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.

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

Epic Outdoor Adventures for Teens This Summer!

Calling all adventurers, ages 14–17!

You may be approaching, or have already passed, the end of your traditional camp experience, but did you know there are still a ton of amazing opportunities for exploring nature and adventuring throughout the Northeast?

Do any of these sound fun to you?

  • Cycling the beaches of Nantucket, Acadia, or Long Island Sound
  • Immersing yourself in the remote, self-sufficient world of backpacking or canoe trekking
  • Challenging yourself to scale soaring mountaintops or vertical cliffs
  • Exploring high peaks and hidden caves in the Berkshires and Catskills

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 12 one-week trips and 2 two-week trips to destinations throughout New England and New York.

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 Leaders-in-Training or Leaders-in-Action programs.

Spots are filling up fast! Please feel free to call or email me with any questions or to register; you can also register online.

Whether you’re new to the Wildwood community or have been joining us in our programs for years, I invite you to join us for an adventure this summer!

See you outside,

Kyle Branin
Teen Program Coordinator
Mass Audubon’s Wildwood Camp

Welcome to Our New Program Coordinator, Cheryl Oliveira!

We are thrilled to welcome the newest member to the Wildwood Team: Cheryl Oliveira, our new Program Coordinator. Get to know her more below or you can call or stop by the office to meet her in person after January 23!

Cheryl is an outdoorswoman with a passion for working with young people and she loves summer camp!  She has a BA in History from Colby Sawyer College and is a former camp director at both day and residential camps. She taught a variety of environmental topics at Nature’s Classroom, including erosion, plant succession, climate change, and invasive species, but her absolute favorite topic to teach was tree identification.

Cheryl is an active volunteer troop leader with the Girl Scouts, specializing in teaching girls how to camp in the winter. In her spare time, Cheryl enjoys snowshoeing, hiking, and running and has completed two marathons. We love her energy, enthusiasm, and positive personality and we are confident that you will, too. Cheryl is super excited to be part of the Wildwood Team and we are thrilled to have her!

Winter in the Whites: February Vacation Teen Adventure Trip

It’s cold out there! You might be tempted to hole up inside, counting down the months until the snow melts and summer camp arrives. But just because its cold doesn’t mean there aren’t adventures to be had and fascinating nature to explore!

We are excited to partner with Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln and Habitat Education Center in Belmont to offer Mass Audubon Camps Teen Adventure Trip: Winter in the Whites. Winter in the Whites is a weeklong outdoor adventure where you’ll learn new skills and get a chance to see nature in a new way.

We’ll start with a couple of days in the Wildwood yurts, learning the basics of winter camping, snowshoeing up Mount Monadnock, and meeting with natural history professionals to learn about the unique nature available to us in winter. Next, we’ll head north to the White Mountains to explore Cardigan Reservation where we’ll put new skills to the test with a summit attempt and a night spent in a cozy, high-alpine cabin.

A Note from Trip Leader Kyle:

I’ve been spending my summers outdoors ever since I can remember. As a child, it was playing with the dogs or riding bikes with friends through the fields and foothills surrounding the little desert town where I grew up. As I grew into my teen years it became Boy Scouts and summer camps, and then working at summer camp and as a guide as a young adult. Winter though? Other than an occasional scout Klondike derby or school ski trip I didn’t really venture out in the winter until my second trip through college, studying outdoor education.

Suddenly winter became mandatory, and WOW had I been missing out! Winter adventures are a whole new world. Familiar places become new again; not only has the scenery changed, but the whole natural world around us can be viewed in new and unique ways.

The entire character of the outdoors changes. Bare winter branches open up sights and treasures hidden by foliage the rest of the year. A fresh coat of snow creates fairy-tale landscapes. There is no better time for finding some usually hard-to-spot wildlife. Otters and Moose are easier to find in the winter. Here at Wildwood, we have the chance to spot at least three species of owl we don’t usually see in the summer. Even the snow itself offers unique chances for learning.

I’m excited to share these unique winter experiences, and can’t wait to see you at Wildwood in a few weeks!

About the Leaders:

Paul Kelley 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. He is the Onsite Education Coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Habitat in Belmont.

