Over the summer, a group of MIT students laced up their sneakers and embarked on a day-long hike through Blue Hills Reservation – a vast area of land just outside the city that covers 7,000 acres and includes 125 miles of hiking trails.
The hike was just one of several events students, staff, and faculty participated in as part of the Priscilla King Gray (PKG) Center’s Summer Series, a program that offered numerous community service and engagement opportunities for students over the course of the summer. All programs were at no cost to the MIT community and allowed participants to explore and contribute to the greater Boston area through community service and outreach.
It was not the first PKG Center collaboration with Blue Hills Reservation. Last spring, the Blue Hills Reservation was part of the PKG’s Spring Break Program. “Students had a great experience learning about the effects of climate change back in the spring, so we thought it would be nice to take students who were around for the summer on a hike outside the city, where they may not have otherwise had a chance to go,” said Claire Sobraske, graduate assistant of community engagement programs for the PKG Center.
The day-long adventure started with a tour of the Trailside Museum. The Blue Hills Trailside Museum houses various wildlife, such as turtles, owls, white-tailed deer, and a bald eagle and offers information on the reservation’s plant and animal life. Students were entertained by playful, swimming otters before continuing on their exploration of the reservation.
Following the museum visit, students trekked up the red dot trail and successfully tackled the rugged and rocky terrain. Given the late-July heat, some student hikers stopped occasionally to rest and hydrate. “While groups of students have different levels of comfort with activities like hiking, it was clear that this group enjoyed the experience together and formed relationships that they can continue to build back on campus,” said Danny Becker, programs coordinator for the PKG Center.
Once students reached Eliot Tower at the top of Great Blue Hill, a beautiful view of the Boston skyline could be seen peeking over the treetops. After some group photos, everyone slowly hiked their way back down the trail and ended a pleasant day in the great outdoors.
Becker believes group outings like this are important. “Nature can be restorative for students and providing them an opportunity to leave campus on a Saturday, take in fresh air and get themselves moving is invaluable for self-care, physically and mentally, before the fall semester begins.”
Written and video by Isabel Stewart
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New and returning students cooled off from the late-summer heat by waging the Institute's annual water war — an MIT tradition that began in the early 2000s and is an official part of Residential Exploration (REX).