As I look back at Camp Colorado 2012, I see a blur of smiles, jokes, people, and birds. I see 60+ lifers. I see Mountain Plovers and Prairie Falcons. But the most prevalent trait of Camp Colorado is fun. Yes, the birds and all those cool sights and sounds meld into fun.
By Nathaniel Hernandez
As I look back at Camp Colorado 2012, I see a blur of smiles, jokes, people, and birds. I see 60+ lifers. I see Mountain Plovers and Prairie Falcons. But the most prevalent trait of Camp Colorado is fun. Yes, the birds and all those cool sights and sounds meld into fun. Not just lifers, but fun. From a game of Kan Jam (I’ll explain that later) to peering through your bins at a Ferruginous and Swainson’s hawk dogfight in the skies above a vast grassland, it is all fun. That is what Camp Colorado is all about…well, that and other things. I learned how to be a good tour leader, conservation leader, and birding friend on that camp. Camp Colorado taught me how to let go of my restraints and hang out with others young people like myself. One example of this on camp was the time spent playing KanJam, which involves throwing a Frisbee at a can and having a partner trying to hit it at or in the can. Most of us campers hadn’t played the game before. Yet, we all dived in with gusto and played it like we loved it. I must admit that I didn’t really feel like trying something new but once I got going, it wasn’t easy to stop.
KanJam in action. Photo by Rosemary Kramer.
Camp Colorado was obviously a bit more than playing Kan Jam and letting go of restraint. We saw birds, and some good ones, too. We had a ten-minute (successful!) search for White-tailed Ptarmigan at the top of the mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park. About five Common Nighthawks were flying about in daylight at Crow Valley Recreation Area. A White-eyed Vireo was also hopping around in the trees there. We saw a Prairie Falcon dive down and catch a ground squirrel at Estes Park. Oh, I forgot to mention that when the Ferruginous Hawk and Swainson’s hawk were dog fighting, about eight American White Pelicans flew by in the distance and four Long-billed Curlews flew up over our heads. Yeah, it was pretty awesome.
But the most important thing that stuck with me through camp was the community of the campers and leaders. It was a constructive and helpful group. Campers laughed as we waited in the lobby for the next event, talking over the day’s events and our own lives. Several times during the camp I thought how funny it was that we campers talked like we had known each other for years and we had only met just a few days before. Birding is a catalyst for connections, and so is this camp. If you have any chance to go on an ABA camp, do it! You will find that it can help you make friends, see cool birds, learn new things and, most of all, have a load of fun.
About the author: Nathaniel Hernandez is a 17-year-old birder from Great Meadows, New Jersey. He has been birding since he first read My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George, at age 12. He is President of the New Jersey Young Birders Club and also volunteers with New Jersey Audubon as an Associate Naturalist. Nathaniel hopes to go to college for ornithology and aims to become an ornithologist.