Tag Archives: day camp

What is Nature Camp? And Why Should You Try It?

It is summer camp registration season, and that means it’s decision time! Summer is an ideal time for children to be outside, but choosing between camp opportunities can be overwhelming. How do you pick between dozens of options? And why should you consider nature camp?

Photo: Phil Doyle

Why Nature Camp

According to studies done by Common Sense Media in 2017, children ages 4–8 spend three hours per day in front of a screen (outside of school), and that number climbs to over six hours once they reach teenage years. Our camp community is designed to turn that trend on its head and create a new, happy generation of nature enthusiasts who are comfortable in nature and just as excited to share it with others as we are.

Mass Audubon campers laugh, sing, play, and do all of the wacky, fun activities that make summer camp special, and they experience hands-on learning in nature. Exploration and discovery fuel our programming, because campers are curious. Camp activities include things like carefully rolling logs in search of salamanders, dipping nets into ponds to catch water bugs, paddling Massachusetts’ rivers and estuaries, exploring salt marshes for crabs and eels, and tagging butterflies in meadows.

Why You Should Try It

We believe giving campers the opportunity to learn about their surroundings creates better outdoorspeople, community members, and future environmentalists. Additionally, it teaches campers valuable skills like creativity, observation, and self-confidence while giving them opportunities to move and play in both structured and unstructured ways that stimulate mental and social growth.

Our unique and wonderful summer staff help make this possible. We hire counselors who have experience working with children and a passion for sharing their knowledge of the outdoors. Some counselors join us for specific programs based on their area of knowledge in order to deliver the best possible program for our campers. Paddling instructors, nature photographers, birding experts, professional artists, and others enrich the camp experience.

Many campers become Counselors-in-Training (CITs) as teens and eventually staff. Some even go on to be leaders in the environmental and education fields.

Find a Camp Near You!

Mass Audubon offers 20 different camp experiences, from day camps for four-year-olds, to overnight camp for children in elementary and middle school, to teen travel and adventure opportunities—all focused on connecting your child with nature.

Come for a summer experience filled with all the magic and wonder of traditional day camp, and stay for the wildlife, exploration, and new friends. Laugh, love, and learn something new at a Mass Audubon camp this summer!

— Zach D’Arbeloff, Drumlin Farm’s Assistant Camp Director

In Your Words: Camper Mia Papazian

Fourteen-year-old Mia Papazian loves hip-hop, dance, Spanish class, ice hockey, and camp. She has attended Boston Nature Center (BNC) Summer Camp in Mattapan since she was five. Here, this nature hero tells us what keeps her coming back every summer.

Mia Papazian
Mia Papazian

I have always been “into” nature, even though my family never camped before. I like the smell of the breeze and the fresh air, looking at plants and animals and bugs… there’s nothing I don’t like about being outdoors.

That’s why I started coming to camp at BNC. There are so many parts of camp I love, it’s hard to pick a favorite! Some of my best memories are the sleepovers—staying overnight at camp with my friends, sleeping in tents, learning how to build a fire, and making s’mores.

I really enjoy the nature walks. Before I came to camp, I used to be afraid of bugs. But during these walks we learned a lot about plants and insects. Now, I would never kill a bug, and if I see one inside, I bring it outside.

Mia (third kayak from right) paddling while volunteering at Wildwood, Mass Audubon’s overnight camp.

The counselors are also amazing. They’re really nice and I feel like I can trust them because I’ve known most of them for years, including Rebecca, Kim, and Zimmie. To me, a “nature hero” is somebody that’s passionate about nature and excited to learn, and that’s what the camp counselors are like.

This past summer was my first year as an LIT (Leader-in- Training), and it was so fun. I loved working with the Owls (the youngest camper group). They’re really cute. I got to read stories to them and take them on nature walks. I hope that they had fun, too, and learned to love and respect nature, each other, and the counselors, like I do.

In Your Words is a regular feature of Mass Audubon’s Explore member newsletter. Each issue, a Mass Audubon member, volunteer, staff member, or supporter shares his or her story—why Mass Audubon and protecting the nature of Massachusetts matters to them. If you have a story to share about your connection to Mass Audubon, email [email protected] to be considered for In Your Words in a future issue! 

Summer Camp 2014 Highlights

Before we say an official goodbye to summer 2014, here’s a look back at some highlights from our camps across the state—and beyond!

New Programs

Many camps offered new programs that brought campers closer to nature in exciting ways.

Stony Brook trip camp

  • Stony Brook Nature Day Camp in Norfolk offered its first Adventure Camp for teens, which travelled to Douglas State Forest, Purgatory Chasm State Reservation, The Bog and Poutwater Pond & Barre Falls Dam, Quabbin Reservoir, a fish hatchery, and Mt. Watatic allover the course of one week.
  • An enthusiastic group of high schoolers launched the first digital Environmental Education Project, known as DEEP, at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. Merging the technical world with the natural world, campers became virtual land planners, set up wildlife cameras on Boyce Field, and even programmed a mobile adventure game that was tested (and approved!) by younger Drumlin Farm campers!
  • Wildwood offered a new and well-loved Discovery Group activity called “Spider Army,” during which overnight campers searched for and identified insects and arachnids to aid “mad scientist” counselors in inevitable world domination.

