summer 2013 newsletter
a river for everyone
Summer is always an especially busy season at Rocking the Boat. With twice the number of students and Apprentices attending programming each day and for twice as long as compared to the school year, both the shop and Bronx River are buzzing with activity. Adding to the excitement, summer is when groups of students, campers, and adults outside of Rocking the Boat’s primary target audience participate in On-Water Group Programs and explore the Bronx River, learn about history and ecology, and learn how to work together and have a ton of fun!
summer on the hudson
welcome to the bronx river
A particularly diverse range of groups are participating in On-Water Group Programs this summer. From elementary school campers to rising college freshmen to developmentally disabled adults, all groups are paying a modest fee for the opportunity to experience the unexpected natural beauty that exists right here the in the South Bronx and learn some environmental science and local history in the process.
So far, Rocking the Boat has welcomed 14 groups for a total of 32 sessions this summer, and expects to have served 550 people by the end of the season. Half of the groups are returning from last summer and several have participated for multiple years. One of those groups is the College Now program, a college readiness program run by CUNY which helps students meet high school graduation requirements and prepare for success in college, both academically and socially. Rocking the Boat will host sessions for 80 students enrolled in the program at Queens College and 20 students from the Hostos Community College program. Prior to their sessions, Chrissy Word, Rocking the Boat’s Director of Public Programs, will travel to Queens College to teach the students about the Bronx River’s history and ecology and prepare them for their day on the water.
Another group is returning after completing four sessions this past spring. Approximately ten developmentally disabled adults from Leake & Watts, a nonprofit agency that serves more than 5,000 individuals and families dealing with poverty, disabilities, and lack of access to education and basic services in New York City, will participate in three sessions this summer. Rocking the Boat is excited to work with this population again and to watch their eyes fill with pride as they overcome fears of the water and enjoy their adventure out onto the Bronx River.
Though most of the groups participating this summer are from the greater New York City area, one will be making a longer trek to visit Rocking the Boat. Ten high school age boatbuilders enrolled in the summer program at the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory (founded by former Boatbuilding Job Skills Program Director Geoff McKonly, prior to his joining Rocking the Boat’s staff) will travel to Hunts Point to practice rowing and learn about the Bronx River aboard Rocking the Boat’s fleet. Seeing firsthand how exhilarating it is to be out on the water on boats similar to the ones they are building themselves down in Philadelphia will be a terrific motivator for the students to work hard to complete their summer projects: a pair of two small sailboats.
The most extensive Bronx-based group program Rocking the Boat will run this summer is an eight-session summer camp for ten elementary school students from nearby Hyde Leadership Academy. With ample time to build up their rowing skills and science knowledge, campers will have the opportunity to complete longer trips to destinations like Starlight and Concrete Plant Parks and WATERWASH ABC and meaningfully contribute to some of Rocking the Boat’s ongoing environmental projects, including water quality monitoring and shore bird surveys.
Rocking the Boat is thrilled to return to Westchester this summer to once again collaborate with Historic Hudson Valley, our partner for a groundbreaking summer boatbuilding program at Philipsburg Manor from 2004 through 2010. For four weeks in July, Rocking the Boat is running a camp for middle school students at Van Cortlandt Manor museum, located at the confluence of the Croton and Hudson Rivers. The Hudson River Through History program is being led by Nia Terralonge, Assistant Director of On-Water Programs and a former Rocking the Boat student, with the support of four Program Assistants, also former students. The camp serves a new group of 20 students each week from the Peekskill Youth Bureau.
Campers are having a blast learning to row aboard Rocking the Boat’s fleet (five of which have been relocated to Van Cortlandt Manor for the summer), exploring both the Hudson and Croton Rivers, and discovering the plants and animals that live in their waters and on their shores. They are also learning about the history of the mighty Hudson and its tributaries, including the Croton River, and the communities that developed along their banks. Historians dressed in costumes reflecting the trends of 17th century America are taking students on tours of the manor and its grounds and running workshops on traditional crafts such as tin smithing and net making. As the culmination of each four-day program, campers are visiting Croton Gorge Park four miles upstream from Van Cortlandt Manor at the base of the Croton Dam, where the Croton River begins.
Rocking the Boat is grateful for the opportunity to reach an even broader audience through its student-built wooden boats and its corps of talented (and homegrown!) environmental educators and looks forward to building on the success of this new initiative.
The J.E. & Z.B. Butler Foundation provided generous support of the summer 2013 On-Water Group Program. Entergy provided funds for Hudson River Through History, Environmental Benefit Project, pursuant to a Consent Order resolving an enforcement matter brought by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation for applicable violations.