Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
small trail through a forest
Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary

From Arcadia Nature Preschoolers to Camp Counselors

August 17, 2023

For over 40 years Arcadia’s Nature Preschool has delivered rewarding early childhood experiences in nature, forming the foundation for children to grow into creative, caring, and aware adults. 

This summer two preschool alumni returned to Arcadia to serve as camp counselors: Amelia Fiordalice and Nathan Marks. We had the chance to talk with them about their journey after a long hot day at camp, and they showed themselves to be thoughtful advocates for nature, their co-workers, and the campers in their charge. Here is some of what we talked about edited for easier reading.  

Two young adults in blue t-shirts posing for a photo

When were you here at Preschool? Do you have any memories of your preschool days?  

Amelia: I think I started my 2 years in 2008. I remember the water table that was filled with different things. One day it was spaghetti! It was sensory heaven to reach into. The spaghetti table unlocked something in my brain.  

Nate: 2006, I think. I don’t have as many memories as Amelia, but I do remember the vernal pools. I also remember being a very energetic kid.  

What impact did preschool have on you as a child? 

Amelia: It motivated me to bring my family back to Arcadia. I knew when Roller Coaster Hill would freeze so I could slide down it. I knew all the fun places to go at Arcadia and how to observe wildlife respectfully. You could say that preschool fostered a sense of wonder.  

Nate: It sparked my curiosity about being outdoors. I learned how to observe the natural world and so that made hiking more interesting. 

What was your journey from preschool to becoming a camp counselor?  

Amelia: I was a Great Blue Heron camper here at Arcadia and then a Counselor in Training. I always knew that I wanted to be a counselor. I am grateful that I was encouraged all along the way by the Arcadia camp staff. When I turned 18, I applied and being here is meeting a lifelong goal. 

Nate: It is an honor and a privilege to hold a camp job. I was a camper and CIT at another camp. Then last year I was a Music and Drama specialist for a camp in West Springfield. I applied to be a counselor at Arcadia because I wanted to work closely with one group of campers to get to know them. I’m super excited to be here this year.  

What do you hope to instill in your campers?  

Amelia: To encourage a sense of wonder and respect for nature. I wanted them to be able to look around and be energized by what they see because they have some knowledge about what is here at the sanctuary. I want them to learn how to be in nature in a respectful and healthy way.  

Nate: I agree with everything Amelia said. I also want them to feel valued. I want them to believe that they can succeed. Camp shouldn’t feel like school but rather a place they can really engage with and have fun. But they will still be learning, just in a different way.  

What will you be working toward after camp? What connections do you see between your choices and the journey you are on from Preschool to Camp Counselor? 

Amelia: I am entering art school in the fall. Here at camp, I am taking our craft activities to a whole new level. I am excited about what I am learning about how to bring natural elements into lots of different mediums here. Working with natural elements is something that I will take into art school and my own art practice. 

Nate: I am going into my senior year of college studying social work and hope to continue directly on for my Master of Social Work. Nature has always grounded me in the present, so I know that it is an important support for mental health. Here at camp, I am getting to practice my group skills. I am developing my voice while helping campers develop their own. Being part of staff with members from all different backgrounds who come together to create a community is a special experience.  

We thank Amelia and Nate for their leadership and bringing their gifts to the Arcadia camp community this summer.  

A few spaces remain in Arcadia’s 2023-2024 Nature Preschool.

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