Saturday, August 05, 2000

Outdoors an adventure

River taught survival skills

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        They awoke puffy-eyed and wrapped in clothing against the early morning chill, emerged from their tents and headed to the food — cereal and bagels with cream cheese.

[photo] Happy campers are towed to the Public Landing on Friday after a five-day canoe trip down the Little Miami River.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        They packed up camping gear at Riverside Park in Anderson Township after their final evening at a campsite.

        Now they faced the last day of their five-day trek down the Little Miami River — 70 miles, from Caesar's Creek in Warren County to the Ohio River. They had 12 miles to go.

        There were 26 teens in RiverTrek 2000, accompanied by a half-dozen staffers from the Cincinnati Recreation Commission. They covered 30 miles by canoe in just the first two days. They also hunted for fossils, skipped rocks, swam, played Frisbee, pitched tents, ate, made friends, gloried in wildlife, paddled some more, learned to tell the difference between tan lines and dirt lines, and devoured 13 pizza pies Thursday night.

        They also learned to get along. And since many are urban youths, they got to experience the outdoors away from asphalt and the security of home. Fewer than half had done RiverTrek before.

        “For some it's a real confidence builder,” said Joe Wendt, a CRC staff member. “We bring them here and we tell them, "You can do this.'”

        “It's a good group of kids,” said Mark Seltzer, CRC staff member and an organizer of the trek.

[photo] A fireboat douses rafters with spray as they climb from their boats.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        Henderson Lyons is 16 and lives in Evanston. He was a Boy Scout and aspires to be a chef. Campers were still raving about the french toast he made.

        “It was a wonderful experience,” said Henderson, one of the few who didn't want the trek to end.

        Emily Cappel, 17, of Mount Airy, and Casey Irvin, 16, of Clifton, talked of learning about getting along, resolving conflict, working together as canoeists and setting up camp.

        “Paddling and keeping up,” said Crystal McCarnan, 13, of Carthage, when asked what she found most difficult.

        “The rapids are awesome,” said Consuelo Combs, 17, of North Fairmount, on her fourth RiverTrek. “But I've learned that you can make friends with just about anybody.”


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