Category Archives: Summer Camp

Wildwood Summer 2020 Cancellation Notice

Dear Wildwood Community:

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 wildwood@massaudubon.org or leave a message on the camp line at 603-899-5589 and someone will call you back.

Warm regards,

Becky Signature

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:

Knots, Knots, and More Knots!

Checking knots and harness attachments at the ropes course
Checking knots and harness attachments at the ropes course

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.

Okay, it was a little windy for evening campfire so we had to improvise...

A Brief Update from the Director

Okay, it was a little windy for evening campfire so we had to improvise...

Dear Camp Family and Friends,

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 wildwood@massaudubon.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.

Online Camp?

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.

Becky Signature

Becky Gilles
Wildwood Director

Wildwood Director Becky Gilles leading a Beginning Birding class

Bird-a-thon for Wildwood

Wildwood Director Becky Gilles leading a Beginning Birding class
Wildwood Director Becky Gilles leading a Beginning Birding class last spring

What is Bird-a-thon?

On May 15-16, Wildwood will participate in Mass Audubon’s annual Bird-a-thon

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!

To join our team, visit the Wildwood Bird-a-thon Team Page. For more information contact Wildwood Director Becky Gilles at bgilles@massaudubon.org.

Wildwood Dining Hall with Refinished Floors

Spring 2020 Property Update

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!)

New Gaga Pit at Wildwood
New Gaga Pit at Wildwood

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!

Wildwood Dining Hall with Refinished Floors
Wildwood Dining Hall with Refinished Floors

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!

Looking back at Wildwood's waterfront and dining hall from First Point Trail

A Message from Wildwood Director Becky Gilles

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

Dear Wildwood Camp Family,

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).

Though none of us knows what is ahead, we are thankful for your friendship, your generous support, and your patience during this challenging time. For updates about Mass Audubon’s response to COVID-19 and educational resources for families, please visit our website.

Keep up to date on everything Wildwood on our Blog, Instagram & Facebook accounts.

Please call (866) 627-2267 or email wildwood@massaudubon.org if you have any questions or concerns. Wishing good health to you all. 

With gratitude,

Becky Signature

Becky Gilles
Wildwood Director

[NOTE: This letter was sent to all registered camp families via email. If you are registered for summer 2020 and did not receive this email, please contact wildwood@massaudubon.org.]

In Your Words: Dustin Ledgard

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!


Dustin Ledgard leading a silly Camp Olympics activity involving shaving cream
Dustin Ledgard leading a silly Camp Olympics activity involving shaving cream

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.

Dustin Ledgard enjoying an outdoor lunch at Wildwood with chopsticks
The 2019 Wildwood camp staff took part in a “Chopstick Challenge,” eating every meal (even soup!) with chopsticks.

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.

*Wildwood’s Leaders-in-Training and Leaders-in-Action programs are now known as the Environmental Leadership Program, Years 1 and 2, respectively. The Junior Counselors program will be replaced with a Counselors-in-Training (CIT) program this summer.

In Your Words: Nina Swett

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!


Nina Swett leading a group of campers during a Camp Olympics activity
Nina Swett leading a group of campers during a Camp Olympics activity

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!

Nina Swett (bottom right) enjoying some downtime with fellow counselors
Nina Swett (bottom right) enjoying some downtime with fellow counselors

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.

*Wildwood’s Leaders-in-Training and Leaders-in-Action programs are now known as the Environmental Leadership Program, Years 1 and 2, respectively. The Junior Counselors program will be replaced with a Counselors-in-Training (CIT) program this summer.

In Your Words: Jackson Lieb

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!


Jackson Lieb walking a Wildwood trail at sunset
Jackson Lieb walking a Wildwood trail at sunset

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!

Jackson Lieb playing a game of tag with campers on a hot day using a super soaker
Jackson Lieb playing a game of tag with campers on a hot day using a super soaker

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.

*Wildwood’s Leaders-in-Training and Leaders-in-Action programs are now known as the Environmental Leadership Program, Years 1 and 2, respectively. The Junior Counselors program will be replaced with a Counselors-in-Training (CIT) program this summer.

Epic Outdoor Adventures for Teens in 2020

2019 Teen Adventure Trip

Calling all adventurers, ages 14–17!

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.

Some of our fantastic trips for 2020 include:

New Hampshire Rocks!

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.

Bike and Beach: Cape Cod & Nantucket

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.

Explore the Appalachian Trail

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.

New England Highpoints

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.

See all 2020 Teen Adventure Trips >

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.

Spots are filling up; register online or by calling 866-527-2267.

2019 Teen Adventure Trip