Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

2017 Field Trips

Once you are at the Gathering, sign up for off-campus trips offered Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons. Costs vary. There are also on-campus reverse field trips on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Western New York, homeland of the Haudenosaunee and Algonquin peoples, is blessed with a rich cultural and architectural heritage. We are delighted to share a small taste of that history with you through field trips of two kinds: traditional field trips off campus, and “reverse” field trips where speakers/presenters come to campus, offer a presentation and provide an interactive component of some kind. In addition, there is a free shuttle that runs from Youngstown in the north  to the Niagara USA Visitor’s Center south of our campus and includes over a dozen stops, which are detailed below,  including Niagara Falls, the Aquarium, and Whirlpool State Park.  We hope that you will take advantage of the area, and welcome!

Off-Campus Field Trips

Monday 7/3 - Underground Railroad Heritage Bus Tour

Underground Railroad Tour (UGRR) of  UGRR Heritage sites located from the Falls north to the shores of Lake Ontario including to an historical farm that was a 'station' on the UGRR. We will travel by school bus with box lunches provided, leaving from the NU campus. Our vendor is Kevin Cottrell of Motherland Connextions, a highly rated and experienced tour leader.
Bus - Cost TBD

Tuesday 7/4 - Lockport Locks / Erie Canal Tour

We carpool to Lockport, NY (about 1/2 hour drive), to take a two hour curated tour through several of the flight of locks in Lockport, and on the historic Erie Canal. Includes historic canal songs and music! More about the location.
Carpool; 31 min./22.5 miles; $16, Children 4-10 free, narrated, 2 hours

Thursday 7/6 - Frank Lloyd Wright Darwin Martin Restoration Tour

We carpool to Buffalo (30 min.) for a private tour 2 hour tour including some of the behind-the-scenes areas not on the public tour, including the newly restored entire first floor, veranda, new education center, and all buildings on site (including the Gardener's Cottage, an example of Wright's concept for affordable housing). Emphasis on ongoing restoration; challenges encountered in locating long-lost artifacts, and decisions made in bringing Wright’s "opus" back to its original grandeur. More about the location.
Carpool $35 per person. Capacity 12-40 (if number is higher, we'd have additional docents.)

Friday 7/7 (or any day) - Create Your Own Trip!

  • Design your own field trip using the free Discover Niagara Shuttle that stops at the Castellani Art Museum on Niagara University campus. Assistance is available from the Local Arrangements table to help individuals, families and small groups to plan their own excursion. Local Arrangements table will have information on sites and a flyer, as well as some persons acquainted with the 15 destinations on the route to answer questions. This will also be an option throughout attenders' stays at the Gathering, on their own.
  • Carpool 25 minutes to Beaver Island State Park for swimming on a 1/2 mile sandy beach (playgrounds, hiking trails, change facilities, pavilions for rent, food concession, etc.) This option would be low-cost ($6 per car load) and family-friendly.
  • Carpool to Artpark State Park (this site is not on the Discover Niagara Shuttle route) Only about 15-20 minutes' drive from NU. Extensive grounds including a large amphitheater for ticketed summer concerts, fishing access to the Niagara River, many art installations (some interactive like the percussion garden)  throughout the grounds, artists' demonstrations, large covered demonstration/participation area boardwalk (shade and shelter). Vehicle use fee $10 per car. Family friendly, low cost.


On-Campus Reverse Field Trips

In an effort to offer intergenerational opportunities for families and to make use of the rich resources in our area, the Local Arrangements Committee developed these "reverse field trips" in which performers and presenters come to us and offer both performance and interactive opportunities.These events take place on the Niagara University campus and are open to all.

Tuesday, July 4 - Dr. David Anderson re-enacts Frederick Douglass’ speech,  “What To the American Slave is Your Fourth of July” and speaks on the Abolitionists

Dr. David Anderson will be giving his interpretation of Frederick Douglass' speech, "What to the American Slave is Your Fourth of July", followed by a talk on the Abolitionist Movement. Dr. Anderson is well-known in the Rochester, NY area and beyond for his historical scholarship and participation in historical re-enactments. We are fortunate to have him coming to us on July 4, lending even greater impact to his address!

Thursday, July 5 - Lezlie Harper Wells presentation: “The Experience of Black Canadians From the Underground Railroad Forward.”

Lezlie Harper Wells is the descendant of US enslaved persons. She resides in St. Catharine's, Ontario. She brings us “The Experience of Black Canadians from the Underground Railroad Forward.” Ms. Wells is an experienced interpreter and tour leader, who offers the perspective of a Canadian citizen and Black Canadian history and culture. More about Niagara Bound Tours.