Kyle Branin is the Teen Program Coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Wildwood Camp. He has taught and guided backpacking across the country. Kyle believes backcountry travel offers a unique nature immersion and loves facilitating this connection to nature for others while teaching the skills to move through our natural world comfortably and harmoniously. He has a degree in Outdoor Education from Southern Utah University and is a Leave No Trace Master Educator.

To encourage folks to get out and experience nature in the winter, this trip is being offered at a special rate of $1,100 for Mass Audubon members, a significant savings compared to similar trips in the summer.

The 2019 Wildwood Brochure is Here!

We are thrilled to announce that the 2019 Wildwood camp brochure is now available online and should be arriving in mailboxes over the next few days. We know many of our regular campers look forward to seeing photos of their friends and counselors and looking to see if a quote of theirs from the annual survey was included and we definitely look forward to sharing it with you!

A Correction to the Open House Date

We goofed and scheduled an Open House at Wildwood on May 12, which happens to be Mother’s Day. Sorry about that! We have changed the date to Sunday, May 19 from 1:00–3:00 pm. We didn’t catch our error in time to change it in the brochure so we will be spreading the word via blog, e-news, and social media as much as possible. Thanks so much for your understanding.

Best wishes for Happy New Year from all of us on the Wildwood team!

Thank You Wildwood Friends & Family!

Our Sincere Appreciation

We have so much to be thankful for at Wildwood this year. It was a year filled with fun and games, new and old faces, new and old traditions, and lots of laughter and smiles. Best of all, it was a year filled with generosity and support from our amazing Wildwood Friends & Family.

For the second year in a row, we received a grant from the Edith W. and John A. Dockray Charitable Foundation for the Hubbard Pond Campers Program! We are so grateful for their support, which allows us to continue to provide opportunities for kids and families from under-resourced communities in Lowell and Cambridge to come to Wildwood, tackling all possible barriers to the transformative experience of camp.

Thank you to the 254 families who donated to Wildwood in the past year. Your gifts supported our day-to-day operations, improvements to our facilities, and camperships. Will you join them?D

Thank you especially to the following people and organizations who donated $25 or more between December 1, 2017 and November 30, 2018:

Dan & Melissa Albert
Irina Badayan & Mark Leblanc
Laurie & Raymond Ball
Linnea Bardarson & Joel Wolfe
Blythe D. Berents
Jennifer Bingham & Anne Marie Fabriele
Kristin Boudreau & Kesler Roberts
Kyle Branin
Jay Brewer & Maya Bazar
Bright Funds Foundation
Jennifer Cameron & Robert Walsh
Lisa & Peter Cash
Lucy Chie & Justin Campbell
Maria Isabel Chiu
Jeff Coccoluto & Jenny Braiman
Dwight & Laura Cooper
Lauren & Robb Corduck
Mary Elizabeth Cranton & Scott Cranton
Mary Dockray Miller & Michael Miller
Jennifer & Timothy Dorsey
Ryan H. Dorsey
Edith W. and John A. Dockray Charitable Foundation
Matthew & Jennifer Ender
Anne Engelhart & Doug Durant
Lori Etringer
April Evans & David Douglas
Brant Firestone & Rosemary Barrett
Jeffrey Fruithandler & Lynne Nightingale
Sandra Gaudet
Lorna Gibson & Jean Hess
Kristen & Rick Godin
Timothy Goodger & Monique Ardell Goodger
Gordon Hardy & Alice Dunn
Jennifer Harris & David Condon
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
Heather Hill
Amy & Simon Horsburgh
Kate & Michael Hurley
Robert Hutchinson & Elizabeth Callanan
Lou Jordano & Carolyn O’Brien
Janet Lane & David Armstrong
Gordon & Sandy Ledgard
Andrew Levinson
Jennifer Lewis-Forbes & Andrew Forbes
Mary-Margaret & Michael Little
Brenda Mahnken & Robert Greenberg
Kimberly Mastis & Christopher Meola
Brian & Kim McLeod
Katherine McVety & Jonathan Feinberg
Christopher Meissner & Alexis Vasquez Meissner
Kelly & Jeffrey Moriarty
Vanessa Hunnibell Moroney & Ray Moroney
Welch & Natalie Narron
Michelle Oishi & Marc Mamigonian
Jenny Outman
Aimee Pease Fox & Matt Fox
Valerie Perkins & Stephen Ervin
Cris Ratiner
Ann & Gant Redmon
Jonathan Rubel & Naomi Sofer
Melina Salerno & Kathy Sanders
Nicole & Erich Salomon
Tina Scioletti
Edith & Christopher Shipley
Nancy & Stephen Sofen
Robert Speare & Martha Worthy
Meredith Stensaas
Naline & Jim Stewart
Beth Sullivan & James Perrine
Liam Sullivan & Susan Lacefield
Frances Waltman
Christopher & Carrie Wiley
Amanda Zoellner & Bryan Fink

