Week 4 – Black Heritage Trail

The Boston National Parks Service is home to three park sites— one of which is the lesser known Boston African American National Historic Site. Throughout this week of the Hill to Harbor Discovery Camp program, some campers explored the winding Black Heritage Trail (BHT) through the Beacon Hills neighborhood and visited locations such as the African Meeting House, the Hayden House, the Phillips School, and the Shaw Memorial while others remained at their respective YMCAs and participated in lessons about Sarah Roberts and the fight for desegregation. Additionally, they learned about the Fugitive Slave Law and abolitionist movements, and created their own broadsides highlighting the different ways communication and activism can look. 

Lessons were made difficult by the heat and humidity that took hold of the week, with heat indexes of up to 100℉, but the H2H team was able to adapt and both adjust the BHT experience to be shorter and even allow for all campers to participate in the YMCA lesson that had previously been reserved for younger campers on hotter days. 

With such heavy content, our team aimed not to gamify discussions unless we felt like it would assist the campers in grasping a concept— such as a quick game we played where we illustrated how Harriet Tubman traveled from Pennsylvania in the North to Maryland in the South 13 times by stretching our arms up and then down to the floor. We largely spent our time attempting to hold thoughtful discussions about leadership and sparking change in our communities while exploring traditions and history through activities such as participating in responsorial singing using a verse of the often dubbed ‘Black National Anthem.’  

While we struggled at times because of the children’s ages, dense lessons, and— for those not able to walk the BHT— not having the chance to connect with history before their eyes, campers were able to have a fun and engaging week, the broadsides that campers created alongside the enthusiasm for activities and learning assured our team that our intent and knowledge came across. In all, week 4 of camp ended with satisfied and excited campers and staff alike. 

Campers travel through Holmes Alley as part of their tour of the Black Heritage Trail.
Campers' broadsides hang in a display, highlighting the various causes they passionately support.

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