Author Archives: Ryan D.

About Ryan D.

Where: Mass Audubon Headquarters, Lincoln | Who: A Vermont expat with maple sap in her veins | Favorite part of the job: Exploring sanctuaries with camera in hand.

Three happy campers smiling for the camera

2019 Overnight Camp: Session 3 – Part 2

One of the most magical things about camp is how a few creative ideas and a can-do spirit can turn a rainy day into the best day ever. A little rain certainly didn’t stop us this week: we created musical instruments out of vegetables and fruit, did the limbo, and a few brave souls even went for a paddle once the threat of thunder had passed. When things dried out a bit, it was right back to fun and games with archery, ropes course challenges, tie-dying, and a heffalump hunt.

Check out a few highlights below and see the full slideshow on SmugMug.

Dancing in the rain!
Who’s going to let a little rain stop the fun?
Limbo dancing in the dining hall
How low can you go?
Making musical instruments out of veggies and fruit
Making musical instruments out of veggies and fruit
Watermelon hats
Fun with fruit
Tie-dying!
Tie-dying!
Three boys sitting on a bench smiling with arms around each other
Making funny faces for the camera
Three happy campers smiling for the camera
Thumbs up getting fitted for ropes course harness
Campers working together on the ropes course
Up in the air at the ropes course
Up in the air at the ropes course
A lively game of Rainbow Tag

2019 Overnight Camp: Session 3 – Part 1

Session 3 is off and running and we are BUSY with swimming, kayaking, making friendship bracelets, playing tag, building gnome homes in the forest, and making lots of new friends. Check out the highlights below and see the full slideshow on SmugMug.

Two campers demonstrate a particular braid technique for friendship bracelets
Two campers demonstrate a particular braid technique for friendship bracelets
Jigsaw puzzling in the dining hall
Jigsaw puzzling in the dining hall
Grace helping a camper try out archery
Grace helping a camper try out archery
These campers are learning the basics of tap dance!
These campers are learning the basics of tap dance!
A lively game of Rainbow Tag
A lively game of Rainbow Tag
Nice gnome home!
Nice gnome home!
Helping out in the community garden
Helping out in the community garden
Balloon Tag...don't get popped!
Balloon Tag…don’t get popped!
I said OOH, AAH Ort Report!
I said OOH, AAH Ort Report!
Tuesday morning kayak lessons
Tuesday morning kayak lessons
Loving this beautiful weather!
Loving this beautiful weather!
These campers played Rock, Paper, Scissors on the dock—loser jumps in the lake!

2019 Overnight Camp: Session 2 – Part 3

This week has flown by so fast, it’s hard to believe this is our last update of Session 2! We had a visit from a couple of animal ambassadors from Drumlin Farm (a Blue Jay and a Diamondback Terrapin turtle!), played Knockout on the basketball court, folded origami animals, transplanted native wildflowers, hit the slip-and-slide to beat the heat, tried our hands at outdoor cooking, and enjoyed (from a respectful distance) a nest of baby robins and one as-yet unhatched egg on the windowsill of one of our buildings.

Check out these highlights and see the full photo album on SmugMug. And we’ll see you on Saturday, parents!

Happy 4th of July from Camp Wildwood!
Happy 4th of July from Camp Wildwood!
Some of our international counselors (plus Dustin) attempt to sing the US National Anthem on the 4th of July
Some of our international counselors (plus Dustin) attempt to sing the US National Anthem on the 4th of July.
Counselors doing a silly song and dance
Counselors doing a silly song and dance.
A Diamondback Terrapin (turtle) Ambassador from Drumlin Farm paid a visit to camp.
A Diamondback Terrapin (turtle) Ambassador from Drumlin Farm paid a visit to camp.
Slip-n-slide time!
Slip-n-slide time!
Outdoor cooking making campfire cupcakes
Outdoor cooking making campfire cupcakes.
A robin's nest with two tiny babies and one unhatched egg
A robin’s nest with two tiny babies and one unhatched egg.
These dedicated campers transplanted wildflowers into our new native flower garden
These dedicated campers transplanted wildflowers into our new native flower garden
Nice layup! A little Knockout on the basketball court
Nice layup! A little Knockout on the basketball court.
Making animal origami in Arts & Crafts
Making animal origami in Arts & Crafts.
A proud camper shows off her hand-made name "cookie"
A proud camper shows off her hand-made name “cookie”.
Stand-up Paddleboarding is all the rage these days
Stand-up Paddleboarding is all the rage these days.
Taking a flying leap off the dock on a hot summer day
Taking a flying leap off the dock on a hot summer day.
These campers played Rock, Paper, Scissors on the dock—loser jumps in the lake!
These campers played Rock, Paper, Scissors on the dock—loser jumps in the lake!
Hammocks were a great addition to the Chill Zone

