Each year, I look forward to getting my summer camp t-shirt, no matter how old I am. Like you, I miss camp, and I’m happy to put on a camp shirt and feel a little closer to my summer home.
Last week I woke up and knew it was a camp shirt kind of day, so I pulled out my favorite one, a sage green shirt with a beautiful loon on the front. The nostalgia I feel every time I open my drawer of camp shirts makes me close my eyes for a moment to remember some of my favorite camp memories: My morning walk to the dining hall and the excitement I feel when I smell the pancakes and bacon, an afternoon spent laying in a hammock in the Chill Zone, sitting in the amphitheater full of campers singing at the top of their lungs, or jumping into the pond during OATs. I actually laugh out loud when I remember Heffalump Hunts.
Wildwood’s 70th summer didn’t go at all how we’d planned, of course, but until we can celebrate together again in 2021, we want you to have that nostalgic camp t-shirt feeling, so we’re offering a special Wildwood t-shirt that you can order now!
Not only can you help support Wildwood by purchasing a 2020 Wildwood T-shirt, but you can also wear it and think of all the amazing camp memories you have made in the past and all the memories we will make next summer.
Do you know how to dress for different winter conditions? What to do if frostbite sets in? How to build a fire on top of the snow? Or maybe how to build a shelter outside?
Learn these and even more winter outdoor skills with staff from Wildwood Camp and the Jaffrey Parks & Recreation Department during our Winter Explorers program series.
This winter, on the third Saturday of each month, we’ll discover a different skill to help us brave the winter weather. Each session takes place from 9:00 to 11:00 am.
Register online on the Jaffrey Parks & Rec website for one session or for all four at a discounted rate.
November: Winter Attire
Saturday, November 21, 2020 At Jaffrey Parks and Recreation 31 Howard Hill Road, Jaffrey, NH 03452
What are your jeans made of, and can they really keep you warm in cold weather? Through a variety of experiments, learn the “do’s and don’t’s” of what to wear during the winter months, including the differences between various fabrics.
Note: Participants should bring clothes in a backpack or bag that you believe could help keep you warm if you were outside in the cold for ten hours.
December: Winter First Aid
Saturday, December 19, 2020 At Wildwood Camp 462 Old New Ipswich Road, Rindge, NH 03461
Be prepared for any accident that may occur during the winter months. Learn the warning signs for hypothermia, frost bite, and dehydration and what to do if you or someone else is showing signs.
Note: Instructor Cheryl is a certified Red Cross First Aid instructor; participants will not be certified at the end of the program.
January: Fires & Cooking
Saturday, January 16, 2021 At Wildwood Camp 462 Old New Ipswich Road, Rindge, NH 03461
Have you ever tried to build a fire on snow? What happens to wood when it is wet? Learn the answers to these questions and more as we build a fire and cook over an open flame. Together we will learn the science of how to start a fire without matches.
Note: Participants should bring a travel mug, thermos, or cup with a lid for hot beverages.
February: Shelters & Knots
Saturday, February 20, 2021 At Wildwood Camp 462 Old New Ipswich Road, Rindge, NH 03461
Protecting yourself from harsh winter weather with a DIY shelter is a great skill to have! Use materials you can find in the woods to help make your shelter safe and warm, and learn different knots and lashings to create a camp chair or even a table!
To register for these programs, please visit the Jaffrey Parks & Rec website. Join for one session or for all four at a discounted rate! Should you have any questions, reach out to Wildwood’s Education Program Manager, Cheryl Oliveira at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us in summer 2020 for a physically distanced family getaway at Wildwood! Wildwood is turning our camp into a campground for camp families from July 10–October 15. We will provide families with a space to sleep and relax while being physically distanced from others.
You can choose from any of the following lodging options:
We will assign one family only to each unit. Each unit has a firepit, wood, sink, toilets, picnic table, trash & recycle cans. Families bring their own bedding, personal items, food, and all cooking/cleaning gear.
The waterfront is open from 10:00 am–noon and 2:00–5:00 pm and is included in the nightly rate. Waterfront activities include canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding & swimming. If possible, families are encouraged to bring their own lifejackets.
The shower house is a shared space. We will assign families a time block to shower and will clean and sanitize the shower house between families.
Check-in is from 1:00–5:00 pm and check-out is no later than 11:00 am. We ask families to move out of the unit by 11:00 am in order to avoid being charged for an extra night, but they are allowed to continue to enjoy our property after check-out.
It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we announce that Mass Audubon will not be opening Wildwood Camp for the summer of 2020. We will also be rescheduling the 70th Anniversary Alumni Weekend. This was not an easy decision to make. The health and safety of our campers, staff, and community have always been our top priority, and given the COVID-19 crisis we know this is the right thing for us to do.
Please watch our closing video here with a special message from the director:
Our community is resilient and through our love of Wildwood, we will make it through this! We survived moving locations three times over the past 70 years and have grown stronger through the challenges we face. The recovery plan for New Hampshire’s economy provides a slow and cautious approach for the months ahead, with many limiting regulations in place. After further research and discussion, we concluded that the camp experience as we’ve known and loved on Hubbard Pond will not be possible this year.
All 2020 campers are eligible to return next summer, regardless of age or grade in school. Summer camp families have the option to:
Receive a full 2020 tuition refund
Roll tuition to next year (get 2021 at the 2020 price)
Donate all or part of the tuition to Wildwood (for a tax-deductible donation)
Thank you to those who have already generously donated. These are challenging times and your support means so much. Please contact us to let us know what you would like to do with your 2020 tuition.
