School on the Ocean – South Boston Online – Massachusetts News

By Richard Campbell

As a follow up to South Boston Online coverage of programs offered by Thompson Island Outward Bound, this writer went out on the sunny Thursday this past week to see operations up close and personal with the island staff. A little background for readers in order. From its early beginnings in 1626, before the establishment of Boston, the island in the Boston Harbor that bears his name, was “established” by a Scottish gentleman, David Thompson as a trading post for furs and fish. Originally inhabited by Neponset Indians, and undisturbed for nearly two hundred years after Thompson’s arrival, it found its mission in training students as the Boston Farm School in 1833, that then merged with the Boston Asylum for Indigent Boys in the North End a few years later, to eventually become the Boston Farm and Trades School in 1907. In other words, long before Outward Bound partnered to run the island in 1988, the tradition of training youth had been well established.

Measuring approximately two hundred acres, the island campus is a lush environment staffed by educational professionals who serve roughly five thousand students annually- the majority of whom are students from the Boston City Schools. At any given time in the summer over a hundred students can be camped out overnight in the dormitory, living in nature four miles from downtown Boston, daily immersed in unique educational programs. I was struck by how well cared for the island is, and how large the operations are that make the school run. In partnerships with the city of Boston, major universities, the National Park Service, Coast Guard…

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