Having grown up a few blocks from the James River in Newport News, the river has always played an important role in my life. In fact, behind my old elementary school, Hilton Elementary, is where I learned to swim, fish, and crab. So, imagine my joy when I was selected last July to serve as a teacher representative for the James River Expedition on the upper section extending from Eagle Rock to Snowden.

On Sunday, July 8, 2018, I rendezvoused with three JRA staff members and eight intrepid students representing diverse sections of the James River watershed – from Williamsburg to Amherst County and various points in between – at a riverside campground run by Twin River Outfitters in Eagle Rock, which is upriver from Buchanan. For the next five days we paddled and floated one of the most scenic and beautiful sections of the James, learning about the history and plans for the revitalization of the Town of Buchanan, exploring remnants of the river’s lock and canal system, performing water quality tests, touring one of the newest additions to the state park system – Natural Bridge – and lazily casting for smallies when the opportunities arose. Each night was spent primitive camping alongside the river where we would swap stories of the day’s adventures, eat heartedly, and discuss the next day’s itinerary.

To say that the week on the river was a highlight of my summer would be a vast understatement, and I highly recommend any teacher who is looking to add an adventure to their summer vacation apply for this great opportunity. Nat, Charles, Caleigh, and the rest of the JRA’s Education Program do an outstanding job with this trip; you will not be disappointed!