Good lessons on the James River

Published 8:36 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The simple fact that they were not allowed to use electronic devices like tablets, cellphones or laptops for eight days straight could have been life-changing for 10 students who completed a James River adventure with a stop in Eclipse on Friday.

Simply learning to live for a few days without Facebook, email, text messages, Snapchat and all the many silly and serious apps and devices designed to keep them connected in a modern world would have been a very big step for the young people who took part in the James River Expedition.

The educational program sends 30 high school students on a trip to kayak the entire James River, all while learning about its ecosystem and history. The expedition is run by the James River Association and is sponsored by the Dominion Foundation.


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The trip is broken up into three sections, with each group of students kayaking a portion of the River. The third and final group enjoyed a seafood dinner at the Eclipse Ruritan Club on Friday night, as well as relaxation at Nansemond Swim Club.

We’re big fans of the expedition, whose participants have become annual visitors to Suffolk. Students learn about the ecosystems that make the James River-fed Chesapeake Bay Watershed unique, about the dangers of pollution to those environments and about the things people can do to minimize the negative effects they have.

Since the program is sponsored, in part, by the Dominion Foundation, students visit a power plant, and it’s a good bet they’re given a generous dose of propaganda in favor of Dominion Virginia Power’s various electricity generation facilities, as well as the company’s efforts on behalf of the environment.

In the end, the tradeoff is probably worth the benefit of having the students learn important lessons about the James River and its ecosystems. And the lesson it taught them about the benefits of unplugging once in a while was a nice bonus.