Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Camp Avalon - In the making

Camp Avalon - A camping weekend for young birders

At the start of the year 2015 I was looking at the American Birding Association (ABA) website and reading about two camps for young birders that they hold, Camp Colorado and Camp Avocet. I longed to go, but they were held during the summer holidays, when I was always away world birding 



ABA's Camp Colorado 2015
Photograph courtesy of Camp Colorado

There were a few things that took place here but all were really geared at people in their twenties with us teenagers allowed to tag along.  I wanted something for people like me, obsessive young birders.

Talking to my parents about my disappointment, I realised that I could organise my own camp doing whatever I chose.

First of all, where should it take place? If I was organising it, the camp needed to be not too far from me, just south of Bristol.  The obvious venue was the Somerset Levels, a half hour drive from my house.

I go to Young Wardens sessions at the Avalon Marshes Centre on the Somerset Levels and thought the set up there was perfect for the camp.  I spoke to Julie Merrett who organises Young Wardens and after checking, they agreed that we could use the centre free of charge for the weekend 19/20/21 June 2015, when they also had a bio blitz going on.

We also had a name, Camp Avalon.

Next, we visited all the camp sites in the area.  None allowed children.  This was going to be disastrous.  The last one we visited was different.  They would take us teenagers and didn't see us as a 'problem'.  I decided that if we did our own cooking, it would keep our costs down.

Next I sat down and made a list of what I would like to do or learn about during the camp.  If I wanted to do it, surely other young birders would too?  Then I made a list of who would be good with teenagers, had the skills and might help.

ABA's Camp Avocet 2015
Photograph courtesy of Camp Avalon

Mum would take out the insurance in her name and this year any under 16's needed to have an adult with them.  We could see how it then went and sort out lots of CRB checked adult helpers for next year.

Everyone was enthusiastic about the camp and the list was to a group of people who were free that weekend and happy to help.  Others, like Mike Dilger from The One Show, had commitments this year but hoped to be able to get involved next year.

The programme looked brilliant with a combination of birding walks, talks and practical workshops.  I was really excited!

ABA's Camp Colorado 2015
Photograph courtesy of Camp Colorado

Next I set up an e-mail and blog with information and publicised the camp through social media with help from the RSPB putting on their Phoenix Facebook Page and BBC wildlife Magazine retweeting about the Camp.  Avalon Marshes also e-mailed their Young Wardens group.

I started getting interested teenagers getting in touch - they thought it looked great too.

Read the next instalment about Camp Avalon.

ABA's Camp Avocet 2015
Photograph courtesy of Camp Avalon

About the Writer

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Scilly
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig 

Mya-Rose Craig is a 12 year old young birder, conservationist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She is looking forward to going Mountain Gorilla Trekking in East Africa in the summer and watching Penguins in Antarctica in December 2015, which will be her 7th continent. She has recently been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people. Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter

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