Launching our My Middlesex Fells Video Series

Friends of the Fells launches new “My Middlesex Fells” video feature

Each of us has our own distinctive relationship to the Fells, and every experience we have visiting the Fells can be completely unique from the last.  This new video project from our intern Dexter Fadness attempts to capture some of the diversity of those experiences.  

The first video in the series features Friends of the Fells board Chair Jeff Buxbaum, who talks about his own realization of this diversity and the joy of getting lost in the Fells.


We want to hear about your unique relationship to the Fells!  If you’re interested in sharing your own personal experiences with our community, contact Dexter at  We also welcome your own submissions to the My Fells project we launched last year, featuring your own artistic interpretations of the Fells.

With the summer’s return, the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority asks all residents–  please don’t swim in the Fells:

With the warm weather approaching, people head to the local swimming hole to beat the heat. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority wants to remind residents that swimming is not allowed at the High Fells Reservoir in Stoneham.

MWRA’s primary concern is public safety. The Fells has many rock outcroppings and swimmers who are tired or hit their heads while diving are a long way from emergency medical help. The facility is not staffed and there are no lifeguards on duty. There have been fatalities at this site in the past and at nearby Spot Pond.

Protection of the public water supply is also critical. The Fells covered storage tank was constructed in 1998. This facility provides drinking water for Melrose, Saugus, Stoneham and Wakefield. However, the open reservoir, constructed in 1899, still serves as an important component of the MWRA’s emergency water supply system. In an emergency situation, the reservoir could be used as a drinking water supply in a very short time. Swimmers and dogs in the water pose a real threat to water quality.

MWRA recognizes that the Fells is a valued recreational resource in the area. MWRA has worked closely with local communities over the years to maintain a balanced use of this beautiful site that allows accessibility while protecting the public water supply. In fact, MWRA’s new Spot Pond Covered Storage Tank, behind the former Boston Regional Medical Center, features an upland meadow and walking trails.

Illegal swimming has resulted in vandalism, damage to fencing, trash left at the reservoir and fires. The Massachusetts State Police routinely patrol this critical facility during the summer, but MWRA also needs the help of local residents to ensure public safety and protect public health.

Please call the MWRA’s 24-hour Security Hotline at (877) 697-6972 to report swimming or any other harmful behavior.

Swimming is also prohibited in the High, Middle, and Low Reservoirs located in Winchester.

The Friends would also like to remind our community that swimming in the Fells can have detrimental impacts beyond personal safety and contamination of the drinking water supply:  many of the ponds and pools in the Fells contain sensitive ecosystems and aquatic species that can be harmed by human presence in their habitat!

For more information, contact Ria Convery,

The Friends of the Fells are pleased to welcome our 2021 Video Production Interns Dexter Fadness and Paige Colley to our staff this summer.  Dexter and Paige both bring media production experience and a love of the outdoors to the positions, and we are very excited to work with them over the next few months!

Dexter Fadness

Dexter Fadness

“When I was younger, I spent countless hours wandering the Fells with my Great Dane, Thea. Living in Winchester, just minutes from the reservation, we were in there every day, and when she died we scattered her ashes along her favorite trail. It is that connection and intimacy that I bring as the Friends of Fells’ new video intern. As a recent graduate from Bard College with a degree in Film and Electronic Arts, I have cultivated knowledge of writing, directing, editing, and producing video content. Those skills, and my experience working with veteran filmmakers such as Kelly Reichardt and Charles Burnett, will be put into action developing the Friends of the Fells video presence and sharing what makes the Fells so special.”


Paige Colley

Paige during the 2019 Concord Cheese parade posing in front of a 1,000 pound wheel of cheese.

“Hi everyone! My name is Paige and I’m looking forward to working with Friends of the Fells this summer. I’m originally from Anchorage, Alaska, where I enjoyed all sorts of outdoor activities from hiking to kayaking to skiing. I did my undergrad at NYU studying physics, although I have an appreciation for all things science, from astronomy to biology. I recently finished my journalism MS at BU, and am looking forward to staying in Massachusetts for a while and getting to know the Fells better.”


The first project that the interns will focus on this summer is a “Community Highlight” series featuring personal narratives from individuals with a love for the Fells.  And for this video series, we need your participation:

What does the Fells mean to you? COVID mental health walks? Pet exercise? Fun with friends? A biological laboratory? Whatever your answer, we need YOU for a new video series. We are seeking on-camera participants who highlight the diversity of the Fells community, both in demographics (age, race, ethnicity, ability, sexual and gender orientation) and activity (biking, research, hiking, boating, restraining your dog from jumping in the reservoir). 😊 The Friends of the Fells welcomes everyone to this special natural resource.

