Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sharing the Treasures of Spectacle Island

Each summer Save the Harbor / Save the Bay's gives thousands of young people from across the region a chance to spend the day in the Boston Harbor Islands National Park.

Since 2002, their free summer youth environmental education and recreation programs have connected nearly 50,000 young people aged from 7-17 – from 130 youth and community groups - to Boston Harbor, the waterfront and the harbor islands. This summer Save the Harbor has added a new twist to the program - a treasure hunt on Spectacle Island.

Spectacle Island served as a dump for municipal and household trash until 1950, and more recently as the disposal site for fill from the "Big Dig" before being transformed into a park. Today Spectacle Island is one of the most popular destinations in the Boston Harbor Islands, with a great swimming beach, walking trails, a visitor center and a terrific new snack bar - run by noted Chef Jasper White.

"There aren't any pirates on Spectacle Island today, but there is lots of buried treasure" says Bruce Berman, spokesman for Save the Harbor / Save the Bay. "If you look carefully you can discover a lot about Boston's history - and have fun looking for sea glass and pottery shards on a beautiful island beach. It is a remarkable window into the past - and a great place to spend the day."

"Who doesn't like to comb the beach and speculate where it all came from?" asked Pleun Bouricius, of Mass Humanities, who helps fund the free program on Spectacle. "What did garbage look like 50 years ago? How did this get here? What will happen to our garbage? Will it look like this 50 years from now? These are important questions for kids to ask and to answer."

Maritime historian David Coffin who leads the island program for Save the Harbor, never tires of for searching for sea glass, pottery and other historic artifacts on the beach at Spectacle. “There is so much sea glass and pottery on that beach that you can actually hear it tinkle in the surf. " says Coffin. "It is a great way to learn about our past - and about our responsibility to protect important archaeological sites like this."

Thi Tran, 16, of Boston who leads beach walks and treasure hunts for kids on Spectacle Island for Save the Harbor says, “It’s so much fun to go on the beach and look around to find sea glass and pottery. The kids and I love to look for pieces with writing on them so we can figure out where they are from or what they were. And when we find something interesting, its fun to share them with other people - before we return them to the beach.”

Save the Harbor / Save the Bay's free "All Access Boston Harbor trips" run three days a week from the Bank of America Pavilion on Boston Harbor, alternating between Spectacle Island and Georges Island in the Boston Harbor Islands National Park.

On Georges, the kids can explore historic Fort Warren and search for the ghost of the Lady in Black. On Spectacle, youth and teens can hike, swim, fly kites, or search for buried treasure while learning about the harbor and our history.

Save the Harbor / Save the Bay's youth programs are made possible by the generous support of: ABCD Summerworks, Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation, Inc., Bank of American Pavilion/Live Nation, Clinton H. & Wilma T. Shattuck Charitable Trust, Connors Family Office, Dolphin Trust, Elizabeth Elser Doolittle Charitable Trusts, Forrest Berkley & Marcie Tyre Berkley, Friedman Family Foundation, GDF SUEZ Gas NA LLC, JetBlue Airways, John Hancock Financial Services, Inc., John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Massachusetts Bay Lines, Mass Humanities, Massachusetts Port Authority, National Grid Foundation, P & G Gillette, State Street Foundation, South Boston Community Development Foundation, William E. & Bertha E. Schrafft Charitable Trust, and Yawkey Foundation II.

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