Monday, August 5, 2019

A (virtual) walk through Piers Park

Welcome back!

A rock crab we caught during dock time! 1st rock crab all summer.
     This week we’ll be taking a deep dive into what it’s like to work at Piers Park, and the kinds of activities and learning we do with the kids. Piers Park is one of the prettier parts of Boston: scattered trees dot a gently rolling lawn, interlaced with brick pathways that meander down a long wharf. Sometimes, we get a gentle sea breeze, which was a blessing during the hot days we had this week. We’re right across the river from the seaport district, which lets us enjoy a great view of the city without any cramped city feelings. We work with campers who are between 6 and 8 years old, generally. Our standard schedule puts us at Piers Park Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, with lawn games from 9-10, dock time from 10-11:30, lunch from 11:30 until 12:30, lessons at 12:30, and finally more dock time from whenever lessons end until 2:30. On Mondays we spend part of lawn games doing a name game (very helpful in a job with 30 new kids), but apart from that we play games to get the kids moving like everyone’s it tag. Dock time offers lots of activities for the kids: SHSB staff run the fishing and the touch tank, as well as the crab trap, and Piers Park counselors offer group sailing and kayaking. As for the lessons, I go over what we do in great detail in my previous blog if you haven’t read it, so there’s nothing I can add here that I haven’t said there. We usually catch green crabs off the dock, with a few rare exceptions. We caught a skate once, a few weeks ago, and a rock crab this week, but green crabs are our usual find. Tuesday is the odd day out, as we program at Courageous Sailing instead of Piers Park. The kids we teach there are a bit older, around 9 to 12, and we alternate fishing time and lessons/activities time. Even when we’re not doing lessons (for either site), I like to help the kids learn something about the harbor to pass the time. Whether it’s figuring out which birds are which, or how the fishing rod works, or even how deep the water they’re fishing in is, if a kid I’m working with can walk away with one new piece of harbor knowledge, I’m happy.

An exciting game of Poison Dart Frog!
     Now, back to our weekly recap! This Monday was another staff enrichment day! This time, we went to the U.S.S. Constitution Museum to learn about the life of a Navy sailor on the Constitution. For me, the most interesting part was when we learned about the food that the sailors brought on their voyages, which could sometimes last months without restocking. Brined meat, cheese, and sauerkraut were all staples of a sailor’s diet, because if properly prepared these foods could last for months on board the ship. Sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) was especially important, as it provided much-needed vitamin C to sailors, preventing scurvy. There was also a special type of bread called a “ship’s biscuit”, which is hard-packed bread without yeast in it. The example biscuits the presenter showed us had been baked “probably a year or two ago” if that gives you any insight into how long these things last. They looked like I could break a tooth or two trying to take a bite into one. After going to the museum, we trekked over to Base Boston, the Coast Guard base of operations in Boston. We got a cool tour of some of the smaller boats the Coast Guard uses for patrolling and rescues, as well as a look inside some of the buildings (not the command center, unfortunately). The rest of the week played out similar to previous weeks: we spent Tuesday at Courageous, and Wednesday and Friday at Piers Park. Thursday was a fun surprise, as I was suddenly transferred to a beach event at Malibu Beach for the day! The event was a lot of fun: in addition to the fish printing we brought to the table, there were circus performers, practice stilts, several playground obstacles, and even a gaga ball pit (think dodgeball mixed with volleyball, using a kickball, in a ring with 8 sides). I had never heard of Malibu beach before, but I'm glad I got to work at the event, it was a blast.

Song of the week: Gold by Imagine Dragons

See you next time,

~Colin McRae

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