Boston Massachusetts is a city of communities and some of them have a chilling past.The Mattapan of the 90’s was hit hard by the crack epidemic earning it the moniker Murda-Pan. Movies like Blue Hill Ave featured the violence of this community on the big screen. Now it seems those drug laden communities are in the suburbs with no surcease in the foreseeable future, and the safe spaces we seek are now in the heart of what once was deemed the urban jungle. One of those safe places lies on the grounds of what also once was the largest state mental facility.

 Boston Nature Center & Wildlife Sanctuary

  500 Walk Hill St, Mattapan, MA 02126

Located just outside of downtown Boston on the former grounds of the Boston State Hospital, the Boston Nature Center is a community-based urban sanctuary. Trails and boardwalks traverse meadows and wetlands, home to over 150 species of birds, 40 species of butterflies, and more than 350 species of plants. Year-round programs help foster an appreciation for nature and the environment.It has 67 beautiful acres and 2 miles of trails that are universally accessible.


There are many programs offered at affordable rates through sliding scale and low-cost fees.The facility features the George Robert White Environmental Conservation Center, the first “green” municipal building in Boston, which exhibits a unique environmentally sustainable building design. Parents may want to take their youngest to The Nature Nook, a natural play area, engages children of all ages in discovering the natural world through free play.For students of wildlife and science The Boston Area Beekeepers Association apiary, Boston Food Forest Coalition’s edible forest, Clark-Cooper Community Gardens, and the Mattapan Ecovation Center can be found there. Admission is free for EBT card users; EBT Participants: Free for up to 4 people when you show your EBT card but donations are appreciated.(Don’t forget your receipt for tax purposes)

The center has a summer camp as well. Boston Nature Center Summer Camp in Mattapan and West Roxbury combine outdoor exploration, hands-on activities, and science education, helping campers to grow and connect with the world around them. Campers ages 5–15 can discover the dance of the honey bees in the observation hive, observe tree swallows in the meadow, or pick kale in the one of the largest community gardens in Boston. Well-trained counselors and junior counselors build a safe and supportive atmosphere where campers can learn, have fun, and share in the joy and excitement of the outdoors. Low counselor-to-camper ratios ensure that children stay safe and are engaged with role models who are creative, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic. Registration for the camp begins in January of 2019!

nonrefundable deposit of $25 per child/per week is required to register for camp. The deposit will be applied to your camp tuition and cannot be transferred to another camper, family, or camp location. Check your school calendar for conflicts before registering.

Sliding Scale

The sliding scale is available to all families. To use the sliding scale, pay only the deposit during registration. At the time of registration or afterwards, please fill out the sliding scale application and provide documents that verify your income. You can do this any time before the full balance is due.

  • Register online beginning January 31
  • By mail or in person: Complete the registration form and mail or bring it with payment to: Boston Nature Center Day Camps, 500 Walk Hill Street, Mattapan, MA 02126
  • Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm
  • Saturday, Sunday, & Monday holidays, 10 am-4 pm
  • Trails: open daily, dawn to dusk

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