So Much is Happening

The best news is that even though camp registration is at 81% of capacity, it’s not too late to register. Likewise volunteer slots are going like hotcakes with four sessions already with waiting lists: Educator’s week, Joy of Birding, Raptor Rapture, and Migration I. If you’ve been thinking about being a camper or a volunteer, don’t procrastinate. Register or sign up now; otherwise you’ll be on the wait list.

Not only is the scenery breathtaking, the instructors outstanding, the staff friendly, the volunteers amazing, the air clean, but also the food is locally fresh and oh so tasty. Chef, Cleo, and assistant chef, Kristi, are coming back for 2017, as are the rest of the team, Eric, Adrian, Eva, and Juanita. We look forward to breaking bread with you.

Breaking FOHI news

Breaking FOHI news is the election of five new board members: Leigh Altadonna, Randy Blackburn, Tiffany Huenefeldt, ex officio, James Li, M.D., and David Sturdevant. We heartily welcome them and look forward to fresh ideas and bubbling enthusiasm.

Alas, six members rotated off the board, Terry Haight, Kenn Kaufman, Walt Pomeroy, Tom Schaefer, Loretta Victor, and Scott Weidensaul. They were part of the original board of FOHI and contributed greatly to its continuing success. We thank them greatly for their untiring contribution to the wellbeing of FOHI and the camp and for their unflagging confidence that FOHI could make promises and keep them.

FOHI’s  newsletter is out

As outlined in the newsletter, FOHIs achieved a lot in 2016 from opening to closing and in between. Their contributions varied from hammering, building, painting, renovating, plumbing, fixing boats, painting furniture, washing dishes, cleaning, to creating art on doors – the list is endless and surprising.

Their gifts to the kitchen, housekeeping, maintenance, gardens, and, more added the caring touch and made tasks easier. The culmination of gifts and sweat equity was the acquisition and installation of the solar arrays on the Fish House and Bridge, which is covered in the newsletter and in an earlier post.

FOHI volunteers are a prime example of renewable energy; they’re work reenergizes them! We welcome to the team the Old Bristol Garden Club whose many volunteers tended the gardens weekly.

Like the campers, FOHI volunteers  arrive eager to start the experience and leave with big smiles knowing they accomplished many things. Thank you. We couldn’t do it without you.


Taking a Moment

Another year has come and gone and Hog Island still thrives.

We celebrated its 80th anniversary and completed a new solar system atop

the Fish House and Bridge.

Without you, none of this would have been possible.

We cannot thank you enough.

Enjoy the remaining holidays basking in the glow of these achievements.

Hog Island beckons  . . .

Hog Island Goes Solar

Bart and Virginia Cadbury had no way of knowing what their grandson, some 60 years later, would do for their beloved Hog Island. Benjamin Cadbury Wong, son of Peggy Cadbury and Ching Wong, knew he wanted to do something for Hog Island but what. Two years ago while volunteering at camp, he learned of our dream of being solar powered. He knew then how he could give and contribute to the wellbeing of the camp and planet.

Benjamin, a systems engineer with SunPower Corporation in California, put together a proposal and submitted it to his company. They donated at cost 92 solar panels and 72 micro inverters – the heart of the system. Dwayne Escola, systems design and engineer with Northeast Smart Energy LLC, donated his time and expertise. FOHI paid for shipping and materials. Eric Snyder, Hog Island Facilities Manager, was the linchpin in bringing the solar project to fruition. FOHI volunteers under the guidance of Benjamin, Dwayne, and Eric put it all together.

On September 24, 2016, the switch was turned on and the Hog Island Audubon Camp became solar powered. Two buildings – the Fish House and the Bridge – support solar panels that will provide 70-90% of the camp’s needs, including those of the mainland facility. Benjamin also provided a means whereby the daily energy production can be used as an educational online tool during camp and off-season. During the winter, energy produced will become electrical credits that can be used during the season. We expect the system to pay for itself within 2-3 years.

