By Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a summer camp where the outdoors is the classroom, and nature is the teacher. And you can find it in Boston Harbor.

The Summer Connections program on Thompson Island is run by Outward Bound. That means it’s a hands-on learning adventure for a group of city kids who might not otherwise have a chance to experience the science of nature.

Sixty Boston middle schoolers recently faced their final hurdle on Thompson Island, scaling a 62 foot Alpine Tower.

Alpine Tower at Outward Bound’s Summer Connections (WBZ-TV)

“It was challenging, but fun,” says 12 year old Oly Ravelo who made it all the way.

But there’s more to learn here than just climbing skills.

You need your team on the ground to get to the top.  You need to communicate.  And you need to be brave, but not reckless.

“I think it helps me in a way by adventuring, and seeing more stuff about nature,” Oly says.

“It’s a different learning space for them to be in, 204 acres of different learning space. And we try to use all of it,” says Outward Bound program manager Gemma Falivene.

“We make a real point to get students out into what we call the outdoor classroom.  So they can be learning under a tree, learning in the salt march, or in the woods,” she adds.

Boston children take part in Outward Bound’s Summer Connections program on Thompson Island. (WBZ-TV)

Or on the beach, doing a clean up service project.

“We’ve been learning a lot about science and abiotic and adaptions, and mainly about the animals and the organisms here at Thompson Island,” says 11-year-old Nisrine Feham.

And that creates a learning experience kids don’t usually get in school.

“You get to explore more, and get to see more and see it with your own eyes instead of seeing a picture about it and writing about it,” says 11-year-old Isabella Campbell.

“It seemed interesting and fun because you just explore things that you never got to see before,” adds Trinanell Matthews, also 11.

“I think this camp basically made me a life lasting learner, and that’s what I want to continue to be,” says Nisrine.

The 5 week program is free for the middle schoolers.  And it doesn’t end there.  Outward Bound also works with the kids during the school year in their classroom, and on the island.

Paula Ebben


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