North River Lobster Company

by Jenni Walkowiak

My favorite part about summer in the city has got to be spending time outside with my friends. Few things say “summer” more than eating fresh seafood out on the water, and that’s why you should take a turn this summer on the North River Lobster Boat!

 North River Lobster Company is the “largest floating lobster shack in NYC”. A sail in the Hudson River costs only $10 (not including all the food you’re gonna eat of course) and departs from Pier 81. Daily cruises are Monday and Wednesday at 5 and 7 PM, and Thursday- Sunday at 1, 3, 5, and 7. The North River Lobster Company is closed on Tuesdays.

 Menu prices range from about $9-$40, which isn’t half-bad for what you’re getting! Fresh seafood, cocktails in mason jars, buckets of beer. It’s really a dream summer menu.

 And even if the food wasn’t awesome- it’s a cheap boat cruise with stunning views of Manhattan, a rooftop deck and buckets of beer. Sounds like a perfect Saturday afternoon to me!

Brooklyn Academy of Music

by Brittany Bellinger

Ten years ago, I fell in love with the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I was a teenager born and raised in Brooklyn but I never had the chance to attend an event there. In the spring of 2007, I performed at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House as one of the top youth poets in NYC in my very first youth poetry slam finals. I entered through the side door on St. Felix Street and went straight to the spacious green room. Before anyone else got there all of the finalists were ushered to the stage to take in the space. It was gorgeous. An opulent space that seats around 2100 people.

“Do you guys know that you will be performing on the same stage as Mos Def? He did a sold out performance last night.”

I held my breath. I had never seen anything more beautiful in Brooklyn before. That was the exact moment that my love for the Brooklyn Academy of Music began. They offer various programming for every kind of art lover. Over the past ten years, I have experienced almost every single kind of event they have to offer. I saw the Oscar award winning film, Moonlight, at the BAM Rose Cinema. I have taken friends to enjoy the free music and some drinks at the BAM Cafe. I have enjoyed amazing dance performances at the restored BAM Harvey Theatre. From poetry events to story-time for the kids, BAM has something for everyone to enjoy.

In the heart of Fort Greene, the Brooklyn Academy of Music continues to make art and culture accessible to the local community. This past Memorial Day weekend commemorated the 40th anniversary of the largest African dance festival, Dance Africa, which is hosted by BAM. There is a bazaar that is held in the area full of music, African wear, books, and food. Inside of the Howard Gilman Opera House, you can catch a showing of the performance. It marks the start of summer in Brooklyn.

If you are looking for an event to catch this summer then check some of these upcoming gems.



For the film lover:

BAM cinemaFest showcases the best American independent films of this year. (June 14th - June 22nd)



For the theatre lover:

Theater Mitu's rendition of Death of a Salesman is uniquely staged in which humans become objects and battle with the idea of the unrealized dream. (July 14th - July 22nd)



For the music lover:

R&B Festival at Metrotech is a free outdoor concert series on Thursdays featuring new and old r&b musicians. (June 8th - August 10th)



For the book lover:

Unbound is a literary partnership with Greenlight Bookstore that highlights talks with famous authors around their newest works. The next two are Roxane Gay (June 13th) and Arundhati Roy (June 19th).

There are many programs at BAM to check out whether it’s with the kids or for yourself. It is the perfect local spot to spend some time learning and having a great time. I hope to see you at some of the upcoming events this summer.

Celebrate Brooklyn! 2017: The Soul Rebels & Andrew Bird

by Brittany Bellinger

You know that it’s summer here at the Brooklyn Creative League when the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn festival draft is announced. We are a proud sponsor of this program. Last year was my first time attending Celebrate Brooklyn with tickets from BCL and having access to the Friends tent. It was an incredible experience to enjoy Tame Impala in such close proximity. Choosing the right show(s) can be overwhelming since there are so many to choose from. You may not know many of the artists and fear that you are missing out on some great shows. I am here to highlight some of the artists you’re familiar with and help to guide you to some new artists to check out.Here are the shows that I’m highlighting today:

The Soul Rebels | Photo credit: Zach Smith

The Soul Rebels | Photo credit: Zach Smith

Saturday, June 24 @ 7pm

The Soul Rebels featuring Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch & Kirk Knight / Goapele / Natasha Diggs

New Orleans is a city of music and history. Every tradition is somehow accompanied by the liveliness of a band. The music has a way of taking over and making you want to dance in the street. It is no different with the eight-piece brass band Soul Rebels straight from NOLA. They have collaborated with many artists in the past including Metallica and Big Freedia. Backing some of the artists on this lineup is sure to make an incredible funky show that will have you moving the entire time.

