Not Too Late to Make Memories on Maine’s Wild Side

Hear ye, procrastinators! Excellent adventures in Maine still await those who haven’t finished making summer plans for 2003.

Maine Audubon reminds the millions of East Coast residents within a convenient day’s drive of the Pine Tree State that affordable vacation opportunities for adults, kids, seniors and families still exist in July and August at the famed Audubon Camp at Hog Island, where Audubon has been connecting people with nature since 1936.

This could be you arriving at Hog Island.

On this 330-acre spruce-forested island in midcoast Maine near Damariscotta, you can sharpen your birding skills with some of America’s leading ornithologists, marvel at the profuse marine life of Muscongus Bay, hike the cliff-side paths and fern fields once traversed by Rachel Carson and Roger Tory Peterson, and cruise amid colonial bird rookeries to see Atlantic puffins and striking roseate terns.

And you’ll enjoy your Maine island sojourn at reasonable rates, which, during the peak summer season, are just one reminder that you’re a world away from the mainland. Visitors to Hog Island find an ideal environment in which to reconnect with family, children and friends. Leave “real life” at the mainland dock, and mark time solely by the rhythm of the tide and the simple cadence of the camp bell.

Audubon offers affordable, island-based, wildlife-centered programs and camps led by recognized naturalists and ornithologists — just a morning’s drive from Boston

“Hog Island creates lifetime memories,” said Seth Benz, director of the Audubon Camp in Maine. “Nowhere else can you experience the splendors of Maine’s geography and wildlife combined with the caliber of our natural history instruction. You’ll learn with interesting people, partake of the cuisine of our acclaimed chef Janii Laberge, and enjoy comfortable, rustic accommodations where the sounds of waves and seabirds replace the noise of television and cell phones.”

Select opportunities remain to enjoy the magic and solitude of Hog Island this summer:

  • Girl Scouts ages 14 and older can enjoy a week of island hopping, kayaking and birding, while working on their “Interest Project Patch” program, under the leadership of Girl Scout and Audubon staff (July 13-19, $500)
  • A few chances remain for boys and girls ages 10-13 to explore the wonders of geology, ecology and wetlands at Audubon’s fun and entertaining youth camps (July 23-August 1 and August 4-13, $995)
  • Parents and children ages 5-11 can share a wholesome summer experience in family camp, where nature crafts, boat cruises and campfire sing-alongs will rekindle memories of summer camp from days gone by (August 16-21, $600)
  • Couples and friends who vacation together will get a dramatic introduction to the Maine coast and its wildlife when Hog Island’s “Naturalizing by Kayak” session departs in late August for a five-day outing especially geared for tandem kayakers. You’ll be paddling with experienced Maine sea kayak guides and naturalists (August 27-31, $750)
  • Elderhostelers take note: Hog Island’s active and engaging four-day program for persons age 55 and above is a blend of wildlife ecology and outdoor pursuits topped off by a traditional “lobstah dinnah.” (August 27-31, $685. For reservations, call Elderhostel at (877) 426-8056).

Toll-free registration information is available from Maine Audubon at (888) 325-5261. Registration information also is available at www.maineaudubon.org. For a taste of the Hog Island experience, visit the “Friends of Hog Island” Web site at www.fohi.org.

Camp Update – 2001

Infrastructure Watch

Large strides toward facility safety, working-boat longevity, and camper comfort were accomplished during 2000. A very generous private donation allowed for the electrical rewiring of the Bridge and the Fish House, necessary to bring those two buildings up to industry code.

An eleventh hour anonymous donation of $5,000 proved extremely valuable toward salvage and life extension work of the Osprey, our principal maintenance vessel. Barring any insurance complications, the Osprey may now enjoy one more year of work and possibly more.

In an effort to make the camp experience somewhat more convenient for those assigned to the Porthole, new bathroom facilities were installed on each floor. Consisting of two shower stalls and two toilets on each floor, the bathrooms drew rave reviews on camper evaluations. Indeed, favorable comments on the Porthole bathrooms were second only to the perennial camper favorite — Janii’s food!

Upon first glance, the view from the mainland Visitor Center’s glass doors toward the island is easy on the eyes. However, as many of you have remarked upon recent visits to the island, there is much work to do. Cosmetic coats of exterior paint would help the Bridge as well as trim on other buildings, ageing gangway rails and floats could use a boost, and the various flower beds and gardens could use some tender loving care. These easy-to-see items are reaching the point where attention is necessary.

The attention given to island as well as mainland facilities under the new management of Maine Audubon Society’s Management and Grounds Department has the entire facility moving in the right direction.

And, more importantly, there are some critical projects pressing ever so closely to the top of the priority list such that they can no longer be delayed. In the next year, we plan to address the foundations of the Binnacle and possibly the Bridge. The roofs of the Foc’s’cle and Binnacle must be repaired or replaced. As always, these crucial projects must be carefully and seasonally planned, timed with a sensitivity to the vagaries of weather and the press of an approaching season.

I am delighted to report that the attention given to island as well as mainland facilities under the new management of Maine Audubon Society’s Management and Grounds Department has the entire facility moving in the right direction. Private donations for specific projects or gifts for general use would be very much appreciated.

Summer 2001 Camp Highlights

Maintenance Department

  • New deck added to mainland visitor center
  • Deck replaced on the Helm (staff residence)
  • Upgraded mainland visitor center store interior
  • Upgraded caretaker residence interior and exterior
  • Construction of dumpster enclosure on mainland
  • Construction of Zelvin, maintenance apparatus for grinder pumps
  • New roof on Binnacle (staff residence)

Waterfront

  • Donation of Archer, new 14′ aluminum maintenance boat and motor
  • New fiberglass deck for Osprey (maintenance boat)
  • Sold out-of-service Puffin III (old program boat)

Program

  • 95% camper enrollment during July and August
  • Expanded scholarship allocations
  • Highest tally of hours of volunteer effort in recent history
  • Expanded mainland summer programs
  • Addition of Nature Literature and Journaling session
  • Half-day and day-long kayak explorations added
  • Friends of Hog Island work/study session

Special Events

  • Hosted Gulf of Maine Seabird Working Group annual orientation
  • Hosted Midcoast AS Chapter annual dinner
  • Visited by National Audubon’s 2020 centers administrative team
  • Hosted opening event of Maine Audubon’s strategic planning process
  • Featured on CBS radio’s Osgood Files: “An Audio Portrait of Camp”
  • Benefited by hosting Maine Audubon’s all-staff work day