HRWC interns pose in snorkel gear while wading in the river
HRWC interns pose in snorkel gear while wading in the river.

For the sixth year in a row HRWC has partnered with the Ann Arbor YMCA Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) to hold a youth river snorkeling camp for middle and high school students. Each Tuesday in July and part of August, HRWC summer interns joined Youth Volunteer Corps participants and campers for a morning of fun at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti.

The goal of the program is to learn about river ecology and to get students in the water, learning about different ways the river can be used for recreation. I joined the group for one session to see what this program was all about.

Stewardship + Science = Engagement

The group started the morning by picking up trash from around the park. They then did an ice breaker based on the trash they collected. After this, some HRWC interns walked everyone through the water cycle and how it works.

After practicing their seine netting on land, participants took to the water to attempt to catch river life in the net. While the attempts were unsuccessful, everyone had fun with this activity.

A crayfish discovered while dip netting
A crayfish discovered while dip netting.

Next, everyone learned about dip netting and got down to it. Dip netting allows campers to collect samples of bug and other creatures that live in our streams. These insects tell us how healthy the river system is, where the healthier areas are, and where we need to focus our restoration efforts.

Participants enjoyed examining their findings, including crayfish and a small fish!

After a quick water break, it was time to get into the river to snorkel. Jason Frenzel, HRWC’s stewardship coordinator gave a quick tutorial and then everyone jumped (slowly walked) in.

They really enjoyed seeing various creatures and features of the river. One even found a large claw (pictured below). Finally, participants engaged in a wrap up activity, and all went home in time for lunch.

The HRWC + YVC snorkeling camp runs Tuesdays throughout the summer. This initiative falls under HRWC’s Streamside Education Program where

A camper uses a dip net
A camper uses a dip net.

we aim to spark a life-long interest in science within every student and build a foundation for STEM careers by providing experiences that show how scientists think and work. Snorkeling camp engages students at several levels: HRWC interns the YVC members and the campers!!! Learn more about YVC.

Want to learn more about how to snorkel in the river? Stay tuned for my next blog post River Snorkeling 101.

—Jessica Goldberg

Jessica Goldberg is HRWC’s Pure Oakland Water Marketing and Communications Intern. She’s a rising sophomore at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. When not in Ann Arbor for school, she lives in the Rouge River watershed with her mom, dad, brother and dog.