The James River Expedition is an educational adventure, in which high school students collectively paddle the length of the James, teaches students conservation, responsible stewardship and the river’s history while camping and traveling aboard canoes, rafts, and bateaux. This opportunity is open to rising 9th and 10th grades students throughout the James River watershed. The application period for the 2019 James River Expeditions ends March 30, 2019.

Going into the Expedition, I didn’t know what to expect, how to feel, what to do. The year before, my best friend had embarked on the Middle Expedition, and she told every detail of what she could remember. Every time I would ask about it, she would drive the same point home: “You are going to have the time of your life!” And she was right. I had always thought of myself as an “outdoorsy” type; I liked to hike and to camp, to visit the river in the summertime with friends. However, it wasn’t until this expedition that I really found my love for the James.

Before the expedition, I failed to understand that being ON the James and being AROUND the James are two very different experiences. The James was all of our travels and all of our days. I quickly found that canoeing is working to move. You and one other person are solely responsible for your speed and distance, and it is so wonderful and strange to experience the accountability of just how you make it from point A to point B.

Despite the day of canoeing in the rain, I loved every day of the expedition. If I was able, I would embark on a James River Expedition every summer. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to better understand our planet, and forever in love with the James.