Author Archives: Becky G.

Welcome to Tim Panciera, Wildwood’s New Property Manager!

A photo of Tim Panciera from the shoulders up, wearing sunglasses and a purple t-shirt, standing in front of a low hill or cliff with blue skies in the background.

Wildwood is pleased to welcome Tim Panciera as our new Property Manager! Tim is a native New Englander, growing up on a farm in Stafford Springs, CT. He has lived a majority of his adult life in southern Vermont with his wife. With their daughters now adults, they spent the last few years traveling, exploring the U.S. and then settling in Colorado where his wife was a traveling nurse.

Tim has a degree in Facilities Management and has a long history of facilities and property management at multiple companies, schools, and campgrounds. Tim enjoys working with children and looks forward to working with campers and staff with the gardens, composting, and service projects.

Tim is a strong supporter of the mission of Mass Audubon and is thrilled to be working at camp. He is most interested in how we share our love of nature with children and seeing camp in motion this summer. Tim is an avid birdwatcher and photographer and enjoys kayaking, hiking, and spending time with his grandchildren. 

A warm Wildwood welcome to Tim!

Wildwood Caretakers Stephanie and Collin Tourgee with their daughter, Eva

Welcome to Wildwood, Collin and Stephanie!

Wildwood Caretakers Stephanie and Collin Tourgee with their daughter, Eva
Wildwood Caretakers Stephanie and Collin Tourgee with their daughter, Eva

As registrations are rolling in, we are busy excitedly prepping for summer 2021—including hiring new staff! We are happy to welcome Collin & Stephanie Tourgee and their adorable daughter Eva to our Wildwood Family. Collin and Stephanie are our new caretakers and live onsite year-round, keeping a watchful eye on the property. 

Collin grew up in nearby Sharon, NH, and Stephanie in Greenfield, NH. They were high school sweethearts! Collin spent his younger years going to camp just down the road from Wildwood at Camp Takodah and is currently working in construction. Stephanie has a background in customer service, loves to cook and bake, and is now busy as a stay-at-home mom. 

They both love everything about living in rural New Hampshire and are truly enjoying the quiet life at Wildwood. Stephanie and Eva have been exploring the trails and discovering lots of animal tracks, scat, and other wildlife sign. Winter is their favorite season as they are avid skiers and snowboarders. Collin even built a snow tunnel and slide for Eva to enjoy in the backyard.

Welcome to the Wildwood family, Tourgees! It’s going to be a great summer!

Wildwood Summer 2020 Cancellation Notice

Dear Wildwood Community:

It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we announce that Mass Audubon will not be opening Wildwood Camp for the summer of 2020. We will also be rescheduling the 70th Anniversary Alumni Weekend. This was not an easy decision to make. The health and safety of our campers, staff, and community have always been our top priority, and given the COVID-19 crisis we know this is the right thing for us to do.

Please watch our closing video here with a special message from the director:

Our community is resilient and through our love of Wildwood, we will make it through this!  We survived moving locations three times over the past 70 years and have grown stronger through the challenges we face. The recovery plan for New Hampshire’s economy provides a slow and cautious approach for the months ahead, with many limiting regulations in place. After further research and discussion, we concluded that the camp experience as we’ve known and loved on Hubbard Pond will not be possible this year.

All 2020 campers are eligible to return next summer, regardless of age or grade in school. Summer camp families have the option to:

  • Receive a full 2020 tuition refund
  • Roll tuition to next year (get 2021 at the 2020 price)
  • Donate all or part of the tuition to Wildwood (for a tax-deductible donation)

Thank you to those who have already generously donated.  These are challenging times and your support means so much. Please contact us to let us know what you would like to do with your 2020 tuition.

Things are hard right now, but remember: camp is a place where we do hard things. Doing hard things is how we learn courage, resilience, self-confidence, and grit, and adopt a healthy “growth mindset”.  With that in mind, we want you to know that we’re here for you. Look for more information coming soon about engaging with us on social media, reimagined summer programming, and much more as we make every effort to continue to engage and support you throughout this summer and beyond.

We are forever appreciative and thankful for our Wildwood Community.  We hope you and your family are able to remain safe and healthy during these times, and we look forward to the day we all meet again in person. Get out and enjoy nature and know that Wildwood is always right there in your heart.  

