Category Archives: summer camp

Session 4, 2017: Part Two

It is the final day of Session 4 and it feels like everyone just arrived! We had a special day at camp on Thursday as we flipped the schedule on its head This meant we started our day after breakfast with what is typically an evening program, and finished our day with nighttime DGs. It was a fun change which allowed us to do some different evening programs than we would normally, taking advantage of the earlier sunset.

The LITs have also continued to be busy learning from other staff on camp like Hannah at the Ropes Course who provided them an in-depth look at experiential learning. They also spent part of their afternoon on Thursday with Welch transplanting a White pine into the Fossey Unit.

The Exploring the Champlain Valley trek spent their Thursday evening rowing on the lake with the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and camped on the waters edge that evening.

We’ll be busy enjoying our final full day at camp today. I hope you are able to enjoy some sunshine wherever you are as well. For those of you picking up campers on Saturday, we will see you between 9:15 and 10:00am. Safe travels!

Session 1, 2017: Session Coming To A Close

It is hard to believe that Session 1 will finish up in just a couple of days. We have had so much fun over the last two weeks that the time has just flown by. It probably has for you at home, too! The latest development here at camp was the appearance of characters from our favorite board games like Candy Land and Clue. The characters led all of us in challenges to determine who the real ruler of Candy Land was. Oddly enough, by Thursday morning they had all vanished!

Thursday was back to the normal schedule of programs for all of us after our special day on Wednesday. We were treated to some rain in the morning to cool everything off, which was a welcome reprieve from the previous day’s humidity. We filled our day with plenty of outdoor activities like archery, paddling, and even fire building in the Outdoor Living Skills IG. In the evening, we premiered the first episode of “This Is Wildwood” featuring some characters made up by our campers and performed by the staff. It was a fun and silly close to an excellent day.

We look forward to another fun-filled day on Friday to close out our two-week session. If you are picking up a camper on Saturday, be sure to arrive between 9:15am and 10:00am to catch the closing ceremony. See you there!

Session 1, 2017 – The Second Week!

What a great start to the second week of Session 1! Overnights this past weekend went incredibly well and helped bring all of our unit groups even closer together than before. There was one spectacular thunderstorm that arrived on Saturday afternoon and all of the on-camp groups gathered in the Dining Hall to watch it move across the pond. It was truly an awesome sight to behold. The group at Monadnock got an ever closer view, and hunkered down for a few minutes while it passed overhead.

Once everyone was back from overnights, we had a relaxing Sunday afternoon so that everyone could rest up and be prepared for a week full of activities ahead. We capped off Sunday evening with another Wildwood classic evening program – Stock Market. This session’s group of LITs showcased a variety of creative “products” and did a fantastic job of organizing and facilitating the program.

There’s lots more to come later this week! I have heard rumors that on Wednesday we will be hosting visitors from a far off and magical land. Stay tuned here to find out more!

Session 1, 2017, Part Two

The first week of Session 1 continues and the fun just keeps on happening. Tuesday’s Evening Program was Unit Night, so each unit set off on their own personalized 4th of July adventure. Pies were eaten, dizzy-bats were raced, and a great celebration was had by all at camp.

Since then, we’ve continued to enjoy the amazing weather that each day has brought and filled just about every minute of those days with activities. Today at OATs there was a fun and fierce game of Nuk’Em at the field, which got campers of all ages involved and playing together. The waterfront is always a popular spot during OATs, but due to the cool afternoons, many campers have opted to spend that time at Arts and Crafts and the Activity Field.

Tonight’s Evening Program was a Wildwood classic – Heffalump Hunt. Creatures roamed throughout camp and groups of campers were tasked with capturing them, and studying their unique attributes. It’s strange – many of those Heffalumps closely resembled the current group of Leaders-In-Training at camp this week…

On the Acadia teen adventure trip, the group continues to be given great weather, which has made for lots of opportunities to hike, bike, and kayak around Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park. They will arrive back at Wildwood on Friday evening, and be ready for departure on Saturday morning (July 8) at 10:00am in the main parking lot.

There’s lots more on the way over the weekend as overnights depart on Friday afternoon, with the Abbey and Dillard units headed to nearby Mt. Monadnock to hike the mountain and practice their camping skills. We’ll be back at the blog again next week after overnights return for another great week of camp!

Session 1 – A Great Start to Summer Camp!

