For almost ten years, I've been volunteering on New York City's waterfront--introducing lifelong New Yorkers and tourists alike to kayaking. It's a reminder that a) they live on an island and b) that NYC's waters are usable. In fact, the more you come up with creative recreational uses for our waterfront, the less likely the city will be to do things like park garbage trucks on it or simply fence it off as a passive shoreline balcony for some wealthy waterfront condo.
I started at Pier 26 at the original location of the Downtown Boathouse--and eventually worked my way over to the newly created Brooklyn Bridge Park, where I co-founded the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse.
One thing holds true no matter where on the waterfront I am--there's no more rewarding activity I have ever been a part of in New York City than volunteering at kayaking. Every season, we put thousands of people on the water. Every single last one of them, no matter how excited, scared, apprehensive, or even disgusted they were at the idea of getting in a boat and paddling around the waters that surround NYC, is absolutely thrilled by the time they are done--and completely grateful for the experience. It's the most positive thing I've ever experienced. They love being reminded that whether you're in Manhattan or Brooklyn, you live on an island, and that the water is yours to use. They love doing something new and different. They love challenging themselves and getting over a potential fear. They love getting wet in the heat of NYC summer.
That's why I'm so excited for our plans in Brooklyn for 2013. We're planning a major expansion to our youth kayaking activities--including the creation of a youth kayak polo team. Given how few organized kayak polo teams there are at this age level in the US, even though it's a global sport, we could very easily be sending local Brooklyn high schoolers to national competitions within a few seasons. It's a very exciting endeavor!
But, we need help. Kayaks aren't exactly cheap--and we need the time of qualified instructors. We're raising $12,000 on Indiegogo, but we'd be able to expand our programs even further if we overshot our fundraising targets. We've got some cool rewards, including trips on the harbor and private paddling time. If you've been down to the NYC waterfront and enjoyed these volunteer kayaking programs--or if you just want to give a local Brooklyn kid a sense of accomplishment or lessons in teamwork, please consider participating in our campaign. Thank you.