The RSPB and the Cameron Bespolka Trust are working to make nature more inclusive for young people through an immersive residential center in the New Forest.
Cameron’s Cottage is a former lumberjack’s cottage converted into an outdoor residential center that offers experiences for teens and young adults with limited access to nature.
Located on the edge of the RSPB Franchises Lodge, a serene wooded nature reserve, Cameron’s Cottage provides a traditional camp experience for residents and visitors alike, with activities such as bird ringing, bat walks and moments around a campfire.
Renovations have taken place at Cameron’s Cottage over the past year.
The Cameron Bespolka Trust has raised £ 450,000 to renovate Cameron’s Cottage in partnership with the RSPB and work began on the building in 2019. Over the past year, the project has received an additional £ 200,000 boost from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as well as crucial funding from other partners like the Garfield Weston Foundation. This has enabled Cameron’s Cottage to provide affordable access to nature for young people, especially for groups under-represented in nature areas in the UK. Cameron’s Cottage is a not-for-profit company with all profits reinvested in the project.
The RSPB and the Cameron Bespolka Trust began to restore the chalet in memory of Cameron Bespolka, a 16-year-old naturalist who died in a skiing accident in 2013. Cameron, a nature enthusiast, ignited his passion for conservation when of a stay in nature. reserve in Florida. Cameron’s Cottage hopes to act as a catalyst in the same way, sowing the seeds of an enduring love of nature that engages people to care about the planet, benefits their personal well-being, and helps them meet like-minded people. same ideas.
Corinne Bespolka, founder of the Cameron Bespolka Trust and mother of Cameron Bespolka said: “As a family we have always tried to spend time in nature and we appreciated how special and important it was. From a young age Cameron loved animals and wildlife and as he grew older bird watching became his passion. He stayed in a cottage like this and it meant the world to him. He loved being surrounded by wild animals morning, noon and night. He inspired us to listen and observe and Cameron’s Cottage is dedicated to all young people to come, stay and connect with nature like he has.
“We are delighted to partner with the RSPB to achieve our shared vision. Now that Cameron’s Cottage is open, we will provide funding to ensure young people from all walks of life can stay.
Cameron Bespolka tragically passed away in 2013, but his legacy and passion for wildlife lives on in the form of Cameron’s Cottage.
Cameron’s Cottage also provides facilities for educational institutions such as colleges and universities to conduct research. Franchises Lodge provides an idyllic setting for discovering an abundance of wildlife, including birds of prey, butterflies, amphibians, orchids and mushrooms. A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the forest is home to unique wildlife, including rare species of bats and fungi and the largest population of breeding toads in the UK.
Beth Markey, RSPB, said: “Cameron’s Cottage is completely off-grid with heating and electricity supplied by solar power, so this is truly the ultimate experience of nature. ‘welcoming several groups to Cameron’s Cottage since the beginning of September, all have been involved in exciting conservation work and have discovered incredible wildlife.
“Research shows that adolescents and young adults are more out of touch with nature than any other age group, and we believe that by removing the barriers that prevent access to nature, we can encourage more people to stay. ‘interested in the natural world and in changing lives. “
On a recent visit to Cameron’s Cottage with the New Forest National Park Authority, Salisbury MP John Glen described the center as “a fantastic project and a great example of a successful management model for collaboration between communities, councils, organizations and volunteers ”, and“ not only does it offer the therapeutic value of nature, but it will introduce a new generation to the stewardship responsibility we all have for this beautiful part of the country ”.