Tag Archives: overnight camp

Anne Monnelly Carroll Canoeing at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

In Your Words: Anne Monnelly Carroll

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 explore@massaudubon.org to be considered for In Your Words in a future issue!


Anne Monnelly Carroll Canoeing at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

Anne Monnelly Carroll Canoeing with day campers at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary circa 1992

Mass Audubon’s Wildwood was the first overnight camp I attended. I was quite homesick at the start, but as the week progressed, I had several experiences that were transformative. One morning we woke before dawn and hiked Mount Wachusett to see the sunrise. I remember the lavender pre-dawn light and how exciting it was to be up before the sun. When we got off the mountain, it was hot and we were tired, but the best was yet to come.

The counselors brought us to a nearby bog, talking excitedly about a special ceremony, a sort of rite of passage to become “one with nature.” We walked along a boardwalk until we got to a spot where the water was deep and clear, and we completely immersed ourselves in the bog water. I can’t explain what made it so magical, but it clearly made an impression on me that has lasted all these years.

Water has always played a central role in my life. My first water adventures were with my parents in the Ozarks, where they would take me as a newborn down the Current River in a canoe, stopping to camp on gravel bars. In fact, many of my childhood family vacations took place outdoors: we hiked, canoed, camped, birdwatched, and snorkeled.

Looking back, I believe that day in the bog was so special in large part because of the Wildwood counselors. Their excitement and love of nature was infectious. I clearly caught the bug because years later, during summers off from college, I became a counselor myself at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary’s Nature Camp in Topsfield. There, Sanctuary Director Carol Decker became a mentor who showed me how to share the magic and wonder of nature with children.

As a result of these experiences, I have focused my career on protecting water—and my volunteer work on connecting children to the outdoors. My parents planted these seeds, and Mass Audubon nurtured their growth with its wonderful staff, programs, and wildlife sanctuaries. And I hope that I am doing the same for future generations.


Anne Monnelly Carroll is Director of the Office of Water Resources at the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

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.