On Thursday, August 7, the Adventure Club headed out for our annual Harbor Islands camping trip. While most Adventure Club trips are available to 5th and 6th graders, this trip is a special treat for the rising 6th graders. It’s a great way for the students and teachers to starting gearing up for the coming school year and some of the unique challenges that our school’s oldest students face. It’s also a really fun and unique experience on its own!
Students and chaperones met outside of the Park St. T stop bright and early on Thursday morning. Aliyah, Brianna, Ciani, Darius, Edozie, and Karon hiked up through Boston Common with Mr. Best, Ms. Gordon, Ms. Hanagriff, and Ms. Simon to borrow some gear from the Appalachian Mountain Club. Since Bumpkin Island is “carry-on, carry-off,” we had to bring everything we would need with us—including water! Mr. Duhaime helped us out by driving some of our heavier gear to the ferry for us, but we used large backpacks to carry our personal items, tents, and tarps. After loading onto the ferry, we were off! Our journey featured a stop at Georges Island, where we had just enough time for a quick lunch before jumping onto the inter-island water taxi that took us to our final destination.
We arrived at Bumpkin Island, met the Ranger named Luke, and headed to our campsite. I think everyone was thrilled to finally be able to put down those heavy water jugs! Ms. Gordon taught the students how to set up their tents in our open, grassy knoll while Mr. Best, Ms. Simon, and Ms. Hanagriff hung a few tarps to provide shelter in case of “the R-word.” You see, on Adventure Club trips, we avoid saying “rain” (shhhh!) because we know that once the R-word hears its name, it will think it’s being summoned and it will arrive. Just as we were congratulating ourselves for setting up such lovely tents and tarps, the bottom fell out! The rain was quite heavy for a while, and we even got some pea-sized hail! Luckily, our tarps held up fairly well and we all had plenty of waterproof rain gear. After about 30 minutes (or was it several hours?!) the storm rolled away, and the sun reappeared to help us all dry out.
Ms. Gordon took us on an expert tour of the island’s many interesting features. We saw the North Vista, from which we could see the beautiful Boston skyline. We also visited the ruins of the mess hall, the foundation of the old pump house, and the old children’s hospital. We scooted over to the south side of the island, where we could see a spit of land that could be used to walk across to Hull if the tide is low enough! We paid a quick visit to the ranger to see his lodging before making our way back to camp.
With a couple of hours left before dinner, we split into two groups for games and exploration. Karon went with Ms. Gordon and Ms. Simon to explore the beach at low tide and search for specimen. Mr. Best and Ms. Hanagriff taught Aliyah, Brianna, Ciani, Darius and Edozie how to play “The Stick Game,” which challenges your balance as well as hand-eye coordination. We also took some time to play “Camouflage,” an Adventure Club favorite that asks players to consider how best to hide themselves while keeping an eye on their predator.
As Mr. Best got the grill rolling for our feast of hamburgers and hot dogs, Karon showed us some of the specimen he found along the beach, and the rest of the group taught Karon and Ms. Simon “The Stick Game.” Ms. Gordon and Ms. Hanagriff reminded the group that we were responsible for everything we brought onto the island, including our trash. To minimize our waste, we reused grocery bags as dinner plates! We enjoyed our food, cleaned up our mess, then headed to the North Vista to catch the sunset, which is perfectly framed over the city skyline.
The sun made its way below the horizon as Mr. Best told us the story of Black Sam Bellamy, a pirate who once used Bumpkin Island as a storing location for supplies—and treasure! Black Sam Bellamy’s ship went down in a wild storm, leaving the potential for buried treasure all over the island! We split into two teams: the boys + Ms. Simon were the Pink Panthers and the girls + Ms. Hanagriff were the Blue Cheetahs. The Dread Pirate Gordon gave each team its own envelope containing and clue and we were off! The clues asked us to remember information we had learned earlier in our tour, and with each clue we solved, we collected puzzle pieces. Once we completed the puzzle, the Pirates Gordon and Best gave each time a map: X marks the spot for the buried treasure! Successfully completing the scavenger hunt rewarded each team with its own chest of sweet candy treasure! One final night hike around the island, complete with stargazing on the dock, brought us around to bedtime. Everyone settled into his or her sleeping bag to rest after a very busy day.
Waking up to pure sunlight is a treat that even some of our chaperones had not yet experienced. Students got to work, breaking down their tents, stuffing away their sleeping bags, and packing up their backpacks. Meanwhile, chaperones broke down their own camp area and tarps and prepared breakfast. We enjoyed some delicious bagels, made sure we were leaving our campsite just as we had found it, and headed for the dock.
At 10:00 sharp, we said goodbye to Bumpkin Island and headed back to Georges Island. On our return trip, we had a few hours to enjoy before our final ferry ride back to Boston. We found a nice shady picnic area where Ms. Gordon and Brianna relaxed and took some time away from the sun. Mr. Best, Ms. Simon, and Ms. Hanagriff led that rest of the group on a casual tour of Ft. Warren. We investigated jail cells, a bakery, loading docks, and defense walls, all of which are at least 100 years old. In some places, we had to do some hypothesizing about what we saw. On the fort wall, we found several sections of stone laid into round areas with metal inlay. Based on their location, Aliyah figured that these must have been cannons. We noticed that from this vantage, soldiers would have been able to defend the fort against attacking ships, or provide defensive support to Boston in case the city was being attacked.
We enjoyed a leisurely lunch in the shade, made our way back to the dock and boarded our ferry home. More than one person took the opportunity to have a quick snooze—we were exhausted! Our final trek led us back up to the AMC headquarters to return our borrowed gear, then meet parents back at Park Street T stop. It was a very busy two days, but I think we all left that trip feeling refreshed and ready to enjoy the last weeks of summer before tackling the upcoming school year!