30-Mile Kayak Expeditions Build Student Appreciation for the Chesapeake

Outward Bound Baltimore Inspires Environmental Stewardship Ethic in Young Explorers

Baltimore, MD – This summer, Outward Bound Baltimore will once again provide young explorers the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Captain John Smith through the Chesapeake Bay Sea Kayaking program. Students, ages 14-18 will paddle 30-plus miles of the explorer’s 1607-1609 voyages to increase the students’ knowledge-based stewardship of the region.

In years past, the Outward Bound expeditions took place on the Susquehanna River, but this year the group will be paddling on the Nanticoke River. Over the course of a week, participants paddle in kayaks from campsite to campsite learning the skills to survive and even live comfortably in tune with the rhythms of the Bay. Additionally, participants take part in hands-on activities and lessons to learn about, as well as take part in, hands-on activities and lessons learning about the human and natural history of the Bay.

The students will learn how to paddle their kayaks in a variety of conditions, set-up camp, cook camp meals, and navigate with a map and compass. Towards the end of the expedition, students go through a solo experience – where they have the opportunity to practice their skills, set-up their own shelter, and spend some time reflecting on their past week, with the occasional check-in from the instructors.

“Our 6-8 day paddles along the John Smith Chesapeake Trail on the Nanticoke River and in the Northern Bay and Susquehanna River are expeditions in the true sense of the word. It’s not just a trip; it’s a trip with a purpose,” Liz Millhollen, program and safety director, Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School, said. “Along the water trail we encounter many of the key species and ecological features of the largest estuary in the nation. We also encounter leadership opportunities, lessons on character, service opportunities, and we become a crew – not merely yielding passengers.  We use the historical experiences of Captain John Smith to frame the Bay’s path to the present as we also frame and plan the path forward in our own lives. Outward Bound expeditions on the John Smith Chesapeake Trail are filled with life changing adventure and discovery.”

The Sea Kayaking program began in 2012 in partnership with the Chesapeake Conservancy, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, National Park Service, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The Conservancy provided funding for the fleet of kayaks used by the program. Since the program began, Outward Bound Baltimore has taken 215 students on this journey, showing them the different ecosystems of the Chesapeake and how these habitats sustain the people and wildlife.

“This has been a fantastic program for getting kids out on the water to fall in love with the Chesapeake and want to become its stewards. In their adult lives, these kids may be inspired to vote for legislation to conserve the Chesapeake, dedicate their careers to protecting it, and work to make sure that their kids have the same opportunities they did,” Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn said. “In 2016, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the John Smith Chesapeake Trail. I can think of no better time to follow the same route he sailed, see the natural beauty of the land where the American Indians thrived, and explore the same places. Though much of the Chesapeake has changed since the 17th century, these trips show the students that there is still a great deal of natural beauty in the region, which is exactly what organizations like the Chesapeake Conservancy are working to protect and restore.”

Outward Bound Baltimore has three trips planned in 2016, beginning June 18, July 9, and August 2. To learn more about available trips, visit http://outwardboundbaltimore.org/courses/chesapeake-bay-sea-kayaking-teens-summer/