Now with two new large, 12 to 14-person canoes, the club’s “Floating Classrooms” are now in the water thanks to a $24,693 grant through a settlement with ExxonMobil over a decades-old oil spill under North Brooklyn.
Dewey Thompson, president of the NBBC, said the new canoes would not only provide a more thorough lesson on the water, but it would now allow a safer trip through the North Brooklyn Superfund site.
“In the past, without these large canoes, when you had a group of 10 or 20 students they would be split up in two’s and three’s in smaller boats,” Thompson said. “You can imagine trying to keep up and maintain what’s happening on the creek was difficult.”
With 25 small boats last year, the club led more than 400 non-members on bi-weekly trips, as well as multiple weekly trips to its 250 members to teach about the history, ecology and the contamination issues with the creek.
Willis Elkins, NBBC steering committee member and Floating Classroom guide, stressed the importance of having a larger, more secure boat for their members and visitors.
“We now have wider and longer boats, and for those who might be intimidated about getting on a superfund site in a small boat, this should hold that comfort,” Elkins said.
Assemblyman Joseph Lentol said he hopes the initiative will not only teach the community about the importance of leaving a green footprint, but also start the conversation about new ways of using the creek.
“There are important skills to learn from boating,” he said. “You learn the weather, the tides, angles for rowing, balance, the materials that make up boats and more. You also realize that boating is a significant and valuable industry in New York and may consider it as a career.“
Lentol added that he looks forward to watching the club develop and continue their outreach initiative.
“The best classrooms come in all shapes and sizes and education is best when it’s a lifelong pursuit,” he said. “What a great way to shape someone’s understanding of the waterways that surround our community than by getting them out on them.”