Celebrate your love for the C&O Canal by sharing your personal story about the Park. Each story will take a look at a person’s relationship with the C&O Canal. Whether an NPS ranger, a volunteer, or a visitor, everyone has a story to tell about the canal! If you want to share your story, fill out the form below, email it to us at [email protected] or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory. We could use your story here on our website!
The C&O Canal Trust’s Canal For All program works in partnership with the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) to provide opportunities for education, stewardship, and volunteerism that are safe, welcoming, and inclusive for all. To foster diversity and to better reflect our community, Canal For All engages BIPOC, differently-abled, LGBTQIA+, and other underrepresented or disadvantaged communities. We partner with community organizations to diminish participation barriers and create exciting and relevant opportunities to Play, Learn, Serve, and Work in the Park.
In 2023, Canal For All has grown to serve nearly 300 youth and adults and will exceed that number by the end of the year. The program’s impact and diversity have expanded in notable ways. Several new community organizations have partnered with the program, expanding our demographic reach to include adults with Down syndrome, LGBTQ+, and our first groups in Virginia. Read More
The Trust hosted a Latino Conservation Week celebration on July 22 at Great Falls. In partnership with Community Bridges and Girls Who Hike Virginia, the Canal for All event welcomed 25 youth and adults for a fun day of crafts, hiking, and plant species identification. Latino Conservation Week is an initiative of the Hispanic Access Foundation created to support the Latino community in enjoying the outdoors and participating in activities to protect natural resources. Over 220 events were held nationwide by numerous community, nonprofit, and faith-based organizations from July 15-23. Read More
Date: Saturday, July 16, 2022
Time: 10:00am – 2:00pm
Location: C&O Canal National Historical Park – Great Falls
11710 Macarthur Blvd, Potomac, MD 20854*
Map link here. In Google Maps, search for “Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center.”
*Note: This is the Maryland side of the river, not Great Falls, Virginia!
Images by Trust Staff
- When you arrive at the entrance fee booth at Great Falls, tell them park staff that you are with the “C&O Canal Trust event” or “Latino Conservation Week event.” You’ll be able to enter without paying the entrance fee.
- Park anywhere, and walk to the picnic area next to the parking lot.
- We will meet at the picnic tables next to the old white concessions building. You will see a “C&O Canal Trust” sign. You may ask the entrance fee booth staff to point out the concessions building to you, which will be visible from the entrance gate.
- There are flush toilets up closer to the Tavern visitor center. Please visit those before we begin our program at 10:00am.
- Participants will be divided into small groups and will rotate through activity stations. Activities will include a craft, nature exploration, outdoor preparedness, and a hike.
- There will be a lunch break in the middle of the program. Water and snacks will be offered at two activity stations, but participants should bring their own as well.
- Activities will be geared toward fourth-grade youth and older. Younger siblings may join for the day, but childcare is not provided and young children may find the program very long.
- Participants should be able to sit, stand, take an easy one-mile hike on a flat, uneven trail with some roots and rocks, and climb a set of steep stairs up a hillside, roughly the height of two floors. The stairs will have handrails. Participants will only go up and come down these stairs one time.
What to Bring:
- One signed Media Release form (Spanish Version Here) per family residing in the same household. Each adult in the family must sign it, and children’s names may be listed on the same form.
- Sturdy, comfortable, close-toed shoes. Sandals and flip-flops are not suitable for this event.
- Loose, comfortable clothing
- One water bottle per person
- Snacks as desired
- Lunch per person
- (Optional) Sun hat and sunglasses
- (Optional) Sunscreen, insect repellant, chapstick
- Rain or storms predicted but not actively happening – program will go as planned, and we’ll do as much as we can. The program may be modified as needed.
- Thunderstorms happening – program will be delayed or cancelled. You will be notified via email. We will also leave an outgoing message at (240) 202-2625 x191.
- Rain happening – Trust leaders will determine the best course of action. You will be notified of a cancellation or delay via email. If you don’t receive an email notifying you of these, the program will continue as planned.
- Other unforeseen circumstances – You will be notified via email, and we will leave an outgoing message at (240) 202-2625 x191.
