Hog Island is Definitely the Place to Be

So many good things have happened at the Hog Island Audubon Camp in 2013 and it’s not over yet.

Front and center, of course, is the romantic drama of Steve and Rachel and their two chicks Mabel and Tory, watched by over a million and half viewers.

I'm ready to fledge
I’m ready to fledge

Who would have imagined so much suspense – our very own soap opera. See what’s happening at www.explore.org.

Underneath the site of the soap opera is where all the great things are happening. But where to start: campers, donors, volunteers, instructors, staff. You cannot have one without the other. Each is an integral part of the camp’s continued success.

Campers always smiling and learning

Sessions have averaged 94 percent capacity, with a number of returning campers. Dawn and Glenda were at camp when Steve Kress had just started his project with the puffins. To have a place in people’s hearts for so long is surely something to be treasured.

The Corvids (teens) eager to start camp.
The Corvids (teens) eager to start camp.

Scott Weidensaul directed a new session, The Arts of Birding, which had everyone raving about it.

Then, there were the two sessions with the Corvids (teen) campers – our future. To see their enthusiasm and wonder reassures us that in their hands the future is safe.

We have four more sessions coming up; check them out at www.hog.island.audubon.org

Donors are full of surprises

To say that FOHI donors are full of surprises is an understatement. Thanks to their generosity,

We all love the new picnic tables.
We all love the new picnic tables.

the camp has 10 new picnic tables, a new walk-in fridge, a chest freezer, new dining room chairs, another new specimen cabinet, a completely revamped Bosun’s Locker, new power tools, new Water-Hog mats, new Adirondack chairs, new vacuum cleaners, new trail signs, desk fans for many of the rooms, a 7-passenger van, and various other items. In addition, FOHI was able to fulfill its annual pledge to the camp of $50,000 in June at Field Ornithology.

But the best is yet to come. An anonymous donor has promised $10,000 to FOHI by the end of the year for Fish House improvements, if we can match that amount. To date, we have $2,200 in matching funds. The funds will be used for a new overhead audio/visual system, lighting and fans, and possibly an exhibit of the past, present, and future of the camp.

Volunteers make it happen

Our volunteer team grows, with many repeaters. Their capacity to work and smile – even during the brutally hot weather is awe-inspiring.

Volunteers Eric and Stephanie can't wait to get to work!
Volunteers Eric and Stephanie can’t wait to get to work!

They work hard and play hard. With their generous gift of time and talent, we are able to achieve so much. Like campers they come back repeatedly. Catherine was a camper when Steve was only thinking about relocating puffins.Her time at camp radically changed her course of study. Today she is a university science professor and returned to camp as a volunteer with her spouse, Jim. So far this year, FOHIs have contributed more than 3,800 hours to the camp. They come from all over the country – near and far.

We still have spaces for two special events in August and three sessions in September and the FOHI workweek. Don’t wait to sign-up.

Instructors and staff – indomitable

Enough cannot be said about the instructors and staff. Instructors also come from near and far – some long-time faithfuls; others eager to be part of the Hog Island tradition. They are experts in their field.

Staff, volunteers and instructors as guillemots!
Staff, volunteers and instructors get in the Guillemot spirit!

They work long hours, are patient, good-humored and adept at changing schedules and workshops to accommodate inclement weather.

They happily share their knowledge with those willing to soak it up. They even get into the spirit of camp celebrations, such as Guillemot Appreciation Day.

Then there are the camp staff who are there for every session; they keep the camp infrastructure running and keep campers fed. There is no such a thing as a short day on Hog Island – all days are gloriously long and full until you collapse in bed, your mind reeling from the day’s field trips and workshops or from work making sure that every camper is  having a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

As you see, whether you’re a camper learning , a donor giving, a volunteer giving, an instructor teaching, or a staff member working- you are part of the camp’s brilliant future. Hog Island is definitely the place to be.


Hog Island Bursts with Babies and Volunteers

Two New Babies

Rachel and Steve, our famous Osprey couple now have two eggs. We anxiously await to see if they will have a third. Rachel has a rival for Steve’s affections. Watch the drama unfold at www.explore.org.  Here is another unusual FOHI volunteer opportunity – you, too, can remotely control the osprey cam. Sign up on-line or e-mail Janine at

Are you watching me?
Are you watching me?

Janine.explore@gmail.com. You must be willing to commit 10-15 hours a week from now until August.

A Note from Sue . . .

It’s spring now – the peepers are peeping and the pussy willows are popped!  The woodcocks are winding their way down the sky into the Nash meadow.

Some FOHI have asked, “When do you really need us?” We could really use volunteers during our big Joy of Birding session (June 9-14). This is an incredible all-star session with a full roster of enthusiastic campers.

Later in the summer we have  interesting opportunities like the Small Reach Regatta (August 14-18), where the island will be chock-a-block with fascinating boat people and their small traditional vessels.  And September has a number of interesting options if you’d like to join us during an absolutely perfect time of year in Maine.

Don’t forget about the “Turnover Tornado” option if you only have a day or two to donate – come in on a Friday morning to help us with the departure and refit tasks between sessions, and enjoy a quiet Saturday all to yourself on Hog Island.  I hope to hear from you soon and THANK YOU for all you do. Sign up now to volunteer!

FOHI volunteer Steve always ready to help even on a field trip!
FOHI volunteer Steve always ready to help even on a field trip!

And Finally . . .

FOHI volunteers will be arriving to open up the camp on May 19 and the first campers will arrive May 31. We’re excited about all the new things that are happening on the island. Be sure to include us in your plans for the summer – freshly caught lobster, home-made pies, friendly staff, stunning setting.

