What Do Kids Do There?

 At Macomber Center, kids are free to decide for themselves how to spend their time each day, within the the bounds of community rules and norms. Our Center is a vibrant and dynamic place, and what we do here is different all the time. And, all the kids and grown-ups have their own unique perspective on what it’s like to be a part of this community. We read books, play video games, build things, make music, talk to each other, and lounge in the sun. Sometimes we talk about physics and the properties of light. Sometimes we share stories about gross leftovers in the fridge. Always, we are learning: about the world, about each other, about ourselves.

Ongoing Activities

Please find listed below a sampling of some of the activities that take place at Macomber Center throughout the year!

Nicole Gonzalez

Outdoor Play

The Macomber Center is situated on 114 acres of land that adjoins the 575-acre Ashland Town Forest. Our members enjoy the freedom of endless, unstructured play, exploration and discovery. They spend hours playing sports in the fields, studying nature up close, building structures in the woods, hiking the trails, and climbing on huge rock formations.

Donna Rogers


Cooking adventures at Macomber range from learning how to make your very own ramen noodle cup you brought for lunch to preparing a meal to feed everyone at the Center. All ages participate in cooking in our small kitchen. We have made pies and burritos, pasta and applesauce, many grilled cheese sandwiches and many pots of vegetable soup. Members have learned cooking skills from visiting experts such as Dave Becker, owner/chef of two renowned restaurants, Sweet Basil and Juniper, and Roberta Jackson, former head chef at Wellesley College; and line chef skills from our own Mark Bell, who has worked as a chef in restaurants on both coasts.

Louis Sung

Visitors & Outings

At Macomber Center, we value the resources of our broader community. We often host visitors who may give talks or demonstrations about the kinds of work they do or special experiences they may have had. We also go out to places like the library, the zoo, and museums. Last year, we took a group of teenagers to New York City!

Diana Zhao


Each day at the Macomber Center is filled with music of every conceivable kind, from flute and guitar duets to heavy metal. Our members have access to our new music room, which features acoustic and electric guitars, electric basses, an electronic drum set, a Yamaha keyboard, hand percussion, and whatever instruments members bring in to play. As experienced professional musicians, staff members Ben, Dan, and Mark help members develop expertise in rock, jazz, pop, traditional folk, and classical music. Much of the playing and jamming leads up to our winter and spring music shows.

Phyllis Hernandez


Many of our members pursue academic study during their time at Macomber Center. Groups of kids and staff members dive into math, biology, biochemistry, writing, Latin, and French.

Sports & Games

Games of every conceivable kind happen here. Games like bananagrams, settlers of catan, mafia and chess have become common fixtures at the Center. Last year, we held a chess tournament on our new outdoor, life-sized chess board.  The Center is surrounded by playing fields.  We play volleyball, soccer, basketball, badminton, tag, and capture the flag.

Diana Peterson


Projects of all kinds are a regular part of life at Macomber. We do electronics projects, visual art, and building, and our members often bring in their own personal projects to work on and share. 

Mary Hill

Macomber harvest

One of the first things we did together as a community was make jam from our own wild concord grapes. Some of the kids climbed up the trees and began picking and throwing the grapes down to the buckets below. Some of them fashioned tools to pick big bunches from the ground. This resulted in many, many jars of delicious grape jam. A few years ago, we added maple syrup to our repertoire. We tapped fifteen of the two hundred year old sugar maples that line our property and built and evaporator out behind the Center to boil down the over eighty gallons of sap that we collect each season. This year, we plan to create a winter garden and see what we can grow.

Mary Davis


We are a one-stop resource for aspiring film makers. Our woods, rocky ledges, open fields and buildings have stood in for the Swiss Alps, the surface of Pluto, and Times Square NYC. We maintain a large collection of props and wardrobe. Many of our members are inspired actors. Some have written and directed from their own screenplays. There is always at least one ongoing project being filmed here. Recent Macomber productions include: Danger Rescue Team 300, Love Hurts, Rubel’s Rambles and Space Thieves.