Category Archives: Summer Camp

9 Things Summer Camp Teaches You About Life

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.

Camp friends can become like family
Camp friends can become like family

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.

Campers work together to scale the ropes course wall
Campers work together to scale the ropes course wall

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.

Reading a book in a hammock in the Chill Zone
Reading a book in a hammock in the Chill Zone

“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.

Ponding by Canoe
Ponding by Canoe

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.

Introducing Wildwood’s NEW Counselor-in-Training Program!

LITs lead a song and dance
CITs will lead camp activities such as pre-meal songs and dances.

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 differences?

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.
CITs receive training from staff in working with children
CITs receive training from staff in working with children.

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 kbranin@massaudubon.org.

Work at Wildwood: The Best Summer of Your Life!

2019 Wildwood Staff Photo

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!

We love our Wildwood Staff!
Wildwood staff are like family!

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.
  • AND SO MUCH MORE!
We love our silly, wonderful staff!
We love our silly, wonderful staff!

Okay, I’m In. Now What?

Wildwood is hiring for a variety of positions, including naturalists, unit counselors, and more:

If spending a summer at Wildwood sounds like something you want to do, please reach out to us at workatwildwood@massaudubon.org, or call us anytime with questions at 866-627-2267.

See all open positions at Wildwood and download an application by visiting our website.

Training Teen Leaders: Wildwood’s Environmental Leadership Program

Teens Lead a Song and Dance Outside the Wildwood Dining Hall
Teens lead a song and dance outside the Wildwood dining hall

Nature needs the next generation of environmental leaders to be ready!

Over the last few years, the teen leadership programs at Wildwood have undergone some changes to better support the Mass Audubon and Wildwood mission. We are excited to announce that going forward our teen leadership program will be called the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP). This better reflects the program’s offerings and goals and will help to set it apart from programs offered at other camps. The goal of ELP is to equip and encourage teens entering grades 10+ to be effective environmental advocates and conservation leaders in their homes and communities.

The Environmental Leadership Program will mirror the progressive nature of Leaders-in-Training and Leaders-in-Action programs in a single two-year program.* The first year of the ELP program is a two-week camp experience where participants will learn foundational leadership skills and how to be a leader in any role within a group. Second-year ELPs spend three weeks further developing these skills so each individual can hone their own leadership strengths.

During each session, Wildwood staff will challenge teens to develop their individual leadership and community-building skills and support them as they develop their own voice and style of leadership. ELPs will also focus on an environmental or conservation topic and how they can apply their leadership skills to make a positive impact on the world.

*Note: Second-year ELPs are selected by application and interview. Teens finishing 10th or above this summer are eligible for selection. Prior LIT or Teen Adventure Trip participants are especially encouraged to apply. Contact the Wildwood office at 866-627-2267 or email us for more information.

Teens lead a Stock Market game at Wildwood
Teens lead a Stock Market game at Wildwood

Program Details

At the beginning of each session, participants work with their ELP facilitators and each other set goals for their experience together. ELPs will then be involved in team-building activities and workshops that aim to develop their ability to help the group and individuals achieve those goals.

ELPs practice their skills by planning and facilitating a lesson or activity for their peers, helping counselors and camp staff plan and lead an evening program for the camp, and serving as role models for the entire camp community. ELPs may also meet members of the Rindge community, visit other Mass Audubon sites, and explore new habitats.

ELPs take part in a two-night camping trip during which they will plan and implement a day-long hike or other outdoor experience as a group.

Bike & Beach Teen Adventure Trip - Service Project
Teens participate in a service project planting trees and picking up litter

Service Projects

As part of the program’s focus on leadership within groups and communities, ELPs will take part in several hours of environmentally focused service. Past service projects include sustainable agriculture at a local farm, trail building for local conservation lands, and invasive species removal for state parks. Wildwood tracks any service hours performed and early in the fall provides a letter to all ELPs documenting their service hours for progress towards honors service hours, graduation requirements, and more.

Learn more and register for the Environmental Leadership Program on our website.

SAVE THE DATE: Wildwood Alumni Reunion – August 2020!

Wildwood Group Photo, black and white, circa 1984
Wildwood Group Photo circa 1984

Wildwood has welcomed campers to explore nature at four camp locations throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire since 1950. Summer 2020 marks our 70th anniversary as well as 20 years since we purchased our permanent camp location in Rindge, New Hampshire.

To celebrate, we are hosting an alumni reunion weekend from August 22–23, 2020! Folks can choose to sleepover in a cabin or platform tent, just like back in the day, or come for a single day of fun activities and reminiscing on Sunday. Airport shuttles from Manchester or Boston will be available. 