If you have questions or are ready to alert us to your refund preferences please contact us at [email protected] or leave a message on the camp line at 603-899-5589 and someone will call you back.

Warm regards,

Becky Signature

Becky Gilles
Wildwood Director

P.S. We know this will be really difficult news for many of our campers to process. Please take advantage of some of the resources below and contact us if we can support you—we are here for you!

Resources for discussing summer without camp with your children:

Okay, it was a little windy for evening campfire so we had to improvise...

A Brief Update from the Director

Okay, it was a little windy for evening campfire so we had to improvise...

Dear Camp Family and Friends,

We hope you are well and we miss you. We wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much we are thinking about you and hoping to see your brilliant, beautiful faces this summer.

The health and safety of our campers have always been our top priority. We are still aiming for our May 20 deadline to announce our summer camp plans. We have had a few questions we wanted to follow up on. 

Is Mass Audubon running camp this summer?

We are eagerly awaiting guidance from the CDC and/or state health officials on whether and in what capacity we will be able to offer camps to our communities this summer. Camp may not look the same this year, but we’re doing everything we can to plan for a summer of fun in the outdoors with you in a way that makes sense for the safety and well-being of our communities.

What if you want to withdraw from camp?

We recognize that in-person camp may not possible for every family. If your family would like to withdraw from camp you will receive a full refund.  Please contact the camp office at [email protected] or call 866-627-2267.

We hope that families will consider redirecting some or all of their camp fee as a donation, or keep a credit on file for future use at Mass Audubon.  Program income is a large part of how we accomplish our mission of Protecting the Nature of Massachusetts. By donating all of or part of your fee or creating a credit for future use, you can support Mass Audubon’s mission and our ability to provide ongoing programming.

Online Camp?

We are working on creating some virtual camp experiences for this summer. Getting kids out in nature and away from electronic devices has long been a core value for our camps and one that we are giving careful consideration throughout the planning process. Our goal is not to replace nature with screens, but to utilize virtual communication as a tool to safely connect with our camp families, interact face-to-face, and share ways to get outside and explore.

 We hope you are staying healthy and safe. Please don’t hesitate to connect with us if you have concerns.

Thanks so much for being a part of the Mass Audubon Camp family.

Becky Signature

Becky Gilles
Wildwood Director

Wildwood Dining Hall with Refinished Floors

Spring 2020 Property Update

Since camp ended last fall, we have been busy working on the property and have some very exciting projects to share with you. While our resources (staff time and funding) are now very limited, we were able to get some major projects done over the winter and continue to make as many improvements as we can.

The sinks in every unit now have a roof on them, so you can brush your teeth and not get wet in the rain. We also rebuilt many of the fire pits in the units. 

We installed a Gaga Ball pit in the rec field and we can’t wait to see lots of campers playing! (If you’re not sure what Gaga is, search for videos on YouTube—it’s a lot of fun!)

New Gaga Pit at Wildwood
New Gaga Pit at Wildwood

The big project we worked on was the Dining Hall. The kitchen half of the building needed some structural work, so the floor was removed down to the dirt and a new poured concrete floor installed. We learned that porcupines really liked living under the Dining Hall in the winter!

In the dining room, the wood floor has been sanded and refinished back to its original natural red oak color. We think it came out beautiful!

Wildwood Dining Hall with Refinished Floors
Wildwood Dining Hall with Refinished Floors

We can’t wait until our campers can come and enjoy the improvements we’ve made and start putting that Gaga pit to good use!

Looking back at Wildwood's waterfront and dining hall from First Point Trail

A Message from Wildwood Director Becky Gilles

Looking back at Wildwood's waterfront and dining hall from First Point Trail
Looking back at Wildwood’s waterfront and dining hall from First Point Trail

Dear Wildwood Camp Family,

I hope this letter finds you all safe and healthy.

We at Mass Audubon are looking towards this summer with hope that we have come through this pandemic with our friends and families safe, and that we can return to our favorite activities, like connecting campers with nature. With that in mind, we are hoping to provide another wonderful summer of camp as planned. 

Camper Session Dates

Changes to your camper’s session start date and other aspects of camp may occur due to recommendations from the CDC and state health authorities during the current pandemic. If we need to delay the start of this year’s camp season or cancel, we will notify you by May 20.  

Camp Due Dates

We have extended the May 15 deadline for final payments, camper withdrawals, and health form completion to June 15 (Though to help us best prepare for summer, we encourage you to complete your camper’s health forms earlier, if possible).

