year as a counselor, which I see as a way to give back to a community that has given so much to me.


Dustin Ledgard is studying Composition at Indiana University and will be returning for his 11th summer at Wildwood this year, his third as a counselor.

*Wildwood’s Leaders-in-Training and Leaders-in-Action programs are now known as the Environmental Leadership Program, Years 1 and 2, respectively. The Junior Counselors program will be replaced with a Counselors-in-Training (CIT) program this summer.

In Your Words: Nina Swett

Three of Wildwood’s amazing counselors were recently featured in the spring issue of Mass Audubon’s Explore member newsletter, as part of the regular “In Your Words” feature—Each issue, a Mass Audubon member, volunteer, staff member, or supporter shares their story—why Mass Audubon and protecting the nature of Massachusetts matters to them. This week on the blog we’ll be sharing the stories of Jackson, Nina, and Dustin, who all came up through the Wildwood program as campers, Leaders-in-Training and Leaders-in-Action, and Junior Counselors. Next up, Nina Swett!


Nina Swett leading a group of campers during a Camp Olympics activity
Nina Swett leading a group of campers during a Camp Olympics activity

Since my parents met as campers there, it was always a foregone conclusion that I would attend Wildwood for overnight camp as well. As soon as I was of age, I started spending part of every summer at Wildwood, eventually working my way up through the Leaders-in-Training and Junior Counselors programs* and finally becoming a counselor myself.

My clearest memory from my childhood years at Wildwood was taking a walk down First Point Trail, learning about vernal pools from staff naturalist Johnathon Benson. It was so amazing to me that all these frogs and salamanders were completely dependent on these small, temporary pools to survive and procreate. Wildwood definitely instilled a fascination and love of nature in me. I remember being a Leader-in-Training (LIT) and asking for special permission to get up at 3:00 am to watch the Perseid meteor shower from the activity field. We laid in the grass and counted shooting stars and talked for hours—that was a really special memory.

Like most kids, I had a few mixed experiences as a camper, which is a natural part of the growing process. A few really great counselors helped me through the challenging times and made me feel like I mattered. Now, as a counselor myself, I want to be that person for other kids, and the culture at Wildwood fosters that kind of supportive environment. Wildwood is a kind of safe space where kids are encouraged to be themselves, to drop the “false personas” they may be holding at home or in school, and even to try out new ways of expressing or defining themselves as they figure out who they really are and want to be.

Now that I’m in college, I want to become a science teacher so I can impart the lessons that Wildwood has taught me and use the skills I’ve learned there. Even now, I find myself using my “counselor voice” to make sure my friends are staying hydrated and rested through finals!

Nina Swett (bottom right) enjoying some downtime with fellow counselors
Nina Swett (bottom right) enjoying some downtime with fellow counselors

It’s hard to communicate the power of camp to my “non-camp” friends and family. The skills I have developed through my years and experiences at camp—how to connect with kids, how to be patient, how to love nature, how to love yourself, how to appreciate what you have and what’s really important in life—most people outside the camp world don’t really “get it.” There’s something about going into the woods for a few weeks with no internet or cell phone that does something really profound to you. It’s being in a place you love with people you love. It’s so important.

Every day that I’m alive, I’m so glad that I went to and continue to be a part of Wildwood. It has given me the best friends I’ve ever had—and ever will have—for the rest of my life. I don’t know who I would be without it. In a literal sense, I wouldn’t be here without Wildwood; in a figurative sense, I wouldn’t be the person I am now, and for that, I am so thankful.


Nina Swett is a first-year student at Mount Holyoke College, where they hope to pursue a career path toward becoming a teacher. They will return this summer for their 14th year at Wildwood and third as a counselor.

*Wildwood’s Leaders-in-Training and Leaders-in-Action programs are now known as the Environmental Leadership Program, Years 1 and 2, respectively. The Junior Counselors program will be replaced with a Counselors-in-Training (CIT) program this summer.

