Birder's Eye View

Sunday, June 15, 2008

CMBS | Lessons Learned

"I believe in God, only I spell it Nature." – Frank Lloyd Wright
Lessons Learned from Hog Island

1. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, according to Dr. Sara Morris, a biology professor from Canisius University, it was clearly the egg that came first. In one of the most enlightening workshops I attended, Dr. Morris taught us about the evolution and anatomy of birds. By studying specimens (mounted birds, skeletons, wings, feathers, etc.), I gained a great understanding of the diversity of birds and how they evolved to suit their specific habitats.

2. You are responsible for your own learning. While I was aware of this to begin with, every night when we sat in the cabin with the councilors and talked about logistics for the following day, this point was driven home. They reminded us that no matter what we did or where we went, it was ultimately up to us to listen and learn from those around us.

3. Puffins. They can live up to 30 years!!! Who knew? (Sorry, random tidbit I found in my camp journal...)

4. Live in the moment. Whenever one of the campers asked what we would be doing the next day, the councilors would always say, "It's not tomorrow yet." The point being that we should enjoy the moment. This was hard for me at first, because I am so used to being ready for the next thing, but by the end of camp, I had literally lost track of time. But I liked it that way.

5. Open up to people; you'll be amazed at what you find. This was another hard one for me, because I'm naturally introverted. However, when I forced myself to come out of my "shell," I met the most amazing people. Both seasoned birders and newbies like me had some great insights and wonderful stories to share.

6. Every experience is what you make it. I stepped on to Hog Island with this theory, and stepped off with the theory confirmed. Some parts of the experience were not all great -- sharing two bathrooms with 14 other people; getting seasick; getting eaten alive by mosquitoes; and so on -- but I resolved to make the best of it, and I did.

7. If you want to fly, just open your wings. In Scott Weidensaul's talk "A Celebration of Flight," he started out by saying that if birds want to fly off a cliff, they just open their wings and go. But we, as people, cannot just step off that same cliff. He went on to talk about how birds use minute signs from the earth's magnetic field to migrate each year and what a beautiful thing it is to fly. To close his lecture, he said something like this: "Forget what I said before not being able to fly. You can. Just step off that cliff and open your wings."

Always the cynic, my first thought was of someone taking his advice literally and plummeting to the earth below that hypothetical cliff. But after a while, I began to understand what he meant. We all need to take a chance. We all need to step off that cliff, open our wings and fly.


To close my "series" on the CMBS camp, I have made a video with my pictures from camp. Enjoy, and happy birding!

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