We woke up in Galt's Mill, VA ready to start our day. Since we only had 5 miles to paddle that day, we took our morning slow, eating a delicious first-morning breakfast of bacon and eggs cooked for us by Sarah and Cameron. We took some time after breakfast to go over camp roles and responsibilities, including but not limited to "camp cooks," "camp creators and tent builders," "trip reporters," "scientists," and "trip leaders."
And with that, we went back into work mode and guided the students in their first time loading the boats, making sure to not weigh down one too much or leave any canoe unbalanced. It took a little while, but as all learning experiences do, the process became easier with time and practice. With that, the team was on the way downriver towards Rockcliffe Farm.
Marqui found a waterfall in one of the creeks off the river, and led M14 to it, as one of the designated trip leaders for the day. We caught some rocks on the way to camp, especially right near the Farm, since the water levels were so low and we didn't have much to push us along. It was an adventure all the same, and we learned to get through the rocks and how to better read lines of the river. Patrick, Georgia, Kyle, and Zach were all super supportive and helpful the whole way through. Anne Maxwell arrived right alongside us, bearing fruit snacks, ice for the water cooler, and poptarts to raise our spirits a bit.
We designated a spot for "The Throne," our makeshift camp toilet, and built all the tents before getting a personalized tour from Mr. Radcliffe and Mrs. Rockwell themselves of their property. We saw how their land had been transformed since the '50s, when it was a barren area consisting of a saw mill and an area to mine for manganese. It was incredible to see how much re-growth there was, even in such a relatively short time. The couple told us about their sustainable tree farming practices, personal vegetable garden, and fish pond (holding blue gills, catfish, and more), as well as their take on conservation, how they try to be stewards of the James River, and promote public responsibility (our lessons for the day).
Once we returned to our campsite, we caught the middle and end of a beautiful James sunset. Sarah and Cameron started to prepare our dinner of no-bake pizza as we took care of personal needs and made sure camp was "bomb proof." We ate a late dinner, so everyone was more than ready to chow down, and then we had an M14 discussion around the fire before heading off to our respective tents for bed.
-Anne Maxwell, Riley, and Ted