Released 23 May 2012
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Wet Feet Weekend Camping Trip
In early May, eight teenagers from The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club spent a weekend at Presquile National Wildlife Refuge, a 1,329 acre, uninhabited island that is managed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, located on the James River.
"Our teens immediately began learning as they set out onto the James in a pontoon," said Paul Granger, Teen Director for The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club.
"They were able to see osprey, egrets, heron, and fish along the way and after getting settled on the island, the teens were excited to go back to the river to try and catch fish using older methods, such as a casting net."
After fishing, the teens took their catch back to an aquarium they had prepared, and used field guides to determine what type of fish they were. The weekend included a hike to the wetland part of the island and a canoe voyage through the winding creeks.
"While many of them may have ended up in some branches or frightened by spiders, none of them fell out, and all of them said they had a great time," said Granger.
Each teen set up their own tents and learned how to make a fire and cook a basic meal and the following morning, before heading home, they headed out on an early hike in search of turkey and other wildlife before preparing to head home.
"What I find encouraging and inspiring about these trips is that the teens are taken out of their comfort zones and placed in an environment that can often frustrate or scare them, and while there was no lack of complaining and screaming when a spider would appear, or when it rained, in the end they were each positive, excited, and a little more mature from their experience," Granger said.
Jessica Templeton, one of the guides, noted that she loved that when it began pouring in the middle of the hike, the teens not only chose to brave the rain, but walked the whole way back singing and laughing.
The opportunity to spend the weekend at Presquile National Wildlife Refuge was made possible by The James River Association, who aims to give youth the experience of the outdoors through camping, hiking, fishing, canoeing, building a fire, and other activities.