WHO WE ARE
WHAT WE DO
OUR VENUES
SUPPORT US

Connections Programs

Connections Programs for the Boston Public Schools


Thompson Island Outward Bound’s flagship program model, Connections, combines hands-on science lessons with the best of Outward Bound’s approach to social emotional learning, leadership, compassion and service. Middle school students can attend Connections programs during the school year, for a 5 week summer day program, and/or take part in summer backpacking and kayaking expeditions. Many students go on to participate in Thompson Island’s Green Ambassadors summer employment program in high school.

Our research-based middle school science curriculum aligns with the Next Generation Science standards and has been written in conjunction with certified Boston Public Schools science teachers. Researchers have documented that time spent on Thompson Island is expanded learning that works, laying the groundwork for students’ success in the classroom, workplace and community.

By the end of eighth grade, our students consider themselves scientific thinkers in their approach to solving problems and have both the drive and ability to lead constructive change in their communities.

Request Info 

Connections Goals

The goals of Connections are to:

  • Improve student achievement in math, science and English language arts.

  • Develop social emotional skills to help students succeed in school, their community and in life.

  • Increase student interest in professional and vocational careers, including STEM-based (science, technology, engineering, and math) industries.

  • Develop active and informed citizens who are ready to take responsibility for creating a more sustainable world.

Explore The Island

Boston's Island Classroom

Thompson Island is one of the largest, most accessible and most ecologically diverse islands in the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park. With 204 acres of undeveloped property, the island has mature forests, meadows, freshwater and marine wetlands, salt marshes and a variety of important geological features. Our amenities make Thompson Island ideal for school trips, class retreats and educational field trips. Amenities include a formal school campus complete with dormitories, dining hall, classrooms, lab space, auditoriums, gymnasium, outdoor challenge courses and climbing towers.

(Click Map Hotspots to Explore)

Explore The Island

Boston's Island Classroom

Thompson Island is one of the largest, most accessible and most ecologically diverse islands in the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park. With 204 acres of undeveloped property, the island has mature forests, meadows, freshwater and marine wetlands, salt marshes and a variety of important geological features. Our amenities make Thompson Island ideal for school trips, class retreats and educational field trips. Amenities include a formal school campus complete with dormitories, dining hall, classrooms, lab space, auditoriums, gymnasium, outdoor challenge courses and climbing towers.

compass icon
Erosion Bluff
compass icon
West Salt Marsh
compass icon
East Salt Marsh
compass icon
Learning Zone (Microwilderness)
compass icon
Gable Orchard
compass icon
Classrooms
compass icon
Ferry
compass icon
Bowditch Grove High and Low Ropes Course
compass icon
Kayaking (Boston Harbor)
compass icon
Campsites
compass icon
Intertidal Zone
compass icon
Challenge Field
compass icon
Dormitories
torn image

Erosion Bluff

This is one of multiple geologic sites students visit on the island formed by earth’s natural processes- erosion, deposition, weathering, etc. Experimentation and collecting evidence gives students hands-on opportunities to discover how the island continues to be shaped by those forces.

West Salt Marsh

Digging deep into the intricacies of the salt marsh, students explore how energy and matter move in an ecosystem. Students examine organisms through guided inquiry and exploration to collectively construct a salt marsh food web.

East Salt Marsh

Digging deep into the intricacies of the salt marsh, students explore how energy and matter move in an ecosystem. Students examine organisms through guided inquiry and exploration to collectively construct a salt marsh food web.

Learning Zone (Microwilderness)

Through investigation and observation, students learn about adaptations in the world of insects. Using engaging scientific tools, students collect insects to discover how certain variations can lead to increased survival in an ecosystem

Gable Orchard

Fun and exciting low ropes obstacle course elements are found in Gable Orchard. Students work together to get their team over walls, problem solve to get through a spiders web, communicate to balance the whale watch and much more.

Classrooms

Classroom lessons introduce students to scientific concepts through hands-on demonstrations. Students practice making and recording scientific observations, forming relevant questions and making connections to prior knowledge. Practicing these skills prepare students for their island experience.

Ferry

The Motor Vessel Outward Bound (our ferry) leaves from the EDIC dock off of Drydock Avenue in South Boston. The 25 minute ride through the Boston Harbor to Thompson Island is always a highlight for groups visiting the island.

Bowditch Grove High and Low Ropes Course

Partners or trios work together to utilize their team's strengths to get up the Giants Ladder- a high ropes course vertical ladder. In Bowditch Grove students also participate in our ground-based low ropes obstacle course elements.

Kayaking (Boston Harbor)

Groups propel the waters of the Boston Harbor in two-person kayaks to learn paddling techniques, capsize and rescue procedures, weather forecasting and navigation skills.

Campsites

Students spend their backpacking course exploring the island preserve, where they investigate geology and ecology of forests, salt marshes and beaches, while learning camp craft, wilderness skills and environmental stewardship. Nights are spent at various raised platform tents or in shelters around the island.

Intertidal Zone

Students travel to the Intertidal Zone to learn about trophic levels- producers, consumers and decomposers. Exploration allows students to encounter a wide variety of organisms in order to examine how the unique roles of each trophic level help energy flow through the ecosystem.

Challenge Field

The Challenge Field consists of two Alpine Towers- 62’ tall, self-supporting structures that provide unique group challenges. They’re the ideal high ropes challenge course elements to foster team building, improve communication skills and develop self esteem.

Dormitories

Students sleep in dormitories separated by gender, typically on separate floors or in different buildings. Adults stay in the dorms with the students- either our staff, or the adults who accompany the students to the island. Our dorms range in size from 2-5 beds per room and feature nice, clean wooden single beds.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH