Hog Island’s 2020 Season and Covid-19

A decade ago FOHI was  fighting to keep Hog Island Camp open; as we begin our second decade, we have found ourselves in recent weeks recommending to National Audubon that the camp be closed for the season. In such an unimaginable time as this Covid-19 pandemic, difficult decisions have to be made with the safety of all in mind.  To that end, Audubon has communicated the following:

– ——

Thank you for your care and commitment to the success of Hog Island Audubon Camp and our summer camp programs.

Audubon takes seriously our responsibility to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19. We have made the difficult decision to cancel Hog Island Audubon Camp programs for the summer of 2020 in order to protect the safety of our campers, volunteers and staff.  

We will miss working with you to share the joy of birds with campers this year and look forward to seeing you in person as soon as we reopen.

We know it’s important to you that our campers continue to learn about the natural world. Audubon is creating resources to help our campers continue to find awe and inspiration in nature together, indoors: 

Audubon for Kids is an online space available in English and Spanish that provides new, fun activities each week, including nature activities, games, quizzes, DIY projects, and more.  For English, visit: “Audubon for Kids”  | For Spanish, visit: “Audubon Para Niños.”

Join the Hog Island instructor team for Raptor Rapture Online to learn all about raptors from migration to nesting.  Our online program features 10 presentations filmed at Hog Island and includes interactive quizzes and additional reading material.  Learn more at Raptor Rapture Online.”


FOHI volunteers had already filled up all available slots and the opening-week team was ready to go, so we know this news is disappointing. Nonetheless, we know we all want the best for the volunteers, the staff, the campers, and the island. Take this time for renewal, and take comfort in the memories past and the memories we have to make. We will be on the island again.

Keep safe. Until we meet again.

Hog Island under a warm August sunset


Like the Seasons, Change is Welcome

We are coming up to the 10th holiday season for Friends of Hog Island as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The time has gone by like a shooting star across the night sky. For those lucky enough to see the night sky at Hog Island, you know exactly how glorious it is. We have a lot to celebrate. Although change is happening, it is all for the good.

A new leader

Scott Weidensaul

At the annual FOHI board meeting in September 2019, Scott Weidensaul was unanimously appointed by the board as the new president of FOHI. As the first FOHI board member and as an instructor at the camp, he is a natural to lead FOHI into its next era. Among his many other responsibilities notable is his co-founding of Project SNOWstorm and serving as co-managing editor of the late Peter Vickery’s forthcoming book Birds of Maine. Juanita Roushdy, founding president of the nonprofit Friends, was delighted to hand over the sails of this able and solid ship that had weathered many a stormy sea under her leadership to land in calm waters. FOHI thrives and grows thanks to the confidence and loyalty of its supporters. Juanita is not jumping ship but will take on the role of Executive Director of FOHI and will continue to be on the island each summer. Change is good.

A Woman of the World Sold Out in New York

A Woman of the World, written by Rebecca Gilman, the first Artist in Residence at Hog Island, played to a sold-out audience for all of its  October 24-November 17, 2019 run at 59E59 Theater in New York. Kathleen Chalfant as Mabel Loomis Todd spoke to an intimate audience at Point Breeze Inn on the island. She recounted little-known details of her life and her editing of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. Many of you got to see the play and enjoyed its revelations and food for thought. Heartfelt thanks go to Margot Harley (The Acting Company), producer, and Valentina Fratti (Miranda Theater Company) director, and, to the mesmerizing Kathleen Chalfant—all have visited Hog Island and have felt its magic. This will not be the last performance!

FOHI Volunteers Continue to Rock

FOHI volunteers are getting so good at knowing the camp and what needs to be done that they achieve the impossible in shorter and shorter time, whether it be working at camp sessions or at opening and closing weeks.  During closing week, FOHIs painted the exterior of The Bridge, partially installed a new solar hot water heating system donated by a FOHI, repaired doors, restored chairs, built decking, winterized the gardens, washed and ironed curtains, packed, cleaned, lugged, laughed, washed dishes and so much more, all the while leaving a part of themselves on the island with each task completed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This closing week was a bit special because documentary film maker, Annika Iltis, and cinematographer, Taylor Scott Mason, were on the island to “capture the true beauty of Hog Island and Juanita’s unique relationship to it.” Volunteers enjoyed getting to know the film crew,  watching them set up, and being interviewed and filmed. By midweek, laugher and camaraderie was the order of the day— cameras forgotten!