2019 Overnight Camp: Session 2 – Part 1

Session two is here and we’re kicking things off with lots of swimming, wilderness shelter building, friendship bracelets, Freeze Tag, archery, and more. And in between all the activity, we’re still making time to just chill and relax and reflect in nature.

Enjoy the highlights below and see the full slideshow on Smugmug.

Gathering materials for wilderness shelters
Gathering materials for wilderness shelters
Tending to the camp garden
Tending to the camp garden
Shoes lined up outside Cranberry cabin in the Fossey unit
Shoes lined up outside Cranberry cabin in the Fossey unit
Making friendship bracelets in the Arts & Crafts building
Making friendship bracelets in the Arts & Crafts building
Counselor Jackson chases campers with a super soaker to choose who is "it" first
Counselor Jackson had a creative way of choosing who was “it” first in Freeze Tag…
Freeze Tag - An oldie but a goodie!
Freeze Tag – An oldie but a goodie!
Grace is a terrific archery instructor
Grace is a terrific archery instructor
Practicing on the Archery Range
Practicing on the Archery Range
A camper shows off her Bird Art during DGsac
A camper plays the ukelele in the Arts & Crafts building
A camper plays the ukulele in the Arts & Crafts building
A camper plays the ukulele in the Arts & Crafts building
Hammocks were a great addition to the Chill Zone
Hammocks were a great addition to the Chill Zone
Swimming during OATS
Swimming during OATS
Walking to the dining hall during OATS
Walking to the dining hall during OATS
Canoeing on Hubbard Pond

2019 Overnight Camp: Session 1 – Part 2

It’s hard to believe the first week of camp is almost over already! We swam, paddled, made nature puppets, played soccer and volleyball, learned about pond ecology by canoe, and so much more! We could try to tell you all about it, but you’d be much better off hearing about it from one of these happy campers. In the meantime, enjoy these photos from the second half of session one! See a few highlights below and view the full album on SmugMug.

LITs cutting up watermelon for a potluck dinner
LITs cutting up watermelon for a potluck dinner
Afternoon sailing adventure during DGs
Afternoon sailing adventure during DGs
That's one epic gnome home, ladies!
That’s one epic gnome home, ladies!
Discovering a red-backed salamander
Discovering a red-backed salamander
Afternoon soccer game on the activity field
Afternoon soccer game on the activity field
Nature Superheroes Theme Day!
Nature Superheroes Theme Day!
A lovely Tiger Swallowtail butterfly
A lovely Tiger Swallowtail butterfly
Lots of Volleyball on Thursday
Lots of Volleyball on Thursday
Ponding on the shoreline
Ponding on the shoreline
Ponding by canoe
Ponding by canoe
Canoeing on Hubbard Pond
Canoeing on Hubbard Pond
A nice stroll along the beach with friends
A nice stroll along the beach with friends
Heading to Dinner

2019 Overnight Camp: Session 1 – Part 1

Summer is finally, fully underway at Wildwood! Sunday was opening day for the first session of overnight camp and we are already having a blast! Here are a few highlights from opening day and Monday/Tuesday. Check out the full album for more!

Camp staff welcome families in the amphitheater
Wildwood camp staff welcome all the overnight camp families with a fun sing-as-I-sing song!
Photo Op at Hubbard Pond
You sure can’t beat the backdrop of Hubbard Pond for a family photo op!
Getting settled in Carson Unit
Getting settled in Carson Unit
A family poses for a selfie in Leopold Unit
It’s always tough to say goodbye to our families, but we’ll see you before you know it!
Waterfront Director Livy administering Swim Checks
Waterfront Director Livy administering Swim Checks
Heading to Dinner
Heading to Dinner
Kids waiting outside the dining hall to be allowed in for dinner
Everybody has to wait their turn—and impress Maxx—to get into the dining hall for dinner
First Meal: Sloppy Joes!
First Meal: Sloppy Joes!
KP Duty - Everybody helps keep our dining hall clean
KP Duty – Everybody helps keep our dining hall clean
Junior Counselors rocking it out during dinner cleanup
Junior Counselors rocking it out during dinner cleanup
Evening Program Campfire
A little silly song-and-dance at the evening campfire program
Roasting marshmallows during unit time
Roasting marshmallows during unit time is a great way to end a great day!
Family-style Dinner at Family Camp

2019 Family Camp Session 1

These families know how to kick off the summer right! Wildwood welcomed the first session of the season on Wednesday with a terrific group of families arriving to spend four days with us, enjoying the beautiful property and celebrating the advent of summer.

