CatRock Leadership Retreat in Kent, CT Print E-mail

The following amazing trip report and testimonial was written by student Vimary Toribio, a new CatRock Sierra Club Youth Leader describing the recent leadership retreat featuring caving/hiking/fishing/kayaking/swimming trip the weekend of June 7, 2014.

NYC ICO would also like to give a big shout out to Kenneth Merin of the Charles Hayden Foundation for helping support the development of these students and their leadership potential.  In addition, BIG thanks to Joey Yasgur who hosted the CatRock students and leaders at his home for the leadership retreat!


"My experiences on the first two Sierra Club Cat Rock trips have been amazing and each was one of a kind. The hiking trip was one of the longest and most challenging things that I have accomplished so far. However, it was a great experience to know that you had a team there to support you and for you to help support. If one of us needs to stop everyone else needs to stop too. Basically knowing the fact that you are going through such challenge with a team that supports you, made me want to not give up on the middle of the hike and keep going because they were my motivation. The view was truly beautiful - since I live in the city I sometimes forget how beautiful and relaxing can be nature.

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ELLIS High & CatRock Leadership Academy Raft Delaware Water Gap Print E-mail

On a beautiful and sunny June 28, 2014, a record size group of 51 students, recent high school grads, teachers, ICO volunteers and the Community TeamWorks volunteers from Goldman Sachs joined together for a great day of rafting, swimming and epic water fights on the Delaware Water Gap! It was a great way to cap the school year, as a few days earlier a number of the students celebrated their high school graduation! We were happy to help them celebrate.

Students and graduates were present from ELLIS High School as well as members of CatRock from West Bronx Academy for the Future, Kappa International High School and Bronx High School for Law and Community Service. In addition, 8 volunteers from Goldman Sach’s Community TeamWorks program enthusiastically joined for the day! On the bus, ICO assistant leaders Pedro Jerez and Justin Zucker helped everyone on the bus get to know someone new through an ice breaking game so we started the day with new friends.

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Ellis High School Hikes Van Cortlandt Park Print E-mail

On May 31st, 2014, Sierra Club’s New York Inner City Outings led a joint Ellis High School and OutdoorFest hike at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. 17 people plus Jasper the dog met at Ellis High School where our fearless and organized leader, Ray Greenwell, ensured everyone had maps and knew the Leave no Trace rules. Red Rabbit supplied lunches and Outdoor Exchange (http://www.usetheox.com/) generously lent us walking poles. Van Cortlandt isn’t terribly steep, but it was a great opportunity for our kids to learn how to use new equipment.

We walked to the park from the Ellis High School, entering at the southwest corner. Ray led us along the east side of the Parade Ground towards the Northwest Forest. We alternated trails between the cross country course, bridle trail, and the Cass Gallagher Nature Trail. There was an early snack break where some of the kids were already so hungry, they ate their lunches. Luckily there were extra lunches and plenty of extra snacks. The trails were well groomed and not overly steep. The weather was glorious and the forested areas were cool and peaceful. There was a brief afternoon rain shower to cool us off, and no one got too wet since we were in a protected area. Lunch was atop the rocks with great views of the city, and then it was back to the trails. We took a break to play some group games (including an epic "knot" game that had everyone laughing) and also made a pit stop at the Van Cortlandt family cemetery on Vault Hill, which prompted a lot of questions from the kids. During one of the breaks, Ray attempted to teach everyone how to whistle with a blade of grass. The kids loved this and an hour later some of them were still picking blades and practicing.

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