The Archive Project

Instead of opening a closet door and searching through dusty boxes, we’ll soon be able to click on a FOHI website and search for old friends, names, stories, photos, and more. FOHI’s last “promise to keep” is to preserve the legacy of Hog Island. By the end of 2019 or early 2020, we will announce a new archival website. Progress has been rapid on digital imaging and tagging of all the archival materials that FOHI had gathered. Additional materials donated by Tom Schaefer that he used for his upcoming book about Hog Island, Nature’s People, included Bart Cadbury’s teaching materials and will now be on the new site. HistoryIT is doing an amazing job and we cannot wait for the site to be up and running. Watch for the announcement!

Into the Future

If the numbers for 2020 camp registrations and FOHI volunteer sign- ups are any indication, then 2020 promises to be a meteor of a year. Four sessions are already sold out; two new sessions, Building Better Birding Skills and Raptor Migration & Monhegan are filling up quickly; and old favorites, Family Camps I and II, Sharing Nature: An Educators Week, Spring Migration on Monhegan,  Fall Migration on Monhegan,  and Costa Rica Teen Camp, have openings. Don’t wait, register.

A similar rush is occurring with FOHI volunteers wanting to save their spot on the 8-person teams at each session. Sign-up now for your spot. Bring a friend or family member and share the experience.

Whether you’re a camper or a volunteer, if your session is full, put yourself on the wait list. Who knows, life happens, and you may be available to fill a cancellation! Wait lists are good and can get you where you want to be!

Remember, Spring will soon be here and we’ll be back on Hog Island again. In the meantime, Happy Holidays to our FOHI family. You’ve made us what we are today. Thank you.

Hog Island Goes to New York

Calling all Friends of Hog Island! Don’t miss this wonderful play about Mabel Loomis Todd and Hog Island. Bring your friends and make it a Hog Island evening. Rebecca Gilman was Hog Island’s first Artist in Residence and wrote the play at the Bingham Cottage.

See you at the theater.

Best known as Emily Dickinson’s posthumous editor,
Mabel Loomis Todd is a woman of the world. Priding
herself on being an inspired conversationalist, she
invited scandal by enjoying a glass of wine in mixed
company, and by enjoying the company of men other than her husband —
sometimes in the company of her husband. Now in her 70s and living on
Hog Island in Maine, the accomplished journalist and
naturalist regales us with tales of her storied life, spilling
secrets and revealing the true nature of her relationship
with one of America’s most celebrated poets.
Pulitzer Prize finalist Rebecca Gilman’s world
premiere play is brought to the stage in this insightful
and impassioned tour-de-force performance by one of
theater’s most beloved performers, Kathleen Chalfant.
By Rebecca Gilman
Kathleen Chalfant
Set Design Cate McRae
Lighting Design Betsy Adams
Costume Design Candice Donnelly
Sound Design Margaret Montagna
Production Manager Devin Brain
Directed by Valentina Fratti
October 24th to November 17th
59e59 Theaters
59 East 59th Street
Between Madison & Park Avenues
Use code TACMIRANDA for Priority Booking
Tickets go on sale to general public September 11th


A Tribute to Duryea Morton

A tribute to Duryea Morton by David Klinger – a former Hog Island dishwasher and FOHI board member.


                                       “All good men start as dishwashers.”

                                                         — Duryea Morton, 2005

Whether measured by the dissimilar and unequal yard sticks of man — or busboy — Duryea Morton achieved a success in life reached by few others.       

That he was all too self-effacing to remark on that success probably stems from his groundedness as a washer of pots and pans at a Maine island summer camp in 1946 … a wounded war veteran returning home with battle stars, who gamely reported for work at the kitchen sink. He then proceeded to steer American conservation in a new and profoundly more thoughtful direction.

Duryea Morton ended as one of life’s “successful dishwashers” … a modest and patient leader, broadly admired for his wise counsel and and steadiness of judgment. That he never relinquished a common touch that imbued ordinary tasks and ordinary people with dignity and purpose underscores the depth of admiration felt upon his passing.

He was bestowed with an all-too-rare gift — that of living to witness the impact of one’s own legacy.

Duryea “Dur” Morton, 94, director of the Audubon Camp in Maine between 1971 and 1977, died of multiple myeloma on May 6 in Williamsburg, Virginia. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Peggy Wilson Morton, daughter Leslie Morton, son David Morton, and two grandchildren.

