Hello and welcome to Nature Summer Camp 2018! The counselors, Katie and I have been as busy as beavers around here getting ready for the first day of camp next week. We can’t wait to meet all the campers! I am super thrilled about our staff. We are lucky to have three returning counselors, four fabulous new ones, and two wonderful support staff! And now, let’s introduce them one by one…
Jeff is answering the call of the wild – to inspire others to be better stewards of our planet through helping children and adults more deeply connect to the natural world. This is Jeff’s third year as camp director and at the Hitchcock Center. During the school year, Jeff teaches our Homeschool II Program, Nature Play Afterschool Program, and teaches to classes that visit the Hitchcock Center on field trips.
Prior to joining the Hitchcock Center, Jeff worked for Mass Audubon as a teacher/naturalist at Drumlin Farm, Arcadia and Habitat Sanctuaries and created his own afterschool program called “Into the Woods” for the Lexington Montessori School. Jeff brings to his teaching a deep-felt gratitude for the earth, an innate and also continuously growing ability to experientially engage others in the wonders of nature, and his own wellspring of curiosity and delight at the surprises that unfold around us each day. When not at the Hitchcock Center, Jeff can be found in the woods keeping a keen lookout for mushrooms, swimming at Puffer’s Pond, biking or tending his garden.
Katie has been involved with Hitchcock Summer Camp since 2007. During the school year she serves as the Center’s Children Youth and Family Programs Coordinator. This summer she will be leading camp with Jeff Mazur and teaching Leadership Training Camp with Peter Lamdin. During the school year she teaches a number of programs for elementary aged children. Before Hitchcock she worked in a public school Kindergarten for three years and had an avian rehabilitation internship in Vermont. She loves sharing the wonders of nature with all people, especially her two-year old daughter!
We are very lucky to have Colleen assisting us with camp this summer. Colleen is going on 33 years of being part of the Hitchcock Center staff, and has worked on just about everything here, from camp to school residencies to homeschool to afterschool to her all-time favorite program, Nature Discovery Preschool! All that experience has led to her current role as Education Director, in which she provides leadership and support for the education staff, Hitchcock’s Living Building project, professional development programs, college interns and loads more. In her spare time Colleen loves to get moving outdoors, from swimming to running to cycling to hiking!
Faraday is thrilled to be joining the Hitchcock Center for their first summer as a counselor for the Young Naturalists! Growing up, they spent most of their time crawling, climbing, running and dancing through the forests and mountains of the Connecticut River watershed. Faraday brings eight years of experience working as an educator in a wide variety of settings, including schools and camp programs in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Having studied Environmental Education and Dance at Hampshire College, they are looking forward to yet again exploring the woods surrounding the Hitchcock Center. Faraday deeply believes in the power of playful movement in the more-than-human world as a vehicle for fostering autonomy in young people. They are excited to spend time at camp this summer exploring the connection between ourselves, one another, the histories of those who came before us, and the places we inhabit.
Tara is delighted to be returning as a summer camp counselor at the Hitchcock Center. She loves exploring the intricacies of the natural world, and looks forward to sharing her excitement and curiosity with the campers. Tara was born in the foothills of the Rouge Valley in Southwestern Oregon and grew up camping, skiing, picking up bugs and critters, backpacking, and climbing to high places with her family and friends. She is passionate about encouraging deep relationships to place, and grateful to have the opportunity to do so herself in this new part of the country. Since moving to the Pioneer Valley, Tara has been at the Hitchcock Center as a volunteer and as a co-counselor for April Vacation Camp. She has a BA in Spanish from Reed College in Portland, OR. She enjoys writing, mending broken things, going on night bike rides, and spying on the birds and squirrels with binoculars from her bedroom window.
Sierra DeWalt is extremely excited to be a counselor at Hitchcock! She has been a junior counselor here three summers and loved every second of it! She grew up in Hadley: running around outside, splashing in the nearby brook, and climbing trees. As a kid, she participated in Hitchcock Center’s preschool group, homeschool group, and story time. She has also helped out with the Girls Into the Wild afterschool program. She enjoys biking, long walks, reading, and writing. She looks forward to all the amazing adventures of summer camp!
