Summer Blockbuster

August 6, 2012

By: Paul Lamoureux, Vice President of Programs

Summer Connections students and parents enjoy a trip to Thompson Island.

It is summer on Thompson Island and the island is thrumming with activity. 85 students from the Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Roxbury have just graduated from the first 5-week session of Summer Connections and we are now underway with 85 rising 4th grade students from the Marshall, Mather and Holland elementary schools in Dorchester. 40 high school students from Boston come to the island daily as part of the Green Ambassadors youth jobs program. Meanwhile, we have had more than 100 students experience 10-, 12- or 14-day kayaking, sailing and hybrid expeditions and we are just beginning a third round. Finally, the island has been the destination for hundreds of students participating in one-day or multi-day challenge and leadership programs, filling our dorms and dining hall to capacity.

All of this is occurring while corporate groups regularly come for Outward Bound Professional (OBP) programs, social events, and weekly volunteer days on the island! It is truly amazing to see the Motor Vessel Outward Bound going back and forth and back and forth from our mainland dock filled with parents, teachers, students, event participants, youth job workers, National Park Service educators and researchers, program evaluators, corporate volunteers and Thompson Island staff. As I said, it’s summer on Thompson Island!

Thompson Island Clam Seeding Project, Photo courtesy of Mary Griffin and the Mass. Department of Fish and Game.

Wednesday July 25th provided a perfect snapshot of island life in the summer. Our Green Ambassadors hosted 75 people, including the Commissioner of Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, an environmental science professor from UMass Boston, members of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, an NPR reporter from WGBH in Boston, and youth from three visiting jobs programs. The purpose of the day was to seed the tidal flats on the east side of Thompson Island with thousands of soft shell clam seedlings, then cover them with protective netting. The clam seeding program fits right into the “green jobs” focus of Green Ambassadors, highlighting the improved water quality conditions in Boston harbor, while providing ongoing marine ecosystem and sustainability education. Also, it was just plain fun to see so many people out on the flats with marsh boots and rakes! Click here to listen to the NPR story and see accompanying photographs.

Corporate Volunteers from EMD SErono, State Street and Brown Brothers Harriman clear trails.

On the same day, and on the same morning boat, we had more than 60 corporate volunteers from State Street, Brown Brothers Harriman and EMD Serono come to the island to “dig in and get dirty” clearing trails and roadways.

On the north side of the island, we also hosted a one day Outward Bound course for donors and board members. Facilitated by OBP director Ellen Harris, donors experienced problem-solving initiatives and environmental science activities (just like those delivered in our youth programs) then joined rising 7th graders from the Summer Connections program for lunch and an afternoon of climbing that required the youth and adults to help one another climb up the “rungs” of the 40 foot Giant’s Ladder.

Corporate party enjoying a game of volleyball.

And, of course, the island also had 325 people from Plymouth Rock and 60 people from Liberty Mutual experiencing the wonders of the island at both event sites – enjoying clam bakes, barbeques, volley ball games, horseshoes and scavenger hunts. Just another spectacular summer day on Thompson Island.

Check back in a couple of weeks to read more about the Summer Connections graduation.

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