In Your Words: Jackson Lieb

Three of Wildwood’s amazing counselors were recently featured in the spring issue of Mass Audubon’s Explore member newsletter, as part of the regular “In Your Words” feature—Each issue, a Mass Audubon member, volunteer, staff member, or supporter shares their story—why Mass Audubon and protecting the nature of Massachusetts matters to them. This week on the blog we’ll be sharing the stories of Jackson, Nina, and Dustin, who all came up through the Wildwood program as campers, Leaders-in-Training and Leaders-in-Action, and Junior Counselors. First up, Jackson Lieb!


Jackson Lieb walking a Wildwood trail at sunset
Jackson Lieb walking a Wildwood trail at sunset

When I was 10, my friend Evan was going to Wildwood for the first time and was nervous about not knowing anyone there, so he invited me to go with him. I loved it so much that this will be my ninth summer, first as a camper and then as a Leader-in-Training (LIT), a Leader-in-Action (LIA), a Junior Counselor, and finally as a full-fledged counselor.*

I loved being out of the school environment in a place where I could run around and be a kid, but the biggest thing for me was that there were new people every year who didn’t know me. Each summer that I returned to camp was a chance to create a better me. Having the freedom to remake yourself over and over is a great way to experiment and explore who you are at a time in your life when everyone’s trying to figure it all out. You don’t always get to do that at school where people may have known you for years and already have expectations about who you are.

At first, I didn’t think much about the nature camp aspect. I just thought that all camps were like that. But over the years I’ve come to enjoy Wildwood’s emphasis on teaching kids about nature more and more. Having staff naturalists leading programs every day is so helpful because I don’t always have the answers to kids’ nature questions—plus, I get to learn about nature, too. I want to run for political office someday, and protecting the environment is a big reason why.

One time, when I was a camper in Leopold (boys ages 9–10) and we were sleeping in the cabins, I woke up to a HUGE spider right near my face. I was convinced it was poisonous, but I also thought it was just a cool spider and wanted to know what it was, so I convinced my counselor to go wake up the staff naturalist to come identify it for us—at 2:00 in the morning!

Jackson Lieb playing a game of tag with campers on a hot day using a super soaker
Jackson Lieb playing a game of tag with campers on a hot day using a super soaker

LIT and LIA were the most fun I’ve had in any Wildwood program. I loved the leadership aspect and felt like we grew even closer as a group than we did as regular campers. Toward the end of the program, we climbed Mount Ascutney and sat at the top for over an hour, just looking out at this magical view in silence. There was a real sense of community and camaraderie after spending several weeks learning and growing together. The beauty of the natural setting definitely enhances the Wildwood experience, but for me, it’s really all about the people and the connections I’ve made.


Jackson Lieb is studying business and political science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and will return to Wildwood this summer for his 10th year, and second as a counselor.

*Wildwood’s Leaders-in-Training and Leaders-in-Action programs are now known as the Environmental Leadership Program, Years 1 and 2, respectively. The Junior Counselors program will be replaced with a Counselors-in-Training (CIT) program this summer.

Epic Outdoor Adventures for Teens in 2020

2019 Teen Adventure Trip

Calling all adventurers, ages 14–17!

Have you heard about Wildwood’s Teen Adventure Trips? If hiking, biking, backpacking, rock-climbing, canoeing, or kayaking in the most beautiful places in the Northeast interest you, then there are a ton of amazing opportunities for exploring nature and adventuring with us throughout the region!

Wildwood’s Teen Adventure Trips cover a wide range of interests and abilities from beginner to experienced, and each explores nature in its own unique way. Teen Adventure Trips are open to anyone entering grades 9–12 this fall. This summer, we’re offering 10 one-week trips and 1 two-week trip to destinations across New England, New York, and New Jersey.

Some of our fantastic trips for 2020 include:

New Hampshire Rocks!

Spend a week learning the ropes with professional climbing guides and explore world-class rock-climbing destinations in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Between climbs, you’ll explore the natural and human history of central New Hampshire and take in stunning views as you hike in the famous Franconia Notch.

Bike and Beach: Cape Cod & Nantucket

Visit some of New England’s premier coastal destinations on this trip to Cape Cod and Nantucket. You’ll explore the beaches of Barnstable Bay by boat and participate in hands-on conservation science. Next, you’ll travel to Nantucket Island and tour its unique marshes and woodlands by bike before a relaxing stop at the beach.

Explore the Appalachian Trail

Set out on one of the world’s most famous footpaths as we explore the Taconic Range during this introductory backpacking trip. Trek over the rugged mountains that dominate the skyline of Western Massachusetts and take in stunning views of the Housatonic Valley and the neighboring Housatonic and Catskill mountains.

New England Highpoints

Explore the natural wonders of all six New England states—plus New York—by summiting the tallest peak in each on this two-week trek. New England’s high places range from a relaxing woodland stroll on Jerimoth Hill in Rhode Island to alpine adventures on Maine’s iconic Mount Katahdin. In between peaks, we’ll recharge with activities like river tubing, zip-lining, and taking in the beauty of natural spots across New England.

See all 2020 Teen Adventure Trips >

Our Teen Adventure Trips make great stand-alone camp experiences or can be combined with an overnight camp session at Wildwood. They also make a great place to put into practice the skills you’ve learned in our Environmental Leadership Program.

Spots are filling up; register online or by calling 866-527-2267.

2019 Teen Adventure Trip

9 Things Summer Camp Teaches You About Life

Anyone who has spent any length of time at summer camp knows this fundamental truth: There is so much more to camp than sunscreen, roasting s’mores, and jumping in the lake.

“The camp experience” is unique to each camper and staff member, but there are common themes that come up for everyone—those crucial life lessons that make camp such an enriching and empowering agent of change for so many young people.

Here are nine of the most important things we’ve learned from camp and carry with us through life in “the real world”.

You Matter. Full Stop.

The world can be a harsh place and it doesn’t always make us feel important as individuals. All it takes is one great counselor to set you straight and remind you that YOU. MATTER. And that includes your thoughts, feelings, ideas, dreams, memories, values, and identities—you have so much to offer the world! Let it shine!

Friends are Everything

Friends contribute so much to your well-being, both at camp and in life. A support network, large or small, of great friends who encourage you to be your truest self, support you through challenges, and celebrate your continual growth, can give you the energy and inspiration to live your best life each day.

Camp friends can become like family
Camp friends can become like family

There’s the Family You’re Born With, and There’s the Family You Choose

The saying goes that “You can’t pick your family,” and while that’s true, especially for young kids, camp shows us that “family” can also be something fluid and empowering that you define and build for yourself.

New Things Can Be Scary…and That’s Okay

Fear is a normal and healthy reaction to being confronted with something you’ve never experienced before. Discovering that you can allow fear of the unknown to be there, even welcome it temporarily, and go for it anyway, that’s where the magic happens.

Campers work together to scale the ropes course wall
Campers work together to scale the ropes course wall

Asking for Help is More Than Okay, It’s Necessary

Take a look around camp on any given day—you won’t find a single person who doesn’t need to ask regularly for help, advice, or support. No matter what challenge you are facing, big or small, you are never alone. Asking others for help is how we not only learn and grow from their knowledge and experience, but also build strong relationships with each other based on mutual trust and respect.

You Don’t Have to Be the Best at Everything to Have Fun

At camp, thoughts like “I don’t know how” or “I’m not good enough” take a back seat to “I’m learning and getting better all the time,” teaching us resilience, courage, and how to trust ourselves to “figure it out.” Whether it’s swimming, soccer, or making new friends, you don’t have to be an expert to join in, have fun, and be yourself right now in the present moment.

Reading a book in a hammock in the Chill Zone
Reading a book in a hammock in the Chill Zone

“Me-Time” is Crucial

The days are just packed at camp and our schedules are full of activities, meals, and opportunities to try new things; the days can fly by quickly, so it can feel tempting to “pack it all in,” but taking time to rest, breathe, and be by yourself to recharge your batteries is critical to making sure you have the physical, mental, and emotional energy to get the most out of the rest of your time.

A Little Appreciation Goes a Long Way

It feels incredible to get an appreciative note or pat on the back for something positive we have done or accomplished and the same is true of giving that kind of gratitude to someone else. It doesn’t take much to brighten someone’s day or turn their whole life around with a kind word. You never know how much of an impact your words can make.