We can’t wait to see you and hear your camp stories!

Canoeing at Wildwood circa 1996 or 1997
Canoeing at Wildwood circa 1996 or 1997

We’ll have more information soon and official registration will begin in March. Until then, here are a few details:

Saturday, August 22
2:00 pmCheck-in begins
2:15–5:15 pmActivities open: Naturalist walks, beach and waterfront activities, and more
5:30 pmWelcome reception
6:15 pmDinner
7:30 pmCampfire and Evening Program (EP)
Sunday, August 23
7:00 amPre-Breakfast Jaunt (PBJ)
8:30 amBreakfast
9:30 amActivities open: Naturalist walks, beach and waterfront activities, etc.
Check-in begins for day visitors
11:30 amWelcome, Wildwood History, and Songs
12:30 pmLunch cookout and social hour
2:00 pmActivities open: Naturalist walks, beach and waterfront activities, etc.
4:00 pmFinal gathering and goodbyes

Tuition:  $25.00 per day per person; $65.00 for the whole weekend, including lodging

Email wildwood@massaudubon.org with any questions you may have.

Teen Vacation Week Trek: Winter in the Whites

Experience the wonders of winter and learn new ways to enjoy the outdoors year-round during our February Vacation Week Teen Adventure Trip: Winter in the Whites!

Sunset from Mount Cardigan during the 2019 Winter in the Whites Teen Adventure Trip
Sunrise on Mount Cardigan during the 2019 Winter in the Whites Teen Adventure Trip

Trip Overview

This trip embraces the challenges of winter and focuses on the outdoor opportunities unique to the season. We’ll explore Mount Monadnock and the White Mountains by snowshoe and learn about the natural world in winter. We’ll sleep in rustic cabins, yurts, and—weather permitting—spend one night in tents to truly experience winter camping. All food and snacks will be provided and participants will learn outdoor cooking skills while taking on a share of camp cooking and cleaning duties.

Itinerary

The week begins at Wildwood where we’ll build and learn new skills, then hone them with a climb up Mount Monadnock and camping in a rustic Yurt village. Each year, we finish the week out by venturing north to explore a different location in the White Mountains.

This year, we’ll head for the Crawford Notch area near the Presidential Range and the Twin Range. We’ll spend a night in a cozy AMC lodge before setting out to put our new skills to the test with two nights of backpacking and summiting snow-covered peaks, including one of New Hampshire’s famed 4,000-footers. We’ll spend the first night in an alpine cabin, accessible only by foot, and wrap up with a night camping on (or under!) the snow.

Last year we had a great time with five teen trekkers summiting peaks and exploring the snow-covered landscape. One teen trekker described the experience as “surreal”, and has continued to get outdoors, accumulating over a month of exploring the outdoors since our trip!

The Trip Leaders

Winter in the Whites is led by fulltime staff from Mass Audubon’s Education Department who have experience guiding and teaching camping, as well as Wilderness First Aid training and experience. If you attend programs at Wildwood or Habitat Education Center you might know this year’s leaders, Kyle Branin and Paul Kelley.


Paul Kelley is the Onsite Education Coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary.

He 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.


Kyle Branin Winter Headshot

Kyle Branin is the Teen Program Coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Wildwood Camp. He has a Bachelor’s degree in outdoor education from Southern Utah University and is a Leave No Trace Master Educator.

He has taught and guided backpacking trips across the country. Kyle believes backcountry travel offers a unique chance for deep nature immersion and loves facilitating this connection to nature for others while teaching the skills to move through our natural world comfortably and harmoniously.

During the trip, we will also spend time with other Mass Audubon educators and outdoor professionals.

How to Sign Up

You can register online for this exciting trip of a lifetime or call the Wildwood office at 603-899-5589 to sign up—we would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Winter in the Whites is led in partnership with Mass Audubon’s Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in Belmont, MA.

Winter Hiking With Wildwood

Winter Hiking with Wildwood at Mount Monadnock
Winter Hiking with Wildwood at Mount Monadnock

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!

We love our Wildwood Staff!

Registration is Open! (And Other Things We’re Thankful For)

The wait is over! Registration for summer 2020 at Wildwood is now open!

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.

Two friends taking a walk on the beach in the sunshine

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.

Tie-dye clothes hanging on a line

Being Ourselves

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.

Campers pose with props for a photo booth

Sunsets over Hubbard Pond

Each one is unique and each one is beautiful. Need we say more?

Sunset over Hubbard Pond

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!

We love our Wildwood Staff!