We’re looking for an hour or two of your time to explore your Fells experience, filming content that will be edited into short videos.

If you would like to participate, or you know someone who would be perfect for this project, you can contact Dexter Fadness at 845-399-6662, or through email at

We look forward to seeing this project come together, and to all the new content that they produce this summer!

Hundreds of children escaped their largely house-bound lives to disappear into the woods for hours of exploration amidst the rocks, mud, frogs, and trees of Lawrence Woods in the southern Fells.

This summer’s Fells Forest Camp enjoyed record enrollment, as families flocked to the unique offering of an all-outdoor camp experience for their children. “This camp was the highlight of our whole summer,” wrote a parent afterward.

Meeting hurdles that closed many other summer camps, the Friends of the Fells staff, supported by its Board of Directors, hired a cadre of experienced counselors, adapted programming and policies to adhere to new health regulations, and moved camp to Medford High School when the Commonwealth closed Botume House, our original camp location, at the last minute.

In seven weekly sessions, almost 500 campers aged 4-12 from a dozen nearby communities hiked the trails, learned to bushwhack, built structures with natural materials, discovered insects, birds, salamanders, frogs, snakes, and other native species, played outdoor games, took turns leading with maps, shared jokes and stories, and arrived home muddy, sweaty, and newly energized.

Reflecting on the camp season, Jesse MacDonald, co-director of this year’s Fells Forest camp, said, “we were in the very fortunate position to provide a much-needed summer option to the families in our community. Being a fully outdoor program, we had the ability to make Fells Forest Camp a safe environment for our campers while providing a rewarding nature-based experience to children. And based on the feedback we have received from many families, it was a service that was urgently needed.”

Chris Redfern, executive director of the Friends, added “We’re grateful for the last-minute hospitality of the staff at Medford High School – without their welcoming, can-do spirit, camp could not have happened this summer.”

Many parents described a positive experience at Fells Forest Camp:

New to the woods

“This was our daughter’s first camp experience and she loved it!”

“My kids have not been huge fans of the outdoors in the past, but this camp really helped to get them to enjoy going into nature, hiking, and exploring. Each day they came home with stories about animals they had seen in the woods.”

Great staff

“The counselors were a lot of fun- many animal observations, jokes of the day, new and fun games, forest building, bush whacking, mud slope sliding, my son came home every night with a story. The leaders were easy to communicate with if adjustments were needed. Thank you Friends of the Fells for making our COVID summer more bearable and fun.”

“The counselors seem to perfectly balance letting the campers explore and providing games, etc. to structure the day.”

“Our cautious and somewhat shy 5 year old daughter absolutely loved camp! The instructors were fantastic, they were caring and nurturing and provided a safe space for her to step outside of her comfort zone a bit while exploring nature. All around a wonderful experience!”

Breath of fresh air

“The Fells Forest Camp was literally and figuratively a breath of fresh air for our family this summer. It was just a joy to pick them up each afternoon, joyous and exhausted, ready for a bath, and full of stories to share.”

 “The kids loved the chance to explore with their peers. The staff supports curiosity and learning in a nurturing, flexible environment. Great outdoor camp for nature lovers!”

“This child-led, outdoor, place-based opportunity was just what they needed; we saw our sons grow and thrive through the experience. Thank you for making this a safe and fun possibility for our boys!”

Enthusiastic children

“My son had a great time–he often complains about camps after a day or two and asks to skip a day, but he was enthusiastic every day and was sad the one day we skipped because it looked like thunderstorms. He loved that he got to be the “navigator” on the first day and held the map. He says he definitely wants to do it again next year.”

“Our 9-year loved this camp and he doesn’t usually respond with enthusiasm at the prospect of a hike (maybe that’s just with mom and dad), but he was happy every day. He also had lots to share about things they saw and adventures they had in the woods. Thank you!”

“Our five year old loved exploring the Fells: walking over tree-trunk bridges and exploring the frog pond. He came home excited every single day!”

Dirt is a good thing

“Our kids come home so dirty (this is a good thing in my book!) and full of stories about all of the interesting things they did that day. We love that they are now our guides in the Fells as they discover new places which their parents don’t know. It’s clearly empowering for them and fun for us.”

“I am so grateful for this program and the experiences it provided for my son. Every day I picked him up exhausted, covered in dirt, and full of new information and stories about his new friends and adventures. I couldn’t ask for anything better!”