On Saturday, December 13, ICO volunteers Liz and Jesse, four coaches from Let’s Get Movin’, and 10 kids ages 8-18 headed down to the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, MA for a day-long adventure. We met at Let’s Get Movin’ in East Boston to make sure that everyone had warm clothes to fend of the chilly December weather. After we had ensured that everyone was properly geared (with some borrowed gloves!), we set off for our first stop in the Blue Hills.
Our first stop was a quick loop at Chickatawbut Tower. This loop was a great opportunity to lay down some ground rules, and teach the kids about hiking responsibly. They got a sense of how to follow a marked trail, how to respect wildlife and nature, and how to abide by a Leave No Trace policy. This quick hike was followed up by a slightly longer jaunt around Houghton’s Pond. Then we made our way to the Trailside Museum.
At the Trailside Museum we ate a quick lunch outside among the live animal exhibits. After lunch, we got a chance to take a look at some live animals including (but not limited to) a red fox, some white tail deer, a turkey vulture, a bald eagle, a river otter, and a snowy owl. By the time we were done looking at the live animals outside, we only had about fifteen minutes to check out the inside of the museum before the live animal presentation started! During that time, we were able to learn more about the ecosystems and animals native to the Blue Hills.
The live animal presentation was focused on the interconnection of all species. This was a great opportunity for both the kids to show how much they know and for them to learn a great deal about vertebrates and how they all share a common ancestry. Several kids actively participated, and were able to put on vests that symbolized the various types of vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals). We were able to get up close a personal with a small Screech Owl and a couple of snakes! Now that the kids had sat through the wonderful presentation, it was time to get some energy out.
We set off for the summit of Great Blue Hill. For most of the kids, this was a new experience. They could barely contain their excitement, often racing ahead up the hill. After corralling them back, and explaining that it is important when hiking in the woods to stick as a group, we eventually found the summit! We were rewarded with excellent views of the Boston skyline and rolling peaks of the Blue Hills. After an equally exciting descent, we decided to stop by to see the river otter one more time. Good thing we did, because the river otter decided to put on a show by doing back flips off of the walls of its area.
Overall it was a great day - with the kids logging a total of 12,000 steps (about 6 miles). I think we may have started a new generation of hikers, as many of the kids expressed interest in getting out and hiking again!
View photos from the trip here