The National Park Service (NPS) has a program called “Kids in Kayaks.” It builds confidence and wellness in young people by connecting them with their great outdoors. The James River Park System, in partnership with the NPS, James River Association, the YMCA of Greater Richmond, Blue Sky Fund, The American Civil War Museum, the Valentine Museum, and Richmond National Battlefield Park, used “Kids in Kayaks” to create the “Urban River Ambassadorship” program.
“Urban River Ambassadors” are area high school students who work with the staff of the Park to learn about our local national resources and then pass these lessons on to other middle-school aged kids.
The Park lucked out when they found Trevon Lewis and Evan Watkins.
Penelope Davenport, the Park’s Outdoor Education Supervisor (and a ParkStar herself!) said, “…they are kind of that front-line of accessibility to the kids who visit the Park. They make everything cooler and fun. We really try to push them from acting like crowd control to leading programs on their own. It’s especially gratifying that these two succeeded in that role.”
Trevon told us, “It’s making sure that they know that the James River is part of their city. A lot of kids didn’t even know that this was down here.”
Evan echoed that, saying, “For a lot of them, this was a new experience. It’s the river itself and the community around it.”
Evan is considering studying psychology when he goes to college, and said that working with and leading kids around the Park gave him some valuable insights.
Trevon is preparing for basic training for the Marine Corps, and said working all Summer as part of a great team was fantastic preparation for that.
The Park was lucky to have these two young men for the Summer. Look for a new call for Urban River Ambassadors in the Spring.