Things are hard right now, but remember: camp is a place where we do hard things. Doing hard things is how we learn courage, resilience, self-confidence, and grit, and adopt a healthy “growth mindset”. With that in mind, we want you to know that we’re here for you. Look for more information coming soon about engaging with us on social media, reimagined summer programming, and much more as we make every effort to continue to engage and support you throughout this summer and beyond.
We are forever appreciative and thankful for our Wildwood Community. We hope you and your family are able to remain safe and healthy during these times, and we look forward to the day we all meet again in person. Get out and enjoy nature and know that Wildwood is always right there in your heart.
If you have questions or are ready to alert us to your refund preferences please contact us at email@example.com or leave a message on the camp line at 603-899-5589 and someone will call you back.
Becky Gilles Wildwood Director
P.S. We know this will be really difficult news for many of our campers to process. Please take advantage of some of the resources below and contact us if we can support you—we are here for you!
Resources for discussing summer without camp with your children:
Confident and competent rope work is an essential skill at camp. Whether sailing, camping out, at the ropes course, or just making your unit dope, there are a variety of knots that are useful at camp. There are hundreds of useful knots, but the list below covers almost all of the ones you need to know at camp, so grab a piece of rope and give it a shot!
Bowline: The bowline (pronounced “boh-lin”, like a bow on a gift box plus the name Lynn) is a super versatile knot. With a little practice, it’s quick to tie and easy to untie. Extremely useful for sailing and camping.
Clove Hitch: A useful knot for quickly and securely tying the end (or middle, if you know how to do it) of a rope to just about anything. Useful all over camp.
Figure-8: The mother knot for a whole family of knots. It has limited (but still important) uses by itself, but the other knots in the family are critical on the ropes course. Master this one first and then check out the figure 8 follow-through, 8-on-a-bight, and the Super-8.
Taughtline hitch: A knot for adjusting the tension on a rope, we use this one on the tents in the units and on guy lines for tents and dining flies on campouts.
Truckers Hitch: Probably the most complicated knot you should learn for camp, it’s actually a series of knots. Used for getting tons of tension on a rope, like when making a clothesline or putting up a dining fly. There are many ways to it.
Sheet Bend: A much more secure way than a square knot to join two ends of rope, but still super simple to tie.
We hope you are well and we miss you. We wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much we are thinking about you and hoping to see your brilliant, beautiful faces this summer.
The health and safety of our campers have always been our top priority. We are still aiming for our May 20 deadline to announce our summer camp plans. We have had a few questions we wanted to follow up on.
Is Mass Audubon running camp this summer?
We are eagerly awaiting guidance from the CDC and/or state health officials on whether and in what capacity we will be able to offer camps to our communities this summer. Camp may not look the same this year, but we’re doing everything we can to plan for a summer of fun in the outdoors with you in a way that makes sense for the safety and well-being of our communities.
What if you want to withdraw from camp?
We recognize that in-person camp may not possible for every family. If your family would like to withdraw from camp you will receive a full refund. Please contact the camp office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-627-2267.
We hope that families will consider redirecting some or all of their camp fee as a donation, or keep a credit on file for future use at Mass Audubon. Program income is a large part of how we accomplish our mission of Protecting the Nature of Massachusetts. By donating all of or part of your fee or creating a credit for future use, you can support Mass Audubon’s mission and our ability to provide ongoing programming.
We are working on creating some virtual camp experiences for this summer. Getting kids out in nature and away from electronic devices has long been a core value for our camps and one that we are giving careful consideration throughout the planning process. Our goal is not to replace nature with screens, but to utilize virtual communication as a tool to safely connect with our camp families, interact face-to-face, and share ways to get outside and explore.
We hope you are staying healthy and safe. Please don’t hesitate to connect with us if you have concerns.
Thanks so much for being a part of the Mass Audubon Camp family.
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!
Since camp ended last fall, we have been busy working on the property and have some very exciting projects to share with you. While our resources (staff time and funding) are now very limited, we were able to get some major projects done over the winter and continue to make as many improvements as we can.
The sinks in every unit now have a roof on them, so you can brush your teeth and not get wet in the rain. We also rebuilt many of the fire pits in the units.
We installed a Gaga Ball pit in the rec field and we can’t wait to see lots of campers playing! (If you’re not sure what Gaga is, search for videos on YouTube—it’s a lot of fun!)
The big project we worked on was the Dining Hall. The kitchen half of the building needed some structural work, so the floor was removed down to the dirt and a new poured concrete floor installed. We learned that porcupines really liked living under the Dining Hall in the winter!
In the dining room, the wood floor has been sanded and refinished back to its original natural red oak color. We think it came out beautiful!
We can’t wait until our campers can come and enjoy the improvements we’ve made and start putting that Gaga pit to good use!
I hope this letter finds you all safe and healthy.
We at Mass Audubon are looking towards this summer with hope that we have come through this pandemic with our friends and families safe, and that we can return to our favorite activities, like connecting campers with nature. With that in mind, we are hoping to provide another wonderful summer of camp as planned.
Camper Session Dates
Changes to your camper’s session start date and other aspects of camp may occur due to recommendations from the CDC and state health authorities during the current pandemic. If we need to delay the start of this year’s camp season or cancel, we will notify you by May 20.
Camp Due Dates
We have extended the May 15 deadline for final payments, camper withdrawals, and health form completion to June 15 (Though to help us best prepare for summer, we encourage you to complete your camper’s health forms earlier, if possible).
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.