Kayaks in various shades of blue, yellow and orange decorated the river’s surface as the current drifted them forward, down the Schuylkill River. In its 19th installment, the Schuylkill River Sojourn set off on its annual 112-mile trek from Island Park landing in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania. The course of this 7-day journey, ending in Philadelphia, will welcome 221 participants, 70 of whom will paddle the entire length of the sojourn.
The sojourn has really become an annual event that is a community effort. As the paddlers venture from landing to landing, they will find themselves passing the many diverse towns that lay along and truly rely on the Schuylkill River. The sojourn has almost become a lesson for participants, teaching paddlers about the surrounding communities and how the river is more than just for mere enjoyment. It is a source of livelihood and sustenance for many communities and a resource that needs to be diligently protected.
This year’s sojourn theme was “I Protect The Schuylkill River”, a concept that brought together community organizations and initiatives for daily presentations about conservation. Presenters discussed conservation efforts as well as plant, animal, and fish life along the river with the goal to educate and raise awareness for the Schuylkill River and its tributaries.
This was my first experience with the Schuylkill River Sojourn. What I learned from this event is what keeps the community coming back together for this adventure. It’s the friendships and connections formed on water, made with people from all walks of life that may have never crossed paths if not for paddling. It’s the sense of community and giving back from the local organizations and people who support this journey through donations and meals. Most of all, it’s about the adventure. The unpredictability of the water, the camping and the feeling of being totally engulfed by nature. The sojourn has become a constant in this community, yet it is also ever-changing, which very much represents the Schuylkill River itself.
For more information on the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area and the Schuylkill River Sojourn, visit http://www.schuylkillriver.org/.