When I arrived on Hog Island in June of 1980 to begin my first summer teaching adults about weather, geology, and environmental issues, I was an inexperienced environmental educator, fresh out of graduate school. Teaching those classes for the first time was a huge challenge, but with help from Mike Shannon, Steve Kress, Grace Bommarito and others, I slowly climbed aboard. Despite my struggle and focus on preparing for my responsibilities, the legendary “magic” of Hog Island worked its way into my intermost cells and soon I was completely hooked. Getting me off that island would become as difficult as coaxing a hermit crab out of its shell.
Twenty years and thousands of people later, I believe as strongly as ever that an experience at camp changes people’s lives.
During the early 1980’s, each ecology camp session lasted for two weeks. I could see, day by day, the wondrous effect upon campers living on that forested and tide-washed bit of heaven, seemingly miles away from the noisy civilization they left behind. People loosened up, got some color in their cheeks, and took time too smell the salt air and watch the antics of a feisty red squirrel or the slothlike behavior of a porcupine munching apples. A deep sense of appreciation and often times reverence grew with each day spent in the out-of-doors, in the company of kindred spirits.
I especially remember one young couple I met my first summer, who later wrote to say they had quit their professional jobs and had gone back to school for environmental studies. Twenty years and thousands of people later, I believe as strongly as ever that an experience at camp changes people’s lives. Stories like the couple changing careers, I eventually came to see, were commonly repeated. It’s painfully obvious that our world dearly needs these kind, committed, and environmentally-conscious human beings.
Friends of Hog Island has the kind of passionate and inspired alumni to draw upon that most organizations could only dream about. Let us rally together now to finally create a well-fashioned, long-lasting, and financially-vigorous structure for the enhancement and continuation of a camp that changes people’s lives.
Isn’t this the mission of Audubon?