Onset Bay Center begins a fall of fun, learning

Sep 27, 2020

Fall is here, but that isn’t stopping outdoor learning experiences at the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s Onset Bay Center just yet. 

The bath house, which was completed in June, has started its fall programming after a summer of altered programs due to the coronavirus. 

Katherine Garofoli, director of the Onset Bay Center, said it’s been a good opportunity to experiment piloting new programs for kids, teens and adults. 

“We’re using this as an opportunity to really get to know the families of Onset and Wareham,” she said. “This has really provided us with a chance to develop great programs and adapt them to the community’s needs.” 

Much of the programming centers around grade-school environmental education, with programs for third through fifth graders on Mondays and Wednesday afternoons, sixth through eighth graders on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and teenagers on Friday afternoons. 

Fishing trips with Captain Kevin Slattery, kayak trips to Wickets Island, and yoga on the beach are all featured. 

The programs are all socially distanced, and masks are required during on-land parts of programs. When kids are out actively paddling in the bay, they’re allowed to lower their masks. 

Garofoli said that since the center isn’t “one specific thing,” it’s been a challenge to find the right rules and regulations to follow to alter programming as coronavirus regulations continue. 

The programs focus on environmental education and appreciation, with some aiming for environmental activism. 

Teens Take Action is a free program in which teenagers will learn about the environment surrounding the center and come up with a project to keep the area healthy. 

“We’re trying to turn this into a stewardship project, where the teens have a say in what they think is the most important project,” Garofoli said. 

She said part of the reasoning for the programming was an increased attempt to get teens involved with the center and with the environment, adding that a main question the center and the programming pose is “what can we do to help our home?”

Programs for students include weekly themes like coastal living and ecology, shifting sands, and learning about watersheds. 

But another piece of the puzzle Garofoli said the center is trying to tackle is accessibility. 

“We’re trying to break those barriers down that make kids and families think that this isn’t their space,” Garofoli said. 

She said programs are intended to be welcoming and encourage curiosity and adventure, adding that the programs can help people “hold onto summer a little bit longer.” 

“What’s there to lose?” she asked. 

And the programming won’t stop once the weather starts to change.

Garofoli said there are plans to move programming to a large downstairs room where kayaks, life vests and other pieces of equipment are stored once it’s too cold to stay outside. 

But during those programs, the double-doors which line the area will remain open and social distancing will still be necessary. 

But for now, Garofoli said the programs will take advantage of the outdoors while they can. 

“We’re going to utilize this great weather for as long as we can.” 

The Onset Bay Center is hosting after-school classes for kids in third through fifth grade and in sixth through eighth grade. Each session includes two afternoons each week from 3 to 5 p.m., for a cost of $20 per session. Scholarships are available.

Younger students will meet on Monday and Wednesday, and older kids will meet on Tuesday and Thursday.

Each week is focused on a different theme, and all involve getting out and exploring Onset Bay. The session beginning October 5 is all about the watershed and how water cycles through one.

The session starting October 19 will focus on the many animals that work together in a marine ecosystem. Students will look at samples of plankton, create a food cycle, and scratch for quahogs.

There are several free programs for kids, too: Teens can take action and work on a community service project on Fridays from 3 to 5 p.m.

On Mondays, Captain Kevin of the Maureen Anne teaches kids to fish from 3 to 5 p.m.

Kids ages 10 and up can learn to row on Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m.

On Friday, kids can relax with yoga and meditation led by Ebb and Flow Wellness from 3 to 4 p.m.

There are a number of programs for adults at the center, too -- and most are free.

On Saturday, October 3, the center will be hosting a special boating safety course with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Participants will learn to operate a boat safely and earn a NASBLA certificate.

The course will cover introduction to boating, boating law, safety equipment, safe boating, navigation, boating problems and trailering and protecting your boat. The course text costs $10, to be paid for at the beginning of the session, which will last from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On Wednesday, October 7, the center will host a program for participants to get to know sailing around Onset Bay from 3 to 5 p.m.

Every Friday, yogis can stretch out on the beach in a program led by Ebb and Flow Wellness. Bring a blanket, water, and a beach towel for the session, which costs $15.

The center offers a number of recurring free programs for adults. Each Monday, learn to row with Lee Socorro from the Buzzards Bay Rowing Club from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

On Wednesdays from 9 to 11 a.m., paddleboard around Onset Bay with center staff. Paddleboards, paddles, and lifejackets will be provided.

Adults can participate in an open row on Onset Bay every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon. To reserve a boat, contact OBC Director Kat Garofoli by calling 508-999-6363 ext 227.

Free kayak tours of Onset Bay are held each Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Registration for all programs is available online at www.onsetbaycenter.org.