As things are winding down from the summer madness here at the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park, I decided it was a good time to write a blog post.

Photo by Matt Teuten

There are so many things I could talk about, but one of my highlights from the summer was helping our education staff with the Discovery Camps. This team included Education Rangers and SCA Recreation Interns, plus a variety of other park partners.

FullSizeRender (1)Discovery Camps ran for four weeks in partnership with the YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs in Boston, providing each club with a one week immersive experience designed to introduce kids to their Boston Harbor Islands and demonstrate the value of public spaces. Each week consisted of three island days, sandwiched by ranger visits to their clubhouse on the first and last day of the program.

Throughout the week, campers learned important lessons such as the principles of Leave No Trace, how to put together a tent, and how they can be prepared for a day outdoors.

Creating a word cloud for letter writing.
“Dear Baby Brother…”

As the Centennial Volunteer Ambassador, one of my roles in the camp was to help with the letter writing project. Towards the end of their time on the islands, the campers were asked to think of someone that they would like to share their experience with, and then to write that person a letter. To start off, teams worked together to create a word cloud of words related to the islands that would be important for their letters. Popular words in the cloud included “tents”, “boat”, “cannons”, “nature” and “beach.”

Photo courtesy of the NPS

Inviting the campers to write letters to their loved ones was an awesome way to extend the reach of the program and engage with more of the Boston community. By the end of the camp, all of the campers wanted to come back to the islands with their families to show them what they had learned.

In a letter to his sister, one camper wrote “This week I learned that we have to take care of the islands because we are the owners of them.”

It was so great to get to know the kids and watch them grow to love the islands. It’s been a great summer and I’m excited to see what the Fall will bring!

Kristina Bergquist is the Centennial Volunteer Ambassador with the National Park Service, Student Conservation Association and Americorps for the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park.