Bird-a-thon, Mass Audubon’s largest fundraiser, brings together supporters from across the state to raise essential funds for nature conservation, education, and advocacy. Our goal is to identify as many bird species as possible in 24 hours.
Due to COVID-19, this year’s event will be a family-friendly, carbon-free, safety-focused BIRD-AT-HOME-A-THON! There are new rules and a revised point system, and the winning team will be the one that’s earned the highest number of points. New this year, you can bird from any state! Send in your bird checklist and those birds count towards our team goal.
Not a birder? No problem! You can still earn points for your team by completing fun, nature-related activities like drawing a bird or doing a scavenger hunt.
What are we fundraising for?
Camperships! Every year, Wildwood provides over $50,000 in camperships to families in need. Will you join our team in this important fundraising effort? Ask for donations to Wildwood from your friends and family. Your efforts will make it possible for more young people to experience the magic of Wildwood.
How can I participate?
Team members can earn points for their team by birding close to home and/or by completing fun activities. In addition, every species a team sees will count towards our cooperative, statewide effort to spot all 286 bird species that can be found in Massachusetts during spring!
Set up a fundraising page, donate, and send in a list of the birds you find to be included in our official species count. Our hope is that all camp families will bird, donate, and raise money for Wildwood!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
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.
Starting in November and running through the month of April, you and your family are invited to join Wildwood staff on the third Saturday of every month as we go on hikes throughout Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Locations and times for our Family Hiking Series will vary, but the fun is guaranteed!
We started off close to home at Mount Monadnock, but next month we will travel to western Massachusetts where we will join with Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary for their solstice celebration on December 21 and an ascent of Mount Tom. Please register online to join us for this trip! Save the date for our first hike of the new year when we head south of Boston to hike Blue Hills on January 18.
When you register, you will receive a letter detailing what to pack, where to park and what time we will start our hike. These hikes will be a great way to get outside year-round and truly connect with nature as we visit new places in and around Massachusetts. Pack a lunch and hike with us every month!
It’s the season for giving thanks and we’re thankful that we
can finally start accepting campers for next summer. But that’s not all! We’re
also thankful for:
Sunshine & Summertime
We’ll find ways to occupy ourselves and through the long winter—snowshoeing, hiking, even winter camping—but we’re always daydreaming about warm summer days spent soaking up the sun (with sunscreen, of course) at Wildwood.
Amazing Tie-Dye Shirts
You can learn all the techniques to make tie-dye designs—spirals, spiders, and even hearts—but you’re still never quite sure how it’s going to turn out until that magical moment when you pull off the rubber bands and unveil your masterpiece! We wear ours all year long to bring a pop of color and smiles to gray winter days.
The best thing about camp is that you get to be yourself. Everyone gets to be as silly, goofy, crazy, or off-the-wall as they want and express themselves through songs, skits, artwork, dance, or any other way they can think of. Here at Wildwood, the community supports each camper to be whoever they want to be, and that’s a pretty special thing, we think.
Sunsets over Hubbard Pond
Each one is unique and each one is beautiful. Need we say
Our Amazing Staff
Our staff are so many things: caring, fun, dedicated, silly, supportive, talented, passionate, energetic, and so much more. They are truly the glue that holds this camp together. We love our staff!