Bart Cadbury: Crossing the Bar

Bart CadburyFriends, I must report to you that we have temporarily slipped our main mooring.

Our dear colleague, mentor, and guiding light, Bart Cadbury, died of cancer April 6 at his home in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Those of you who have been associated with the Audubon Camp in Maine know of his lasting influence on Hog Island and the Audubon program since the 1950s, when he served as marine life instructor and camp director for 10 years, and through the ensuing decades thereafter. For nearly three-quarters of this camp’s long history, Bart Cadbury occupied center stage in the evolution of this island and its mission, and he did so with steadfastness and loyalty, great humor and wit, and profound wisdom and experience.

Indeed, the “Friends of Hog Island” would not exist today without the foresight and devotion of Bart and Virginia Cadbury, and the entire Cadbury family, to the life of this place. When it seemed that there might no longer be a place for the Audubon Camp in Maine within the Audubon cause, it was Bart and Ginny Cadbury who spoke eloquently of the continuing need for a Hog Island in American conservation.

They continue to point the way, with great clarity of vision, for the rest of us to follow.

There will be many opportunities in the future to remark on the legacy of Bart Cadbury. The Cadbury family plans its own services in Philadelphia and in Maine, both in June; Bart’s passing was also marked in Hanover earlier this month with a gathering of family and close friends. We will pass along details, as appropriate.

But I can think of no greater testimonial to the impact of Bart Cadbury’s life on Hog Island than our own FOHI gathering this June, as we embark on yet another week of annual devotion to the Audubon Camp in Maine, through our commitment of time and talents to this island he so loved.

While, with Bart’s passing, we may have temporily slipped our mooring, in no sense are we adrift.

Please send us your memories of Bart Cadbury so we can post an online memorial.

A place in the heart

At the top of the hill on Keene Neck Road in Bremen, Maine, I look out across Muscongus Bay to Burnt and Benner islands in the far distance. Nearer to shore, several other small islands rise out of the sun-flecked water and my eye is drawn even closer to the Queen Mary across the narrows, perched precariously on the north tip of Hog Island.

The old pattern of nature education, which stressed identification, was replaced by one emphasizing the interdependence of living things with their environment and each other.

No, it is not the ocean liner. It is one of a group of buildings that forms the nucleus of the Audubon Camp, established in 1936 by the National Audubon Society as a part of their expanding education program.

Thus began Audubon’s camp program which was to expand into a far-flung chain of camps and nature centers spanning the country…

It was this view and this property that intrigued John H. Baker, the newly-elected president of NAS, in 1934, as he stood with Millicent Todd Bingham, the owner of most of Hog Island, looking across Hockamock Channel. He was searching for a proper site for his brain child: a camp where adults, teachers, camp counselors, and Audubon chapter leaders could come to learn about ecology in the field.

The setting was ideal. A 33-acre parcel on the north end of the island, complete with buildings belonging to a small summer boarding colony which had closed, was for sale. A purchaser was found who donated the property to Audubon, and in June, 1936, the Audubon Nature Camp was opened under the direction of Carl W. Buchheister, a private school teacher who had also directed a small camp for children.

Thus began Audubon’s camp program, which was to expand into a far-flung chain of camps and nature centers spanning the country and leading the way for other organizations involved in nature education. The old pattern of nature education, which stressed identification, was replaced by one emphasizing the interdependence of living things with their environment and each other.

Throughout its history, the camp has been blessed with several assets. A site of rare natural beauty with easy access to a variety of habitats makes field study a constant source of wonder and excitement. Over the years, the teaching staffs have been highly-trained naturalists who were able to interpret these habitats and demonstrate the interaction of natural systems. This combination has provided a unique experience for more than 50,000 campers in the 60+ years the camp has been operating.

Many camp graduates have returned as staff or gone on to other Audubon programs. In 1999, three Audubon vice-presidents were either ex-campers or staff. Others have found important positions in colleges or universities, in schools, and as Audubon chapter leaders, bringing their expertise to the benefit of all.

Bart Cadbury was director of the Audubon Camp in Maine director from 1958-68.

The future: Hog Island needs you

Over the years the program at Hog Island has undergone changes and modifications, but the essential goal has always been to awaken campers to the richness of habitats and their complex interrelationships.

A field trip may visit a fresh water pond and explore the wealth of plant and animal life to be found there. Another group might be visiting a seabird colony to determine the factors which make it possible for it to succeed or attempt to understand why it may not and whether its success or failure should be considered in relation to man’s presence or absence.

It was from such studies that the Audubon Seabird Program (sometimes referred to as the “Puffin Project”) began under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Kress. This program, which has had great success under his direction, was an outgrowth of field trips which he led to Eastern Egg Rock in Muscongus Bay while he was Camp Director in the 1970s. It is only by understanding the total ecosystem, including physical and biological influences, that the interaction within habitats can be interpreted.

The cost of operating the camp has never been covered by the fees charged. This has been accepted in the interest of making it possible for the greatest number of campers to attend. As a result, the camp property and equipment have been allowed to deteriorate. Although some of the tuition gap has been filled by scholarships provided by interested groups including Audubon chapters, there is a large back log of deferred maintenance which needs attention.

We ask you to examine our needs and your hearts and pledge your support for the future of the Audubon Camp on Hog Island.

To address these needs, a small group of former and current staff, campers, and student assistants assembled at the camp in July 1998. We knew that there was a large body of loyal alumni and friends, so we set about the creation of a support group. We decided to call it the “Friends of Hog Island” and in subsequent meetings hammered out the organization that brings you news of the Camp in FOHI’s Across the Narrows newsletter.

We identified three major areas where our efforts might help bridge the gap between cost of operation and tuition income. The first was for a second boat to provide transportation for students in the field as well accessibility between the island and the mainland. Second was the need for additional scholarship funding to supplement tuition shortfall. Finally, we recognized the continuing need for restoration of deteriorating buildings and equipment.

We ask you to examine our needs and your hearts and pledge your support for the future of the Audubon Camp on Hog Island.

Bart Cadbury was director of the Audubon Camp in Maine director from 1958-68.