Where Do We Stand?

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   
so he opens his throat to sing.
. . .
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.
Maya Angelou

Although Friends of Hog Island is a tiny nonprofit with a specialized mission to keep an 84-year-old conservation education camp in Maine — Hog Island Audubon Camp — thriving to teach and broaden the understanding of all who land on its shores about ecology and conservation, we stand firmly with Black Lives Matter.

Even the smallest organization, or one person, or one action, can influence a change.

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.

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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