The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater offers a variety of ecology-based experiences to thousands of youth and adults each year. We make it a priority to reach out to urban and rural areas and minorities who are often underserved in this capacity. Young Women and Young Men at the Helm introduces Hudson Valley youth to the river through an intensive three day leadership training program. Annually, 20-25 young women and young men are accepted to the program and participate in various on-board and shore based activities. The program begins with outreach visits to several community groups and schools in low-income, urban areas throughout the Hudson Valley.
The first Young Women at the Helm was in 2001. The program was designed to encourage more young women from the Hudson Valley to get engaged in sailing and to see themselves as active youth leaders. This program runs over three days in mid-summer. Participants sample experiential activities involving ecology and pollution, sailing and navigation. The participants then choose one topic for focused learning. Broken into groups, each “watch” also learns one boat-related physical skill such as docking the vessel or raising sail that they will perform on their own.The two nights of the program are spent ashore camping and meeting with female guest speakers from varied professions: politicians, doctors, environmentalists, scientists, historians and sea captains. At the end of the program, each group presents what they have learned to their peers. Many of our participants have gone on to work on the boat as volunteers, apprentices, and crewmembers.
Young Men at the Helm started in 2009. Since its inception, many of our participants have gone on to work on board the Clearwater, as well as succeed in environmental and maritime careers. The hard work of learning and living as a crew provides the young men as an opportunity to learn more about thriving, in a small community and overcoming challenges.
Participants choose from different activities involving ecology, navigation, maritime life and history for their learning focus. Broken into groups, each “watch” aboard the Clearwater also learns one boat-related skill, such as docking the vessel or raising the sail that they will perform on their own by the end of the program.
The Young Men at the Helm program also introduces participants to inspiring role models and community leaders. The two nights spent ashore camping feature guest speakers, including elected officials, environmentalists, scientists, historians, and sea captains who provide insights into potential career choices.