Monday, March 8, 2010

East Boston Camps

Apparently I'm developing a thing for abandoned and/or repurposed places. First I spend the better part of a morning researching the Varnum School. Now, after a long walk with Maggie, I'm interested in the old East Boston Camps in Westford Massachusetts.

The camps reside on 286 acres of land. The western portion of the camps is the Stony Brook River and the eastern portion is bordered by Keyes Brook. The middle of the camps is Burge's Pond. There is a lot of different wildlife and plants: birds and mammals, wildflowers and towering pine trees. I was there once last summer: the mosquitos are something fierce.

The camps were founded in 1937, funded by Isabel and Sarah Hyams. Their brother, Godfrey Hyams, grew up in Boston and attended Harvard. He was a metallurgist, engineer and financier. His career included the development of the Anaconda Mining Company and the Virginia Railway. Active in social work in Boston, the sisters used money that they had from a charitable trust their brother had set up.

The sisters founded the camp to provider inner-city children a "Fresh Air Camp" which was something popular in the 1930s when tuberculosis was particularly deadly. Interested a a more complete history? Check out this PDF file.

The camps are now a public area to be enjoyed by residents of Westford as well as those from surrounding communities.  The East Boston Social Centers are still in existence, though no longer offering "Fresh Air Camps." You can check them out on the web here.

What a great re-use of land.

Gone adventuring yourself? Find anything interesting? It's a great way to engage in some distress tolerance skills. A long walk spent thinking about the place + time spent at home researching your discovery = time well spent engaged in a productive, healthy activity. Try it, especially when you are focused on something negative, stressful, or painful.

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