As the summer draws to a close, so do the Estuary Partnership’s Community Paddles on the Big Canoes. Our team went on over 20 paddles with all types of groups. Through funding from East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, paddlers got to explore the Ross Island complex, and funding from Metro supported paddles that explored the industrialized stretch of Cathedral Park to Fred’s Marina near Sauvie Island.
For one Youth Conservation Corps crew, it was up to the group to turn the tide on having the best experience possible. Their community gardens crew is a group of diverse high school students who have the great experience of having their first paid job be stewarding the environment. But not everyone was quite ready to be out on the water for on-the-job team building. By the end of the trip, though, they had conquered their fears and started to join in the fun.
With Camp ELSO (Experience Life Science Outdoors), the team had a blast with the culturally-specific early elementary age kids, with an adventure on the Ross Island complex in the Willamette River. This group was so involved that they took charge and requested to take shore on Toe Island, where they proceeded to run around it as fast as possible. Suddenly, one child found a nest and an abandoned and dying baby bird, which was a fascinating discovery for the group.
Finally, the Linnton Neighborhood had three groups out to paddle, including folks from the Harborton Frog Team, a group of neighbors who volunteer their time to rescue red-legged frogs trying to get to the river through the industrialized Linnton waterfront. They relished the opportunity to share their communal knowledge of how the river changed, the issues it faces now, and keeping a critical eye on the riverfront industries.
These group paddles offer people of all ages an opportunity to learn about the river, build teamwork, see wildlife, learn water safety and increase comfort being on the water, and more. The Estuary Partnership is honored to have the opportunity to provide these unique experiences and looks forward to paddling with more groups soon.