Oh, and if you have a 10-15 passenger van or a small motor skiff to replace our workhorse boat send an e-mail to president@fohi.org.

See you on Hog Island.


What’s New for 2013

Why are all these people waving -they’re happy FOHI volunteers. They love being on Hog Island and contributing to its success and well-being. They want you to join them and be part of the FOHI team that rocks!

FOHI work week 1 volunteers in May 2012
FOHI work week 1 volunteers in May 2012

Programs . . .

Yes, the 2013 Hog island season is around the corner. It’s exciting for many reasons:  a great line-up of instructors including some new ones that you won’t want to miss, and a new session, The Arts of Birding, will add a whole new dimension to your enjoyment of birds and nature.

Registration continues to outpace last year’s and some sessions are already full.  Tell friends about this amazing place and these unforgettable learning experiences. Explore what’s available at http://hogisland.audubon.org

Volunteers . . .

Our volunteer team is growing and many are signing up for multiple weeks. Doing so, gives you time to explore the region and relax on the island. It also helps us, because you “learn the ropes” and help teach others. Our volunteer brochure, sign-up sheet, and  information packet are on our website, so it’s all in one place. Cannot leave home this year, then be a remote operator for our  Hog Island osprey cam in the comfort of your home or school.

Another option:  be a Turnover Tornado! Arrive at 8 a.m. on the last day of a session ready to work like a tornado. Clean up, change beds, and lug things off the island – then, by early afternoon, relax and enjoy a quiet overnight on the island hiking and exploring on your own. This is perfect for an overnight commitment! We’re trying.

Annual Report . . .

Like the volunteers, we’re happy!  Our Annual Report is a snapshot of our accomplishments and financial position for 2012. Highlights include over 8,000 volunteer hours; restoration of the Writer’s cabin, donation to the Hog Island endowment, and many other things.  Take a moment  and see what your dollars and hard work have made possible.

Wish List . . .

Ah, we all have wish lists and FOHI and Hog Island has theirs.  FOHI is planning to replace the walk-in fridge on the island by building a new one with volunteers and contributions. If you’d like to help contact president@fohi.org. Other items include chest freezer, pizza oven, 10 Water Hog door mats 2 x 3. Dream item: 8 – 15 passenger van!

The snow is melting, the days are getting longer, and we can’t wait to get back to the island – join us.


Breaking News

Believe it or not, but the number of registrations for the 2013 sessions at Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine are way ahead of this time last year. Word has spread.

Celebrating a birthday at Hog island Family Camp
Celebrating a birthday at Hog island Family Camp

Old favorites, Family Camp, and the new Arts of Birding promise to be sell-outs. Great food, expert instructors, friendly staff, never-ending smiles, stunning scenery – treat a friend, the family, or a grandchild to an experience of a lifetime. Better yet come with them and share the experience.

December 14 is the deadline for the “early-bird” discount, take advantage and register now.  Also check out the brand new website for Hog Island.

Don’t forget that scholarships are available through National Audubon Society.

A limited number of FOHI volunteer slots are also available, so sign-up as soon as possible to assure your spot.

The 2013 Hog Island line-up promises yet another energizing and creative season  – be part of it! 

Writer’s Cottage Restored

From Eric Snyder: Thanks to the hard work of a small group of FOHI volunteers and donors we were able to have a wonderfully successful week restoring the small Writer’s Cottage on Hog Island. This cottage was one of two that remain on site and made up the summer home of Mabel Loomis Todd and her daughter Millicent Todd Bingham. A wonderful example of a Maine island camp, these buildings feature a rustic building style and beautiful fireplaces.

Writer's Cabin - FOHI volunteers 2012
Writer’s Cabin – FOHI volunteers 2012. Standing: Eric, Jamie, Asa, Patrick, Pete; sitting: Juanita, Nicole, and Matt; missing: Joanne

The smaller writer’s cabin was badly neglected for several decades. The roof leaked so heavily that the entire floor had rotted through and many joists were weakened. Roof boards were caving in and some sections of the foundation sill were completely missing. Inspired by the results of a 2011 workweek to restore the main lodge, a group of 8 dedicated volunteers helped to restore the cottage this last week.

Everyone pitched in and we accomplished everything we were hoping and then some. The cabin now looks great, and I am sure will last into its second century and beyond. We shored up the foundation and sills, replaced most of the rafters and joists in the floor and roof. The roof was replaced by traditional cedar shingles and we laid a new floor inside. The fireplace was cleaned and a new stone hearth built. The interior walls were stabilized, siding patched, front steps fixed, and trim painted. We were even able to add some furniture. We put back the original chimney cap, upon which the name “F.A. Lailer 7/22/21” was inscribed. We found it under the building.

Lailer stone at Writer's Cottage
Lailer stone at Writer’s Cottage

These cottages are rich in the history of Maine, literature, and the conservation movement. Hog Island is now in a better position to incorporate the Bingham Cottages and that part of the island into its programming and mission on Hog Island. Thank you again to all who helped make it such a fun and productive week. To see more photos of the Writer’s Cabin restoration click here.

Editor’s note: The FOHI volunteers who generously gave their time and wanted to be part of Hog Island’s history were: Pete Snyder, Asa Snyder, Nicole Passeri, Matthew Horan, Joanne Sharpe, Jamie Wisnwieski, Patrick Larson, Moe Martin and Juanita Roushdy. Thanks to Eric Snyder, Hog Island Manager, who also gave extra time to FOHI and patiently guided us through the restoration. Of course, without our FOHI donors we could not have accomplished the restoration of both the Bingham Cottages – thank you.


Volunteers are still needed for the September program sessions. So, sign up and we’ll see you soon.