Boston Nature Center Celebrates Outdoors with Kids Boston

Leti Taft-Pearman, AMC staff; Morag Deans, AMC Boston Chapter member; and Kim Foley MacKinnon, author.
Did you know that wild turkeys, pheasants, and even coyotes call Mattapan home? I learned this and more this weekend on a visit to Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary to celebrate AMC’s new book, Outdoors with Kids Boston, and new free Kids Outdoors online community.

I spotted a turkey, but the other wildlife kept out of sight as a lively group of kids enjoyed a “nature play date” at the sanctuary on Sunday afternoon. The play area there includes several stations where kids can build dams, dig in sand, and create their own games using natural materials. The property also features one of the greenest buildings in Boston and more than two miles of trails and boardwalks that traverse meadows and wetlands.

The play area at Boston Nature Center in Mattapan.
Outdoors with Kids Boston author Kim Foley MacKinnon, who has a teenage daughter, shared her tips for getting kids outdoors with a group of parents gathered on picnic blankets in the shade of a large tree. Her recommendations included inventing games, such as being the first to spot an animal or identify 10 species; giving children age-appropriate responsibilities, such as reading a map; and offering rewards such as a good waterfall view—or ice cream—to help keep outings fun. After the talk, she and Erin Kelly, the center’s education coordinator and camp director, led a guided walk along the Snail Trail.

Volunteers from the family committee of AMC’s Boston Chapter attended and let others know about their upcoming events, including family-oriented trips to the Blue Hills, Moose Hill Farm in Sharon, and the Boston Harbor Islands. (Search AMC’s activities listings using the keyword “Boston” and selecting “family” as the activity type to learn more.)

Parents also used computers at AMC’s table to sign up for the registration-based Kids Outdoors online community, which offers local expert advice (including weekly blog posts by MacKinnon) and more than 100 close-to-home hiking, biking, swimming, paddling, and playground ideas for kids up to age 12, searchable through Google Maps.

According to Mass Audubon, more than 230,000 residents and more than 40 schools are located within two miles of the Boston Nature Center, so the site’s community gardens, education programs, and summer camps offer close-to-home outdoor opportunities to a large urban population. Check out this green oasis the next time you need a respite from the bustle of the city.

AMC President John Judge with Bethany Whitemyer and Crystal Lauzon of Bright Horizons, a sponsor of the Kids Outdoors online community.

First and third photos by Heather Stephenson. Photo of Boston Nature Center play area by Lisa Drakulic of Bright Horizons.

Great Kids, Great Outdoors is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Heather Stephenson.