Session 1 is here and by all accounts Wildwood summer camp is officially under way! We have had an excellent start to both this session and our summer with an amazing group of campers here for the two-weeks of this first session. Camp orientation took up most of our day on Monday with swim and health checks, an introduction to the nature center, and a camp tour all on the itinerary.

With those necessities behind us, it was time for the exciting Wildwood camp program to begin on our nation’s Independence Day. We have been treated to beautiful weather which has made it easy to enjoy programs like drama and art of nature along with a nice breeze which provides favorable condition for activities like archery and sailing.

Tonight is Unit Night and just about every unit has a 4th of July themed program happening all across camp. Look out for more pictures from those activities later in the week. We also received word from our Acadia trekkers who arrived safely to their campsites in Acadia National Park on Monday and have a full day of adventure scheduled for Tuesday.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog to be notified as soon as new posts are available. I hope you all are enjoying your holiday week!

Preparing for Another Great Summer

Winter showed its might one last time this past week, but we are looking forward to the imminent thaw which is sure to bring budding flowers, singing birds, and plenty more sights and sounds of spring. And not a moment too soon, as the Wildwood staff are itching to begin the annual process of bringing the property and facilities out of hibernation, preparing them to host so many excited campers.

Wildwood is Getting Ready…

The work begins as soon as the snow melts and temperatures no longer creep below freezing each night. One of the earliest tasks is turning the water back on across camp and checking for any leaks that may have developed over the winter. Other duties include: checking for and repairing any damage to camp buildings, reconstructing the floating docks at the waterfront, and inspecting all building safety equipment, to name a few.

Meredith Supervises the Waterfront

The short spring before the start of camp leaves us very little time in which accomplish a lot of work. This year, we invite you to make a big difference in helping us prepare for camp at Volunteer Day. We are looking forward to a great day full of rewarding projects and fun camp activities for all ages.

…And You Should, Too!

As summer approaches, it’s important for you and your camper to also begin getting ready for camp.

Group Yoga at Wildwood Overnight Camp

The first thing to do, if you haven’t already, is complete your CampDoc health profile and attach all requested documents including insurance cards, immunization records, and proof of a physical within the last 12 months. If you are signed up for camp and haven’t yet received an email from CampDoc or are having trouble completing your camper’s profile, please contact us.

If it is your first time attending camp, we encourage you to come out to one of our Open House events on May 13 or May 20 to take a tour of the property and ask our staff any last-minute questions you have. If you can’t make it up to Wildwood, you can join us at Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln, MA, on May 21 for New Camper Orientation.

Be sure to also visit the Parent Resources section of our website for all kinds of helpful information, including:

We also encourage you to poke around here on the Word from Wildwood blog to see photos of camp in action and get our advice for a successful camp session. One of my favorite posts is from former Wildwood staff member, Amanda, who shares her incredibly efficient method of packing for camp.

See you soon at camp!

Kayaking Fun at Wildwood Overnight Camp!

Wildwood Then & Now: A Reflection in Time

Wildwood campers roast marshmallows over a campfire circa 1953. Photo © Gordon Hicks

Wildwood campers roast marshmallows over a campfire circa 1953. Photograph by Gordon Hicks, courtesy of his daughter, Wildwood alumna Barbara Harting

A lot has changed in Massachusetts and around the globe since 1950, when Wildwood opened as the first youth overnight camp in New England to focus exclusively on natural history education.

Since then, summer camps and schools across the country have been discovering that nature education is a crucial element of youth development. Many studies have shown that time spent outdoors provides children with a number of physical and mental health benefits. Additionally, children who develop a strong connection to the outdoors will value conservation throughout their lives.

Although educational perspectives have evolved, Wildwood’s central focus on connecting kids with nature—and teaching campers about our role in protecting it—is one thing that will never change.

One of the best things about a camp with a history as robust as Wildwood’s is getting to compare what has changed over time along with what has remained consistent. Last summer, camp alumna Barbara Harting gave us the opportunity to do just that when she reached out to share photos taken by her father at Wildwood in the mid-50’s when Barbara and her brothers were campers and their father was the official camp photographer.

Aside from the black-and-white photography and mid-century clothing, it is remarkable to see how similar these scenes are to what we see at camp today.

In this gallery, we’ve paired Barbara’s photos (taken at Wildwood’s original location at Cook’s Canyon in Barre, MA) with photos from our current home in Rindge, NH.

We hope you’ll enjoy, as we have, the common threads that continue to weave our story and withstand the test of time.

