The Amazing Resilience of Hog Island

It’s early August, and it’s hard to believe that the Audubon Camp at Hog Island has already this year seen a steady stream of campers arrive – wondering what’s in store for them. Have they made the right decision to attend? At the end of their session, they bubble over with enthusiasm

Campers linger waiting until the last minute to get on the boat!
Campers linger waiting until the last minute to get on the boat!

and joy, resolving to return in any capacity they can. Some linger on the dock waiting for the very last boat to the mainland, hoping it won’t come. They know they made the right decision.

For the staff, volunteers, and instructors, they likewise are beaming, exhausted, but beaming. Yet again, they have managed to inspire and assure a meaningful and joyful learning experience for each camper.

So long, farewell . . .
So long, farewell . . .

Not only is camp registration at 94% this year but FOHI volunteer spots were at capacity early on with waiting lists for some sessions. The island works its magic and we all heed its call.

Some highlights

In June, the Joy of Birding session found Paul Winter 7-time Grammy award winner captivating campers. He will be back!

Two new sessions, Breaking into Birding and Hands-On Birding were big hits, so they’ll be included in the 2016 line up. Don’t miss out.

In July, despite the loss of Rachel and Steve’s chicks, Big and Little, to a Bald Eagle, Raptor Rapture campers saw an osprey chick from a neighboring island banded at the camp; then, on a field trip, they saw three juvenile Peregrine Falcons practice their flying skills, including locking talons and tumbling – quite a show stopper!

Rob holds newly banded Osprey chick - photo by Nancy Dickinson
Rob holds newly banded Osprey chick – photo by Nancy Dickinson
"A Woman of the World" reading in the Fish House - the story of Mabel Loomis Todd and Hog Island.
“A Woman of the World” reading in the Fish House – the story of Mabel Loomis Todd and Hog Island.

Speaking of show stopper, the second reading of A Woman of the World, a one-woman play about Mabel Loomis Todd and Hog Island was enjoyed by all at Arts of Birding and Raptor Rapture. Former camper Rebecca Gilman wrote the play. Watch for news of FOHI’s fundraising performance in 2016.

Every session at the camp has been packed with learning, good food, camaraderie, laughter, and wonderment. A few spaces still remain in Seabird Biology, September 6-11.

FOHIs keep on smiling

The Hummingbird Garden coming into bud

The FOHI touch of volunteers and donors is everywhere on the island from the rainbow of nodding flowers in the gardens and on the tables to art on the Fish House and Port Hole doors to new showers, new kitchen items, and more.

The most obvious is the gift of a pontoon to FOHI, which we then gave to Hog Island; Volunteers now enjoy a seat on their boat ride to and from the island – quite a treat! It also makes the transport of heavy items much easier.

Another gift often overlooked in the effervescence of the camp is FOHI’s annual donation of $50,000, which this year surprised Steve Kress when the FOHIs took the stage and asked him to join them. Lottie then handed him the check!

FOHI volunteers continue their gift of time and are the first on the island and the last to leave. They open and close it and keep it going throughout the season along with the dedicated staff.

Helen, Laura, Kathy, and Charlie aboard the pontoon!
Helen, Laura, Kathy, and Charlie aboard the pontoon!
FOHIs, Sally, Lottie, Emma, and Betsy, surprise Steve with the annual $50,000 check.

It’s not too late

Come join us as a camper or volunteer. You won’t regret it.

Join us for FOHI closing week, September  20-26, and help put the camp to bed, make some repairs, eat great food, enjoy autumn sunsets and best of all know that you’ll be part of the fabulous FOHI team that is helping the camp toward long-term success.

You, too, will leave with a big smile knowing that you will be back.



Camp registration for the 2016 sessions will open on October 15, 2015.

For volunteers, the FOHI sign-up form will be ready November 1!

Check out our Facebook page for more photos.

See you on the island . . .




Has anyone seen Spring?

Mother Nature keeps teasing us with hints of spring – longer days, warmer sun, birds singing, but she still has not shed her winter mantel. Snow still embraces the landscape here in Bremen and ponds and waterways are still frozen, although the ice is not quite as thick. It’s hard to believe that Hog Island was frozen in this winter as were the lobster boats. At least that ice has dissipated and we can now reach the island by boat. It had been 40 years since the bay water had frozen according to a local lobsterman.