“Dur Morton was an extraordinarily gifted teacher and conservationist who will be remembered for inspiring generations of teachers and biologists,” concludes Dr. Stephen Kress, executive director of the Project Puffin Seabird Restoration Program, himself a one-time Hog Island dishwasher. “Many conservation leaders, including myself, can trace their careers to Dur.”

Born in Bronxville, New York, Morton grew up in Hingham, Massachusetts and graduated from The Forman School in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1943. His interest in songbirds and their intricate nest building led him as a young boy to fashion his own nests on rocks and in trees, made from grass clippings, as lures for birds.

They all failed. But the bird books his mother provided stimulated his interest in nature and set him on a career path with birds as its common thread.

Following his service in World War II, Morton graduated from Albion College in Michigan in 1950 with a degree in speech and biology; at the end of his sophomore year, Morton studied under the esteemed American ornithologist Olin Sewell Pettingill, Jr. at the University of Michigan Biological Station in far northern Michigan, a region considered the North American crucible of bird and bird habitat research.

Of his first summer on Hog Island before college, Morton later recalled, “It was my first part-time job with the National Audubon Society. Carl Buchheister, then a vice president of the Society and director of the camp, hired me as a student assistant to help wash dishes. I rode the overnight train, the Bar Harbor Express, from New York to Newcastle, where ‘Mr. B.’ met me. And like you, my breath was taken away when we drove around the corner at the top of Nash’s Hill and I saw Muscongus Bay for the first time.”

Morton established the summer camp tradition by which a long and storied line of national wildlife conservation leaders began their service as dishwashers in the Hog Island pantry. It’s been called “the most productive kitchen in the history of American conservation” because of the conservation luminaries it spawned, over decades.

It was that same kitchen that in 1946 served as the modest post-war posting for Morton, a 22-year-old who had already witnessed and survived some of the European war’s most harrowing conflict. Upon graduation from high school, Morton had parried his experience with the National Ski Patrol to volunteer for the U.S. Army’s famed 10th Mountain Division, serving in northern Italy.

For those possessed of sufficient curiosity to learn the stories that modesty, in later years, kept Morton from relating, they’re archived in the records of the 10th Mountain Division in the Denver Public Library — his winter training at Colorado’s Camp Hale, sailing to Italy aboard the USS West Point, enduring German artillery and mortar attacks as a combat infantryman, and his wounding in action that earned him a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. It remains the record of a quiet American hero … before he signed on for KP duty in a Maine summer camp, and then rose to become a leader in American conservation.

In 1950, before ecology was a popularly-accepted science, Morton pioneered the teaching of natural history at his alma mater, The Forman School, and at The Potomac School in northern Virginia. He joined the National Audubon Society permanently in 1959, as director of the organization’s Audubon Center and Audubon Camp of Connecticut in Greenwich.

The 1960s and 1970s were an era of burgeoning educational outreach by most national conservation organizations, as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and the first Earth Day in 1970 transformed traditional, long-standing conservation programs into a broader endeavor known as the modern environmental movement. In 1963, Morton rose to supervise all of Audubon nature centers and its four adult education summer camps and, by 1967, to direct National Audubon’s educational services department from its New York City headquarters.

Audubon, long a leader in bird education, expanded its programming in the Morton era, always with nature study at its core. The recent diagnosis of “nature-deficit disorder”, popularized in author Richard Louv’s 2005 bestseller, “Last Child in the Woods” represents the needed rediscovery of the concepts Morton introduced in his teaching and summer camp instruction at the mid-point of the last century.

Morton retired in 1980 as Audubon’s vice president of education, concluding his career as a teacher at the St. Francis School in Goshen, Kentucky.

In recognition of Morton’s impact on the Hog Island camp and the Audubon programs in mid-coast Maine, the owners of Harbor Island in Muscongus Bay and the National Audubon Society dedicated the northern tip of that island as the “Duryea Morton Audubon Sanctuary” in 1979. The picturesque island is still faithfully visited by each summer’s new crop of inquisitive Hog Island nature campers.

“As we carry on our lives in the future, remember the inner feelings and rich history we all share,” Morton advised in 2011 at the 75th anniversary of the Hog Island camp, the 65th summer since he donned his first apron in the Hog Island kitchen. “Remember, too, that in these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to recognize that there is reassurance in the cycles of life, the ebb and flow of the tides, the succession of the seasons, the sunrise and the sunset, for they provide our strength and our beacon. What better place to reaffirm our commitment to these truths … than on Hog Island.”