Science Exploration

Don’t tell the campers, but science learning is at the heart of all of our programs!

  • Middle-schoolers at the North River Nature Camp in Marshfield built their own microscopes and plankton nets, and used them to explore ”invisible” ocean critters.
  • Wilderness campers at Wachusett Meadow Day Camp in Princeton harvested tall grass and wove it into a 25 foot rope. They tested the strength of their rope with a few rounds of tug-of-war and also discovered that, when used as a swing, it could hold two teenagers!

Wildlife Sightings

Campers discovered all kinds of wildlife wonders during their nature explorations.

Moose Hill bone ID

  • On a field trip to Cape Cod’s South Beach, Wellfleet Bay Natural History Camp-goers found horseshoe crabs, live quahogs, razor clams, shorebirds, and seals. They loved the experience of being on an “island” and feeling as though they were discovering uncharted territory.
  • Moose Hill campers in Sharon discovered a mammal skeleton during a walk through the woods. Using their natural history science knowledge and some team work, they determined it belonged to a raccoon.

Service Projects

Many of our summer programs incorporate stewardship projects to demonstrate to campers that they are capable of making substantial improvements for our environment.

  • Camper Care Crews at Moose Hill Camp kept the sanctuary up to snuff by turning the compost pile, filling the bird feeders, and weeding the garden.
  • Campers at Broad Meadow Brook Summer Day Camp in Worcester came up with a way to give back with a favorite camp activity—making friendship bracelets! Some campers donated their bracelets to the gift shop, where they are sold for $1−$2 each to support the sanctuary’s Camp Scholarship Fund. So far the bracelets have raised $38 to help future campers!

Art and Nature—the Perfect Combination

Arts and crafts are a favorite activity of any summer camp, and ours are no exception.

MABA dana_instruction_group_ceramics

  • Arcadia Nature Day Camp in Easthampton and Northampton offered a new Nature Photography program, bringing nature together with art to celebrate the beauty of the natural world.
  • Wild at Art campers at the Museum of American Bird Art loved having the chance to work with professional artist and instructor Dana Schildkraut during pottery and clay weeks. Dana helped them experiment with nature treasures to create textures and patterns on their sculptures.

While every camp had unique adventures this summer, they all agree that everyday had campers feeling like this:

Today is the best day ever

It’s never too early to start planning for next summer. Check out all 17 day camps and our overnight camp at Wildwood online, and look out for camp registration starting early January!

12 Reasons Mass Audubon Camps Rock

CampPicWhen you choose a summer camp for your child, we know there’s no shortage of options. We also know that as parents, you’re always looking to provide your kids with the best possible experiences.

Perhaps we’re a bit biased, but we think our camps are the bee’s knees, the snake’s hips, the kipper’s knickers, monkey’s eyebrows, oyster’s earrings* … you get the drift.

Just why do Mass Audubon summer camps rock? In brief:

  1. We’re everywhere! We currently have 17 American Camp Association-accredited day camps from the Cape to the Berkshires, plus Wildwood, our accredited overnight camp in Rindge, New Hampshire.
  2. Kids come home dirty, tired, happy, and hydrated every day they’re at camp.
  3. We’re flexible. Our camps typically offer 1- and 2-week sessions, plus before and after care, allowing our sessions to work with many summertime schedules.
  4. Our campers develop a bond with nature that lasts a lifetime.
  5. Kids build confidence, whether your child is safely completing a challenge course 30 feet up in the trees at Wildwood, learning to identify a red eft, or making new friends in new social situations.
  6. No two sessions are alike. Our camps have organized activities but leave plenty of room for personal exploration and group decisions.
  7. Kids sing, explore, dance, paint, get dirty, and discover that the world is literally at their fingertips.
  8. After camp, parents and families learn a great deal about nature from their very own family nature-guide.
  9. We give families the opportunity to partake in the fun with Family Camp at Wildwood.
  10. Kids flex their science, math, social studies, and language arts muscles without even realizing it.
  11. Did we mention that kids get dirty?
  12. Camps help Mass Audubon advance our mission at a local and statewide level to protect the nature of Massachusetts for future generations to enjoy.

Don’t just believe us, take it from a camper: “The most awesome camp anyone could ever go to. No offense other camps. Fun counselors, awesome games, cool nature.”

Are you a Mass Audubon camper or parent of a camper (past or present)? Tell us what one thing you learned or took away from your Mass Audubon camp experience.

Ready to sign up? Don’t delay as spaces are filling up.

* We just love all of the nonsensical wildlife inspired catchphrases used in the 1920s to indicate something excellent.