After waking up bright and early to a thick blanket of fog in Galt's Mill, the leaders excitedly prepared for students' arrival and made the trek to Historical Downtown Lynchburg. We were more than ready to meet our 10 new companions: Sarah, Riley, Pate, Erin, Marqui, Sam, Joe, Cameron, Sean, and Ted.
The launch time was just around the corner as we got to the boat landing and students began trickling in around 10 a.m. Circling up for the first time was certainly a cool scene: we had quite a motley crew with lots of supportive family members to fill all of the shade the parking lot had to offer! After introductions, the families gave lots of hugs and kisses and bid their sons and daughters goodbye for the next 8 days.
Next came paddling instruction before we could hit the water, and everyone was a quick learner. We then loaded the boats with the little gear we had to bring for the day (lunch, water, etc.), and the students were off! I may have stayed on the shore a bit too long watching them go, as I'm sure the proud parents would have loved to do as well (don't worry, parents reading this - I filled in for you!).
While I was unfortunately not on the water with them for their journey to Galt's Mill, I heard lots of stories around the campfire in between bites of Ugandan Groundnut Stew and quinoa. While most were tired and ready to hit the sack, all recounted their thoughts and adventures from the day. I heard of first encounters with small rapids, wildlife sightings, and even a chance to stand up in the canoe and paddle like a bateauman on some flat water!
It was a beautiful evening, and although the Super Moon seemed a bit underwhelming for all the hype surrounding it, the night was so clear we enjoyed it anyway. After discussing thoughts and what the journey might look like, we had our nightly Thorns and Roses session, and headed off with full bellies to our respective tents.
-Anne Maxwell R Ellett
The student "reporters:"
Day one started out with everyone finally meeting! After numerous group photos and saying goodbye to our families, the M14 unit learned paddle strokes and packed up the gear into the canoes. We set off and paddled about half way when we ate a lunch of tortillas and various veggies made by Cameron and Riley. Once we paddled all of the set 13 miles for the day, we pulled into camp and unpacked the canoes. At dinner we had a delicious meal of Ugandan Groundnut Stew with quinoa and spinach cooked for us by Kyle. Once our tummies were full, we all gathered around the campfire and said our thorns and roses before going to bed.
-Riley and Ted