By Richard Campbell

As summer officially begins South Boston Online wanted to check in anew with Thompson Island Outward Bound to give interested students in the area an update on the programs available this summer to rising 7th and 8th graders enrolled in the Boston Public Schools. There are a variety of program offerings, from full immersion to short trips. The Summer Expeditions program has five-day backpacking and climbing programs beginning in July 1, 15, August 4, August 16, August 24. The more water oriented Summer Expedition is the seven-day Kayaking Expeditions where ten crews of two learn boat basics, capsize and rescue procedures, navigation skills, and weather forecasting. This offers a chance to explore marine environments in detail, to get a fresh perspective on the harbor islands, and to camp out under the stars. The program runs two tracks, one starting on July 1, and one on July 15th.

These popular miniature programs are very well developed and have a great reputation among parents and the Boston City Schools. Of course the focus of Outward Bound is more than merely a camp, but is an educational program designed to help students reach important developmental milestones through mentorship and experience with great educators. Just getting out and doing something fun this summer is enough of a motivation for most students to give these programs a try, but they are often surprised how much they learn in the process. Students learn that even regular daily tasks like cooking and setting up camp can have educational value for individual life skills. For inner city youth, who sometimes don’t get to see nature up close, taking a trip to Thompson and staying overnight provides a jumping off point for people to explore the Boston Harbor Islands.

Perhaps unseen to many casual observers of programs like these is the in depth research, development and testing of Outward Bound that has deep roots in educational practice. The program’s success is pinned to its carefully planned learning model- most prominently fashioned from the Walsh-Golins Model implemented through practical learning in outdoor studies. The program emphasis upon skills such as “social emotional learning” and “motivated learning” promote a holistic set of developmental goals that one might not find in the traditional classroom. Through environmental immersion, hands on skills, and social bonding with peers and instructors, the training is pretty intense.
Thompson Island Outward bound can trace its lineage back to the early Boston Farm School established on Thompson Island in 1833, which taught at risk boys in agriculture and gardening along with life skills, and was reformulated on multiple occasions to become the Thompson Academy. Outward Bound found its modern footing when Thompson Island Trustees partnered with Outward Bound in 1988 to create the Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center. For more information, go to: