Brother Yusuf’s Corner – September

Green Tech High Charter School Students in Albany, New York Get Youth Outdoors and Prepared for “Green Youth Leadership”

Brother Yusuf Burgess, Outdoor Afro Contributor
Black Forest Lodge – Cornwall, NY

This summer the Green Tech High Charter School’s BOYS OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP TEAM (B.O.L.T.) was successful at getting 18 participants certified in Outdoor Leadership by the Sierra Club. This Outing Leadership Workshop was held at the Black Forest Lodge, in New York’s Catskill Mountains. This place is worth visiting just for the locale and the lodge itself. It’s close to Bear Mountain and West Point, NY. Both amazing locations in themselves. The lodge had a huge outdoor deck, good spacious rooms accommodating up to 8 per room and compostable toilets! The lodge sleeps 60 and is a “green” home for everything from research symposia to yoga retreats.

The Sierra Outing Leadership Workshop is the nationally-managed program charged with developing new and seasoned leaders from Local (Group & Chapter Outings), Inner City Outings (ICO), and National Outings (the trips listed in Sierra magazine). Brand new recruits with no program affiliation were welcomed as well. This workshop fulfills the Sierra Club’s OLT 101 and OLT 201 requirements.
The Green Tech High students, teachers and volunteers learned how to plan safe and successful multi-day outings, enhance their competence and confidence in leading groups, and enhance their competence and confidence in achieving good group behavior and further their awareness and involvement in the conservation work of the

Sierra Club. Other topics included Conservation through Outings, Trip Planning, Outings Nuts and Bolts, First Aid Kits, Leave No Trace and an Emergency Response Scenario. This workshop was designed to focus more on the interpersonal skills associated with outdoor leadership. These “softer” skills are vital to being a successful leader. These skills include learning how to manage your group, how to create a positive group dynamic, and how to practice a safety-based planning and delivery of an outing.
As the Family Intervention Specialist at Green tech High and one of the lead coordinators of the school’s “Going Green” initiative, we were a group of 45+ Sierrans from all over the tri-state with two purposes in mind for this weekend- to learn all we can about how to lead a successful hike and hopefully to take a hike or two ourselves, being that we were surrounded by unspoilt nature.

All of the young students from Green Tech High and the teachers and volunteers had a fun time outdoors and a great experience in the workshops with the Sierra Club trainers. We ended Saturday by learning about David Brower – Sierra Club’s first executive director. The movie we saw on how David Brower and others reinforced all the great work Sierra Club has hisoritcally been involved in, including the nationalization of the 10 parks and seashore including Redwoods, Pt. Reyes and Cascades.

Our next step is to structure an Eco-Outings Club at Green Tech High and invite our incoming 9th graders, the 8th graders from the Middle Schools and their parents to “Get Outdoors And Learn”
In conclusion, we encourage all to check out any local outdoor activities in your area. There are plenty of organizations and clubs, there’s always of course Lets invite others to the restorative power of the outdoors and move forward on a mission to “Leave No Child Inside”.

Brother Yusuf’s Corner

As Outdoor Afro has grown, I have been delighted by the swell of women represented in both the digital and “real” community who love all aspects of the outdoors. It’s been so refreshing to see women, especially brown women, as “doers” when it comes to outdoor recreation, since traditionally the images of bike riders, climbers, birders, kayakers, and other outdoor adventurers visible in the popular culture have been men — and not the brown ones! But being the classic Libran I am, I crave balance, and recently felt inspired to cultivate some more male energy on OA.
So after meeting up with Brother Yusuf Burgess my second time on a recent diversity panel on the east coast, it felt perfectly natural to ask him to represent the groundbreaking work he does as a more visible part of Outdoor Afro.
Most in the field of Environmental Education are already quite familiar with the work of Brother Yusuf over many years. He a real innovator of culturally relevant programing in Albany, New York that reaches young people of color, especially males, that has become a national model and gets young lives back on track.
He writes, “as a father of five sons, ranging in ages from 40 to 10 years old, I have been able to measure, and even do some personal comparisons and contrasts about the impact that being outdoors can have on youth and especially our young men. My role as a husband, Environmental Educator, former Gang Prevention Coordinator and current Family Intervention Specialist at an all boys high school enables me to share the various ways we can collectively begin using the power of nature to transform urban youth.”
So start checking for Brother Yusuf here on Outdoor Afro, who will begin submitting regular articles that discuss his personal experiences and vision with you all — please join me in welcoming Brother Yusuf!

Black Surfers!

By Paul Richardson

“The sport of kings”

I am pretty sure some of you have heard that phrase before, but did you know that in some circles, it also refers to the sport of surfing? Earliest reports say that the first recorded observation of people surfing was 1779 in  Hawaii. While I am not trying to steal Hawaii’s thunder on this one, I think there’s a pretty good chance that somewhere else in the world around that time others were “surfing”. In any event, as far as the “written” history is concerned, Hawaii is the birthplace of modern surfing.

Tony Corley, BSA Founder

As far as we know the first black surfer in the U.S, or at least on the West Coast, was Nick Gabaldon who lived in Santa Monica. He was born in 1927, did a stint in the military, and then returned to California. In 1951, while surfing at Malibu and apparently trying to pull out of a wave, he ran into the pilings of the Malibu pier and was killed. The timeline from this point gets a wee bit hazy, but somewhere around 1961 or so, history seems to point to Frank Edwards as the next notable black surfer from the Torrance, Redondo Beach area of Los Angeles. Frank is still alive and lives in Northern California; though he no longer surfs (I am working on that).
At this point a few other brothers began coming onto the scene, such as Rick Blocker, and Stanley Washington and including one Tony Corley, who in 1973 (or was it 75?) wrote a shout-out letter to other black surfers which was published in Surfer magazine, the premier magazine on surfing at the time. Predictably, some of the responses were less than friendly, but he did manage to get some feedback from other black surfers. Were these the only ones? Probably not. Solo Scott, Michael McMullin, Rick Blocker, second row standing left to right Rusty White, Andrea Kabwasa Sharon SchafferAs the 70’s roll through we begin to see more black surfers, and even a few in advertisements published in the surfing magazines. Buttons Kahluhilokalani, who is Black and Hawaiian, arrives on the scene in Hawaii, arguably one of the most influential surfers (for insiders) to come around in awhile. By the time we get to the early to mid 80’s the first black woman, Sharon Schaffer, competes on the women’s professional tour and from this point, the momentum has been established.

Sharon Schaffer, Puerto Escondido

The Black Surfing Association was subsequently founded, and today is growing stronger with each passing season. There are a few brothers and sisters surfing up near where I live in Northern California, but black surfers are everywhere; on the islands, the east coast — Jamaica has a pretty strong amateur team, and who knows what is going on in the motherland!
For more information, you can contact the Black Surfing Association or me, Paul Richardson.
Peace, share the stoke,
Paul Richardson
Paul by day is an engineer working in Silicon Valley. When not working, he is a father, husband, loves to surf, read, and in general, be outside as much as he can. He is also a contributing blogger at