For the last few summers I have come out of summer retirement to run a two-week summer session at the Harborlight-Stoneridge Montessori School. The camp is focused on both Marine Science and Maritime History and the goal is to get the kids out on the water/waterfront as much as possible. I am fortunate that my boys have that opportunity often and that they are naturally drawn to the ocean and all it has to offer. That having been said, I know that isn’t true for all children who are growing up in this area. Most importantly, I wanted to help educate these children on the history of the fishing industry and how important the ocean is to the community’s livelihood and to the creatures that call it home!
This year’s camp was a large success thanks to many local businesses. I’m happy to be able to fire off a quick post to thank some of those places/individuals.
While one day took us into Boston to explore the New England Aquarium and watch a Journey to the South Pacific IMAX movie, all other days were spent outside experiencing the waterfront hands-on.
Our students spent a couple of days aboard the Sea Station vessel, Endeavour, in Salem Harbor. This unreal floating classroom afforded us the opportunity to haul lobster traps, observe ocean life in its giant glass holding tank, sink the underwater camera to observe the ocean floor and eel grass beds + observe our discoveries on the giant flatscreen TV, and preform beach landings on Misery Island to go hiking, swimming, and tidal pooling. If you haven’t explored Misery Island, you’re missing out!
We had a fantastic day at the Nahant Marine Science Center where the children were given the opportunity to become scientists while recording their tide pool findings and the properties of the water in small groups. They also had a wonderful tour of the facilities and the gorgeous property that the science center calls home. The Northeastern graduates/students that took care of our group were fabulous!
One day was spent onboard Cape Ann Whale Watch’s vessel, the Hurricane. We saw several humpback whales and enjoyed a fantastic trip. The naturalists, as always, added a wonderful educational component with small group lessons throughout the trip in addition to the narration while observing the whales.
We greatly enjoyed a morning at Maritime Gloucester and were incredibly pleased with the workshops that Mary Kay had planned for our students…who ranged in age from 1st grade to 8th! Maritime Gloucester was, as always, a must-do on our excursion list!
We enjoyed a visit from a wonderful artist named Kathy Abbott, who helped the children learn about caring for our beaches, waterfronts, and oceans while adding the element of art. Learning about the Angry Ocean Project inspired many of our students to go home and create masterpieces of their own with debris the discovered on local beaches.
We headed North to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, NH where we did a self-guided tour of the exhibits, participated in a 60 minute Whale presentation (the highlight of which was definitely seeing the entire skeleton system of the Fin Whale that washed ashore on Cape Hedge Beach several years ago) and then explored the rocky shore of Ordione State Park with a naturalist who helped the children learn about all of the amazing things they found in the tide pools. Stunning scenery!
Captain Steve Douglas, from Cape Ann Harbor Tours, agreed to a custom designed trip on his King Eider. I really wanted the students to see the waterfront from the water. I asked Steve to point out the many different types of vessels that call Gloucester Harbor home and to explain the different type of fishing gear that we saw along the way. I wanted the children to get a feel for the history and the diversity of the fleet. They also learned about the Cut Bridge and Annisquam River, Cape Pond Ice, the schooners, the state fish pier, the auction house, Capt. Joe and Sons (of course), Ten Pound Island, and so, so much more.
And a day that exceeded all expectations was the day that we visited the NOAA offices up at Blackburn Circle. I was floored with the presentation and hands-on activities that had been prepared for our visit and the number of staff that was able to make themselves available to work with our students. With several different learning stations, knowledgable staff, a large inflatable whale, an amazing interactive game that helped the children learn about sustainability, and much more, hey truly went above and beyond to help educate our students. Their efforts were a perfect match for what I was hoping to achieve throughout the summer session. I can’t thank them enough!
This summer session served as yet another reminder of the wealth of resources that we have in our area. How lucky we are to be able to take advantage of such a wide array of fun and educational resources. I am well aware, that a longer camp session could have visited so many other amazing destinations and that the places I have included are certainly not the only amazing choices that we have. There’s always next year :)