Hog Island frozen in
Hog Island frozen in

The Hog Island spirit is alive and vibrant

Despite the long winter, registration for camp is at an all-time high of 86 percent with several sessions sold out. For many of us, this is sheer rhapsody. Spaces are still left in several of the sessions: Hands-On Birding with Scott Weidensaul, Breaking into Birding, with Pete Dunne, and Maine Seabird Biology. Sign up for some of the last remaining spots or put your name on a wait list for other sessions:

The same is true for the volunteer slots. We have a few left, so don’t hesitate, sign-up.

Paul Winter, seven-time Grammy award winner, will be at Joy of Birding, which is sold out, but check out the other talented instructors that will be at Hog island in 2015; their range of expertise and talent will surprise you.

Paul Winter
Paul Winter


Nature constantly changes yet remains the same, so it is with Hog Island. We  have some new staff this year.  Eva Matthews is our registrar (Jamie left to be with her new family); in the kitchen, Ryan Frazier is our chef and Cleo Bell our new assistant chef.


Seabird Sue Schubel  accepted an offer she couldn’t refuse: Assistant Seabird Island Manager; her first love is with the islands and the seabirds. We’ll miss her as FOHI Volunteer Coordinator, but Juanita Roushdy will strive to partially fill her shoes.

Seabird Sue holding a baby tern
Seabird Sue holding a baby tern

Sue will be back for the FOHI closing weeks when the birds have left their summer islands. The camp and island will still be as warm and welcoming as it has always been.

Rachel and Steve, the resident Hog Island ospreys are on their way back to the nest and will arrive any day now. Watch them  at and click on the Osprey photo. Maybe you’ll see them fly in!

FOHI’s much-awaited annual newsletter is now ready. In it you’ll find news about all that you accomplished in 2014 for the camp plus some fun photographs. FOHI has some projects for 2015 that we hope to complete including solar panels for the Bridge. FOHI volunteers rock!

Wish list

We love our workhorse scow but it is on its last legs! We need a 16ft Carolina Skiff or something similar- gently used is fine, too. We also need a 12 or 15 passenger van. Last but not least, for the kitchen, some Ciambro storage containers. Contact Juanita at for details.

Don’t hesitate any longer to sign up as a camper or volunteer. See you soon!






Summer’s gone

Can it be that the Hog Island 2014 season is over and the 2015 sessions are already 40% full! That we’ve already had our first big snow! So much has happened.

Friends and More

We welcomed visits from old friends David Klinger and Victor Gabay and from new friends at National Audubon’s headquarters in New York – Susan Lunden,

David and Nina
David and Nina

Gary Langham, Mary Beth Henson, and Teresa Hall. Artists in residence at the Bingham Cottages, Rebecca Gilman, playwright, and Tom Schaefer, author, brought the promise of exciting projects to come in 2015: a new play about Mabel Loomis Todd and a new book about Hog Island.

Three successfully fledged and banded Ospreys thrilled campers at Raptor Rapture, as did the new resident Merlin pair and their three fledglings. The sight of the Small Reach Regatta, with its 47 traditional wooden boats and owners, charmed everyone during their week-long stay.  The Schooner Roseway and crew arrived to volunteer and accomplished a lot.  National Audubon held its first-ever Diversity Summit at the camp. The premiere of a spoof by Julie Seifert on Cinderella –  Guillerella -was performed at International Guillemot Day.

Oh, Those Numbers

We love numbers and the 2014 season makes us smile. A record 26 FOHIs opened the camp.

Pete, Jim, Pat, Kathy - the SWAT team
Pete, Jim, Pat, Kathy – the SWAT team

But before that a FOHI swat team of 4 arrived to work with Eric to make extra rooms and install new showers and toilets – Pete Snyder, Kathy Dodge, and Pat and Jim Sanborn. Volunteer slots for most sessions were full. Registration was at 90% capacity, up from 2013. The new Raptor Rapture program sold out and brought new raptor instructors: experts Rob Bierregaard and Yoshi Leshem (from Israel), who said they now understood what draws us to the island year after year – they, too, caught the Hog Island fever.

