At the mic: Mike Hudson
Mike Hudson is an eighteen year-old birder from Baltimore, Maryland. Mike first got into birding when his grandfather taught him to draw birds. For four years he volunteered at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, working in animal care and education, and he continues to volunteer at several area nature centers, and will begin to volunteer at the Chester River Field Research Station’s bird banding station at the end of September. Mike currently lives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, in Chestertown, where he is a freshman at Washington College. He is studying Biology in the pre-veterinary medicine track.
I don’t think there is any doubt in anyone’s mind that Camp Avocet was totally, undeniably awesome this year, so I won’t spend too long telling you all that. In mid-August 2014, a committed staff and a crew of very enthusiastic and almost unbelievably skilled campers assembled in Lewes, in southern Delaware, for the second year of this ABA camp. Last year, I was one of the enthusiastic campers, while this year, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend as Camp Avocet’s intern.
Being an intern was great fun and also quite rewarding. First of all, it’s a full week of birding and nature-ing (I can make that verb!) in one of North America’s most bird-rich regions—right off the bat, you know it can’t get a whole lot better. In the field, we travelled across four states from Virginia’s barrier island of Chincoteague, to the famous Cape May, New Jersey. Spectacular numbers of shorebirds presented themselves at almost every turn. We had a great opportunity to pick out the goodies from among flocks of terns and gulls. The best Wilson’s Storm-petrel show I have ever had was put on aboard the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. A few warblers and other Neotropical migrants put in appearances, which were all the more special for their paucity.
Aside from being able to bird every waking hour, I also had the privilege to be guiding alongside the other instructors, which is not only incredibly exciting to think about, but also very educational. I got to see first-hand what their styles were like and compare them to mine. This is, I think very interesting and fun for most anyone—it’s cool to hear how one person sees something as basic as a color or shape differently from you—but especially for someone who is, by comparison, just getting started in the world of field trip-and-tour leading, it is invaluable.
Maybe the best thing that I got to experience as an intern though, was being able to teach and learn from the campers. I think that people expect to hear a lot about the joy of being able to pass my knowledge on to others and how wonderful it is to watch the campers learning from the other staff members. All of that is perfectly valid, and it is definitely gratifying to see happen. However, I can’t honestly say how many times a staff member or guest leader prompted one of the campers to repeat something to the whole group. Or how, after an explanation of something by one of the staff, a camper also chimed in and said “also…” I have participated in three ABA camps now—first as a camper at Camps Colorado and Avocet, and now as an intern at the latter. One of my favorite things has always been to see the exchange of ideas and knowledge brought to the table, not only by the staff, but by the campers themselves. I don’t think I can say enough how impressive and powerful it is to witness and be a part of that exchange.
Being an intern means making sure lunches are in order and that everyone has enough water bottles packed and, occasionally, that we have all staff members. But it also means getting to be outside birding and learning and teaching alongside some of the best youth and adult birders in the country and—dare I say—in the world. I would work at one of the ABA camps again in a heartbeat—maybe I’ll see some you all at one next year!