And thank you to 180 additional donors whose combined gifts came to over $1,400!

Here’s to an even more amazing 2019 to come!

Demolishing Carson's Bathroom

News From the Construction Zone

You might think that things quiet down around Wildwood once camp is ended for the season, but you’d be wrong! After the campers and counselors have all gone home (and after the staff gets a bit of much-needed vacation time), it’s time to squeeze in as many projects as we can before the snow flies. We’ve been hard at work making some exciting improvements to Wildwood’s facilities in preparation for another fantastic summer.

Here’s a partial punch list for Wildwood this fall:

  • The health center is getting a facelift, including new flooring, energy-efficient windows, and an additional bedroom for the healthcare staff, all of which will give campers and staff a better experience when they are in need of care.
  • We demolished Carson Unit’s bathroom and are building a new bathroom which will be ready for camp next summer.

Demolishing Carson's Bathroom

Demolishing Carson’s Bathroom to make way for a brand new one!

  • Surprise! Fall storms knocked down quite a few trees, including one that fell on the roof of Emerson. There was a little roof damage, but nothing our property whiz, Astro, can’t fix.

A Tree Fell on Emerson Cabin

It looks bad, but nothing the Amazing Astro can’t fix!

A Tree Fell on Emerson Cabin

  • We are building new tent platforms for the Dillard and Thoreau units, using fresh and sturdy pressure-treated wood.

These and the many other repairs and updates are all part of our larger goal of making summers at Wildwood better and better every single year! If you love Wildwood and want to help us continue to improve our property, please consider making a gift to our Operating Fund. We are grateful for your support!

Registration will be opening soon for 2019, including our NEW Wildwood Day Camp, a special 3-day “mini” overnight camp for 7-8-year-olds, and new teen adventure trips to the Berkshires, Pioneer Valley, and Adirondacks. Stay tuned for more updates!

Teens: Get Footloose in the White Mountains This July

Thanks to high demand for our Teen Adventure Trips, we’ve added a second session of our Footloose in the White Mountains trek to this summer’s lineup. Wildwood Teen Adventure Trip Leader Amanda is pumped up and looking for a few more adventurous teens to take on the challenge with them this July. Here’s what’s got her so excited and why you should be too! 

The White Mountains of New Hampshire: A sweet escape for the weekend warriors of Boston; a training ground for the aspiring rock climbers, backpackers, and mountaineers of New England; and home to the sweeping granite ledges of North Conway, the towering cliffs of Franconia Notch State Park, and the steep schist crags of Rumney.

For young adventurers looking to engage with gravity, the Whites are a playground of snowy slopes, swift water, rock faces and rugged trails. Wildwood’s Footloose in the White Mountains Teen Adventure Trip challenges teens to discover their potential for the skills and movement of outdoor rock climbing and backpacking in some of the most beautiful areas in the Northeast.

Footloose in the White Mountains Teen Trek Rock Climbing

About Trip Leader Amanda

I have spent the past 11 summers at Wildwood in a variety of programs, as a Camper, a Leader-in-Training, a Junior Counselor, a full-fledged Counselor, and a Unit Leader, but some of my most unique camp experiences came out of the three summers I spent as a Trekker. Footloose in the White Mountains was my very first trek.

