The first leg of the James River Association’s James River Expedition program is complete!

The James River Expedition program is a 6-day on-the-water journey giving students the first-hand experience of James River wildlife, how the river benefits neighboring communities, as well as local and statewide issues impacting our water quality.

Last week ten students from across the watershed embarked on the Lower James River Expedition. The group launched in Richmond and traversed the tidal James by canoe and the James River Association’s pontoon boat, finally landing at Fort Monroe. Throughout the week, students paddled roughly ten miles a day through quickly changing tides and blistering sun.

Students adapted to life on the water as they took on camp responsibilities ranging from ‘Scientist’, the student responsible for monitoring water quality throughout our trip, to ‘Camp Cooks’, the duo responsible for keeping us fed! Aside from experiencing life on the water, students also met with stakeholders from various parts of the river to receive in-depth knowledge regarding different careers.

Some of our stakeholder guests included RVAPaddlesports, a local farmer, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, National Park Conservation Association, and the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance. With an abundant amount of knowledge on James River wildlife and threats to its health, students made their way across the finish line to Fort Monroe. Over the course of 6 days, students made a positive impact on their watershed as well as once-in-a-lifetime memories.

Read below for personal testimonies from this year’s Lower James River Expedition team. We are thankful for the support from NPS Chesapeake, donors, and parents for sharing their wonderful kids with us. Until next time!

Through being outdoors, you learn to love yourself. You learn to appreciate the world around you. You come to adore life and nature’s beauty. When you love something, you want to protect it, forever. The river is something I love. Learning more about where I am, this emotion strengthens. The James River Expedition has given me the awesome opportunity to grow in my knowledge while having fun. Before them, I didn’t know how to canoe nor did I know the awe of the Bald Cypresses or even the freedom of just paddling. The people here are amazing, I’ll never forget this experience or the friendships I’ve made. I want others to know what it’s like too, to love the world around them, the river. I’ll bring my kids back to learn what I have. For as long as I can, I’ll protect this river for them and others to enjoy as I always will.

Madison R., Dinwiddie

This was a super fun experience that meant a lot to me because it gave me a reason to care about the environment in the area I live.

Cam W., Charlottesville

I had a lot of fun and learned tons of things about the river and its wildlife. I went into this thinking it would be like school and that it wouldn’t be fun. The people I met and the friends I made definitely made the trip.

Scotty M., Williamsburg

I had a lot of fun on this trip, I really enjoyed it. My favorite parts of the trip were that we were able to influence other people into saving the James. I made a lot of friends on this trip and awesome memories.

Ray D., Charlottesville

This trip was an absolute blast. I love to learn new things and this trip was an awesome interactive way of doing so. It was a lot of fun learning about how the James is on the uprise and the other ways that we can help make the river’s comeback better and faster.

Andrew V., Richmond

I think my favorite part of the trip was the people. I made friends so fast! Everyone was asked to work together and play their roles for the better of the group. By the end, we were all acting like we had known each other for years. I love the James River and am thankful for the experience it gave me.

John G., Virginia Beach

This was probably my favorite week this summer. I made some great friends that I’m going to keep in touch with long after this trip ends. I loved being on the river and paddling to our next camp sites, pitching our tents, falling asleep, and waking up ready for a new adventure.

Maggie A., Richmond

This trip meant a lot to me because it’s a huge part of life in my community and I spend so much time on the James with my family and friends. Going on this trip allowed me to really see the problems the James is facing and what people are doing to help make it better. It also allowed me to get hands-on experience in a field I want to pursue in the future. Overall, the trip was amazing and I had a great time being on the water and connecting with everyone.

Camilla F., Glen Allen

I really loved being on the trip because it let everyone just be themselves while also bringing us closer to the world around us. I’d never been especially interested in environmentalism, so this trip really opened my eyes to the James River, how important it is, the problem it faces, and how we can make it better.

Amara G., Charlottesville

As a teacher, I benefited greatly from going on the lower James River Expedition. I was able to observe the leadership styles of competent instructors, as well as exercise my own leadership in the outdoors. I learned a lot about the culture and history of our watershed, as well as some of the environmental issues we are facing. I was also able to see up close some of the great work that the James River Association is doing in the areas of education and restoration.

John, Teacher, Lynchburg.