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STORIES

AUGUST - HARBOR ISLANDS CAMPING

Jennifer Gordon

Every August we go on a very special trip designed specifically for our transitioning 6th graders.  This trip to the Boston Harbor Islands gives our oldest students some time to adjust to being the senior members of the Adventure Club.  

In the past we have travelled to Bumpkin Island, but this year we had the opportunity to explore a new island : Lovells!  Mr. P, Ms. Juengst, Mr. Smith, and Ms. Gordon met our group outside the Park Street T station early in the morning on August 12th.  Once everyone had arrived, we walked up to the AMC Headquarters, located on Joy Street.  We geared up and headed off to the pier - our route takes us past the State House and through both City Hall Plaza and Faneuil Hall.  The ferry arrived soon enough and after a quick transfer at Georges Island, we arrived at Lovells.  

By this time, we were starving!  After a much deserved lunch, we picked out our tent spots and set up camp. Our campsite was surrounded on two sides by two buildings : parts of an old fort!  The island was acquired for military use during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.  These two buildings were called Battery Whipple and Battery Williams and both were used for bunkers and artillery.  Taking a peek at these buildings gave us the exploration bug!  Now that our campsite was settled and lunch had been eaten...it was time to explore!  

Our group decided to walk the shoreline of Lovells.  Riley, Sherab, Jazlyn, and Sebastian became experts on finding rocks to skip!  We spent a lot of time looking for beach treasures : shells, rocks, crabs, and sea glass.  It was such a beautiful day, though very hot.  Our walk eventually brought us to the southwestern point of the island and the location of another building : Battery Terrill.  Our YOP leader Nate had referred to this series of buildings as “The Temple of Doom” and we were all excited to explore inside!  The buildings were overgrown with vines and trees, giving us some much needed shade.  Inside the buildings were dark rooms and tunnels, so we broke out the headlamps!  These buildings were AMAZING!  We had a great time exploring.  Then it was on to a walk through a salt marsh and back onto the shoreline.  This shore was a little different and allowed our group to become expert crab finders!  

There were two other YOP groups staying with us on Lovells : Family Services of the Merrimack Valley and Young Leaders (a group from the Boys and Girls Club).  They had arrived on a later ferry and had set up their campsites while we were exploring.  Now that they had arrived, we all went down to the tide pools with some buckets. guides, and water shoes!  Nate, Sue, and the other YOP volunteers told us all about tide pool creatures and encouraged us to explore….and explore we did!  We had a bucket full of crabs, sponges, and seaweed!  

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Soon enough it was time to start dinner.  While the chaperones cooked, our students played The Stick Game.  Dinner was DELICIOUS.  It seems like all of our Adventure Club meals are the best meals ever.  We had chicken and rice burritos with peppers and onions and it was so good that there was nothing left.  No need to “eat clean up” this time.  YUM!  After all the groups had their dinners and finished cleaning up, it was time for group games!  Nate led our 3 groups in a few games (Categories, Alaskan Baseball, Rock Paper Scissor Posse, and Equilateral Triangles) and we had a great time.  Our last game was led by a member of the Young Leaders group and it was called Paco.  By this time, it was starting to get dark.  We broke off into our individual groups, gathered everything we’d need for night activities, and hit the pier to watch the sun setting over Boston.  It was so beautiful.  

Our group decided to go onto the eastern side of the island to have a fire.  Mr. P had picked a great spot for us, complete with a downed tree to use as a bench.  Ms. Gordon passed out glow sticks (it was getting DARK!) and we settled in for the evening.  Jazlyn and Sherab explored the beach in the dark while Riley and Sebastian decided to see how far they could throw rocks in the dark.  After a while, we all settled in on the beach and found spots to lay down.  We covered all of our lights and looked up : you wouldn’t believe the stars we could see!  And not just stars...shooting stars and meteors!  It was incredible.  

After a full day of exploring, we were all exhausted.  We made sure our fire was out and headed back to camp.  Everyone settled in and fell asleep quickly.  And then...suddenly it was the next morning!  We broke down camp and packed up.  Mr. P made us delicious egg  sandwiches for breakfast and the YOP volunteers helped us make sandwiches for the day’s lunch.  We moved all of our gear down to the pier, spent a little bit of time on the beach, took a group photo, and boarded the inter-island ferry to Georges.  

Once we arrived, we staked out a group spot (in the shade trees, plenty of space and picnic tables) and headed off to explore some more!  Georges Island is home to Fort Warren, a historic fort constructed between 1833-1860 and completed shortly after the beginning of the American Civil War. During the Civil War, Fort Warren served as a prison for Confederate officers and government officials. Still active through the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II.  The fort was permanently decommissioned in 1947.  This is a great place to explore!  We were able to go inside the fort’s many (dark) rooms and hallways as well as up onto the roofs.  We were there very early and there was only one other group there, so it felt like we had the place to ourselves!  

Pretty soon it was time for lunch.  Our picnic area was waiting for us!  We played games, enjoyed snacks and our lunches, and relaxed.  It was another beautiful day.  Our ferry was arriving soon, so we lined up with our backpacks and waited.  We got some great seats on the ferry : on the middle deck, right in front.  And we took the opportunity to enjoy those seats to the fullest.  With naps!  Almost everyone in the group (with the exception of Mr. P and Ms. Juengst) knocked right out!

We made it back to Boston after about a 40 minute ride.  We suited up and headed back to Joy Street.  We returned all of our borrowed gear, said goodbyes and thank yous, and walked back to Park Street to meet our families.  Everyone was picked up and our trip was over.  We had a great time and cannot wait to start up a new year of Adventure Club in September!

-Ms. Gordon