Ponding by Canoe
Ponding by Canoe

Nature Deserves Our Respect…and Needs Our Help

At Wildwood, we specialize in and focus on helping kids explore and appreciate nature and our role in protecting it, not just because we believe the natural world is important and amazing in its own right, but also because we believe that nature is a powerful pathway to a rich life full of curiosity, discovery, respect, and continual growth—the kind of life that every child deserves.

Introducing Wildwood’s NEW Counselors-in-Training Program!

LITs lead a song and dance
CITs will lead camp activities such as pre-meal songs and dances.

Wildwood Counselors-in-Training (CITs) are rising high school seniors who want to take the next step in their camp experience and share their skills and passion with Wildwood campers and staff. They do this through a redesigned leadership program developed to build the skills and demeanor to be a successful camp counselor in the future. Here, we answer some of the most common questions about the change in our programming.

What about Junior Counselors?

Counselors-in-Training will replace Junior Counselors (JCs) as the Wildwood program for rising seniors.

Why the change?

Changes in New Hampshire labor laws necessitated that we take a critical look at our JC program from a Human Resources perspective. This also provided a great opportunity to examine the goals of the program and whether we were delivering the best possible experience to Wildwood teens. Our new CIT program is the product of that review.

What are the differences?

The most notable difference is that rather than being employed by Mass Audubon for four weeks, CITs will attend camp for five weeks as participants.

We believe this change opens the door to several improvements to the program including:

  • The chance for an extended offsite camping trip with the other CITs to build outdoor skills, leadership, and natural history knowledge. The campout should also be a great chance to have some fun and build group cohesion.
  • More flexibility in camp responsibilities, allowing CITS more time to develop their skills and more time being campers themselves, enjoying all the activities Wildwood has to offer.
  • Increased time working with children and less time spent doing the behind-the-scenes grunt work it takes to keep camp running.
  • Greater scheduling flexibility for CITs and Wildwood. We know that seniors are busy and we know that sometimes things come up on short notice in their lives outside of camp. The change away from employment should give all parties more flexibility in dealing with this.
CITs receive training from staff in working with children
CITs receive training from staff in working with children.

What stays the same?

Almost everything else!

  • CITs will still receive much of the same education and training offered to Wildwood staff.
  • A portion of the session will be spent living with children in different units and experiencing camp through the eyes of a counselor.
  • There will be a dedicated CIT director available to support the growth and development of each individual.
  • CITs will develop life skills like problem-solving, organization, group management, public speaking, and community building.
  • Being a CIT is a great résumé-builder and will give you a leg-up on returning to Wildwood as a staff member in the future. CITs will have the opportunity to participate in a résumé workshop with HR and hiring professionals.

How do I sign-up?

This program is by application and interview.

To receive the application or for any questions please contact Wildwood’s Teen Programs Manager Kyle Branin at kbranin@massaudubon.org.

Work at Wildwood: The Best Summer of Your Life!

2019 Wildwood Staff Photo

Do you love spending time in nature? Have you ever wanted to spend your summer outdoors, camping, hiking, paddling, or exploring the nature of New England? Do you enjoy spending time with kids? Do you want to make a difference in the life of a child or the future of our planet? Working at Wildwood gives you a chance to do all of that and more!

Wildwood is building our team for 2020 and we’re looking for passionate conservationists, educators, and outdoorspeople to fill a variety of roles and help us make 2020 the best Wildwood summer yet!

We love our Wildwood Staff!
Wildwood staff are like family!

Why Work at Camp?

Working at camp is an incredibly rewarding experience in so many ways, from making lifelong friends to having fun every day. Here are just a few of the benefits of working at Wildwood:

Spend Your Summer Outdoors

At Wildwood, you’ll spend your summer exploring the lovely Monadnock region of New Hampshire on the shores of our beautiful Hubbard Pond.

Some Sweet Bennies

We provide room, board, salary, extensive training, and more to our summer staff. Most importantly, you can make a genuine difference in the lives of others.

