Trail Closure in Effect. Click for Details.

The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Portland High School Students Go to Camp

Posted by | July 2, 2021 | Filed under: Program Reports


Nine students from Portland High School filled a week in June with outdoor discoveries in the varied habitats of the Wells Reserve. Their teacher, Tom Talarico, had brought students to the Reserve for a field trip in 2019, then participated in a Teachers on the Estuary workshop in 2020. We had been hoping for an opportunity to do more with Tom and his students and, thanks to funding from the Maine Community Foundation's Tenny Donnelley Fund and the Wells Reserve's Richardson Lifelong Environmental Learning Fund, we were able to provide a week of camp with full scholarships and transportation for all participants. L.L.Bean also gifted each of the campers a pair of binoculars!

Five Days of Discovery

On day one, campers did some icebreakers, nature journaling, and mindfulness activities, then explored Laudholm Beach with buckets in hand and enshrouded in fog. They searched for critters in the intertidal zone and used their newly gifted binoculars to view nesting terns and plovers at the river mouth. The campers even saw a snowy owl perched on the chimney of one of the beach houses!


Day two brought a bird banding demonstration, filled with interesting avian information from Biodiversity Research Institute scientist Evan Adams, and an opportunity for one lucky student to release a newly banded catbird from her hand! Next, it was off to Wells Harbor for dock discoveries, where the students got down on their bellies to search the pilings for signs of life.



Day three brought York County Audubon expert birder Monica Grabin to the Reserve to lead the campers on a bird walk, followed by Sue Bickford facilitating a hands-on search for butterflies and dragonflies in the fields. The day wrapped up with a visit to the salt marsh, where the students donned mud shoes and explored a habitat new to most of them.



Kayaking on the Little River was a highlight on day four. It was a first for most of the campers, and by the end of the trip, they looked like pros. It was new and challenging, but so very rewarding. After lunch, the students crafted their own artistic block print creations at picnic tables outside, surrounded by nature for inspiration.


On the final morning of camp, Eileen Willard led one of her wonderful tree walks for the students, who were fascinated to learn that trees have genders. After lunch, Carol Steingart of Coast Encounters introduced the campers to sea stars, sea urchins, hermit crabs, and other marine life with her traveling touch tank. The group had lots of questions about the creatures, and also Carol’s marine biology career path. Before heading back to Portland (with a stop for ice cream!), the campers reflected on their week and shared highlights. One student shared, "I loved it here! The animals, flowers, the birds--I would do this again!" Another said, "We learned so many things! I did an activity (kayaking) I never imagined I could do. I was so scared, but it was so enjoyable."


It was a wonderful week—not only for the campers, but also for the Reserve's education team and all the guest presenters who helped to lead activities. It was a two-way learning experience—not only did the campers learn from the camp leaders, but the leaders learned so much from this impressive group of students, who we hope to have the honor of hosting at the Reserve again before too long.

Thank you, thank you to the generous Maine Community Foundation and LL Bean for the timely binoculars donation, stellar Wells Reserve educators Linda Littlefield Grenfell and Caryn Beiter, dedicated Portland High School teachers Tom Talarico and Kirsten McWilliams, all of the special guest presenters who enthusiastically filled the week with their knowledge, and of course the incredible students who brought us all so many smiles throughout the week. 

← View all Blog Posts