Navesink Maritime Heritage Association conducts the River Rangers program as an educational and recreational week-long summer experiential educational and recreational activity for 11-14 year old students. We conduct the program on the Navesink and Swimming Rivers in Monmouth County. and aim to develop this River Rangers program for other river and lake environments in the region.
While River Rangers offers great variety and flexibility, the basic format consists of a 5-day program using wooden canoes that have been built during NMHA's organized annual community boat building events. Each program uses 10 canoes with two CPR-certified adult instructors and a maximum of 20 expedition members.
NMHA provides program materials including a lesson plan book for instructors and, for participants, maps of the Navesink River with marked places to visit, bird charts, seining nets, fishing poles, log books and more. NMHA developed a training course for instructors on land and on the water.
Learning to Paddle
NMHA has collaborative relationships with a public and private stakeholders who permit low-impact use of their facilities for the River Ranger program.
NMHA designed a custom trailer with foundation support grants for transporting all River Rangers equipment and materiel - canoes, paddles. personal flotation vests, and all supplies - to launch and take out locations on the river.
Read comments by participants and parents at: River Rangers Comments
After several years of sponsoring the annual family and community wooden boatbuilding in Red Bank and Fair Haven, NMHA realized that participants could not always make use of their watercraft due to lack of experience with the waterways, and lack of river access.
In 2002, NMHA organized its first Eco-Trip, guiding wooden boat-building participants from the headwaters of the Navesink River to the Monmouth Boat Club. The paddlers were accompanied by experienced guides and a Monmouth County Parks naturalist. It became apparent that trips like these were powerful settings for experiential education.
Red Bank Charter School educators were interested in getting their students on the Navesink River for experiential environmental and outdoor education on the Navesink River and had participated in building many canoes for their school. NMHA and Red Bank Charter School developed a curriculum that resulted in the River Rangers program in 2004. Every year, the River Rangers program is a part of the summer institute program of the school.
Since 2005, the NMHA has expanded the River Rangers program offering for community recreation departments in Red Bank, Fair Haven, Middletown and Tinton Falls. This is a week-long educational and recreational program for twenty students, guided by certified teachers, for four hours each day, exploring the Navesink river estuary and its tributaries. Over 100 youths participate each summer in this program. The evaluations by parents and students have been enthusiastic about this unique educational and recreational experience.
NMHA is available to develop customized River Rangers programs for community organizations and schools, both on the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers and for other suitable locations.