Our Place Summercamp 2016

Our Place Summercamp is designed to “unplug” your child by bringing them into direct contact with the creatures, geologies, hydrologies and infrastructures of the Nonotuck biome and the Westfield River watershed.

For five six-hour days, we roam our place—the valley and the hilltowns—investigating our natural and cultural history with all of our senses, and enjoying the whole-being stimulation of deep biotic immersion.

Our Place activities are fun—and they’re designed to increase camper’s perceptual abilities, activate their critical thinking skills, inspire their creative imaginations, and counteract “nature deficit disorder.”

Through active physical and mental engagement with “our place,” campers gain a deep & lasting appreciation of it—and themselves. (Click here for basic Our Place program description.)

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Wings, Sharpshins and Claws sessions:

—Wing sessions are designed for younger campers who want to explore awesome places, & learn and have fun, without being forced to go on hikes that are too long and hard. The general, but not strict, age is from 6 to 10.

Wings move softly through forests, fields and rivers, and are encouraged to perceive how these places “open up” to those who are sensitive—i.e., “able to sense.” Expect 1/2 to 2 miles of hiking a day.


In the field, Wings learn:

—Basic principles of soil, forest, wetland, pond, river ecology

—Basic principles of geology

—Names and ways of local plants, fungi, insects and animals

—Cultural history including architecture and patterns of human inhabitation

River Walking

—Tubeless tubing

in toto: the dynamic biophysical characteristics of the five ecoregions of the Nonotuck Biome, and the East Branch of the Westfield River


—Sharpshin sessions are designed for campers with more advanced field skills, which means they enjoy walking offtrail, can identify poison ivy/stinging nettle, & can stay fueled and hydrated without prompting. The general, but not strict, age is from 10 to 12. Expect at least 1.5 – 4 miles hiking a day.

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In the field, Sharpshins learn all of the Wings curricula at levels of increased complexity, plus:

—Walking off trail incl. route determination and cross country orienteering

—Environmental philosophy, aesthetics, ethics, politics, regulation and conservation

—Management of invasive species

—Basic ideas of prominent environmental philosophers

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—Claws sessions are designed for advanced Sharpshins who want to be challenged further in the practice of the wild. This summer’s session will be three days long, Wednesday July 6 through Friday July 8. Our group will consist of 2 adult teachers and 5 Claws.

—This year’s session is fully enrolled. Thank you!

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We will leave Northampton early on Wednesday, drive to New Hampshire’s White Mountains, park, enter the Great Gulf Wilderness, ascend the incredible Madison Gulf Trail, reach Mount Adams & feast and lodge at the AMC Madison Hut. On Thursday, we’ll summit Mount Adams and Madison, and then return slowly, arriving Northampton after a pizza dinner. On Friday, we will reconvene around noon and enjoy a deep biotic immersion somewhere in Nonotuck.

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Claws bring proper hiking gear, snacks, water and a light sleeping bag. The cost—that covers the course, travel, AMC dinner, breakfast and lodging, and a celebratory return-trip pizza dinner—is $300.

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Counselor In Training Program: Biocitizen invites advanced Sharpshins to assist our teachers, and learn how to teach field environmental philosophy. Please click this link to learn more about the program.

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Our Place Summercamp 2016 will be conducted, 9am-3pm, Monday-Friday during these weeks:
7/5-8: Wings open, Claws closed
7/11-15: Wings open, Sharpshins 2 spots open
7/18-22:  Wings open, Sharpshins closed
7/25-29: Wings closed, Sharpshins closed
8/1-5: Wings closed, Sharpshins closed
8/8-12: Staff Vacation
8/15-19: Wings closed, Sharpshins 1 spot open
8/22-26:  Wings closed, Sharpshins closed
8/29-9/2: Wings open, Sharpshins open

—Parents pack camper’s food and water, and dress them in weather-appropriate clothing. River-walking shoes are required; Keens are the best.

—Each Wings and Sharpshins session runs M-F, 9am-3pm, except the week of 4th of July.

—Drop off and pick-up are at Sheldon Field in Northampton.

Every Wings and Sharpshins group consists of 2 adult teachers, a counselor in training (CIT), and up to 12 campers. The 4 to 1 staff to camper ratio lets us break up into smaller groups at any given moment, which allows campers to lead investigations—a personal growth opportunity that, when conditions are right, we encourage.

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Cost: Each Wings and Sharpshins session costs $310.00; the one exception is the 4th of July 4-day Tues.-Thurs. Wings session, which is $250.

If you would like to reserve a spot for your child, please use the paypal link and indicate the week and session you are interested in. You will  receive a reservation confirmation and the registration materials; registration is complete when Biocitizen receives by postal mail your completed registration forms.


If you would like to learn more, please call 413.320.0522 and speak with Our Place director Kurt Heidinger, or send a note on the comment form below.

You can send a check (to Biocitizen, 1 Stage Rd. W’hamp, MA 01027) to pay for tuition, and reserve a spot; send a note via the comment form below to claim your reservation.