Last weekend we had a great trip with a group from St. Peters. This was Caitlin's first time organizing and leading a trip, and she did a fantastic job.
Caitlin, Rucker, Dennis, and I met up at St. Peters in the morning of 11/17, where we were met Carla, a wonderful St. Peters staff member, Edineide, a student volunteer from Northeastern, and nine rambunctious kids. This was the first visit for three of the ICO volunteers (including myself), so some of the students took us on a tour of the center. The gym was still decorated for the holiday dinner that had taken place the previous night, which sounded like a blast.
After a little bit of drama with permission slips, we made it into our vehicles and headed to Babson Boulders in Gloucester where Breezy was waiting. Dennis had researched our destination beforehand and from him we all learned about the abandoned settlement of Dogtown, in which the Babson Boulders are found. During the Great Depression, Roger Babson (of Babson College fame) hired unemployed stonecutters to carve inspirational sayings onto some large boulders scattered around the wooded area, leaving a great natural space that lends itself perfectly to scavenger hunts. The boulders have sayings like "KEEP OUT OF DEBT" and "NEVER TRY NEVER WIN."
When we got to the trailhead we divided into three teams: Falcon, the Fabulous 5, and the WG$ Adventurers (that last one stands for "We Get Money," in case you couldn't tell). Caitlin had provided us all with maps, and off we went to find all 30-something boulders. It was a windy and chilly day, but the sun was shining and we were all moving quickly from one boulder to the next and taking pictures of our groups at each one (found here). The kids each had their own map and were doing most of the navigating themselves. When we met up for lunch, by tradition at the "BE ON TIME" boulder, there was much good-spirited bragging about which team had found the most boulders.
After lunch several of the groups took slightly more circuitous routes back to the vehicles with varying degrees of punctuality. Future trips to this location should note that not all of the trails seen on the map are well-marked for hikers. Fortunately the trail that my group chose was marked with white and purple blazes on the trees, so our kids got a quick lesson in spotting blazes and following trails as well. We also found a "secret rock" on this trail - a boulder painted entirely purple and covered in stars. This was obviously also cause for bragging upon our return to the car.
This was a great trip for many reasons. We all explored a great natural area with many things to see and do, but also got to spend a good deal of time walking around and getting to know one another. Many of the kids we met on Saturday are very recent immigrants from Cape Verde, some having only been in the United states for less than a year. The kids in my group were practicing their English and telling amazing stories of exploring their home country. I highly recommend that you all take a trip with this group if you can - I can't wait for my next.
Altogether a great day and a success for all involved. Thanks again to Caitlin for organizing and leading and to all of the other volunteers for being great in general.
Trail Map: Babson_Boulder_Trail_Map.pdf
[LOGISTICS NOTES: 1) There are no bathrooms at the trailhead. 2) The GPS address for the parking lot is 1 Blackburn Dr, Gloucester MA-- it is in the middle of an industrial park. The trail starts across the street, next to the communications tower. 3) The time on the trail for each group to find all boulders is about 4 hrs.]