Canal For All

About the Program
Through programs like Canal For All, the C&O Canal Trust works in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) 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, our program engages BIPOC, differently-abled, LGBTQIA+, and other underrepresented or disadvantaged communities. We partner with community organizations to diminish barriers to participation and to create exciting and relevant opportunities to Play, Learn, Serve, and Work in the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP).

Building the Canal For All Program began in 2016 with personal interviews engaging community groups and leaders. The C&O Canal Trust surveyed local needs and interests and researched similar programs throughout the country. Initial programming was offered in Montgomery County. Some of our initial program partners included Community Bridges, Identity, and Montgomery County’s TeenWorks and Conservation Jobs Corps (CJC) programs.

Today, the program has grown to serve hundreds of participants each year in Montgomery and Washington Counties as we continue to build on successful interactions with community groups in the C&O Canal NHP. Youth and adult groups come to a variety of locations to explore the natural and historical resources the Park has to offer. Time spent in National Parks enriches the lives of visitors, and in turn, visitors ensure that National Park treasures are protected for future generations.  As we welcome a diverse group of visitors into the C&O Canal NHP, we strengthen our communities today and for the future.

Canal For All participants enjoy s'mores at Swains Lock.

Canal For All participants enjoy s’mores at Swains Lock. Image by Francis Grant-Suttie

Play:

Recreate, explore, and enjoy the C&O Canal

Hands-on history brings the past alive! Groups enjoy activities that help introduce them to the Park’s historical and natural resources.

Activities to date include:

  • Arts or crafts
  • Canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddle board rentals
  • Early American games
  • Journaling or descriptive writing
  • Photography
  • Rock climbing
Canal For All Participants operate a water pump.

Canal For All participants learn to operate a water pump. Image by Trust Staff

Learn:

Learn about the Park’s history and nature

Groups learn through outdoor recreation and educational workshops including “Camping 101” and “Design Your Own Adventure.” Interpretive programs increase environmental literacy and engage groups in canal history.

Activities to date include:

  • Erosion, evidence of human impact or climate change, etc.
  • Geology
  • Guided hike or bike ride
  • Historical tour or role-playing (“Be a Lock Keeper for a Day”)
  • Outdoor exploration preparation and safety
  • Vegetation and animal identification
Canal For All participants help clean canal.

Canal For All participants help clean canal. Image by Trust Staff

Serve:

Give back through volunteer service

Environmental stewardship opportunities allow groups to appreciate and help preserve the unique ecosystem and history of the Park.

Activities to date include:

  • Removing litter
  • Removing invasive plant species
  • Painting structures
  • Weeding and mulching in target areas
  • Removing vegetation from the canal prism or other structures
  • Filling potholes on the towpath
  • Removing graffiti
Canal For All participants repair Great Falls boardwalk

Canal For All participants repair Great Falls boardwalk. Image by Trust Staff

Work:

Gain job skills and career development opportunities

We partner with the Montgomery County Department of Recreation’s Teenworks program and Maryland Department of Natural Resources Conservation Jobs Corps (CJC) program to provide participants with opportunities to gain job skills and learn about the National Park Service as a career path.

“There were many impactful moments for our participants. Whenever we went hiking they shared how much they enjoyed being outside and in nature. They were in awe of all of the beautiful views along the river. They also learned about different species and hiking safety! They loved sharing the facts they learned after their guided hike.” 

– Molly Lynch, Community Bridges Middle School Program Manager

Program Partners

  • Boys and Girls Club of Washington County
  • C&O Canal NHP Volunteer Programs
  • Community Bridges
  • Girls, Inc. of Washington County
  • Identity, Inc.
  • Montgomery County’s Conservation Jobs Corps & TeenWorks programs
  • Outdoor Afro
  • PeaceJam AU and PeaceJam MidAtlantic

 

Read more about Canal For All

Show All

 

Questions?
Please contact Nanette Nyce, Canal For All Coordinator, at canalforall@canaltrust.org.

 

Top image by Trust Staff