Volume 18 • Issue 11 | August 5 - 11, 2005

Sailing in the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy’s Teen Marine Program.

Teens set sail to learn about the harbor

By Olga Mantilla

“I almost fell in the river! I slipped through the bow and then swung back in,” exclaimed Will Porter, a 12-year-old Teen Marine Will Porter, as he proceeded to demonstrate the short-lived adventure on the picnic tables at Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City.

Porter is one of about two dozen teens that joined Battery Park City Parks Conservancy’s Teen Marine Adventure this past July. The 4-week, 15-session educational camp that began June 5th, was geared towards 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in Lower Manhattan. The program included lectures by experts, field trips, picnics and other recreational activities to familiarize the teens with marine life, environmental water issues, fishing and sailing in the Hudson River.

“There’s not many programs about ecology, so we knew Teen Marine would be something fresh and educational for the kids to be a part of,” said the conservancy’s programming director, Ellen McCarthy.

Trips scheduled at the South Street Seaport Museum, the Shearwater Yacht, the U.S. Coast Guard, and Rockefeller Park gave Teen Marines a chance to see fresh and salt-water ecosystems for themselves, and brought boat sailing and catch and release fishing to another level.

“The Manhattan Sailing School trip was great — it was hands-on sailing,” said McCarthy. “They didn’t just ride on the boat — they learned to sail.”

Visits to the Department of Environmental Conservation, and New York Harbor, in addition to numerous museums and the U.S. Coast Guard taught the teens about how the city protects the water environment and keep New York waters safe.

“I loved the Coast Guard,” said 14-year-old Kelley Begley. “We got to try on their water protection gear. They were so nice!” What did they learn from the Coast Guard staff? “They were talking about catching Osama bin Laden and stuff,” she said.

According to Lila Alter, 11, the Manhattan Sailing School trip topped the field trips. “We got a boat and got really close to the Statue of Liberty,” she said. “And we all jumped into the Hudson,” she laughed with friend Kim Gallagher, 12. “It was too hot and sticky,” Alter reasoned.

Athletic director Ian Reid, one of the teens’ favorite counselors, said the purpose was to get the students to learn something worthwhile about the world around them while having fun as well.

“We can educate them about the whole area — Battery Park City, the marina, things they wouldn’t ever look into,” Reid said of the Teen Marine.

“I think the camp helps the teens be relaxed in the park — we have instructional play for them, and in the end, I’m just happy that this program helped them form bonds,” he said.

Jackson McGonagle, 12, said although he liked learning about water pollution, fish, and testing for salinity, he did not plan to become a marine biologist or anything. “It definitely got me more interested in sailing,” McGonagle said

Most of the conservancy’s programs have little or no cost, but the expenses for Teen Marine required a fee of $400.

“I’ll probably come back next year,” Alter said. “It’s really fun. I’d rather be here than at home just watching T.V.”

McCarthy said that Teen Marine was about educating the teens about how their actions effects the Hudson and the rest of the city, and how they can be “better stewards” of the historic river.

“They know now what happens with garbage that they toss in the street. When it rains, the trash will go down storm drains and eventually go into out beaches and rivers.”


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