Talib Kweli, a Brooklyn native has been bringing his storytelling style to Hip Hop since the mid-nineties. Talib Kweli was one half of the duo Black Star with Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), but on his own, he is a powerhouse. Kweli’s music is highly influenced by his activism and his upbringing here in Brooklyn. If you’ve never heard any of his songs then start with the song, Get By.

Pharoahe Monch is a Queens rapper with incredible lyrical ability. His music is politically charged and easy to get wrapped into. Kirk Knight is a young producer and rapper who is a part of the collective Pro Era. His music can be classified as quite jazzy in production accompanied by his easy flow.

Goapele has an angelic voice that makes her music not quite r&b but more of a hybrid. Somewhere between the realm of r&b, neo soul and jazz lives her music. She is currently on her 6th studio album. Her most notable hit is the dreamy tune, Closer.

 Natasha Diggs is the newest name on this line up but still packs an incredible punch. She is a DJ who makes magic by finding just the right soundtrack for your night.


Andrew Bird | Photo courtesy of BRIC | source:

Andrew Bird | Photo courtesy of BRIC | source:

Friday, July 28th @ 7:30pm

Andrew Bird/Esperanza Spalding

This is the perfect show for anyone who is a fan of classical music with a new age sound. Andrew Bird is a trained violinist who also carries a guitar, a mean whistle and sometimes a glockenspiel. Bird was formerly of the band Bowl of Fire before going solo after the group’s disbandment in 2003. Since then he has added his own flavor to whatever stage he occupies from Coachella to our very own Prospect Park Bandshell. This is not a performance to miss.

Esperanza Spalding is a four-time Grammy award winning artist known for her ability to blend jazz, neo soul, and r&b by using the tone of the bass. She is trained in many instruments as well but will mainly be seen toting her double bass or bass guitar. Her voice is melodic. If you’ve never heard anything from her then check her live performance from the White House in 2009 or the song Black Gold.


Make sure that you check out any of the amazing shows at Celebrate Brooklyn. Don’t be afraid to let me know on any of our social media if you check out any of the musicians that were highlighted.

Coney Island

by Jenni Walkowiak

Looking for some family friendly fun this summer? Look no further than Brooklyn’s own backyard and head on down to Coney Island! Sure, there are a handful of excellent beaches nearby, but few are as action-packed and rich with history as Coney Island. Coney Island was the place to be during the first half of the 20th Century, with never-before-seen amusement parks combined with a bustling seaside resort. In recent years, Coney Island has gotten a makeover, but still maintains its kitschy vintage vibe and boasts an amusement park, classic stand-alone rides,the original Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, the New York Aquarium, Cyclone’s Baseball, and thanks to Coney Island USA, a circus sideshow with all the thrills and frills. Learn the fascinating (and sometimes dark) history of Coney Island at the Coney Island Museum or just stuff your face with funnel cake and take a ride on the Wonder Wheel. Coney Island is the most fun you’ll have without leaving Brooklyn this summer.

Coney Island is a blast no matter when you go, but here are a couple special events to consider when planning your summer adventures:



The 35th Annual Mermaid Parade

Saturday, June 17th 1:00 PM

Invented by artists and for the community, the Mermaid Parade was created by Coney Island USA, a not-for-profit arts organization. It celebrates our creative neighbors and seaside mythology. With no religious or commercial affiliation, the Mermaid Parade is a unique celebration of Coney Island, Brooklyn, and summer.



Coney Island Cyclone's 90th Birthday Celebration

Sunday, June 25th 12:00 PM

This historic wooden roller coaster and New York City Landmark is celebrating it’s 90th birthday this year. We're celebrating with a special performance by legendary rapper Fabolous-- and I hear the Harlem Globetrotters will make an appearance! 

photo courtesy of JW Photography 

photo courtesy of JW Photography 

Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest

Tuesday, July 4th 

Participate or observe, it’s gonna be a ball! Spend your Independence Day watching this legendary, over 100 year old international competition. Stick around for boardwalk fun and watch the fireworks at night.


by Jenni Walkowiak

Smorgasburg is arguably the best summer food festival in New York City. The “largest weekly open-air food market in America” (, Smorgasburg boasts fare from 100 local vendors every weekend from 11 AM- 6 PM April- November, rain or shine. Every Saturday, you can get your grub on the Williamsburg waterfront at East River State Park and every Sunday you can join the fun in Prospect Park at Breeze Hill.