Have favorite memories of Wildwood you’d like to share with us? Email your photos to wildwood@massaudubon.org.

View the slideshow here: https://slideshows.massaudubon.org/Camp/Wildwood/Wildwood-Then-Now-A-Reflection-in-Time/n-9Pw8ZH

International Counselor Interview #3: Matt

This is Part 3 of a 3-part blog series. In August 2016, we sat down with three of our international staff members—Karim, Ness, and Matt—to hear what they had to say about Wildwood: the challenges and rewards of being a staff member, their favorite camp activities (Spoiler Alert: they all love the waterfront!), and what makes Wildwood so special.

Don’t miss a story! Subscribe to the Word from Wildwood blog to be notified when these and future blog stories are posted.


2016 Wildwood Camp Counselor Matt

What is your name?

Hi, I’m Matt.

Where are you from?

I’m from England, from a city near Nottingham which is basically the middle of the country.

What is your job title and how long have you been with Wildwood?

I started out in 2014 as a counselor in Abbey (13-14-year-old boys) but this year I’m the Waterfront Director. This is my third summer here.

What brought you to Wildwood?

Basically, there are companies across Europe, as well as England, which send you out to work in different countries. Most of them do nannying—the au pair thing—but there are quite a few companies which do camps. There’s all different types of agencies within England just for the Camps. They all have similar aims but they all do different things for you.

So basically, you do a 15-20 page application form, just with the company, not with Mass Audubon. You do three references, police check, medical check, a few other things, and they mainly want to sponsor your visa and make sure that you are suitable for camp, there for the correct reasons, that you have the correct life experience.

So, once you do that, you have a couple of interviews—a phone interview and a face-to-face interview—with the agency itself. From there, once you’re [determined to be] up to the UK Standard, they send it off to the American parent company where they double-check it, and if you’re up to their standards, they’ll put you onto the national database.

I got very lucky. I got put on the database around 4:00 or 5:00 am and later that morning I was contacted by Wildwood for an interview, saying “We read your application and we’re really interested in offering you an interview. Would you be interested?” I said yes. That was arranged for a few days later, so we did the interview over Skype and then later that evening I was offered the job. It was a very quick process, and even camp leaders said it was abnormal for it be that quick of a process, so I was very fortunate and very lucky to have that happen.

What keeps you coming back each year?

My first summer was such a shock for the first week or two, but after that, it was like a magical experience. Last year was really good, but nothing really beats the first year, in a way. It’s like, “Wow, I’m in America! Wow, this is great! Wow, wow, wow!” There’s nothing like this in the UK. There’s such a strong community bond and you feel like one big family. So, that’s why I came back in 2015 for a second year, I just wanted to experience that again. And that was such a great summer, last year. There was such a great dynamic between all the staff members.

And it’s nice to see how the kids progress, as well, when you get to know certain kids that come back every year. We’re only here for 3-4 months, so it’s not really that long, but when you’re sleeping, eating, working, days off together, you build a great connection with other staff members. And probably half the people I’ve talked to throughout the years are foreign which, three years ago, I thought would never happen, but just through the connections I’ve made here, I’ve got a friend in Columbia, Hungary, one who’ll be going to Spain soon, Scotland, Wales, America obviously, England, and Ireland.

So I’ve got these great connections over the three years, and 2014-2015 New Year’s Eve, some of us met up from camp and spent New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day together. They’re really lasting friendships.

What has been the most challenging?

I feel like the hardest part, when it comes to camp, is probably the first 2-3 weeks, which I try to explain to people. But once you’re really into camp, it doesn’t necessarily come easier, but you kind of know where you are and what your job is, so it’s not as mentally draining.

What’s been the most rewarding?

This is my third summer, so I’ve been able to see kids for not just a week but for two weeks and see them develop over the years.

My first year, I was with the 13-14-year-old boys and in that year, they’re either leaving camp or going on to LITs (Leaders-in-Training), so the ones who are here now are potentially going on to JCs (Junior Counselors) next year. To see them go from campers to leaders and potentially going on to be counselors—it’s just great to see that transition and it’s so great to actually see them grow. Especially the oldest units, the ones I’ve had the most contact with, it’s great to see them develop.

You build a lot of special bonds. They almost become…not your friends as such, but like your younger brother or younger sister.

What drew you to want to be a camp counselor?

Mainly I came over here for the experience and to prove that I could do it, and to come and learn leadership skills. I was interested in working in another country and building confidence or the type of skills I may not have had previously. In some ways, three months can be quite a long time, but in other ways, it’s quite short. If I don’t like it, I don’t have to keep doing it; if I do like it, I can consider doing it again. So I was going into it very open-minded.

A lot of people were saying, “Yeah, just go for it. You get to work in America.” I used to work with a girl who had previously done it, after she finished university back in England, and she said, “Oh, you’d be really suited to work in America, to work at camp. You’d really enjoy it.”

I felt like, coming over here, I was coming for a purpose, to make a difference; I was doing something positive. Because usually, back home, in the UK, normal things to do for [people in their] late teens and early twenties are going on a girls’ or lads’ holiday, where they just go somewhere for a week holiday, and you’re not really doing anything, so it’s sort of wasteful in a way, not doing anything positive.

What is your favorite Wildwood activity?

I’d have to say the waterfront but because I’m down here nearly every day [as the Waterfront Director], I probably take it too much for granted. But when I’m away from it, back at home, and I look at the photos of it, I’m like, “Wow, I miss it.”

And it seems to me like my favorite activity is when we’re doing sailing [with the kids] because I can go out on the motorboat and the feeling of being on the motorboat, just going down the middle [of the pond], first thing in the morning around 9:00 or 9:15 when it’s nice and cool, I can’t do that anywhere else.

What are some of the things that make Wildwood special?

In general, this is quite a small camp, which I think some people prefer. And it’s not competitive. We can make it competitive, in some of the activities that we do, but as a camp, it’s very chill, laid-back, you can go at your own pace, you develop in your own time. If you wish to learn a bit more in-depth what that tree is, you can go and do that, but if you’re not too bothered and just want to be outside and admire it, that’s okay as well.

But the main thing that stuck out to me in the first place, in 2014 when I started, was the community spirit. You know, you get counselors that come back for many years, and in many ways, you felt privileged just to accept the interview, the opportunity.

The main thing is just getting kids outside, away from all the video games, and just making it so simple that you can just be outside, enjoying nature, without even realizing it. A simple example is playing soccer: we play it on the field, surrounded by trees, you’re outside, socializing and getting that confidence and self-esteem just by talking to other people.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering coming from overseas to work at Wildwood, what would it be?

I’d say just be open-minded. It’s not easy. You’ve got to realize that you have to be “on” 24-hours a day, 6 days a week, but it’s also a lot of fun. The first two weeks are the hardest and then you really start to enjoy yourself.

The staff members have a special bond, like the last couple of years, I met up with a group of people for New Year’s Eve. I wouldn’t do that in my “real” job back at home. And when you meet up, the only thing you really talk about is camp, because you just get so many stories from camp each day; you don’t realize how many stories you get until you finish camp.

And nobody understands, apart from the people here. You can try to explain it back at home, but they don’t get the full realization.

International Counselor Interview #2: Ness

This is Part 2 of a 3-part blog series. In August 2016, we sat down with three of our international staff members—Karim, Ness, and Matt—to hear what they had to say about Wildwood: the challenges and rewards of being a staff member, their favorite camp activities (Spoiler Alert: they all love the waterfront!), and what makes Wildwood so special.

Don’t miss a story! Subscribe to the Word from Wildwood blog to be notified when these and future blog stories are posted.


2016 Wildwood Camp Counselor Ness


What is your name?

I’m Ness.

Where are you from?

London, England.

What is your job title and how long have you been at Wildwood?

I’m a counselor in Carson Unit, with the 9-10-year-old girls. This is my first year.

What’s been challenging for you?

The confusion of what I was coming out to do. I did speak to Matt [a third-year international counselor] before coming out here, so he kind of helped me. Also, just getting used to the activities—how the activities run, how you do it and how the kids react, and all of that.

What’s been the most rewarding?

Seeing the children come out of their shells from the first day when they arrive, then seeing them at the end and they don’t want to go home and they’re looking forward to coming back next year. It feels nice to know that they feel so settled and they’ve enjoyed their time.

What made you want to become a camp counselor?

I’ve got experience back home working with children, so I just wanted to experiment with different ages. I was looking at camps for preschoolers, because that’s the age I worked with back home, but then I got the idea, “Let’s give a different age group a go, let’s see how this works.” And also I wanted a different kind of summer experience, because every summertime I’m child-minding for parents that work during the summer holidays and I take charge of the house and the children and I just wanted to change it up. I wanted to have a group of them, not just a few kids, and have the activities there, on-hand. At camp, they have that all there for you.

