BEACON, NY– Over the next two weeks, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater will be hosting their annual youth empowerment programs onboard the sloop Clearwater based in Beacon, NY. The Young Men at the Helm and Young Women at the Helm programs introduce Hudson Valley youth to the river through an intensive three day leadership training program. Annually, 20-25 young men and women are accepted to the programs and participate in various on-board and shore based activities.

“Clearwater’s Young People at the Helm Programs are the most powerful empowerment experiences for youth on the Hudson River. Local teens have an incredibly unique opportunity to learn about history, ecology, and community engagement during three days under sail. This is a life-changing experience that helps young people plot the course of their lives as our future leaders” said, Maija Niemisto, Education Coordinator at Clearwater.

The first Young Women at the Helm took place in 2001. The program was designed to encourage 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 the beginning of August. Participants sample experiential activities involving ecology and pollution, sailing and navigation.

Young Men at the Helm started in 2009. Since its inception, many participants have gone on to work onboard the Clearwater, as well as succeed in environmental and maritime careers. The hard work of learning and living as a crew member provides the young men an opportunity to learn more about thriving in a small community and overcoming challenges.

The two nights of the program are spent ashore camping and meeting with inspiration and relatable community members. Guest speakers from varied professions: politicians, doctors, environmentalists, scientists, historians and sea captains, encourage the participants to set and achieve goals they may never have thought possible. The guest speakers lead by example and share stories of hardship and success. 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 sloop as volunteers, apprentices, and crew members. Both groups are encouraged to return to their communities with a new appreciation for the Hudson Valley and to be active environmental and community stewards.