With the end of my third year of undergrad and the start of a summer break, I was given an opportunity to dedicate myself to a brand new challenge:

Pursue the Fish and Feathers internship from mid-May to early August.

An exciting challenge indeed, with this being the first summer break that I’m not taking classes. I was assigned to the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. The small town vibe and overall nature of the park would be the exact change of scenery from Toronto that I needed. A slower pace accompanied by the environmental immersion that I had been dying for.

I arrived to Narrowsburg, NY with a fresh excitement for both a new phase of my life and the intimidating adventure that lay ahead of me.  I had no idea what I was in for at the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. The first few days were a whirlwind of activity and excitement; diving in to a new environment, learning new things, and meeting a variety of amazing people all at once.

The first three days of training were as daunting as they were exciting. It was immediately clear that this was also the most important part of training for the team altogether:

Canoe training.

There was so much about this training that I found valuable. From a social point of view, I was around almost all of the people who I would be working with for the summer. Being with everyone for full days, outside and learning to canoe, was a great way to quickly adjust to the new environment and become familiar with the team.

It was this canoe training that also taught me a lot of what I needed to know about the park in a very short manner of time.

Through this 3-day canoe training, the Upper Delaware S&RR team’s values and purpose became clear to me:
Protect the safety of river goers.

Of course, as a team responsible for a 73.4mile stretch of the Delaware River, there is a lot more that goes in to maintaining a smoothly running park service. However, this first blog will focus on our canoe training, which was a huge part of my current understanding of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River.

Us interns were joined by park rangers, Law Enforcement rangers, our supervisors, and even other employees of the park in departments such as resource management and maintenance. Because the park is a Scenic and Recreational River, it is critical that everyone on our team be competent in a boat. Even the interns were trained with the rest to canoe the river and learn the principles of rescuing someone who may be endangered.

As a very novice canoer, I was able to learn something from everyone who was involved. In the end, I learned a lot in the way of competency with a canoe, but also a lot about bravery and pushing myself to succeed.

We canoed upstream facing gusts of headwind, learned to rescue someone whose boat had capsized, how to read the river and travel it safely, practiced throwing a rope and reeling in a victim to the water, and of course, and swam the rapids (which meant, safely floating down the river current with a life vest on).

All of this came together as some fundamental principles of an interpretive ranger’s role at the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. The duty of that ranger often being to inform and advise the public. In a large way, the business of an UPDE ranger is to protect the very lives of those who use the river. I see this happening day-to-day in two major ways: preventative information giving, followed if needed by action-ready rescuing.

By the end of these short three days of canoe training, I was seriously impressed by the dedication of everyone on the team.

With a new sense of responsibility, I anxiously anticipated my first day of shadowing a park ranger.

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