Though none of us knows what is ahead, we are thankful for your friendship, your generous support, and your patience during this challenging time. For updates about Mass Audubon’s response to COVID-19 and educational resources for families, please visit our website.

Keep up to date on everything Wildwood on our Blog, Instagram & Facebook accounts.

Please call (866) 627-2267 or email [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns. Wishing good health to you all. 

With gratitude,

Becky Signature

Becky Gilles
Wildwood Director

[NOTE: This letter was sent to all registered camp families via email. If you are registered for summer 2020 and did not receive this email, please contact [email protected].]

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 [email protected] with any questions you may have.

Fun & Games at Wildwood

New for 2019: Wildwood Day Camp!

Fun & Games at Wildwood
Fun & Games at Wildwood

Wildwood is happy to announce we are launching a new day camp program this summer to support the local residents of Rindge, Jaffrey, and other surrounding areas.

Day campers, ages 6–11, will focus on exploring the nature of Wildwood and learning about what literally lives in their backyards! Throughout the day, campers will connect with each other and the environment in a welcoming, supportive environment. Each will have opportunities to make exciting discoveries and learn about making choices with their daily activities. Cozy camp areas create safe spaces for relaxing, sharing, and learning with friends new and old.

And, of course, no camp day will be complete without taking a swim or a paddle in Hubbard pond. Day campers will also get to try archery, arts & crafts, the high ropes challenge course and more.

Day Camp hours are 8:30 am–4:00 pm with optional extended hours until 6:00 pm.  Lunch and snacks are included in the day. 

Wildwood campers showing off a "gnome home" they build in the forest

How Camp Connects Us—and Disconnects Us—in the Best Ways

Wildwood campers showing off a "gnome home" they build in the forest

“I seriously don’t think I’ve ever been happier than when I’m at camp. I don’t worry about what’s going on at home or at school. I do things I know I wouldn’t normally do like the ropes course, boating, and Scottish dancing! I am not addicted to my phone like I used to be and it is so refreshing to be all around nature with people you love.

—2018 Wildwood Overnight Camper

Last summer, I asked our campers what they liked about camp. Hands down, the number one answer was that they were glad to have no phones or computers—they really appreciated having no choice but to leave the phone at home and step away from the pressures of social media. Without media at camp, kids can relax and be in the moment in a unique and profound way.

What we do at Wildwood is so important because we connect children to nature and, in the process, show campers how to slow down, breathe, and take it all in, as well as giving them opportunities to make friends, discover, wonder, laugh, play, and explore. A key part of the camp experience is the rare chance to unplug from electronics. Disconnecting from our phones allows us to really connect with each other.

Camp is magical: it is forever changing and dynamic, yet the fundamental values and lessons learned at camp stay the same. My greatest wish in life is that every child has a transformative summer camp experience. We can’t wait to see our campers at Wildwood this summer. We can connect with each other—and disconnect, together.

See you outside,

Becky Signature

Wildwood Director

Summer 2018 Wildwood Staff

Session 1 Update 1

Summer 2018 Wildwood Staff

Summer 2018 Wildwood Staff ready to greet campers for the first session of the season.

Wildwood Camp is off to a great start!  Our first evening was a success with a s’more treasure hunt and campfires at individual units.

New morning programming this summer includes Nature Groups. In these blocks, campers have been exploring the wonders of Wildwood in a whole new way. Our youngest campers in the Forest Group hit the ground running with tree identification and discussions about how trees move food up and down their trunks and branches. Earth Day Group campers have been talking about stewardship of our natural environment.

Unit staff got creative during Tuesday’s Unit Night with fun activities such as Capture the Flag in the sand pits, adjacent birthday and beach parties, and Olympics and soccer on the activity field. Unit nights are a great opportunity for campers to bond with their age groups.

Wednesday evening brought a downpour of rain which resulted in an amazing indoor evening program of “grab bag” improv storytelling.  We’ll admit, campers had so much fun they got to bed a little late last night. 

We are happy to report that while the rain continues, our spirits have not dampened and camp programming carries on with creativity and zest.

Expect camper photos soon—we had technical difficulties with the blog this week and we really appreciate everyone’s patience as new staff learn the ropes and work out the kinks in our processes. Rest assured that everyone is having a blast!