Friday July 6 - Musicians from Cobbs Hill Consort

Cobbs Hill Consort is an ensemble featuring native American flute and harp. The music is soothing, emotive, and transporting, and seeks to engage you in a journey of the heart. They will perform a concert, then give a talk about their use of music in palliative care. Jefferson Svengsouk is the lead, and is a physician working in hospice care. Cobbs Hill Consort performs in the Rochester, NY area at events such as Rochester's Fringe Festival. More about Cobbs Hill Consort.

Discover Niagara Shuttle: May 2017 Update

The Discover Niagara shuttle is a free, hop-on/hop-off bus service serving 15 stops along a 14 mile route, from the City of Niagara Falls to the south to Old Fort Niagara in the north. The stop at the Castellani Art Museum on the campus of Niagara University is in the middle of this loop. The Discover Niagara shuttle buses are scheduled to run every 30 to 40 minutes. Shuttle information is available on the Discover Niagara website - no tickets are needed. For 2017, the shuttle is scheduled to operate from 9 am to 6 pm Sunday through Thursday, and 9 am till 12 am on Fridays and Saturdays.

We recommend using the shuttle, as the closer you get to the Falls itself, the more traffic congestion there is! Parking is very hard to find, and very expensive near the Falls once you find it!

Discover Niagara Shuttle stops that are NORTH of the Niagara University campus:

  • Niagara Power Project Power Vista; also within easy walking distance--right next door to the NU campus. Free; new Disney-quality interactive exhibits.
  • Lewiston Center; stop in the center of this very walkable villages’ quaint commercial district, with close-by shops, restaurants, coffee houses and notable bakery. Pharmacies and larger chain grocery stores are a few blocks from this stop.
  • Lewiston Waterfront on the Niagara River. Access point to a park overlooking the gorge, graced by the Underground Railroad Monument, ‘The Crossing’. Access point to the Niagara Jetboat ($). Easy walk to informal fast service restaurant, ice cream, and informal restaurant as well as public restrooms.
  • Youngstown Center; much smaller village with a few restaurants.
  • Old Fort Niagara ($). The historical fort from which the US attacked Canada at the beginning of the War of 1812. Costumed tour guides, restored buildings, spacious park for picnicking.

At Old Fort Niagara, the Discover Niagara Shuttle turns around and heads back south, towards the NU campus (stopping in reverse at the sites listed above).

Discover Niagara Shuttle stops that are SOUTH of the Niagara University campus:

  • Whirlpool State Park, overlooking the gorge and Whirlpool section of the Niagara River. Playground, picnic areas in a well-shaded area, restrooms and access (many steps!) to the very rugged NYS Gorge Trail; do not go on any portion of the NYS Gorge Trail without hiking boots or trail model running shoes! It is particularly treacherous during and after rain! In parts, it involves scrambling over boulders and changes in elevation. Exercise caution!
  • Niagara Falls Train Station; newly opened AMTRAK station. If you are arriving by train, and you arrive during shuttle operating hours, this could provide you a free ride to the NU campus! Note: the new Underground Railroad Heritage Center right next to the Amtrak Station unfortunately will not be open until 2018. For now, the UGRR exhibit remains in a gallery area of the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center (see below).
  • Oakwood Cemetery; noted for its examples of ornate funerary art.
  • Niagara Arts and Cultural Center; the temporary home of the Underground Railroad exhibit, which is excellent in its signage and very informative, but small. For extensive resources related to the Underground Railroad, visit  This repurposed school building also houses exhibit areas of rotating art works, individual artists’ studios, and classroom space for visual and performing arts.
  • Aquarium of Niagara ($). Exhibits, interactive tanks, shows.
  • Niagara Gorge Discovery Center ($). Exhibits, films, displays, access to NYS Gorge Trail.
  • 3rd Street Entertainment District; tourist area with predictable shops and eateries. Always congested with traffic (best reason for taking the shuttle!), and overpriced.
  • 3rd and Old Falls Street; kitty-corner from the official Niagara Falls Visitor Center for any information on attractions, activities and maps. This stop is the nearest to Niagara Falls State Park, including the Falls, Goat Island, Cave of the Winds ($), the observation tower ($), and the iconic Maid of the Mist ($) boat ride at the bottom of the Falls. Once in the park, it has its own tram system to easily get around.

More information, including take-away brochures, will be available at the Local Arrangements table. The Local Arrangements table will be staffed during registration times, early each weekday morning 7:30-8:30 am, and afternoon hours following lunch on Monday through Thursday. At the adjoining table will be the Field Trip sign-up table for field trips except for sign-up for the Underground Railroad Heritage Tour on Monday, July 3rd, which will be in the Check-In area on Sunday, July 2nd.