Here are few highlights from the first day of Family Camp Session 1.

Wildwood Staff posing in the parking lot
Our parking lot crew are ready to greet the Family Camp families!
Staff member Gilbert welcomes an arriving family to Wildwood Family Camp
Welcome to Wildwood! We’re so glad you’re here!
A family walking the road into Wildwood's property
We’ll take care of your luggage while you get your vacation started!
Kids checking out various nature artifacts with Lead Naturalist Jonathan
Our lead naturalist, Jonathan, was on hand with a ton of cool nature artifacts—antlers, pelts, fossils, live tadpoles, and more—as families arrived at the dining hall.
Wildwood staff helping a family move into Darwin, their lakefront cabin for the week
Wildwood staff helped this family move into Darwin, their lakefront cabin for the week
Playing a little beach volleyball on Hubbard Pond
The summer fun started right away! Arriving families are welcome to start swimming, boating, and enjoying the property as soon as they arrive.
Father and son launch a two-person kayak on Hubbard Pond
Time for a paddling adventure before dinner!
Camp staff lift a girl in a chair to sing and celebrate her birthday
At Wildwood, we celebrate birthdays in style!
Family-style Dinner at Family Camp
Dinner is served family-style at Family Camp, of course!
Karaoke in the Arts & Crafts building
Karaoke Night was a big hit with these little rockstars!
Regional Scientist Robert Buchsbaum leads a Plant ID class

Fun at Field School 2019

That’s a wrap! Today was the third and final day of Field School—an annual gathering of all the Mass Audubon Camps staff from across the state where we learn, connect, and enjoy the beauty of Wildwood. The week was filled with silly songs, sunshine, campfires, s’mores, skits, laughter, and learning. It seemed like everyone had a blast!

Here are a few highlights from Field School this year. You can check out the full slideshow here. Now it’s on to final preparations for Opening Day of summer camp! FINALLY!

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
A perfect day for a paddle on Hubbard Pond!
A perfect day for a paddle on Hubbard Pond!
Regional Scientist Robert Buchsbaum leads a Plant ID class
Regional Scientist Robert Buchsbaum leads a Plant ID class
Outdoor Camp Cooking Class
Outdoor Camp Cooking Class
Rice Krispies Treats, outdoor camp cooking-style!
Rice Krispies Treats, outdoor camp cooking-style!
Camp Director and Staff Training Expert Doug Sutherland led an excellent keynote on diversity and what he calls "Cultural Mindfulness"
Camp Director and Staff Training Expert Doug Sutherland led an excellent keynote on diversity and what he calls “Cultural Mindfulness”
Wildwood Director Becky Gilles taught us how to teach Birding to kids if you don't know many birds
Wildwood Director Becky Gilles taught us how to teach Birding to kids if you don’t know many birds
A Mass Audubon staff member holds up a plant for a student to smell
Michael’s Wild Edibles Safety class is always a big hit!
Max led a fantastic class in Basket-weaving with Found Materials
Max led a fantastic class in Basket-weaving with Found Materials
Campfire Sing-a-long Time!
Campfire Sing-a-long Time!
Okay, it was a little windy for evening campfire so we had to improvise...
Okay, it was a little windy for evening campfire so we had to improvise…
Feed Your Face Activity at Wildwood

Discovery Groups (DGs) at Wildwood

Feed Your Face Activity at Wildwood
In the popular “Feed Your Face” DG at Wildwood, campers make spa treatments from common kitchen ingredients

What in the world is a DG?

DG stands for Discovery Groups. Each day after breakfast, counselors describe the DG activities they are running that day—everything from activities on the water and field games to nature walks and arts and crafts—and campers get to choose two activities for that afternoon. DGs change every day and we often try out new ones; our staff get just as excited to dream up and run them as our campers do to pick them!

