POINT AU ROCHE - After more than 10 years of providing support to the Point au Roche State Park, friends of the park continue to look to the future of family-friendly activities, while still keeping the past in mind.
The Friends of Point au Roche State Park, a group whose main mission is to "Protect, Preserve and Promote" the park, has held an annual Spring Field Day at held at the park on Camp Red Cloud Road for the majority of their nearly 12-year existence.
During this year's field day May 30, numerous activities brought out swarms of people - despite the rainy weather.
With the park's 825 acres and many trails to hike, people visited the park to study birds, view trees and plants, learn about geological formations, and clean up some of the trails.
Duffy Nelson, an eighth grade social studies teacher at Beekmantown Middle School and advisor for the school's National Junior Honor Society, brought out nearly 20 of the NJHS students to assist in the park clean-up.
"I was approached by Gerry O'Connor and he mentioned that [the "Friends"] would need help on cleaning up some of the trails on May 30," Nelson explained.
Nelson added one of the requirements for students to be involved in the Honor Society is for them to get involved in community service projects and she felt "this might be a good project."
"Some of the students have never been [to the park] before so it is a nice way to expose them to that," she said. "And, just being outdoors and helping the community and doing something more than just about themselves."
"She was fantastic," said clean-up organizer Gerry O'Connor of Nelson. "She organized everything and wrote a letter to all of the parents. She was really good."
However, while discussing the many other activities held throughout the field day, including making smoothies, bucket gardening, and looking at pond critters, many of the Friends thought back to the beginning of why they came to be an organization.
"The town of Beekmantown really wanted to put [the park] back on the tax rolls," explained member Helen Booth. "I happened to be at one of the legislative meetings when that came up."
Having heard no prior word of the potential closing of the park, Booth interrupted the legislative meeting and postponed the vote.
"I got on the phone and I called the Adirondack Mountain Club and I called all the environmental groups I could think of," Booth recalled. "And, at the next legislative meeting, there was quite a lot of people there and we convinced them that it shouldn't be sold."
"We needed a park, the green space," she added. "So, that was the beginning of what started the whole thing."
The Friends began to help support the park for the things the state couldn't pay for.
"It was to be the 'fundraiser' arm of the state park," Booth said. "There are so many things the state couldn't afford to do, or weren't able to do."
Today the Friends are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides educational and recreational activities and programs to the public as well well as administering grants for the park and coordinating volunteer efforts.
For more information about the park or to become a member of Friends of Point au Roche State Park, call 563-0369 or e-mail contact @friendsofpointauroche.org