Camp Cowaw Nature Lodge by Snake Hunter
The nature lodge at Camp Cowaw was situated directly over a steep and shady ravine at the far end of camp. Tall hemlocks and leafy rhododendrons grew throughout the ravine and surrounded the lodge, imparting a natural, deep woods cathedral like atmosphere to the location. The ravine itself was an excellent and natural wildlife habitat, with an especially good salamander hunting area, and a trickling water course that gurgled slowly down to the river. To get to the lodge one had to cross over on a rickety wooden foot bridge. The nature lodge was by far the most interesting area of camp. Outside was the open turtle pen, populated with local Box and Wood turtles. On the other sides were cages with raccoons, opossums and skunks. Inside were the snakes. There were water snakes, garter snakes, black snakes, King Snakes, and in one big tank, the rattlesnakes.
Tony Massopust, our high school Biology teacher and avid scout enthusiast, spent his summers living in the back bunk of the nature lodge while directing the camp’s nature programs. He also personally collected many of the lodge’s creatures. After I told him of my interest in herpetology, he would allow me to come along on his collecting trips. He would take us up to Sunfish Pond on a snake hunt or down by the river for a frog hunt. We once found and captured a blue headed Green frog. Mr. Mass was perplexed, as he had never seen (nor had I) a Green frog with a blue head. It was a great addition to the nature lodge’s collection. These hikes were the first time we had traveled into the heart of the dark forest, the furthest we had ever been from civilization. Three whole miles!