Harbor Camp

Every Child in the Water and Every Child on the Water

For over a decade, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance has sponsored Harbor Camp, a partnership between MWA and United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) that links providers of water-related education to pre-existing camp programs. Harbor Camp provides a meaningful, water-based summer camp experience to hundreds of children in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area; children who might not otherwise have opportunities for this type of educational experience. Harbor Camp is run by the MWA, which acts as a liaison to providers of water-related educational trips. Once providers are secured for the summer, information on provided trips is sent to camps signed on with UNH. Camp programs receive a budget amount, and can choose the trips they would like to go on during the summer within that budget. Once trips are booked, the MWA provides funding for the trips through our generous donors. Our passion for Harbor Camp is based on the possibility that every child in the metropolitan area has an opportunity to be on the water that surrounds and defines our region’s economy, geography, ecology, and history.

Since 2004, Harbor Camp has brought community waterfront education to over 10,000 children. We organize, on average, 25 field trips per summer. Harbor Camp's aim is to provide ecological, environmental, maritime, and/or historical education alongside fun and entertainment, and to cultivate stewardship in its participants. It aims to elicit from these young students a desire to protect and preserve the environmental integrity of their natural resources and instill a sense of the history of our region.

Click here to watch a video about the Harbor Camp!

In 2012, MWA attained high attendance and expanded participation in Harbor Camp. This included new partnerships with the South Street Seaport Museum, Brooklyn Bridge Park Kayak Program, The River Project, and Blue Classroom. There were thirteen total trip options in 2012, a Harbor Camp record. Also in 2012, we partnered with the New York Harbor School for the third consecutive year. Through this partnership, MWA increased the number of middle school children attending Harbor Camp and raised awareness about New York Harbor School’s college-preparatory education built on New York’s maritime tradition. Campers involved in the New York Harbor School program took the ferry to Governors Island to take a tour of the new facility, to learn about local ecology, marine science, water quality, and human impact, and to learn the history of the NY Harbor and the significance of Governors Island. Campers explored the Eco Dock at Pier 101 and learned more about harbor water quality, oyster aquaculture, and how to monitor and improve the health of the entire harbor. After the trip, interested students were entered into the school’s database, which is used in a lottery for awarding seats at the New York Harbor School.

This partnership has furthered the New York Harbor School’s goals of reaching students from underserved parts of New York City, and will help interested students continue the maritime education they began at Harbor Camp. Harbor Camp is a vital part of MWA’s public outreach, and is an invaluable investment in the future of the city’s waterfront. By bringing children to the water for education and recreation now, the health and well-being of our city’s waterfront and citizens can be better ensured for the future. As Harbor Camp continues to expand, the program will increase New Yorkers’ exposure to, and awareness of, the opportunities and challenges presented by our waterfront.

Harbor Camp is generously supported by the Alcoa Foundation and private individual donors.

For more information about Harbor Camp, contact Stephanie Hill, Events Manager at shill@waterfrontalliance.org or (212) 935-9831 ext.106.

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