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NCC Alums Making a Difference!

Posted: November 21, 2017

We never get tired of hearing about the ways in which North Country Camps has inspired campers and counselors to accomplish great things.  Here’s an excellent example:  The Gowanus Canal is a waterfront in Brooklyn, NY that has benefited from the care of an NCC alum, who moved to an apartment nearby in the early 1990′s.  Once heavily polluted by years of industrial use and neglect, the tides have turned, and cleanup is now underway.

Owen Foote (Lincoln ’77-’83) came across the Gowanus waterfront when he moved to Brooklyn in 1991 and Inspired by 7 seasons of summer camp, decided to fight for change.  Skeptics said it was a hopeless cause and why bother as no one used or cared about the Canal anyway.  A pumping station had been broken for decades, stolen cars were being dumped in the waterfront and properties had been abandoned.

Owen had been taught at Lincoln that you can achieve anything if you persevere and since the Canal was dangerous to touch, he began to lead walking and cycling tours to show how nature was returning to the waterfront, believing that through recreation, he could help inspire restoration.  Almost a decade later, after the flushing pump was finally repaired, Owen launched a canoe and conducted the first boat-tour of the waterfront.  After twenty years of being stuck on land, his J-stroke returned as if he had been on Lake Auger the week before!

Now, eighteen seasons later, the EPA has begun sediment removal via the Superfund program, properties have been restored and Canal wildlife is thriving.  To celebrate (and raise funds) Owen participated in a SuperFUN race on the waterway in October with his mom Chloe (Whip ’48-’49, ’52-’53, ’55-’56, staff ’57,’59) and despite not finishing first, they raised over $6,000 at the event that attracted over 500 people to the shoreline.  With continued perseverance by these NCC alums, we are confident this waterfront will continue to be cared for in years to come.  If you’d be interested in helping out, check out the “Gowanus Dredgers” website:

Do you have a similar story?  If so, we’d love to hear it!  Just send us a note at:


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