While you may think all of today’s youth are sitting on the couch watching video games, think again. Andrew Theus from Midland, GA is passionate about birdwatching, a hobby he shares with his entire family. This summer, Andrew attended a Birding Camp in Maine and here is his story……..in his words.
This summer I was fortunate enough to be given the incredible opportunity to be a part of Hog Island’s Audubon Camp for teens run by Project Puffin, on the coast of Maine, through the generous Richard Parks Young Birder’s scholarship given to me by GOS. Myself and fourteen other teens, along with several adult campers, spent five days enjoying the beautiful Maine Coast while birding, studying and learning fascinating information from some of the top Ornithologists and Conservationists in the country. These included Steve Kress, Kenn Kaufman and Scott Weidensaul. The camp was run very well and all of the camp staff was kind and helpful. I met many great people at this camp who taught me much about birding and were great to just get to know. It was really a blast. The experiences I had at this camp were truly life changing.
One awesome experience I had was a privilege that was given only to the teens at the Hog Island Camp. One morning all of the people attending the camp were taken out by boat into the Gulf of Maine to a small island called Eastern Egg Rock. This island is where the organization Project Puffin, led by Steve Kress, has worked very hard, over the course of several years, to bring back Atlantic Puffins to nest on the island. The project continues and has been a success leading to over 100 pairs of Puffins now nesting on the island along with many pairs of Arctic, Common and the endangered Roseate Terns. During breeding season, a few researchers stay on the island to study and monitor the birds there.
After circling the island a few times in the boat with the adults, the teen campers were given the opportunity to get into a smaller boat and land on the island. We were allowed to spend all day on Eastern Egg Rock with the few researchers who were studying there. While on the island, we were allowed to go into blinds set up around the island—just feet away from the burrows of nesting Puffins and Black Guillemots as well as nests of Leach’s Storm-Petrel’s and Roseate, Common and Arctic Terns. Seeing the birds this close and observing their nesting behavior was incredible. It was truly amazing how beautiful the island was and all the birds that resided on it. I learned so much fascinating information from the researchers there. They are truly dedicated to preserving these beautiful birds and this really inspired me.
Having the opportunity to be a part of this camp was life changing and unforgettable. I have been birding for seven years, but over the course of the past year or two, I feel that my birding enthusiasm hadn’t been as high as it once was. However, getting this opportunity definitely changed that and has really inspired me to be the best birder that I can be. I realize being a part of this camp and especially getting to go to Eastern Egg Rock is something that very few people in this world get to do and I am very thankful that this was something that I was given the chance to do. I would like to again thank Dr. Sargant and all with GOS who made this possible for me to attend.