Outdoor volunteering with kids in NYC?
November 9, 2012 7:49 AM   Subscribe

I want to volunteer with an organization that introduces young people to outdoor experiences that they wouldn't otherwise have -- hiking, camping, rock climbing, etc. I've had a look at Outward Bound but it doesn't look like they take volunteers. What are some similar organizations I could check out? I'm in the New York City area.
posted by rsk to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know about New York City, but I have friends in Virginia who volunteer with the outdoor club of a local college to lead kayaking and rock climbing trips. My grad school's outdoor club also had a few people loosely affiliated with the university who would organize and lead trips.
posted by Metasyntactic at 8:01 AM on November 9, 2012

Girl Scouts!
posted by cass at 8:05 AM on November 9, 2012

There are quite a few kayak groups in the city that run "walk-up" programs - the groups have a bunch of boats and set up in a specific spot on a given day, and anyone can walk up and borrow one of the boats for a half hour. (They have to stick to a specific spot, but still.)

I volunteer with the one in Red Hook, Brooklyn, which is one of the better ones in terms of "available space to paddle in" (we've got a decent-sized bay people can paddle in, with great views of the Statue of Liberty); we get all kinds of people, but a lot of them are kids from the surrounding neighborhood, including a couple of the nearby housing projects. The group also hires one paid intern each year, usually a kid referred to us by a local community outreach program - one year the intern racked up enough experience with us to satisfy one of his requirements when he applied for a job as a captain on one of the Water Taxis. Oh - and the group was even featured in Spike Lee's movie Red Hook Summer!

To volunteer you can sign up on the site, or you can do what I did, which is just keep showing up consistently enough that they get used to you. It's an awesome group, and the other members are also really, really cool. (One guy in our group also sometime gives volunteers lessons on his standing paddleboard - that's him on the paddleboard in the main picture on the link.)

MeMail me with any other questions, but I can't say enough good things about this program.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:35 AM on November 9, 2012

New York actually has programs specifically like that -- a college friend of mine worked with them. Geez, I can't recall, but I think it was called City Kids, so try that. (When I did a web search, that name found an identical program in DC, so I think I"m on the right track.)
posted by acm at 8:37 AM on November 9, 2012

I'm actually interested in this too but I know of the Navigators local chapter. That might be something to check out. Also AMC might have a youth group for hiking- not sure though.
posted by bquarters at 8:40 AM on November 9, 2012

You can also try calling up Brooklyn Boulders and asking if they know of anything or if they are involved in anything like that. They are pretty community-oriented, so you might have some luck there.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 8:59 AM on November 9, 2012

You could try a big brothers/big sisters program and ask specifically to be paired with a kid who likes that kind of thing? I have no idea if they accept requests like that, though.
posted by elizardbits at 9:27 AM on November 9, 2012

The river sloop Clearwater.
posted by nicwolff at 9:30 AM on November 9, 2012

I recently learned about the National Sports Center for the Disabled, which provides outdoor/fitness opportunities for people with all sorts of disabilities. This includes young people but also adults, so it may or may not meet your age criteria but would absolutely be a way to introduce people to opportunities they might not otherwise get to have.

Their website is not very helpful in telling me how to get involved as a volunteer - they definitely use volunteers to teach classes as well as in one-on-one activities (I saw a reference to riding a tandem bike with someone who is blind, for example), and they have "national" in their name, but the volunteer information I can find online is all about working out of their headquarters location in Colorado. If what they're doing sounds interesting to you, though, I'm sure they'd be happy to tell you if they can use volunteers in other parts of the country or put you in touch with groups in your area that run similar programs.
posted by jessypie at 11:30 AM on November 9, 2012

The Fresh Air Fund is mostly a summer program, but they say they have a year-round program--not sure if it's what you're looking for.
posted by theNeutral at 7:59 AM on November 10, 2012

You could try Summersearch
posted by ptm at 3:01 PM on November 10, 2012

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