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.

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

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!