Not only did the Footloose trek increase my confidence and self-reliance in the outdoors through hands-on skill-building experiences, it also introduced me to the sport of outdoor rock climbing, something I am still passionate about. I am so excited to be on the other side of things on this trek, creating similarly awesome experiences and memories for this year’s Footloose trekkers!


Hey parents, if rock climbing sounds a little scary to you, that’s okay! Let us address a few common concerns:

A teen rappels down a cliff face on a Teen Adventure Trip

Will they be wearing helmets?

YES, they will always be wearing helmets (and harnesses) while rock climbing. We love brain-buckets and safety is a top priority for us. Trekkers always stay a body-length or more away from cliff edges.

What if they lose their grip while climbing?

The style of climbing our trekkers engage in is called “top-roping”: The rope runs from the tied-in climber up to an anchor at the top of the climb, then back down to the belayer. As the trekker climbs, the belayer takes in slack. This means that your child will never fall more than a foot or two, whether they are eight feet off the ground or eighty. Before we get started, we’ll spend a few days with professional rock-climbing guides to literally learn the ropes.

What if it’s too hard for my Trekker?

The rocks in Rumney offer options for just about everybody, with hundreds of routes of varying steepness and features. Trekkers will be able to try a range of techniques, including practicing rope skills on the ground, experimenting with movement on rock, and pushing their limits on steeper terrain. All of the climbing is challenge-by-choice, so if they don’t want to do something, they don’t have to. But we bet they will.

What’s the Biggest Payoff of the Footloose Trek?

This trek is an incredible skill and confidence-building experience for kids with all kinds of backgrounds. They WILL find something that they’ll have fun on, we guarantee it. Rocks are too cool not to be fun!

Send your teen our way and we’ll show ’em just how fun climbing and backpacking can be!

To learn more and sign your teen up for the adventure of a lifetime, visit our website



Fired Up at Field School 2018!

From June 11–13, summer camp staff from Mass Audubon Camps across the state gathered at Wildwood for Field School, a fun, hands-on, 3-day training program designed to kick off the summer and get staff ready for camp.

Camps from every corner of Massachusetts were there, from Pleasant Valley in the Berkshires to Wellfleet Bay on Cape Cod. We even got to see the fine folks from our Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary on Martha’s Vineyard, who took the ferry to the mainland to make the long trek to Rindge!

Staff learned new skills and brushed up on old ones, from tree identification to group management, and waterfront safety to fire-building. Special training workshops with Mass Audubon Diversity and Inclusion Specialist Lisa Harrison and Education Director Kris Scopinich encouraged folks to dig deeper on topics like welcoming and celebrating diversity at our camps and exploring potential future careers in environmental and conservations fields, respectively.

Each day was jam-packed but also included ample free time for exploring the property and having fun at the waterfront with swimming and paddling. It’s safe to say our staff are pumped up and excited to welcome campers and their families to the 2018 summer camp season!

Here are some photos from Field School to give you a glimpse of all the fun and learning that took place:

Camp Director Becky Gilles leads a workshop

Wildwood Camp Director Becky Gilles leads a workshop on teaching kids birding and nature observation skills.

Two counselors observing a deer antler

Camp counselors learned about natural science and how to bring science to life for campers.

A counselor successfully lighting her first campfire!

A Boston Nature Center Day Camp counselor successfully lighting her first campfire during a workshop on fire-building skills and safety.

Program Coordinator Meredith and JC Director Charlie examine a nest of tiny baby spiders.

There’s so much to discover at Wildwood! Here, Program Coordinator Meredith and Assistant Program Coordinator Charlie examine a nest of tiny baby spiders.

A near-empty pot of fresh popcorn on a camp stove resting on the ground.

Outdoor Cooking was a popular workshop thanks in no small part to the yummy snacks!

Learning to identify Eastern Hemlock by observing its needles.

Learning to identify Eastern Hemlock by observing its needles.

A counselor enjoys some quiet reflection and journaling by Hubbard Pond.

Amid all the excitement, many folks made time for quiet reflection in nature.

Lifeguards practicing safety and rescue techniques at the waterfront.

Lifeguards practicing safety and rescue techniques at the waterfront.

Two counselors enjoying a canoe on Hubbard Pond

Don’t worry, there was plenty of free time for fun, too!