Friday, April 25, 2008

Camp Harbor View Project, Boston MA

The drive out to Camp Harbor View is, in itself, a great adventure – crossing an aging 3,000 ft. steel bridge called the Long Island Viaduct, passing by Our Lady of Hope Chapel, and winding down a long wooded road to an island rich with history and home to a wondrous new initiative by the Camp Harbor View Foundation established in 2007 – Camp Harbor View.

The idea for the camp emerged from a conversation between Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino and philanthropist and Boys and Girls Club of Boston Senior Advisory Board member Jack Connors. Mayor Menino expressed his concern to Jack about the growing violence among teenagers in Boston’s neighborhoods, especially in the summer when school was out. Teenagers needed a place to go, to be supported, nurtured, and to interact with positive role models. Within a few months, Camp Harbor View became a reality and welcomed its first group of 300 11-14 year old campers on July 2, 2007.

However, before the first camper stepped foot on the beautiful state-of-the-art campus, the camp would need to be built and the staff trained. That’s where Project Adventure (including me) came into the picture. The camp was constructed in only 109 days including a magnificent Project Adventure Challenge Course complete with a breathtaking backdrop of the Boston skyline. The course’s gigantic Helix Tower would be the first thing new campers would see as their bus rounded the corner and they descended upon the beautiful open campus. Imagine their curiosity!

Adventure is an important component of camp life, helping students to develop crucial skills for coping with the daily reality of living in at-risk neighborhoods and to rise up as community leaders for positive change. The challenge course will provide opportunities for campers to practice taking healthy risks, placing trust in themselves and others and experiencing the strength and power of community. More than 600 students each summer will have the opportunity to challenge themselves, going beyond what they ever thought they could do and achieving the unbelievable. Imagine a teenager perched on a utility pole 40 ft. off the ground. She trembles as she looks within to find the power to confront her fear and trust others for the support and encouragement to go for it. With one last look at the group below, she jumps through the air and for a moment, flies above the world. Now, imagine that same teenager and others who share experiences like this confronting their lives, back in the city, facing similar fears and uncertainties but now having the skills to build support, trust themselves, rely on their community and fly above the world, above violence. Imagine that.

Camp Harbor View Slide Show

By Ryan McCormick, PA Trainer, New Activity Guru and all around great guy!