 There’s a flavor for every palette at Smorgasburg, but here are of my three favorite vendors this year:



Zia Green Chile Company

What kind of New Mexican would I be if I didn’t list this first? Seriously, they are the main reason I get myself out of bed on Sunday mornings. Zia Green Chile company tastes like home and regularly offers green chile cheese fries and prickly pear lemonade.



John's Juice

They’re a new vendor for 2017, but basically, it’s fruit inside the husk of the fruit it was made out of. Which is just like, so fun.



Dulcinea Churros

Deep fried and dusted with cinnamon sugar, churros are the highlight of any amusement park or state fair experience. Dulcinea churros at Smorgasburg come as the delightful, crunchy bookends of an ice cream sandwich, and you can’t really do much better than that!

Celebrate Brooklyn! 2017: Alice Smith & Musiq Soulchild

by Brittany Bellinger

You know that it’s summer here at the Brooklyn Creative League when the Bric Celebrate Brooklyn festival draft is announced. We are a proud sponsor of this program. Last year was my first time attending Celebrate Brooklyn with tickets from BCL and having access to the Friends tent. It was an incredible experience to enjoy Tame Impala in such close proximity. Choosing the right show(s) can be overwhelming since there are so many to choose from. You may not know many of the artists and fear that you are missing out on some great shows. I am here to highlight some of the artists you’re familiar with and help to guide you to some new artists to check out.



Saturday, June 10th @ 7 P.M. 

Alice Smith/ Bilal/ Bris Bowers

If you have never seen Alice Smith in concert then you are truly missing out. I have seen her perform in small venues earlier on in her career and I was blown away. She has an incredibly soulful voice and such range. If you are curious about her work then check out her two albums, For lovers, dreamers, & me and She. Her second album blows the first one out of the water. My personal favorites from that album are Be Easy or her cover of Fool for You.

I have never seen Bilal in concert but I am such a fan of his. He is neo soul at its finest. His voice is a smooth velvet and will have you swaying in the breeze at Prospect park when he sings. Bilal appeared on to the music scene in the late 90’s and has exhibited the kind of staying power that you don’t see in many artists. If you’re wondering if you’ve heard his music before then take a listen to the track Soul Sista. If that still doesn’t convince you then just know that even Prince loved his music. Enough said.

Kris Bowers is the newest name on this lineup to me. I have listened to some of his music which is very mellow jazz. Bowers is a pianist highly influenced by soul and hip hop music. He also has been on various musical scores. This addition to the show lets me know that this is a concert to bring a date to. You will need someone to vibe out to the smooth tunes.



Friday, July 7th @ 7:30 PM

Musiq Soulchild/ People's Champs

Musiq Soulchild has been crooning the world with his soulful voice for nearly 17 years. When the song Love hit the airwaves it solidified his place in neo soul. Musiq’s discography became the backdrop of love from that era. If you want to know what to expect then check out the songs Just Friends, teachme, and the aforementioned Love. This rare performance will surely have you thinking of the one you love before it’s over. I am excited to experience both the nostalgia and freshness that I am sure to encounter during such a set. This is the perfect show to bring a blanket to and sit under the stars with the one you adore while Musiq sets the tone.

People’s Champs are the perfect example of Brooklyn creativity. Their music crosses seamlessly through genres to create a unique sound. After touring the underground venues of NYC throughout the past few years their debut album American Dreamers has finally arrived. Listen to their first single Hostages from the project to get a sense of their unique sound. You can hear a bit of retro soul, afrobeat, and more through the music. The contemporary lyrics bring the current times to the forefront while simultaneously taking you through time travel. I am excited to hear what this band sounds like live especially the horns.

I will be back with even more highlights as the season progresses. Make sure that you check out any of the amazing shows at Celebrate Brooklyn. Don’t be afraid to let me know on any of our social media if you check out any of the musicians that were highlighted.

Why You Should Send Your Kids to Camp this Summer

by Jenni Walkowiak

Summer is coming, and it’s wonderful. Summer is and always has been my favorite time of year. When I was a kid, I looked forward to the school year ending because it meant one thing-- it was time for camp. I went to one specific camp every summer as long as I could remember, YMCA Camp Shaver. I was a camper until I was old enough to go through my camp’s leadership programs and ultimately wound up working for camp all throughout college. I was a counselor, then head counselor, and eventually ran the teen development program. As a camper, I learned valuable life skills like how to make friends and how to work in groups. I learned about recycling, gardening and how to take care of our planet. Because I went to a Y camp, I also learned their core values: respect, responsibility, honesty and caring.