Latino Conservation Week 2019 by Trust Staff
The C&O Canal Trust’s Canal For All program seeks to engage traditionally underrepresented audiences with the canal through education, recreation, and service. The Trust works with several partners in Montgomery County to bring groups of youth out to the C&O Canal National Historical Park for unique experiences, and one of those partners is Identity.
Identity was founded in 1998 to serve Latino youth and their families. Today, they provide a variety of programs to the Latino communities of Montgomery County including after school and workforce development programs, a parent leadership academy, recreation activities, and more.
Identity has been a part of the Canal for All program since 2016. They have participated in a variety of activities with the Trust, including Canal Pride Days and Latino Conservation Week, which brings youth out to the C&O Canal and exposes them to nature through hiking, biking, rock climbing, and service activities.
“The environment and climate change are such important topics right now, and teaching youth the importance of nature and our parks is critical,” said Identity’s Program Director Nora Morales. “The only way to instill that is through experience. If you can create a connection to a place for a child, you’re instilling in them the value of protecting their environment. They get to pass that love of nature down to their children.”
During the COVID-19 health crisis, Identity has been working hard to provide essential services to their community. Many Latino families cannot get to supply distribution sites so Identity has delivered food, medical supplies, toilet paper, and Chromebooks (to facilitate distance learning for children) directly to them. They have also been helping families navigate rental and utility assistance programs, and the unemployment process. In addition, they are providing critical health education about COVID-19 and ways to prevent its spread.
Like many organizations, Identity has had to adapt and move much of its programming online. They are currently offering virtual after-school programs, one-on-one tutoring, and YouTube programs to their communities. Learn more about Identity and all the great work they are doing to support Latino families in Montgomery County here.
“Our mission is to help Latino and other marginalized communities in Montgomery County thrive,” said Program Director, Nora Morales. “Families are usually economically isolated and children tend to miss out on recreational and cultural activities. We are constantly looking for new partners to provide new and unique experiences.”
Read more about the Canal for All program here.
In October of 2016, almost four years ago, the Canal for All Pilot Phase was launched thanks to a grant provided by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and the Kendeda Fund. The two-year pilot initiative focused on connecting African-American and Latinx communities in Montgomery County with the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) through the themes of work, play, learn and serve.
Throughout those two years, the C&O Canal Trust formed ten new partnerships with local government, nonprofits, and businesses, and provided access to the park through fee-free overnight experiences and recreational programming. Read more about the launch of Canal for All and its efforts to engage underrepresented audiences here and here.
In 2018 the Trust received a $19,000 grant from the Montgomery County Council to launch a Conservation Jobs Corps (CJC) program. The program was implemented in the spring of 2019 in partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Recreation’s TeenWorks program and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The season began with crew of youth volunteering in the park on select Saturdays to work on maintenance and beautification projects. Then, from July of 2019 to early August, CJC crews were employed to provide valuable help with park maintenance projects, and were instrumental in helping the park recover from severe flooding events in Great Falls and the surrounding area. Program participants were exposed to a variety of projects, while also having the opportunity to engage in recreation throughout the park. CJC members also participated in the Trust’s 2019 Canal Pride events. Read more about the CJC here.
Throughout 2019, the Trust also continued programming with its other partners including Identity Inc. and Community Bridges. Youth from Identity Inc. were able to experience the park through a variety of activities during Latino Conservation Week, and two groups of girls from Community Bridges were given a free overnight stay in Lockhouse 6 accompanied by a mini-lesson from a Canal Classrooms teacher.
Looking ahead to the next phase of Canal for All, the Trust plans to continue relevant programming with our partners, foster existing partnerships and seek out new ones, and look for opportunities to expand the Canal for All initiative into other counties and communities. The Trust is also committed to weaving the values of diversity, tolerance, and inclusion into all aspects of our work and increasing the cultural competency of our organization and the C&O Canal NHP.
In 2016, the C&O Canal Trust embarked on a mission to ensure the C&O Canal National Historical Park would be relevant and cared for in future generations. Called the “Canal For All” initiative, the program sought to develop lasting, balanced partnerships with African American and Latino communities in Montgomery County, MD, where 38 percent of the population are Hispanic or African American. Read More
The C&O Canal Trust will launch a new diversity outreach initiative this spring aimed at increasing Latino and African American participation in Trust programs. Read More