“Just what I wanted!” exclaimed John Baker, who had recently become President of the National Association of Audubon Societies. He was speaking to Millicent Todd Bingham who had just offered him the opportunity to purchase 33 acres on the north end of Hog Island in Muscongus Bay. The year was 1935, and he was looking to establish a camp to train teachers and youth leaders in field ecology so that they could return to their communities and introduce this new approach to the study of natural history.
More than 50,000 students were campers at Hog Island and their record of service to the Audubon cause has been impressive.
Roger Tory Peterson had done an environmental inventory and found it to be an ideal habitat, so John Baker hired a young Latin teacher named Carl Buchheister to be the first director of this new experimental program. The camp opened in June of 1936 and was an immediate success. During the next 60 years, more than 50,000 students were campers at Hog Island and their record of service to the Audubon cause has been impressive. Staff, students assistants, and campers have fanned out into leadership positions in education and many have continued work within the Audubon Society and its chapters nationwide.
In spite of its success and a large body of loyal alumni, there has never been an organized group to support the camp and its programs. The buildings and infrastructure were inherited from a summer colony, “Point Breeze Inn and Bungalows,” which operated in the early years of this century, and they are now in dire need of refurbishing. There is also need for scholarship funding and money to start an endowment.
The idea of the Friends of Hog Island originated early in the spring of 1998 at a meeting of Bart and Ginny Cadbury, Sam Hands, and Robbie Rubly-Burgraff. In April, the four met again to develop the idea further. The group sent invitations to about 60 former staff members, campers, student assistants, and friends of the Audubon Camp in Maine. From all invitees, 25 people gathered at Hog Island for a weekend of hard work and good fellowship and to explore ways and means to support the camp and provide for its future welfare. Audubon President John Flicker joined the group on Saturday morning to help visualize goals and provided suggestions for implementing them.
Resolution by Friends of Hog Island
July 25, 1998
Inasmuch as there appears to be an urgent need to develop a coherent plan to keep the Audubon Camp on Hog Island functioning at the level of excellence which has characterized its history, we, the newly formed Friends of Hog island wish to propose a partnership with the National Audubon Society to address several concerns identified in our initial meeting.
These concerns are:
1. The need for a full time director of the Maine Camp.
2. The need to advertise and market the camp in such a way as to cover the costs of operation.
3. The need to reach out to former staff, alumni and their communities to create a fund to finance capital improvements and infrastructure renewal.