When I was a camp counselor I saw amazing kids do incredible things. In a “Glee” class I taught, I saw shy kids break out of their comfort zones to sing solos and dance around (who knew kids like Journey so much?). I watched kids, who in school were reprimanded for their energy and enthusiasm, grow and shine while learning improv games in drama class. I watched those same kids quiet and focused, aiming a bow and arrow at an archery target. Camp is good for all kids, and I believe now and have always believed that all kids should go to camp.

Sure, your kids will come home dirty (probably, hopefully… you know the dirt is half the fun, right?) and maybe there will be a homesick night or two. But camp is WHERE IT’S AT. Send your kids off to live in nature for a minute, it’ll be good for them. Here are the top four reasons you should send your kids to camp this summer:

1. Develop a Sense of Independence & Self Responsibility 

For a lot of kids, camp is the first time they spend more than a night away from home. This can be very empowering for a young person. While kids are heavily supervised and kept safe at all times, they are still expected to pitch in when it comes time to do chores, practice good table manners, keep their bunks tidy in their cabins and so on. Camp is a communal effort where good citizenship is rewarded. Homesickness is the biggest concern for most parents and campers, but any counselor worth their salt will make sure to keep their campers busy, happy and tuckered out.


Tip: If you’re worried about your camper feeling homesick, there are a few things you can do. At drop off, don’t linger or fuss. Help your camper move into their bunks, give them a hug and a kiss, let them know how excited you are for them and how much fun they’re going to have. Then, get out of there. The longer you linger, the more time your camper has to “change their mind” and give up before they give camp a chance. And if YOU are having a hard time in their absence, send them letters and care packages.

2. Continuing Education Outside of a Traditional School Setting

Most summer camps offer a variety of classes for their campers. There are traditional summer camp activities that most kids wouldn’t have a chance to try otherwise like rock climbing or archery. Environmental education is a big one, where campers learn about local geology and ecosystems. At Camp Shaver, we went on a short hike up to a spot known as the “fossil pit” and dug for actual fossils of prehistoric underwater creatures. Environmental education at camp is a truly immersive and hands on approach that you just can’t get sitting in a desk at a classroom. It’s one way to make sure your kids’ brains don’t turn to mush over summer break, too.

3. Children Learn Responsible Problem Solving, Conflict Resolution & Critical Thinking

Living with roommates can be challenging, and sharing a cabin with nine other kids your age is no exception. At camp, kids learn how to settle differences in a respectful and positive way. They’re encouraged to share their feelings and really listen to each other. At Camp Shaver, from the get-go we would set “cabin rules” based on suggestions from the campers. “What do you need to have a good time this week?”. We allowed children the opportunity to set their own boundaries and expectations of themselves and the people around them. I was amazed every week that without me telling them “keep your hands to yourself and your own property”, that a nine-year-old girl would always say it first.

4. Camp Fosters a Sense of Belonging & Acceptance, Builds Life-long Friendships, and Makes Meaningful Connections

Speaking from personal experience, I can say confidently that even after my very first week at Camp Shaver, I felt a part of the Camp Shaver family forever. I know that even now, after having been away from camp since 2011, that I have a place there. For years it was my second home. The camp director, Phil Beam, helped me through a difficult summer when my father was deployed in Iraq with the USAF. When I was a kid, even the camp cook, Jose, taught me how to play guitar. And years later, thanks to social media, I can reconnect with kids who let me know the impact I made on their lives as campers. Most of them have grown up, are off at college, have joined the military, some are getting married and starting families of their own. Nearly everything I learned about how to be a good person, how to take care of myself and others, how to set and reach personal goals, I learned from being a camper and working at camp.

Here Are a Few Residential Summer Camps to Consider Sending Your Kids This Summer

New Mexico

YMCA Camp Shaver

Resources/More Camps

American Camp Association  

New York

YMCA Camp McAlister

YMCA Camp Talcott

Adirondack Camp

Camp Lakota

Camp Echo

French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts Camp

Camp Hilltop

Camp Eagle Hill

All photos are from my personal Facebook page, taken while working at YMCA Camp Shaver between 2009-2011

Better Than Coffee: Meditation

Better Than Coffee: Meditation

May is Spring Into Fitness Month here at BCL! We are major proponents of the work/life balance and believe that a healthier you leads to being more focused and more productive in the workplace. We all know that coffee isn't great for you, but every day around 2 PM we find ourselves reaching for that pot to get through our afternoon slump. All this month, we'll be posting healthy alternatives to your 2 PM coffee pick-me-up. Why don't you give this a try?