BEACON – Hudson River Sloop Clearwater welcomed 12 participants onboard this July for a two-day program aimed at empowering and educating the Hudson Valley’s LGBTQ community.
Clearwater first launched this groundbreaking environmental education and leadership training program for youth who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Allies in 2009.
This year participants were involved in a wide range of physical and academic activities in small groups and as a team. Under the supervision of Clearwater educators, the group set sail, deployed fish nets, re-wrote sea shanties, and camped overnight beside the river in Ulster County. The group also examined development of environmental and LGBTQ movements, and explored how to be a leader in both. The group exchanged personal stories about their lives in the LGBTQ community and offered encouragement and guidance to one another.
Many of Clearwater’s former crew who identify as members of the LGBTQ community returned to talk about their experiences as sailors and in other professions. “Queerwater is an amazing program that I participated in as a crew member in the past,” said Captain Aleythea Dolstad. “This year, it was so gratifying to be able to sail with the Hudson Valley LGBTQ community as their captain.”
Kristen Lovell was the special guest speaker, talking to the participants about community leadership, personal challenges, and the opportunities available to them today.
This August, Clearwater will gear up to host two more youth empowerment programs: Young Women at the Helm and Young Men at the Helm. Young Women and Young Men at the Helm introduce 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 these programs and participate in various on-board and shore based activities. Hudson River Sloop Clearwater offers a variety of ecology-based experiences to thousands of youth and adults each year. Clearwater makes it a priority to reach out to urban and rural areas and minorities who are often underserved in this capacity.
Clearwater’s youth empowerment programs are free to participants and sponsored through contributions made to Clearwater.
Visit www.clearwater.org for more information.