Learn Crucial Life & Job Skills

The skills you learn at camp—leadership, critical thinking, problem-solving, behavior management, communication, and more—are skills and traits that will draw a future employer to your résumé:

  • Leadership: You’ll manage groups of campers with compassion and professionalism while supporting the growth of individual camp community members.
  • Critical thinking/Problem-solving: You’ll be challenged to think on your feet to resolve issues and find creative solutions to lead and engage groups of kids and adults.
  • Communication: You’ll learn to effectively interact with people at every level of camp, including campers, fellow staff, directors, and parents.
  • AND SO MUCH MORE!
We love our silly, wonderful staff!
We love our silly, wonderful staff!

Okay, I’m In. Now What?

Wildwood is hiring for a variety of positions, including naturalists, unit counselors, and more:

If spending a summer at Wildwood sounds like something you want to do, please reach out to us at workatwildwood@massaudubon.org, or call us anytime with questions at 866-627-2267.

See all open positions at Wildwood and download an application by visiting our website.

Training Teen Leaders: Wildwood’s Environmental Leadership Program

Teens Lead a Song and Dance Outside the Wildwood Dining Hall
Teens lead a song and dance outside the Wildwood dining hall

Nature needs the next generation of environmental leaders to be ready!

Over the last few years, the teen leadership programs at Wildwood have undergone some changes to better support the Mass Audubon and Wildwood mission. We are excited to announce that going forward our teen leadership program will be called the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP). This better reflects the program’s offerings and goals and will help to set it apart from programs offered at other camps. The goal of ELP is to equip and encourage teens entering grades 10+ to be effective environmental advocates and conservation leaders in their homes and communities.

The Environmental Leadership Program will mirror the progressive nature of Leaders-in-Training and Leaders-in-Action programs in a single two-year program.* The first year of the ELP program is a two-week camp experience where participants will learn foundational leadership skills and how to be a leader in any role within a group. Second-year ELPs spend three weeks further developing these skills so each individual can hone their own leadership strengths.

During each session, Wildwood staff will challenge teens to develop their individual leadership and community-building skills and support them as they develop their own voice and style of leadership. ELPs will also focus on an environmental or conservation topic and how they can apply their leadership skills to make a positive impact on the world.

*Note: Second-year ELPs are selected by application and interview. Teens finishing 10th or above this summer are eligible for selection. Prior LIT or Teen Adventure Trip participants are especially encouraged to apply. Contact the Wildwood office at 866-627-2267 or email us for more information.

Teens lead a Stock Market game at Wildwood
Teens lead a Stock Market game at Wildwood

Program Details

At the beginning of each session, participants work with their ELP facilitators and each other set goals for their experience together. ELPs will then be involved in team-building activities and workshops that aim to develop their ability to help the group and individuals achieve those goals.

ELPs practice their skills by planning and facilitating a lesson or activity for their peers, helping counselors and camp staff plan and lead an evening program for the camp, and serving as role models for the entire camp community. ELPs may also meet members of the Rindge community, visit other Mass Audubon sites, and explore new habitats.

ELPs take part in a two-night camping trip during which they will plan and implement a day-long hike or other outdoor experience as a group.

Bike & Beach Teen Adventure Trip - Service Project
Teens participate in a service project planting trees and picking up litter

Service Projects

As part of the program’s focus on leadership within groups and communities, ELPs will take part in several hours of environmentally focused service. Past service projects include sustainable agriculture at a local farm, trail building for local conservation lands, and invasive species removal for state parks. Wildwood tracks any service hours performed and early in the fall provides a letter to all ELPs documenting their service hours for progress towards honors service hours, graduation requirements, and more.

Learn more and register for the Environmental Leadership Program on our website.

SAVE THE DATE: Wildwood Alumni Reunion – August 2020!

Wildwood Group Photo, black and white, circa 1984
Wildwood Group Photo circa 1984

Wildwood has welcomed campers to explore nature at four camp locations throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire since 1950. Summer 2020 marks our 70th anniversary as well as 20 years since we purchased our permanent camp location in Rindge, New Hampshire.

To celebrate, we are hosting an alumni reunion weekend from August 22–23, 2020! Folks can choose to sleepover in a cabin or platform tent, just like back in the day, or come for a single day of fun activities and reminiscing on Sunday. Airport shuttles from Manchester or Boston will be available. 

