60 years of summer fun

Fern & Feather Nature Camp at Felix Neck has been around for generations.


Nature abounds on the Vineyard. We’re surrounded by rolling hills, amazing rocks, red cliffs, marshland, two wildlife sanctuaries, and miles of coastline. According to Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, about 40 percent of Island land is protected. And if your child happens to be a wildlife enthusiast, a botanist in the making, or an explorer of waterways, Mass Audubon’s Fern & Feather Nature Camp at Felix Neck could be a perfect match.

Fern & Feather Nature Camp at Felix Neck has been voted “Best of the Vineyard” five years in a row, and summer 2024 marks its 60th summer camp anniversary. Camp kicks off on June 24, and runs through August 16. Kids ages 7 to 14 will explore and connect with nature, through outdoor games, hands-on activities, wildlife observations, hikes, crafts, and more.

“Our 190 acres is our classroom,” Camp Director Sydney Pigott said. “Kids learn about habitats, explore nature through various activities, engage in seashore discovery, freshwater ponding, insect identification, and more.”

Each week there is a camp theme, such as Metamorphosis Magic, Into the Wild, and Nature Heros, with activities created around these themes. “We try to keep the themes somewhat general, because we want our counselors to add in what interests them,” Josey Kirkland, Felix Neck education manager, said. “Though many of our counselors are in the nature field, we also have theater majors, and we want them to bring their unique interests and skills to the programs as well.”

Fern & Feather Nature Camp also offers a sliding-scale fee based on family size and income. “We’ve always had a motto of not turning people away. And in the past, we’ve had grants to help with that, but having a structured payment plan has been really impactful,” Kirkland said.  “We’ve been able to quadruple the support we provide for campers, which means we have a lot of new kids attending, and families who could only afford one week in the past are able to do three weeks. That’s a huge success for us.”

Half of the kids enrolled in Fern & Feather Nature Camp are Islanders. “We offer Islanders an early-bird special, giving them a week to register their kids before we open it up to the general public,” Kirkland said.

The popularity of Fern & Feather Nature Camp is evident not only in the number of kids who attend, but by the number of returning campers and counselors. “We always have alumni come to visit us. And parents who were once campers or counselors here are now enrolling their kids,” Pigott said.

“We’re actually onto our fourth generation of campers,” Kirkland added.

Former camp counselor Claire Chatinover shared that working at Fern & Feather was magic, and that magic never left her. “I started working there when I was 14 as a junior counselor, and kept working there for years. Being able to spend your entire summer outdoors, learning alongside awesome kids, and enjoying the beauty of the Island, is such joy. Working at Fern & Feather was the beginning of my science education career. I’m currently a middle school science teacher in Brooklyn, and I know it’s because I found magic in teaching about the natural world all those years ago at Felix Neck.”

For anyone interested in tapping into some of that magic, Felix Neck is currently hiring counselors and counselor assistants. For some positions, housing may be available as well. Applications can be found online at massaudubon.org.

Both Pigott and Kirkland are proud of the fact that this summer marks the organization’s 60th year of providing fun and educational summer camps to the Vineyard community. “We’re so lucky to have this legacy,” Pigott said.

“Our 60th year is a big deal for us, and we’re definitely going to be doing something special to celebrate,” Kirkland said.

To register, visit bit.ly/MA_daycamps, 100 Felix Neck Drive in Edgartown, or call 508-627-4850.