Twenty-nine FOHI volunteers excited at their part in the camp’s history donated  more than 1,000 hours – some came for a day just to be part of it. The roof team spent long hours in sun and drizzle – Ben, Dwayne, Eric, Adrian, Anthony, Pete, James, Phil; the rest of us were the ground team.

The Hog Island Audubon Camp’s solar system became reality through teamwork, passion, and love for Hog Island. Friendships were forged and mutual respect for every member of the team was the norm. With this kind of caring FOHI will continue to “make promises and keep them.” The camp has a bright future, indeed.

There is no doubt that the solar project is the star of FOHI’s closing week, but an update on some of the other projects will be posted later. Thank you all for your dedication and trust in the camp’s future.

Note: Bart Cadbury was Director of the Hog Island Camp, 1958-68. 

Here Comes 2016 and We’re Ready

Yes, it’s 2016 and we’re ready. Well almost.  Registration for the camp is going gangbusters and has two Family Camps this year. Likewise volunteers are signing up for their favorite sessions. FOHI has some new board members.  And, the camp celebrates its 80th anniversary, while FOHI in its current incarnation completed five successful years and kept its promises. Who would have thought way back in 2010 that 2016 would be a year of celebration!

Camp Programs

Once again, Steve Kress and his indefatigable team of camp directors have put together another knock-it-out-of-the-park season. Four sessions already have waiting lists, but there is room in other sessions.

Happy Family Campers
Happy Family Campers

Whatever you choose, you’ll have the experience of a lifetime. Cannot afford to attend? Then apply for a scholarship – deadline is January 15, 2016. Or, register soon and get the SNOWBIRD discount of $25.

It is worth checking out the line-up of instructors as well. You’ll be surprised at the breadth and depth of knowledge represented – all waiting for you to absorb and share with others when you return home!

FOHI Celebrates

FOHI has been fortunate to have a wellspring of loyal supporters since it received its 501(c)3 nonprofit status  in March 2011, retroactive to October 2010, when the application was filed.

FOHI Volunteers expressing how we feel!
FOHI Volunteers expressing how we feel!

They have remained resolute in their commitment to making the Hog Island Audubon Camp sustainable through financial and volunteer support. FOHI  in its current incarnation celebrates five years of keeping its promises, without fail. When you have a seeming unattainable climb to achieve, it serves to look back and see how far you have come;  you’ll be surprised; the summit is attainable!

Welcome Our New Board Members

Our new board members have graciously agreed to help us continue the climb. Nancy Dickinson, formerly at Cornell Lab of Ornithology  now dedicates her time volunteering at FOHI and Hog Island.  Charles Duncan is currently an instructor at Hog Island and shorebird expert with experience in conservation nonprofits. Anthony La Creta takes over as FOHI’s treasurer and has wide financial experience. Loree Niola, a former emergency services volunteer among other things is now a dedicated volunteer at Hog Island with many valuable skills.

With hellos, are goodbyes. Gaye Phillips, our outgoing Treasurer, has been a long-time supporter of the Hog Island Audubon Camp and retains a lot of historic knowledge. She signed up for the maiden voyage of the new FOHI and set up our finances and data keeping

Gaye Phillips
Gaye Phillips

She had  no idea whether we would sink or have fair winds. She only knew that she, too, shared and believed in FOHI’s mission to make the camp financially sustainable.

Her experience as an auditor was a perfect match. She has been one of the building blocks and we thank her for all her many late nights working on FOHI’s monthly statements. Thank you, Gaye. We couldn’t have done it without your dedication and perseverance. FOHI is an all-volunteer organization!

FOHI Volunteers

FOHI volunteers rock! Our volunteer team gets stronger and stronger each season, with many coming back for multiple weeks. We’ve also been lucky to have a number of new volunteers who have likewise been infused with Hog Island’s magic and will be back. Join the team that contributes to the ongoing success of the camp. Don’t wait. Sign-up. We laugh and work.

