RL-Mass Audubon collaboration brings city kids to campus

Mass Audubon Boston Nature Center Camp counselor Noah Piou ’16 (who will attend Dartmouth College in the fall) leads a group of Boston children on a nature walk in Roxbury Latin’s 50-acre forest.
Mass Audubon Nature Center Camp counselors Colin Miller (left, an RL sophomore) and Samara Britton (rear, a first grade teacher at Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot School in Mattapan) lead campers in an arts and crafts activity in Roxbury Latin’s art studio.
Counselors and campers at Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center Camp at Roxbury Latin gather for “morning circle” before starting their busy day in Roxbury Latin’s 50-acre forest.

In July and August, 200 boys and girls, ages 5-13, participated in Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center Camp at Roxbury Latin. The School’s 117-acre campus includes more than 50 acres of beautiful, undisturbed forest, where campers – ninety-five percent of whom were from the City of Boston – explored and learned about the natural environment. When campers weren’t outside investigating vernal pools, picking blueberries, or exploring wooded trails, they created and played in the classrooms, art studio, theater, and gymnasium.


“The partnership is almost too good to be true,” says Elizabeth Carroll, an environmental science teacher at RL who helped spearhead the alliance. The School had been actively looking for ways to share its unique, urban forest resource with a broader community, and Mass Audubon wanted to reach a greater number of city kids via their Nature Center Camps. The two organizations’ philosophies about access to first-class educational programming, regardless of a family’s means, also overlapped perfectly. Mass Audubon’s sliding scale of camp tuition, based on household income, enabled seventy percent of campers to receive a significant camp scholarship this summer (almost half of campers paid $60 or less). At Roxbury Latin, where the admission process is need-blind, thirty-five percent of students receive financial aid, with an average grant of more than $22,000. 


“Starting a new camp at Roxbury Latin allowed hundreds of Boston children, with limited exposure to nature and forests, to start to fall in love with the outdoors,” says Erin Kelly, camp director at Mass Audubon’s Nature Center Camp at RL. “It gave them a summer filled with fun, hands-on and minds-on outdoor activities in a beautiful, natural setting—right here in the city.”


The Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center Camp, which employed eight RL students, was one of several camps and clinics at Roxbury Latin this summer—including soccer, football, and basketball clinics, a classical studies camp, and STEM and biotech camps.