Our Mission is for urban youth to explore Boston, inspire one another and engage their curiosity.

We emphasize the natural process of play and creativity, drawing on a kid’s sense of wonder to discover their neighborhoods in new and different ways. A skilled staff leads the way, but kids take command of the explorations with their enthusiasm and imagination.

A day at camp is made up of two essential components. Every day children will explore a different part of the city from a different perspective, on foot, by bike, boat and T.  And, every day campers will work with their hands, with woodworking tools building projects of their own design; or, on art projects guided by a staff member, but driven by the child.

At Boston Explorers, the city is our campground. In an inter-age, electronic-free setting, children make their own choices and have time to play and use their imaginations. In a world of often highly scripted and programmed play, at Boston Explorers we follow a child’s interests to help frame daily activities and explorations. Our goal is to inspire a sense of civic engagement, adventure and curiosity that will last a lifetime.

We start and end the day at Base Camp (Rafael Hernandez School). When children arrive, counselors welcome them and take the child’s lead and participate in a variety of “Your Choice” activities such as art, building, games and outside play, followed by a morning meeting that welcomes children and frames the activities for the day. Unless there is a full-day exploration scheduled, children participate in a variety of hands-on and elective activities on site followed by afternoon excursions. The day ends with a closing circle back at Base Camp where Explorers debrief and share highlights of the day. Campers are well supervised throughout the day. We maintain a staff-to-camper ratio of 1:6.

Boston Explorers is licensed by the City of Boston Board of Health and complies with all regulations and safety standards for MA Recreational Camps for Children.




Woodworking, art and building projects, cooking, old school games and puzzles—creative and purposeful play is what we do! Children are encouraged to explore, create, to try new things. While they walk from place to place, there are choices they get to make. With one counselor for six campers there are opportunities for breaking off into smaller groups to pursue other explorations.


Using cooking utensils, building a charcoal cooking fire, holding a hammer, learning to use a ruler or straightedge and level are everyday activities. Our aim is to provide meaningful work applications—versatile and multifaceted tasks that have a lifelong impact.


So much of a child’s free time is managed and directed by in-school and extracurricular activities. At Boston Explorers, children have time—and the choice—to play. Their imagination is the conduit to all forms of unstructured play and camp projects.


Building character is an essential part of the camp program. It takes grit to persevere, to try new things and recover from a setback; emotional intelligence to gain support and alliances; self-control to maintain balance and confidence. The essential factor in Boston Explorers is the consistent opportunity for staff to have meaningful, critical conversations with children about their feelings, friendships and behavior.  Active mentoring is a key role for staff.


Children get vigorous exercise by rowing across Boston Harbor, walking to the T., biking through neighborhoods &  climbing the hills on the Harbor Islands. Games of touch football, tag and hide-and-seek could break out at any time.

A note about our logo:


The Boston Explorers logo symbolizes the integration of the natural and physical elements of the city. It is our version of the Freedom Trail, with specific destinations and unexpected stops—a program that combines definite goals with room for spontaneity.

Alphonse's father.jpg


From Alphonse Litz, Director: 

Everything I know about woodworking and carpentry began with my father. He was the master of tools and hands-on experience and would often remind us that to learn anything one had to do it. For us, there was a lesson in everything. On family outings no monument, roadside marker, historic house, or nature trail went unobserved. I would draw on my father’s wisdom throughout my teaching career.

Not long ago, toward the end of his life, we uncovered a photograph of my dad when he was 12 years old. He is smiling broadly wearing a navy cap and uniform (bottom row, third from left). The caption reads “S.S.S. Explorer.” He always talked about traveling, about places he had been and destinations still to come, but little did I know that my father had been a bona fide explorer! It also reminds me that while we continue to invent education models and policies, my inspiration continues to be my Dad's tried-and-true approach: roll up your sleeves and learn something.


Press and Research


"Lessons from an Urban Day Camp: Program Features That Help Children Thrive" 
Camping Magazine, 2014 January/February
Bob Ditter with Alphonse Litz


"Oh, Snap! This is a Job! The New Teen Leadership Program at Boston Explorers" 
Camping Magazine, 2017 March/April
Ayanna Michel-Lord and Manny St. Vil with Bob Ditter

GETTING TO BASE CAMP VIA Public Transportation

From Stony Brook Station (Orange Line): Exit the station and head left on Boylston Street.  Walk ½ a block on Boylston and turn left onto Amory Street.  Walk one block on Amory Street, and take a right onto School Street.  Walk approximately 4 ½ blocks on School Street and the R. Hernandez School will be on your left (enter through door on Dixwell Street).

From Dudley Station: Take the #42 bus outbound towards Forest Hills Station.  Get off bus at Washington Street and School Street.  Walk 1 ½ blocks up School Street (towards Franklin Park) and the R. Hernandez School will be on your left (enter through door on Dixwell Street).

From Ashmont Station: Take #22 bus inbound towards Ruggles Station. Get off the bus at Columbus Ave and Weld Street.  Cross Columbus Ave towards Dixwell Street.  Walk less than ½ block on Dixwell Street and R. Hernandez School will be on the left (enter through door on Dixwell Street).

From Mattapan Station: Take the #29 bus inbound towards Ruggles Station.  Get off the bus at Columbus Ave and Weld Street.  Cross Columbus Ave towards Dixwell Street. Walk less than ½ block on Dixwell Street and R. Hernandez School will be on the left (enter through door on Dixwell Street).