How do I get started?
Sign up for our volunteer emails. You'll receive a weekly email from our volunteer coordinator with the list of shifts and jobs we need filled. You sign up, show up, and have fun! Easy as that.
But, if you *do* have experience as a paddler, we will definitely make use of your skills!
We just announced our fundraising campaign for expanded 2013 youth kayaking programs. Check out this note from Boathouse co-founder Charlie O'Donnell...
For almost ten years, I've been volunteering on New York City's waterfront--introducing lifelong New Yorkers and tourists alike to kayaking. It's a reminder that a) they live on an island and b) that NYC's waters are usable. In fact, the more you come up with creative recreational uses for our waterfront, the less likely the city will be to do things like park garbage trucks on it or simply fence it off as a passive shoreline balcony for some wealthy waterfront condo.
I started at Pier 26 at the original location of the Downtown Boathouse--and eventually worked my way over to the newly created Brooklyn Bridge Park, where I co-founded the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse.
One thing holds true no matter where on the waterfront I am--there's no more rewarding activity I have ever been a part of in New York City than volunteering at kayaking. Every season, we put thousands of people on the water. Every single last one of them, no matter how excited, scared, apprehensive, or even disgusted they were at the idea of getting in a boat and paddling around the waters that surround NYC, is absolutely thrilled by the time they are done--and completely grateful for the experience. It's the most positive thing I've ever experienced. They love being reminded that whether you're in Manhattan or Brooklyn, you live on an island, and that the water is yours to use. They love doing something new and different. They love challenging themselves and getting over a potential fear. They love getting wet in the heat of NYC summer.
That's why I'm so excited for our plans in Brooklyn for 2013. We're planning a major expansion to our youth kayaking activities--including the creation of a youth kayak polo team. Given how few organized kayak polo teams there are at this age level in the US, even though it's a global sport, we could very easily be sending local Brooklyn high schoolers to national competitions within a few seasons. It's a very exciting endeavor!
But, we need help. Kayaks aren't exactly cheap--and we need the time of qualified instructors. We're raising $12,000 on Indiegogo, but we'd be able to expand our programs even further if we overshot our fundraising targets. We've got some cool rewards, including trips on the harbor and private paddling time. If you've been down to the NYC waterfront and enjoyed these volunteer kayaking programs--or if you just want to give a local Brooklyn kid a sense of accomplishment or lessons in teamwork, please consider participating in our campaign. Thank you.
We're excited to announce the public schedule for free kayaking activities in the Brooklyn Bridge Park. You can find it right here: on the calendar We've added lots more Thursday dates after work and extended our Saturday times by 1 hour (now from 10:30AM until 4:30PM, but make sure you show up by around 3:30PM or you might not get there before the line cuts off.) There are no reservations— everything is first come first serve. Not to worry, the wait time is usually no more than 20 minutes at peak times. We'll get you in a life vest, explain the basics, and keep watch over you in our semi-enclosed space. (No, you can't go across to Manhattan!) For answers to the many questions you may have go right to the Have Questions? in the navigation above.
What's also very exciting is that we're getting a new dock sometime early in the summer--a floating dock that will make getting on and off our kayaks quicker and easier. This should shorten our lines tremendously and make our launch point closer to where we store our kayaks at Pier 2. We'll post pictures of our fancy new dock as soon as it gets installed.
We've also added more classes and are working with other boathouses to give you new opportunities to be a better kayaker. See the schedule here for volunteer classes and training.
We're also looking to ramp up the kinds of responsibilities our volunteers will have. We'll still need lots of folks to pitch in to help get people into boats, keep a watch for boater safety and help us run the public program (to find out when we need help, sign up here to volunteer), but we also want to give out some leadership roles in our organization. The following is a list of the types of volunteer roles we're looking to fill. We need responsible, ambitious, self-motivated individuals who won't need a lot of handholding and well tell us the best way to get these things done. Want to apply? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what you're looking to do and why you'd be awesome at it.
Assistant Treasurer - Work with the Treasurer to create a method for securely collecting in person donations, tracking finances, and help plan fundraising activities, as well as tracking costs. Est = 1hr per week.
Site Manager - Someone to keep an inventory of our physical equipment (locks, keys, dollies) and plan/organize anything that needs fixing. Are you good with your hands? Do you want to build some dollies, shelves, etc? This is the job for you. Est = 2-3 hrs per month, perhaps more at the beginning/end of season, but very flexible.
Volunteer Coordinator - You are a very organized, friendly, people person. You can write a clear e-mail on a weekly basis and keep track of volunteers RSVPing to work the program each week. You make sure each day is staffed appropriately. Est = 1hr per week.
Event Coordinator - You love getting groups of people together. We want to make kayaking and volunteering more social. Monthly meetups at a local watering hole would be a good start. You just need to pick the time/day and help get the word out. Est = 2hrs per month.
Marketing Manager - You're a social media maven and you can help manage and organize our Facebook, Twitter, Blog, figure out where to put our photos and get submissions from kayakers, etc. You're also creative enough to help us get some useful and informative signage up around our location. Est. 2 hrs per week.
Environmental Coordinator - We're working with the NYCWTA/River Project to test the water along New York's harbor this season. The idea is to gather weekly water samples at human-powered boat launches and access points, or potential future access points, from May until October, and test them. Perhaps you live nearby and will be willing to use sterile bottles (which we will provide), fill, label and pack them properly (we will provide small fabric coolers and ice packs), and drop them off at the River Project on Pier 40 every Thursday between the hours of 8 am and noon. Perhaps you could split this job with someone else or a few people as well. Perhaps there are other, similar projects we could get involved with as well--its up to you! Est. 1-2 hrs per week.
Grant Writer - Have you ever successfully applied for a grant? We could use your skills! Help us hunt down some cash and apply for it. Est. 10-20 hours over the course of the season but on your schedule.
If you've been to our Brooklyn Bridge Park kayaking program, you probably had a great time--except for the lines. People have been waiting for over an hour to get on the water with us as our popularity is soaring!
Want to know a way to beat the line? Volunteer!
Volunteers have been taking special trips and classes all summer, which we plan to expand after Labor Day when our regular kayaking program ends. We're a non-profit, so we need all the help we can get. If we see your face before Labor Day--helping boaters with lifejackets, patrolling, getting in and out, you'll be able to join us on trips and classes held in September. We think you'll get hooked--and next year we'll have even more opportunities to advance your paddling skills.
To become a volunteer, just join our volunteer newsletter, and show up!