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Not just a paddle up the river
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Kids learned more than how to paddle last week at Connie Shreve’s canoe camp at the Ogeechee Outpost.

They also got an up close look at nature.

"By the time they leave here we want them to know and be proficient in canoeing techniques and teach them information about environmental issues," said Shreve, a certified instructor with the American Canoe Association.

The environment took center stage Friday afternoon, when approximately 25 youngsters got a lesson in point and non-point pollution to both surface and groundwater from Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeeper Melanie Hendrix. She used models to show how pollutants can seep through to groundwater and impact streams and rivers. Those models show "there’s always a lot more pollution than people realize," she said. "We all live downstream from somebody. What they do upstream affects our water and what we do affects somebody else’s water."

Hendrix gave way to Dave Chafin, a longtime volunteer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Savannah. Chafin, who retired from Hercules in 1999, showed the campers his collection of snakes -- some venomous, others not – a baby alligator, a large snapping turtle and more.

"Snakes are just a misunderstood animal and a very important animal," he said, explaining his affinity for the reptiles. "If young people will have a different idea about snakes, this will be worthwhile. My thank you is when I see little fellows holding these snakes."

Chavis said education is key, especially as development of the reptiles habitat leaves them fewer places to go.

"Everytime you build and develop something, that’s somebody’s habitat disappearing," he said.

The lessons may have sunk in. Richmond Hill’s Grayson Cowan said he learned the basics of canoeing while Rincon’s Noah Young spoke of the environment.

"We learned how we can do our part on the earth," he said.

There are two more summer sessions of the camp which is located on the Ogeechee River just inside the Bryan County line off Hwy. 204. One is July 16-20 and the other is July 23-27,. The cost is $175. Go to for more information.

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