By Beth Daley, Globe Staff
The search for sea life in a bucketful of harbor water (Save the Harbor/Save the Bay)
You’d think the environment reporter for the Boston Globe would experience a lot of Boston Harbor. It’s clean-up from sewer to swimmable is one of the biggest news stories of the last two decades.
Yet the closest I often get to the water is during my runs around University of Massachusetts Boston. Writing about the environment, it turns out, requires a lot of desk time.
But a few weeks ago, on an annual rite of summer taking high school journalism interns out to learn the craft, we found our way to the Boston Harbor Explorers' program at the Harry McDonough Sailing Center in South Boston, run by the education and advocacy group Save the Harbor/Save the Bay.
This is one of those places that remind you why it’s so much fun to be a kid in a seaside community. We arrived as a green crab race was announced and the hour we spent there was peppered with a boat ride to check on lobster traps (one lobster caught but thrown back), a lesson on telling the difference between female and male green crabs, and a constant lowering and raising of a metal crab trap by kids to examine and learn about mussels, tunicates and other sea creatures.
Chris Martinez, junior marine educator and camper with fish (photo/Save the Harbor/Save the Bay)
The kids, from 6-16, loved it. Staff are teenagers, teachers and graduate students.
There are eight of these harbor explorer camps.
Local kids, for free, take a several-day to a two-week introductory course and then they can drop in all summer long to sail, swim, learn – and be safe. The program takes place in Charlestown, two sites in East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Wollaston Beach in Quincy, the new Camp Harbor View on Long Island and Winthrop Beach.
Going fishing (photo/Save the Harbor/Save the Bay)
The sailboats at the centers that have them aren’t always in the best of shape – more money is always needed – but the program teaches the kids about a huge part of their world they rarely see. It’s the lazy stuff of summer: The search for sea glass, skipping stones, learning how to pick up a scurrying crab without getting pinched.
Save the Harbor/Save the Bay will also take about 5,000 youngsters from 68 community groups to George’s or Spectacle Island by the end of the summer for a day-long lesson in fishing, flying kites and swimming.
Even when the rain comes - and we all know it's coming a lot this summer - the staff and kids get busy writing blogs about their experiences. Check it out at http://shsbkids.blogspot.com.
After all the money spent cleaning up Boston Harbor, it’s important to make sure the city's young people visit and treasure it. The Save the Harbor program is making sure they do.
About the green blog
Helping Boston live a greener, more environmentally friendly life.
Christopher Reidy covers business for the Globe.
Doug Struck covers environmental issues from Boston.
Glenn Yoder produces Boston.com's Lifestyle pages.
Eric Bauer is site architect of Boston.com.
Bennie DiNardo is the Boston Globe's deputy managing editor/multimedia.
Dara Olmsted is a local sustainability professional focusing on green living.