Summer 2019 Highlights

It’s been two months since we wrapped up camp for the summer (say WHAT???) and even though fall is beautiful at Wildwood, it can get awfully quite around camp in the off-season, making us feel nostalgic for the warm, laughter-filled days of summer. We’re guessing maybe you’re missing it, too, so here’s a look back at some of our favorite moments.

Fourth of July Extravaganza

To celebrate our nation’s birth, we had a slip ‘n’ slide, sponge toss games, giant Jenga, bubbles, temporary tattoos, and face-painting. The party was made complete by some really fantastic music!

July 4th Slip-n-Slide
July 4th Slip-n-Slide

Tropical Paradise Night

Camp Director Becky’s favorite moment was the Tropical Paradise Night. She says, “I stood watching our whole camp swimming, boating, dancing, and doing crafts. Everyone was smiling and being themselves; it was magical to watch. As camp director, I could not ask for more.”

Dance party outside the dining hall
Even Becky got in on the dance party!

The Chill Zone Hammocks

Adding camping hammocks to The Chill Zone really took the relaxation factor to the next level. It was the perfect place to curl up with a good book during OATs (Open Activity Times).

Reading a book in a hammock at the Chill Zone
Reading a book in a hammock at the Chill Zone

Family Camp Beach Cookouts

It was amazing to have a huge bonfire on the beach at the end of each Family Camp session. We made tons of different desserts, including churning our own ice cream, baking gingerbread cake in orange peels, cooking banana boats in foil packets on the fire, and roasting pineapple on skewers.

Hand-churning ice cream
Hand-churning ice cream at a Family Camp beach cookout

Heffalump Hunts

A time-honored tradition, Heffalump Hunts are a favorite Evening Program of many campers and staff. Counselors and LITs get so creative with their costumes and challenges for the campers!

Heffalump Hunting!
Campers gather around a Heffalump outside the Camp Store

Sunday Beach Parties

On the Sunday of each two-week session, we had a camp-wide beach party, including free swim, open boating for all, fabulous music, water balloon tosses and more.

Roasting pineapple on skewers over a beach campfire
Roasting pineapple on skewers over a beach campfire

Finding Forest Friends

There is so much to find on the forest floor if you know where to look! We found tons of Red Efts (juvenile Eastern Newts—also Wildwood’s mascot!) and Eastern Red-backed Salamanders this summer, along with lots of other cool creatures!

Just one of many Eastern Red-backed Salamanders we found this summer
Just one of many Eastern Red-backed Salamanders we found this summer

All-Camp Dance Parties

Need we say more?

Conga line dance party!
Conga line dance party!

Thanks for an incredible summer, everyone! Keep checking the blog and subscribe to the Wildwood eNews to be the first to hear when we open registration for summer 2020.

A spontaneous conga line broke out

2019 Overnight Camp: Session 5 – Part 2

There’s time for just one more update from overnight camp. It’s so hard to believe it’s already over!

We had a Tropical Paradise Beach Party and it was an outrageous amount of fun: Swimming, canoe wars, sandcastle-building, limbo, a photo booth with props, giant Jenga and Connect 4, and one really epic dance party!

Another highlight of the week was “Becky’s Surprise DG” which took a group of intrepid campers to nearby Cathedral of the Pines, a beautiful stone cathedral set against the backdrop of Mount Monadnock. We explored the site’s many beautiful gardens and outdoor chapels and learn about the history of the war memorials scattered throughout the grounds. Plus, there were popsicles!

Check out a few highlights from the last week of summer camp and see the full album on SmugMug.

See you next summer!

Popsicles at Cathedral of the Pines
Popsicles at Cathedral of the Pines
At Cathedral of the Pines with Mount Monadnock in the background
At Cathedral of the Pines with Mount Monadnock in the background
Reading a book in a hammock in the Chill Zone
Reading a book in a hammock in the Chill Zone
Two campers help each other bring a paddleboard to the water
Two campers help each other bring a paddleboard to the water
It's a beach party from a 60's movie!
It’s a beach party from a 60’s movie!
A spontaneous conga line broke out
A spontaneous conga line broke out
Campers try out some of the props in the photo booth
Campers try out some of the props in the photo booth
A perfect night for a dip!
A perfect night for a dip!
Looking good, you two!
Looking good, you two!
How low can you go?
How low can you go?
Giant Connect 4
Giant Connect 4
Take it back now, y'all
Take it back now, y’all
We love our silly, wonderful staff!
We love our silly, wonderful staff!
Airband Heroes
Airband Heroes
Get your dance on!
Get your dance on!