Canal For All

Canal For All engages young people from underrepresented communities to bring them to the C&O Canal National Historical Park to “Play, Learn, Serve, and Work”. The Trust piloted this initiative in 2017 and 2018, with the focus on Latinx and African American communities, youth, and second-generation Americans in Montgomery County. In collaboration with partners in these communities, we, work to diminish barriers to participation and create exciting and relevant opportunities for these young people. As part of Canal For All, the Trust is also working to increase its cultural competency, foster diversity and create a culture of inclusion within the organization and all of its programs and operations.

Play: Recreate, explore, and enjoy the C&O Canal.

Youth participants experience hiking, biking, paddling, rock climbing, photography, outdoor recreation, crafting, and picnicking in the Park. We offer free and discounted overnight stays to our partners in our Canal Quarters historic lockhouses.

Learn: Learn about the Park’s history and nature.

We host outdoor recreation educational clinics including “Camping 101” and “Design Your Own Adventure.” Interpretive programs include guided hikes and bike rides, workshops to increase environmental literacy, and presentations by the Park’s Canal Classrooms Corps teachers about canal history.

Serve: Give back through volunteer service.

To nurture an ethic of stewardship, the Trust offers Canal for All partners priority registration for Canal Pride events, which tend to fill up quickly. We also hold private partner Canal Pride events which allow for customization to each group’s needs, and a deeper connection between Trust staff and our Canal For All partner organizations.

Work: Gain job skills and career development opportunities.

In 2019’s Canal For All program, the Trust partnered with the Montgomery County Department of Recreation 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.

Programing Partners

  • Community Bridges
  • Identity Inc.
  • Bethesda YMCA Horizons Outdoor Adventure Program
  • Outdoor Afro
  • Montgomery County Department of Recreation
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • L. L. Bean
  • C&O Canal NHP Volunteer programs

If you are interested in becoming a Canal for All partner, please contact Heather Barnes at barnes@canaltrust.org