Kelsey is eagerly anticipating a summer filled with outdoor adventures and growth at the Hitchcock Nature Center! Kelsey is entering her second year of the Environmental Conservation master’s program at UMass and graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Environmental Policy and Journalism. Following graduation, she spent a year as an outdoor science instructor in the San Bernadino Mountains of Southern California, teaching middle-school students about plants, animals, astronomy and other natural sciences. Returning to the east coast, Kelsey then taught a children’s summer science program at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and before moving up to Vermont for an AmeriCorps service year at a nature education nonprofit. In addition to these experiences, Kelsey has worked as a overnight camp counselor, outdoor trip leader, au pair and soccer coach. Kelsey is thrilled to spend her summer in the Happy Valley and when not walking the trails, you can find her playing Ultimate, gardening, swimming and finding new foods to ferment.
Sarah is just jazzed about her first summer as a Counselor at the Hitchcock Center! Where art, nature, and people, come together is where Sarah most likes to find herself. Owing to this fact, she is pursuing her Master’s of Landscape Architecture at UMass Amherst, where she studies all sorts of cool things like community gardens, sustainable stormwater management, public art, and design for social uses. After graduating, Sarah hopes to use her degree to weave together a practice that includes both design and teaching about the environment. Sarah is a big believer in the power of art to connect people to place, and loves making landscape drawings of the places she visits, hiking and backpacking in New Hampshire, and exploring new spots right here in the Connecticut River Valley. Sarah loves imaginative pizza toppings, making tiny maps and comics, star-nosed moles, and admiring hemlock trees.
Aemelia is looking forward to spending her summer time outside with all the young naturalists at the Hitchcock Center. Though originally from Vermont, Aemelia now lives in Easthampton Massachusetts and has been in the valley for nearly a decade. After graduating from Hampshire College with a license in early childhood teaching Aemelia found work and fulfillment working in the indoors and outdoors in several of the valleys schools. She now works as a gardening instructor at schools in Easthampton and Northampton. She spends most of her time outside with her dog Bean, who shares her love of getting dirty and working hard. In all weather they spend their days to running, hiking, swimming, and seeking out the lessons and therapeutic effects of nature. Aemelia loves practicing awareness about the natural world around her, and often encourages her students to simply observe and reflect on their experiences in it. She’s looking forward to having a wonderful time with all the campers and all the flora and fauna they come across!
Ben is super excited for his first year as a counselor at the Hitchcock Center. He grew up attending similar nature camps, exploring forests, ponds, and fields, and hunting for insects and fungi. He holds a BA from Skidmore College in history and a minor in mathematics and spent his summers as a counselor at the same nature camps he grew up attending. He recently worked as an intern with the US Fish and Wildlife Service on a number of conservation projects ranging from endangered beetle rearing to migratory fish studies. When he’s not doing conservation work, he’s playing/teaching Old Time fiddle music, going to contra dances, learning about history, traveling, or making art.
Patrick is thrilled to back for his fifth season with Hitchcock Nature Summer Camp as Teacher Naturalist for the Explorers. Over the last few years he’s fallen in love with the Hitchcock Center and in the spring of 2015 joined as a full time staff member. In addition to summer and school vacation camps he teaches the Discovery Days, school field trip programs, school residency programs, and is Hitchcock’s Live Animal Caretaker. When not teaching or tending to the critters, Patrick can be found lurking about in art museums and movie theaters or barefoot hiking somewhere in the Mount Holyoke Range.
Jen is excited for her first summer at the Hitchcock Center! She usually works as a counselor at W. Alton Jones camps in RI, but decided to try a different camp environment this summer. A rising senior at Umass Amherst, Jen studies Natural Resource Conservation in addition to majoring in studio art with a printmaking concentration. Jen is looking forward to sharing games from Alton Jones with the Hitchcock Center family and learning from them too! When not at school or working, Jen likes to read, explore on her bike, hike, and make art. Two of her favorite things about summer is hearing Barred owls at night and going to the beach.
Peter is looking forward to his fifth year as a co-instructor, with Katie Koerten, of our popular Leadership Training Camp. Leadership camp continues to evolve and grow in exciting ways. It is now 43 years ago that Peter first worked as a camp counselor at the Hitchcock Center (although it was then called the Long Plain Nature Center and centered out in Leverett)! In those early years he also worked on school programs, which helped lead to his decision to become a classroom teacher. For most of his 35 years in the classroom, Peter taught 6th grade here in Amherst, loving the joys and challenges of the work, and developing wonderful relationships with his students and parents. Five years ago, Peter retired from the classroom and returned to the Hitchcock Center as a field trip educator, curriculum writer, and camp instructor. Working with children in the outdoors was Peter’s first love as an educator, and that love continues!Click here to return to full list of blog entries. Or chose a specific Blog category below.