Lasting images of Family Camp

For each of us, our time on Hog Island is unique. We bring our individual combinations of expectations and hopes, feelings and passions, knowledge of the natural world, personal challenges, and thoughts and concerns from home.

The week at camp gave the boy’s grandmother a chance to share in the glow of his youthful enthusiasm.

As we settle into our Hog Island experiences, there are certain elements which begin to touch us all: the rich natural beauty of the place, abundant wildlife and plant life, amazing night skies, the cycle of the tides, the peacefulness, Janii’s delicious food, and a community of like-minded, caring people who want to experience, learn, and share more about the wonders of the natural environment.

It is this setting that provides the opportunities for golden experiences to take place for us as individuals and in partnership with other family members. Some of them are shared with other people; some are probably quiet personal experiences which we Camp staff members never know about.

As an instructor in the Family Camp program, I have many lasting images which remain with me from the special shared experiences which I have participated in and/or observed as the programs have unfolded. I would like to share two of these with you.

The first was not particularly focused on the natural history of Hog Island. Instead, it was when a father reported to me that the night before, when he was very tired and ready to go to bed, his middle-school-aged son came to him and said he wanted to talk. Resisting his exhaustion, this father gratefully received this special gift of his son seeking him out to sort out some of his feelings about life. Apparently they had a good long talk. Being in a safe, spectacular environment, where they could share special experiences and have a breather from everyday life, helped to create a mood where they could come together and get a new perspective on life.

The other special memory involved a grandparent watching her grandson blossom in his knowledge and skills in a passion for learning about the world of birds. I clearly remember this boy because he became my ‘shadow’ for the week, accompanying me on early morning bird walks, boat trips, and a field trip to a marsh on the mainland. He had a steady stream of questions and requests to find out more about various birds he was encountering on and around Hog Island.

At one point, in the middle of the week, we went to the Queen Mary laboratory to examine study skins. The young man was impressed to touch specimens of birds, some of which he had seen around Camp. This week with this boy was a chance for his grandmother to share in the glow of his youthful enthusiasm and it was a chance for me to pay back the many patient and knowledgeable mentors who shared their time and experience with me when I was his age.

The wonderful gift here came from the grandmother who, knowing of her grandson’s interest in birds, brought him to a place where that interest could be nurtured and where they could both be part of the learning adventure.

As I watch people take their last boat trip to the mainland at the end of their Family Camp program, I can see them look back at Hog Island as they reminisce about the special experiences which they have shared. But I think that I can also see them look ahead to future adventures and learning which will grow from this special time of coming together in new ways in the nurturing community of Hog Island’s Family Camp.