Endless Mountains Nature Center Makes Getting Outside a Breeze

When Rebecca Lesko returned to her hometown after working as an education director at a preserve outside of New York City, she was determined to create a place where people could find easy access to nature. In February 2005, she and 16 like-minded individuals began the process of establishing the Endless Mountains Nature Center. The newly formed non-profit leased part of Camp Lackawanna in Tunkhannock, which is owned by The Presbytery of Lackawanna, a group of 50 Presbyterian churches that offers residential youth camps. Camp Lackawanna is located in Vosburg Neck on the Susquehanna River. Rebecca and her friends built a 400-foot enclosure for a hawk, owl and a falcon to live permanently on site. Nature day camps launched in July 2006. Children experienced the outdoors through forest hikes, games, arts and crafts, animal encounters and other nature-related activities. “The first year we did summer camps, I had 33 students,” said Rebecca. “Last year there were 300.” Thanks to a grant from Procter & Gamble, the day camps expanded and the tuition lowered drastically, which in turn tripled the numbers of students in 2015 and 2016. “We get to affect so many more children,” said Rebecca. “They get to experience the things I did as a kid.”

The nature center has educational programs for adults as well. During the spring, mixed media artist Annmarie Ciccarelli will teach a workshop called, From the Earth: The Art of Natural Dyes. She also leads another workshop called Yoga in the Woods. She and yoga instructor Matt Fox will alternate classes each week teaching Hatha Yoga. On Earth Day, Ciccarelli will teach a dye-making workshop called Spring Harvest using seasonal fruits and vegetables.                          

On May 13, wildlife photographer John Goldman will present a workshop called Better Bird Photography, which will include a lecture called “Everything I Know About Bird Photography.” Goldman is an award-winning photographer from Wayne County. He is also a volunteer at Lacawac Sanctuary and the Delaware Highlands Conservancy. Another workshop scheduled this spring is called Mushroom Inoculation. People will learn how to grow their own oyster and shitake mushrooms on wooden logs and spores. The nature center also features full-moon hikes, which are inspired by Rebecca’s travels to the rural parts of Wyoming and Montana. “There’s extra light all over the place,” she said about the stars in the western part of the U.S. “There’s so many stars you get disoriented because you’re not used to seeing them.” The Endless Mountains Nature Center also hosts special events. The Vosburg Neck Festival and Pow Wow takes place May 6 and 7. It celebrates the region’s history and beauty. It’s held on the grounds of Camp Lackawanna, including the nature center, and Howland Preserve. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, visitors can enjoy guided nature walks. Rebecca will lead lectures. A petting zoo features domestic farm animals, such as rabbits and alpacas. Natalie “Wisteria” Bowersox and DiAnne “Running Wolf” Force will coordinate the Pow Wow at “Lower Village” (adjacent to Camp Lackawanna’s Smyrl Lodge). New this year, the Kitson Arts Alliance will join the festival by coordinating a variety of vendors in the “Upper Village” at Camp Lackawanna’s Merrill Lodge. The lodge’s lawn will feature 40 to 50 outdoor vendors, including food stands, arts and handcrafted items, apparel and jewelry, health and beauty products and home and garden decor.

Endless Mountains Nature Center is funded by donations and grants. Core staff and volunteers carry out the center’s mission to– provide educational programs and recreational opportunities for people of all ages.