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River Rangers Build Student Confidence

The River Rangers, a program sponsored by the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association, began its first week of adventure.

For five weeks each year area children are invited to take part in an adventure right in their back yards.

The hosts its River Rangers program each year for five weeks during the summer. The program gives students the chance to learn about the environment and enjoy what is so close yet for many remains little more than an impassable border, the Navesink River.

The program is open to students throughout the Two River area.

On Thursday, about a dozen children loaded into handmade flat-bottom canoes and pushed out onto the Navesink. For many, instructors Courtney Davis and Pierre Joseph said, this is the first opportunity they've had to head out on the water.

"It's a technology-based world," Joseph said. "Every kid after school hurries homes and hops on their computer or on Facebook or just sits in front of the television. Not everyone knows about the river that's sitting right in their back yard."

Activities for the River Rangers spread out over five weekdays during each program session. Students, with the help of instructors and a variety of guest speakers, are invited to learn about the Navesink and Swimming rivers while experiencing it first hand. Children paddle, swim, and explore the area with the help of those who know it best.

"A lot of these kids don't have the opportunity to go out in the water," Davis said. "Many of them don't know how to swim, many have never even held a paddle before."

The benefits of the River Rangers program, aside from the fun and the education, are the confidence and pride it builds among its participants.

What happens, Joseph said, is that kids tackle things they might otherwise not have. After that first time they take to the canoe, or hop off a dock into the river, they're hooked, he said, and their entire outlook changes thereafter.

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