In preparation for our upcoming camp season, we sat down with this year’s Camp Director, Aidan Mollhagen, a fourth-year philosophy student at the University of Texas at Austin. A Houston native, he enjoys the outdoors and has been an avid hiker and backpacker since middle school. Aidan has been actively involved with Blackwood for many years, and we’re grateful to have him returning to Nature Camp staff this year as Camp Director.
What led you to become the Camp Director of Nature Camp?
I came to Blackwood for the first time as a fairly timid fourth-grader. Throughout the years, I kept finding new reasons to come back. I’ve now experienced every position at Blackwood Summer Camp – I’ve been a camper, a CIT, and a counselor. I’m incredibly excited to have the opportunity to participate as Camp Director.
What does Blackwood Nature Camp mean to you?
I love nature, learning, and meeting new people. These are all things Blackwood has constantly provided me with over the years. But ultimately, what I appreciate most about Blackwood is that it challenges me – to try new things, get out of my comfort zone, and think about what’s really important in my life, away from the day-to-day stressors.
Why should someone attend Nature Camp?
One of my favorite things about Blackwood is the unique relationship with nature that it cultivates. Yes, trails run throughout the property, but Blackwood doesn’t stop at the edges of the marked paths. Campers are encouraged not just to look at the natural landscape – they go into it, touch it, smell it, and taste it (safely, of course). Learning how to interact more genuinely with the world around us is an invaluable skill that applies to every part of life, be it navigating interpersonal relationships, learning new skills, or orienting oneself in new situations.
What is one of your favorite camp memories?
Racing to be first in line for breakfast every morning, holding my breath as someone closed in on my hiding spot during forest games (and shrieking when they found me), hiding my favorite counselor’s hats and shoes in the couch cushions. There are almost too many to choose from.
But I think my favorite camp memory ever was actually while I was working as a counselor. One week it rained and rained and rained – for two or three days straight. Our schedule was in pieces, and the fields and trails had become mud puddles. But when the sun finally came out, we told the campers we could play outside again. Watching every child (and adult) run out onto the lawn with frisbees and soccer balls and smiles on their faces, slipping and sliding as they went, was absolutely amazing. When I think of Blackwood, I still hear splashes of feet in water and shrieks of unbounded joy.