Friday, October 1, 2021

Summer 2021 Youth Program Recap!

2021 brought us another summer where we had to be mindful of the pandemic while trying to safely run programs. To our delight, we were able to welcome 13,795 youth and their families back to the Harbor in person, while also continuing to connect online with those who could not join us on the waterfront. 

We brought back each of our programs with a reduced capacity, which allowed us to interact more with each participant. While we are waiting for the day that we can bring back our normal programs, the successes that we had this summer are ones to celebrate! 

All Access Boston Harbor: All Access trips were once again made possible by Bay State Cruise Company, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, YMCA of Greater Boston, and Leader Bank Pavilion, not to mention many other incredible partners. We decreased the capacity of the trips - the limit which was once 1000, down to 400 sign ups per trip, the frequency of the trips - down to one day a week from three, as well as the scope of the trips - with our destination only to Spectacle Island. Heading into the season, we were excited to exceed the 400 person registration on each and every trip. The weather forecast for July and August had something to say about our early projections, as it was one of the rainiest summers in history. Although we did not cancel any of our trips, we ended up averaging about 250 people per trip. We engaged with groups on Spectacle Island through fishing and crabbing lessons, touch tanks, beach glass and ceramics walks, and swimming. We are proud to say that thanks to the YMCA we were able to provide lifeguarded waterfronts for our trips so that participants were able to enjoy swimming at Spectacle Island’s beautiful beach. Each group that joined us was so appreciative of the opportunity to go on an outdoor field trip, not to mention give the kids an opportunity to go on a boat ride and visit the Boston Harbor Islands, some for the first time. 

Youth Leadership Program: Made possible by the John Hancock MLK Scholars program, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Hood, and the Department of Youth Engagement and Employment, we were able to employ more youth staffers than ever before with 42 on the team. This year the staffers visited 18 different waterfront sites over the course of the summer in Revere, East Boston, Charlestown, Winthrop, South Boston, Allston/Brighton, Cambridge, Downtown, Dorchester, and Quincy. With COVID-19 impacting our last two summer's programs, we were able to focus much more time on the personal and professional growth of our youth staff without our usual packed schedule of outdoor education. We were able to tailor a speaker series to their interests so that they could be connected with people in professions that align with their areas of interest. Our staff, while normally at one or two waterfront sites throughout the course of the summer, they were able to visit a different site almost every day - allowing them to become more familiar with the holistic view of the Boston Harbor. The youth staff worked with many partner orgs, including MIT Sea Grant, the National Parks of Boston, and the Stone Living Lab to do community science projects, which increased their scope of understanding of the changing waterfront. They were also able to create educational content based on the sites that they visited, increasing their skills with video production, digital content creation, social media professional presence, communicating through writing weekly blogs, and more! In the summer of 2022 we will continue to integrate all of these aspects into what we refer to as a "normal summer".

Boston Harbor Explorers: Both Save the Harbor and our site partners were beyond excited to be able to collaborate in person again this summer. These sites, including Boston Children’s Museum, Piers Park Sailing Center, Camp Harbor View, Courageous Sailing Center, and Atlantic Wharf, were visited by up to three of our staffers for two days each week. While we would have loved to provide environmental education programming five days a week, this reduced schedule and staffing numbers aligned with pandemic protocols while continuing to work with the youth in a hands on way that you just can’t replicate through a screen.

Catch of the Day Fishing Trips: Thirteen Catch of the Day fishing trips this year were made possible by Boston Fun Cruises’ The Belle. These trips provided groups with a more flexible schedule, not to mention the opportunity for individual groups to spend a day on the harbor with curriculum tailored to their needs. Each group had a blast, whether they went out on a cold and rainy day or had bluebird skies, each and every kid on the trips was able to catch a fish for themselves. Many of these kids had never fished or been on a boat before, so watching them reel in a black sea bass was one of the highlights of the summer. 

Beach Bashes: While we pivoted from three to two beach bashes this year, we were able to geographically spread out these parties and enhance them with food, music, dancing, acrobatics, kayaking and more! We really relied on our partner communities to help us spread the word, and that resulted in our most highly attended beach bash in recent memory! A trike called funk was an awesome new addition to the beach party, as not only did they play music, but they invited participants to their pop up dancefloor to show their moves. The circus guild was captivating as ever with the addition of their hoverboard performances alongside the aerial shows. We are excited to continue these new partnerships into 2022. All in all, the summer of 2021 was a great success. We were thrilled to be back on the beaches and the waterfront sharing Boston Harbor with the region's youth and families. We can't wait for you

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