And What About Those Volunteers

They never disappoint. Ruth Woodall was our star volunteer, whipping us all into shape, and donating over 7 weeks. Ruth, you are an inspiration to us all.

Ruth arranging flowers
Ruth arranging flowers

Many were returning for the second, third, or fourth time – and are becoming “seasoned.”  Some shared their talents by giving a workshop – Jean McKay, Nina Stoyan-Rosenzweig, and Carolyn Zaino. Stephanie Herrick regraded many of the trails to the cabins by herself. Julie Seifert entered the Hog Island library books into LibraryThing, a social media site for book lovers!

One of our volunteers, Nancy Dickinson, became the star “Turnover Tornado.” She turned up every end-of-session day to help us make beds and clean for the next session. Thank you, Nancy. Joe Beaudette was everywhere helping then singing and playing guitar in the evening. Peggy and Betsy Cadbury came for FOHI opening week and then returned for the closing week; volunteers enjoyed their stories of their many years living at the camp with their father Bart Cadbury. Volunteers, Your Rock!

Watch out for our annual newsletter after the holidays. In it, we’ll list every one of our treasured volunteers. Also check out our Facebook page for more volunteer news. Volunteers are already signing up for 2015, so don’t hesitate sign up now for one or more weeks.

Our Campers

Last but not least are the wonderful campers who arrive often hesitant and end up smiling, laughing, and learning

Robert, Betsy, Peggy, Gaye, and Helen wave so long
Robert, Betsy, Peggy, Gaye, and Helen wave so long

far more than they expected and making new friends.  Somewhat cut off from the frantic pace of the mainland, they turned their eyes and mind toward nature and rediscovered a peace within themselves. Nature is the common bond. One camper expressed

“I never knew there could be so many nice people in one place.”

 And, Finally

Steve Kress and his team have exciting new sessions for 2015, including seven-time Grammy Award winner Paul Winter, together with Pete Dunne. Registration is at 40% so far, so check out the new sessions – you won’t be disappointed.

And . . .

Nightjar and its crew and captain set sail for southern climes – we wish them fair winds and following seas.

Exultation is the going
Of an inland soul to sea, —
Past the houses, past the headlands,
Into deep eternity!

Bred as we, among the mountains,
Can the sailor understand
The divine intoxication
Of the first league out from land?

Emily Dickinson

News from Hog Island

We have three bits of exciting news, not including the fact that all the snow has melted and the birds are arriving in droves!

Attention All Mainers

FOHI has partnered with Mid-Coast Audubon chapter to have a benefit screening of the movie “A Birder’s Guide to Everything.” U.S.A Today said thatNot since Rob Reiner’s “Stand By Me’ has such a compelling rite-of-passage film emerged.” So, if you live in Maine or are coming to Maine, join us.  The film will show on Wednesday, April 16 at 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theater on Maine Street in Damariscotta, ME.  Mid-Coast’s own Don Reimer will be on hand to answer questions before and after the show.

“A Birder’s Guide to Everything” Photo: Courtesy of Labrador Duck Productions, LLC

Have Rachel and Steve Returned?

On April 8, 2014  at 3:36 p.m. EST, a male and female osprey landed in the Hog Island nest? Are they Rachel and Steve returning home or is it last year’s interloper female returning with a suitor or Steve. Stay tuned while we confirm the identities of the pair! To keep tabs on them, visit and see if you can tell if they are Steve and Rachel.

Is this Rachel and Steve?

Hog Island Sessions and Volunteer Spaces Are on Track

Sessions for the 2014 season are 75% full. A few spaces are still left in most of the sessions, especially those fabulous Monhegan trips in September.  Many of you have missed Pete Dunne. Well, he will be back for Joy of Birding in June, so now’s the time to register. We have a lot of stimulating additions to the sessions. Even if you’ve attended them before, you’ll find something new and exciting. We’re always improving and adapting.

Ah, the Joy of Birding! Photo courtesy of John Reis

Volunteers spaces are also open for most sessions, so sign up or learn more about what is expected of a volunteer. They rock!

P.S. We mailed our annual appeal letter on April 1. If you’ve already sent a donation, please disregard our appeal – we thought you’d enjoy the update. Stay tuned for more news as we work out the winter kinks. See you soon on the island.