Earthen Vessels Camp

670 West Hill Extension, Granville VT 05747

on the summit of Camel's Hump

 EV main page / EV Tutoring / counselor's photo album 1998 / Miss Massachusetts USA speaks of her experience with Earthen Vessels / Job Description / Contact: or

Earthen Vessels ' financial and other data may be found on the national repertory of non-profit agencies, GuideStar, by clicking on logo:


Earthen Vessels is a 501(c)(3) organization which has been working with Boston's inner-city young people since 1980. The mission of Earthen Vessels is to empower at-risk inner-city children and teens from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds to build self-esteem, self-confidence, self-respect and personal responsibility, within a community which challenges traditional barriers of sex, race, culture and class.

This mission is accomplished through two complementary programs: intensive two-week experiences of community living at Earthen Vessels Camp in the mountains of Vermont, and a school-year tutoring and mentoring program which matches youngsters one-on-one with Harvard students in long-term, one-on-one relationships which are often life-transforming for both partners. The Tutoring Program is a direct outgrowth of the Summer Camp. Both programs help these youth to value diversity, to learn peaceful conflict-resolution strategies for life at school and at home, and to become tolerant, constructive, imaginative and morally responsible members of their diverse communities.


In January 1980 Brian and Marie-Claude Thompson founded Earthen Vessels, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to working with inner-city youngsters. Their initial project was a summer camp in Vermont, focusing on the critical 12-14 year old age group and involving both boys and girls from a variety of backgrounds. From the outset, they were fortunate to find the eager and willing collaboration at Project Hope in Uphams Corner, a family health center run by the Little Sisters of the Assumption.

For the first six years, Earthen Vessels rented an old hilltop farm in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom from one of Brian 's colleagues. They ran a single two-week session for 12-15 youngsters. Their own sons, Eric and Dan, served as counselors from the outset and right through their graduation from college. Little by little, other students and adult volunteers joined the Thompsons as counselors and mentors.

In 1985 the decision was made to hold more than one camp session, necessitating the search for a permanent site. The Board approved the purchase of an old, partially renovated farmhouse on nine acres tucked into thousands of acres of public land in the Green Mountain National Forest in central Vermont. A recent barn building offered additional rainy-day space. Both buildings were significantly renovated in the spring of 1986, and we were able to offer two regular camp sessions that summer as well as a Leadership Training Week for 16-20 year olds. Since then a number of our camp counselors have been former campers (or others) who have come through this latter program.

George leading an arts workshop at camp Swimming in the Mad River

The year 1985 was also a pivotal year in another way. Since several of the campers were having difficulties in school and had little support at home, one of the camp counselors, a Harvard undergraduate recruited by Eric, then at Harvard, collaborated with Marie-Claude to start the Tutoring Program. The initial group of 8 campers and 8 Harvard students has since grown to 30/40 pairs, meeting weekly in Dorchester. The program has had a powerful effect, both on tutees (many of whom have finished high school and gone on to college; several have college degrees) and tutors, who often say it was the most important and meaningful experience of their college career. It changes the way they view issues of social justice and, in many cases, their career options. Many continue to support Earthen Vessels long after graduation. One Puerto Rican has been a tutor since 1985, through three Harvard degrees and is still associated with the program while teaching Comparative Literature at Harvard !


Games in the camp livingroom A birthday celebration at camp

Community Need

Most of our youth are from Dorchester and Roxbury, where the poverty rate is well above average, many families deal with unemployment and single-parenting, and schools struggle to provide adequate services. The Summer Camp and the Tutoring Program provide a holistic and year-round approach to the welfare of each youngster, taking into account both their school experience and their family context. Both provide support, mentoring, healthy role modeling and on-going encouragement and hope, enabling youngsters to envision their future in an open-ended way and to take the necessary decisions to reach their goals.


Constituencies and Coordination

Earthen Vessels is in regular contact with the families, teachers and schools of the participating youth, through informal check-ins with teachers (many each week), formal meetings, home visits with families and evaluation surveys. We coordinate our work with several local agencies, especially Project Care and Concern.

The work of Earthen Vessels has been noted in the larger community as well: Marie-Claude was commended in 1995 at the 21st Annual ABCD Community Awards Dinner.

Brian, Carrie and Marie-Claude pause on the trail


Marie-Claude Thompson has been the Executive Director of Earthen Vessels since 1980 and served as the Program Director of the Tutoring Program (until september 2003 when Lauren Ravello was hired in that position), and Summer Camp. She holds advanced degrees in business (Paris), French Literature (Harvard) and Divinity (Weston School of Theology). She has extensive experience working with young people and also serves as a chaplain at the Harvard Catholic Student Center.

Brian Thompson, President of the Board, holds three degrees from Harvard and has taught at the University of Massachusetts at Boston since 1968. He has lectured and published widely here and abroad, and is well known in particular for his pedagogical workshops. He has extensive experience with young people, worked at summer camps in Maine, New York and Pennsylvania, and has co-directed Earthen Vessels Summer Camp since 1980, as well as overseeing fundraising.

Kimberly Milligan is Earthen Vessels' full-time Educational Coordinator since September 2004. She received a Master of Arts in developmental and Educational Psychology from the Lynch School of Education, Boston college. She graduated from the Urban Catholic Teacher Corps of Boston College after two years of teaching in an elementary public school in Roxbury. She will return to teaching in September, in Boston public schools, after following in the steps of outstanding Educational Coordinators for two years. We are now actively recruiting an equally capable person to carry on the EV tradition (see Job Description).


Julie on Mt. Mansfield Swimming at the nearby pond

How can I help?

If you would like to help us help inner-city youngsters and their families, please send us a tax-deductible donation which we will put to good use with a very minimum of overhead expense. You can check out our financial statement on the national database of charities at Make your check out to Earthen Vessels and send it to us at 170 Appleton Street, Cambridge MA 02138. We would be delighted to speak to you about our work. Feel free to call us at (617) 497-0759 or 287-7569 or contact us by email: or

Earthen Vessels ' financial and other data may be found on the national repertory of non-profit agencies, GuideStar, by clicking on logo:

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