The Amazing Resilience of Hog Island

It’s early August, and it’s hard to believe that the Audubon Camp at Hog Island has already this year seen a steady stream of campers arrive – wondering what’s in store for them. Have they made the right decision to attend? At the end of their session, they bubble over with enthusiasm

Campers linger waiting until the last minute to get on the boat!
Campers linger waiting until the last minute to get on the boat!

and joy, resolving to return in any capacity they can. Some linger on the dock waiting for the very last boat to the mainland, hoping it won’t come. They know they made the right decision.

For the staff, volunteers, and instructors, they likewise are beaming, exhausted, but beaming. Yet again, they have managed to inspire and assure a meaningful and joyful learning experience for each camper.

So long, farewell . . .
So long, farewell . . .

Not only is camp registration at 94% this year but FOHI volunteer spots were at capacity early on with waiting lists for some sessions. The island works its magic and we all heed its call.

Some highlights

In June, the Joy of Birding session found Paul Winter 7-time Grammy award winner captivating campers. He will be back!

Two new sessions, Breaking into Birding and Hands-On Birding were big hits, so they’ll be included in the 2016 line up. Don’t miss out.

In July, despite the loss of Rachel and Steve’s chicks, Big and Little, to a Bald Eagle, Raptor Rapture campers saw an osprey chick from a neighboring island banded at the camp; then, on a field trip, they saw three juvenile Peregrine Falcons practice their flying skills, including locking talons and tumbling – quite a show stopper!

Rob holds newly banded Osprey chick - photo by Nancy Dickinson
Rob holds newly banded Osprey chick – photo by Nancy Dickinson
"A Woman of the World" reading in the Fish House - the story of Mabel Loomis Todd and Hog Island.
“A Woman of the World” reading in the Fish House – the story of Mabel Loomis Todd and Hog Island.

Speaking of show stopper, the second reading of A Woman of the World, a one-woman play about Mabel Loomis Todd and Hog Island was enjoyed by all at Arts of Birding and Raptor Rapture. Former camper Rebecca Gilman wrote the play. Watch for news of FOHI’s fundraising performance in 2016.

Every session at the camp has been packed with learning, good food, camaraderie, laughter, and wonderment. A few spaces still remain in Seabird Biology, September 6-11.

FOHIs keep on smiling

The Hummingbird Garden coming into bud

The FOHI touch of volunteers and donors is everywhere on the island from the rainbow of nodding flowers in the gardens and on the tables to art on the Fish House and Port Hole doors to new showers, new kitchen items, and more.

The most obvious is the gift of a pontoon to FOHI, which we then gave to Hog Island; Volunteers now enjoy a seat on their boat ride to and from the island – quite a treat! It also makes the transport of heavy items much easier.

Another gift often overlooked in the effervescence of the camp is FOHI’s annual donation of $50,000, which this year surprised Steve Kress when the FOHIs took the stage and asked him to join them. Lottie then handed him the check!

FOHI volunteers continue their gift of time and are the first on the island and the last to leave. They open and close it and keep it going throughout the season along with the dedicated staff.

Helen, Laura, Kathy, and Charlie aboard the pontoon!
Helen, Laura, Kathy, and Charlie aboard the pontoon!
FOHIs, Sally, Lottie, Emma, and Betsy, surprise Steve with the annual $50,000 check.

It’s not too late

Come join us as a camper or volunteer. You won’t regret it.

Join us for FOHI closing week, September  20-26, and help put the camp to bed, make some repairs, eat great food, enjoy autumn sunsets and best of all know that you’ll be part of the fabulous FOHI team that is helping the camp toward long-term success.

You, too, will leave with a big smile knowing that you will be back.



Camp registration for the 2016 sessions will open on October 15, 2015.

For volunteers, the FOHI sign-up form will be ready November 1!

Check out our Facebook page for more photos.

See you on the island . . .