We can’t wait to see you and hear your camp stories!

Canoeing at Wildwood circa 1996 or 1997
Canoeing at Wildwood circa 1996 or 1997

We’ll have more information soon and official registration will begin in March. Until then, here are a few details:

Saturday, August 22
2:00 pmCheck-in begins
2:15–5:15 pmActivities open: Naturalist walks, beach and waterfront activities, and more
5:30 pmWelcome reception
6:15 pmDinner
7:30 pmCampfire and Evening Program (EP)
Sunday, August 23
7:00 amPre-Breakfast Jaunt (PBJ)
8:30 amBreakfast
9:30 amActivities open: Naturalist walks, beach and waterfront activities, etc.
Check-in begins for day visitors
11:30 amWelcome, Wildwood History, and Songs
12:30 pmLunch cookout and social hour
2:00 pmActivities open: Naturalist walks, beach and waterfront activities, etc.
4:00 pmFinal gathering and goodbyes

Tuition:  $25.00 per day per person; $65.00 for the whole weekend, including lodging

Email wildwood@massaudubon.org with any questions you may have.

Teen Vacation Week Trek: Winter in the Whites

Experience the wonders of winter and learn new ways to enjoy the outdoors year-round during our February Vacation Week Teen Adventure Trip: Winter in the Whites!

Sunset from Mount Cardigan during the 2019 Winter in the Whites Teen Adventure Trip
Sunrise on Mount Cardigan during the 2019 Winter in the Whites Teen Adventure Trip

Trip Overview

This trip embraces the challenges of winter and focuses on the outdoor opportunities unique to the season. We’ll explore Mount Monadnock and the White Mountains by snowshoe and learn about the natural world in winter. We’ll sleep in rustic cabins, yurts, and—weather permitting—spend one night in tents to truly experience winter camping. All food and snacks will be provided and participants will learn outdoor cooking skills while taking on a share of camp cooking and cleaning duties.

Itinerary

The week begins at Wildwood where we’ll build and learn new skills, then hone them with a climb up Mount Monadnock and camping in a rustic Yurt village. Each year, we finish the week out by venturing north to explore a different location in the White Mountains.

This year, we’ll head for the Crawford Notch area near the Presidential Range and the Twin Range. We’ll spend a night in a cozy AMC lodge before setting out to put our new skills to the test with two nights of backpacking and summiting snow-covered peaks, including one of New Hampshire’s famed 4,000-footers. We’ll spend the first night in an alpine cabin, accessible only by foot, and wrap up with a night camping on (or under!) the snow.

Last year we had a great time with five teen trekkers summiting peaks and exploring the snow-covered landscape. One teen trekker described the experience as “surreal”, and has continued to get outdoors, accumulating over a month of exploring the outdoors since our trip!

The Trip Leaders

Winter in the Whites is led by fulltime staff from Mass Audubon’s Education Department who have experience guiding and teaching camping, as well as Wilderness First Aid training and experience. If you attend programs at Wildwood or Habitat Education Center you might know this year’s leaders, Kyle Branin and Paul Kelley.


Paul Kelley is the Onsite Education Coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary.

He has a Master’s degree in environmental education from Southern Oregon University and has led backpacking trips on the east coast, west coast, and New Zealand.

His passion is to mix adventure education with natural history, creating opportunities that stimulate both body and mind, leading to a wholesome outdoor experience.


Kyle Branin Winter Headshot

Kyle Branin is the Teen Program Coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Wildwood Camp. He has a Bachelor’s degree in outdoor education from Southern Utah University and is a Leave No Trace Master Educator.

He has taught and guided backpacking trips across the country. Kyle believes backcountry travel offers a unique chance for deep nature immersion and loves facilitating this connection to nature for others while teaching the skills to move through our natural world comfortably and harmoniously.

During the trip, we will also spend time with other Mass Audubon educators and outdoor professionals.

How to Sign Up

You can register online for this exciting trip of a lifetime or call the Wildwood office at 603-899-5589 to sign up—we would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Winter in the Whites is led in partnership with Mass Audubon’s Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in Belmont, MA.