Saturday, August 28, 2021

One Last Cinnamon Swirl

Dear Blog Readers,

It's with a heavy heart that I tell you that this is going to be my last STH blog of the summer 2021 season. It's been a good run, but fall is around the corner and now I have to get ready to wake up early in the morning again. Yikes. Before I dive into what undoubtedly be an absolute banger of a blog, I'd like to thank you, my devoted readers, for sticking with me this far, you all clearly have excellent taste.

My time at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay this summer has given me so much more than just a way to finance my Tasty Burger addiction, although that's definitely a big part of it. Like, a big part, I'm actually very bad at money management. But that's besides the point. One of the biggest perks of working at Save the Harbor, I've found, is the connections you make with everybody else in the program, and especially with the people in your group. I went into this summer just looking for a job, and I came out of it with a hell of a lot of new friends, whose names I will try my best not to forget over the school year, at the risk of looking like a dickhead next summer.

I had a great time getting to know the people in my group. I'm definitely somewhat of a shy person, so I didn't really know what to expect when meeting them for the first time in Revere at the beginning of July. I joined the program late, and I hadn't been to the orientation week, so I didn't really know anybody's names and I hadn't made any friends, but none of that ended up mattering because the environment is super friendly and welcoming, and quite literally within three days I felt like a seasoned veteran of the group. Some of my favorite memories of this summer were from my first week on the beaches of Revere. I remember getting the sunburn that will permanently ruin my tanlines, and the stench of rotting seaweed on Short Beach. I remember doing the Bivalve Quest, and walking around in the intertidal zone, searching for green crabs, intact clams, and orange sheath tunicates, and sea water soaking through my sneakers when I accidentlally plunged my foot in. I remember playing keep-it-up with a volleyball on Revere Beach, and digging a massive pit in the sand, and then everyone in my group dancing together afterwards to some 2000's bangers. I have more memories from this summer than I feel like writing about, and way more than you'd want to go to the effort of reading through.

Another thing that I've taken away from the STH is a greater appreciation of the diversity of marine life living in the Boston Harbor. By myself, I never really would have thought to go walk out on the shore, turning over rocks to look for crabs and sea bugs, or digging around in the sand for bivalves. I also would still not have known how to fish, or had the mental willpower to come anywhere within a five foot radius of a bloodworm. By researching biodiversity, and learning a lot of interesting facts about these creatures, I found myself feeling less hesitant to look at them  up close, and suddenly a lot more interested in the specific biological mechanisms that make them tick.

It's hard to think of a single event that defined this summer for me, but the Beach Bash we held at Constitution is definitely up there. The event was pretty much textbook STH from what I can tell, meaning that it was basically organized chaos. That in itself made it pretty exciting, though. There must have been five hundred kids there or more, which meant that for a JPA the day was spent running around from activity to activity, making sure that no kid was left unattended, and generally taking care of whatever else needed to be done. I started out running the sports area, but I ended up volunteering (being volunteered by Bridget) to dance in a big group of kids for a local news broadcast, helping Kurtly run the fishing section, and helping Jason return one of the kayaks to its place. By the end of the day, I was super exhausted, but I can say that it was by far one of the most fun and rewarding things I've done in a while. I think events like that, and the All Access trips we did to the Boston Harbor Islands, really reflect what my job this summer was all about. The Beach Bash was chaotic, unpredictable, and required everybody to be adaptable and move around to wherever we were needed. Most importantly, we got to directly interact with the community, which was pretty cool. Since we talk a lot about how our mission is to make the harbor more accessible to the public, it was nice to see a direct way in which we can have that impact on kids' lives.

Our final week this summer ended on a high note, with a lot of group activities that brought together all of the JPAs and team leaders. On Tuesday and Wedneday, we had trips to George's Island and Spectacle Island, respectively, and on Thursday got to go bowling at Boston Bowl in Dorchester, since the rain caused the Beach Bash at Carson to be cancelled. I kind of suspected that I was going to be shitty at bowling since it been a few years since I had last done it, but apparently I was just born a star, because I absolutely smoked the competition and won. I was feeling pretty proud of myself until I saw Kristen's score two lanes over, and that humbled me a bit.

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