What is your favorite Wildwood activity?

For me, it’s the waterfront. I never had the chance back home to do kayaking or canoeing, and coming out here and being able to do all this has been the highlight of my summer.

What do you think makes Wildwood special?

It’s all of the nature here, all of the stuff that’s here for the kids, all around us.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering coming from overseas to work at Wildwood, what would it be?

I’d say just do it. Go for it, because if you’re even thinking about it, it’s something you should do. It’s going to be something to look back on and smile at.

International Counselor Interview #1: Karim

This is Part 1 of a 3-part blog series. In August 2016, we sat down with three of our international staff members—Karim, Ness, and Matt—to hear what they had to say about Wildwood: the challenges and rewards of being a staff member, their favorite camp activities (Spoiler Alert: they all love the waterfront!), and what makes Wildwood so special.

Don’t miss a story! Subscribe to the Word from Wildwood blog in the signup box on this page to be notified when these and future blog stories are posted.


2016 Wildwood Camp Counselor Karim

What is your name?

My name’s Karim.

Where are you from?

I’m from Liverpool, England.

What is your job title and how long have you been at Wildwood?

I am the Thoreau Unit Leader, which is the 11-12-year-old boys. This is my first year at Wildwood. My first year in America, as well.

What made you want to become a camp counselor?

To be honest, when I left high school I wanted to do it, but I wasn’t old enough to because I was 16 (we leave high school at 16). My teachers always advised me to do it, because they said I’d enjoy it, and then a guy I’d only known a few weeks suggested it, too. I’d never really had the guts to do it but I always wanted to try it, so I ended up thinking, “You know what? Now is the time to do it. Time to try something different.” Because I was at a boring job I thought, “I want to have more fun with my summers and with my experience,” so I tried it, and now I’m here. Pretty crazy, right?

What has been the most challenging?

The most challenging thing has just been adapting to camp life. When I first got here, I just wanted to go home because it was just so frightening at first, and I struggle with anxiety and self-confidence, so the biggest challenge for me was to force myself to stick it out.

We write letters at the beginning of the summer to our future self to open at the end of camp, and at the time I was feeling really down, but I wrote in the letter, “I’m so happy you didn’t give up.” And I was sticking to that word, so I wasn’t going to give up. That was honestly the most challenging thing.

What has been the most rewarding?

There are so many things. One of the things that really made me happy was just connecting with children like you didn’t think you could, because they’re a lot older than you think. They know so much more than you think. The kids in my unit know so much more than I did when I was 11 or 12, so the most rewarding thing is getting on their level and realizing they’re on your level, in the same terms. They start to really trust you and put their faith in you and then you become really good friends. And when you’re here, they shout your name and run up and give you hugs and that just feels good.

What’s your favorite Wildwood activity?

I feel like I’m having the most fun at the waterfront, especially because we don’t get to see these kinds of views all the time. I’ve only been kayaking once before in my life and now I’ve done it multiple times, so definitely, for me, it’s doing anything on the waterfront—that’s the most fun. It’s something that we can’t get back home.

What are some of the things that make Wildwood special?

The people, 100%. The people you meet here, 110%. And that includes everyone—Meredith, Welch, the program staff, JC’s, even the returning campers who come here as well, to me that’s what makes Wildwood Wildwood.

But besides that, hmm, it’s tough to whittle it down to one point. The place is amazing, too. I love how they focus a lot on nature. And I feel like it’s the approach to nature.

I only just realized this now as I’m picking at the dirt under my nails and I’m not bothered; back at home I’d be like, “Oh my god, my fingernails are so dirty!” But here you don’t care because you’re digging in the dirt and you’re looking for things in the dirt and teaching kids to do that and there’s so many bugs and it teaches kids not to be afraid of bugs anymore. That’s what makes Wildwood Wildwood as well, is how “in nature” it is, or how much it teaches kids to respect nature, but learn how to live in nature and with nature.

I had this realization yesterday that I’m going to go home and talk about camp all the time, until everyone’s sick of it.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering coming from overseas to be a counselor at Wildwood, what would it be?

Just do it. In life, you always hear people say, “You won’t regret it,” but it’s like, “How do you know I won’t? How can you guarantee me?” There’s no guarantee…but I just know you won’t. I’m so happy I came to this place. You learn so much, and you learn so much about yourself—that’s the most important thing.