Some examples of popular DGs include:

  • Feed Your Face (creating spa treatments from common kitchen ingredients)
  • Quidditch on the activity field
  • Sailing on Hubbard Pond
  • Zip-lining on our High Ropes Challenge Course
  • Folding Origami at the Arts & Crafts building
  • Building “Gnome Homes” in the forest
  • Herp Hunting (looking for frogs, snakes, and salamanders) in wetland habitats

What DG are you most looking forward to this summer? 

Sailing at Wildwood © Justin Miel
Sailing on Hubbard Pond © Justin Miel
Wildwood Winter Camping Monadnock Summit Group Photo

Trip Report: Winter in the Whites Teen Adventure Trip

This February, Wildwood partnered with Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary and Habitat Education Center & Wildlife Sanctuary to offer our first-ever vacation week Teen Adventure Trip! We spent an amazing week together exploring winter destinations throughout New Hampshire.

The trip started off Sunday afternoon in Belmont with some quick get-to-know-you games in the nature center at Habitat. We then moved to Wildwood in Rindge, New Hampshire, and settled into our home base for the next three nights: camping out in a Yurt!

Monday morning brought us an almost bird-free bird walk but Paul and Lucy from Habitat were still able to teach us much about the nature of Wildwood and Annett State Forest. One highlight of the day was learning about ice travel and crossing a frozen pond to access normally hard-to-reach sections of the state forest. One teen trekker described the experience of crossing a frozen pond as “surreal” and later called it a highlight of the entire trip.

Hubbard Pond Winter Panorama
Crossing a frozen pond in winter

Tuesday was widely considered a top highlight of the trip as we learned the basics of winter mountaineering with EMS Climbing School during a summit of Mount Monadnock. Everyone had a blast learning the basics of self-arrest and the use of ice axes and trekking poles to help move up steep rock and ice. Despite temps below zero and some stiff winds, we enjoyed lots of sunshine and everyone successfully summited.

Wildwood Winter Camping Monadnock Summit Group Photo
Victory photo at the summit of Mount Monadnock!

Wednesday brought us to AMC’s Cardigan Reservation on the southern edge of the White Mountains. After showers (hallelujah!), a good night’s sleep, and a hot meal prepared by the amazing staff at the lodge, we geared up and headed out for two days and nights of putting our new winter skills to the test with some backpacking.

Thursday afternoon found us traversing the exposed ridge that makes up Firescrew Mountain and Mount Cardigan—a moment many were still talking about at the end of the week. We again faced stiff winds with gusts well above 50 mph and temps below zero, this time without much sunshine to aid us.

Camp cooking in winter
Camp cooking in winter

Much of our time on the ridge was spent on snowshoes as we crossed deep snow or occasionally solid ice. Most of the ridge, including the sparse trees, was covered in rime ice, which occurs when fog, harsh winds, and extremely low temperatures combine to coat most surfaces with a layer of solid ice. Despite the harsh conditions needed for the formation of rime ice, it’s a fascinating and beautiful natural phenomenon. A cozy night at AMC’s High Cabin—a shelter just below the tree-line on Mount Cardigan­—was a fitting ending to a challenging day.

High Cabin was a hit! Not only was there a wood-burning stove to keep the temperature up, there was a Boogie Bass (singing fish) someone had hung above the door to serenade us with Bobby McFerrin. The cabin also provided a sheltered spot for everyone to learn some new card games.

Friday morning we were up before the sun for a short hike out to PJ Ledge to watch the sunrise, for which Mount Cardigan is famous. A mellow hike through beautiful hemlock groves brought us off the mountain and to the final test of our winter camping skills, a night spent outdoors with tents, tarps, and no buildings in sight.

Sunrise Over Mount Cardigan
Sunrise Over Mount Cardigan

A short hike Saturday morning took us back to our van. On the way back to Belmont, we stopped for some hot chocolate and reflections, a great chance for everyone to share their highs, lows, and what they’d learned. The trip culminated with a walk around Habitat and some final reflections on how building outdoor skills and adventures like Winter in the Whites connect us to nature and equip us to explore more of the stunning nature available to us here in New England.

All in all, it was a trip full of rewarding challenges and terrific memories! View the full slideshow of trip highlights and check out the amazing Teen Adventure Trips we have planned for this summer!

View the full Winter in the Whites slideshow >

Hope to see you outside this summer!

Kyle Branin Winter Headshot

Kyle Branin
Teen Program Coordinator