Megan straddles the end of the canoe balancing it as she talks to the group gathered behind her. “Just make sure to keep your hands on both edges of the canoe and walk down the center, keep your body low, and it won’t tip.”
Timidly, the first person makes their way onto the soft, cakey mud of the shoreline and steps over into the canoe. They follow her instructions and walk to the seat at the front of the canoe, and the process is repeated for the second person.
Soon all of the canoes are on the water, and after a brief overview explaining how to row forward, stop, and turn, each tandem pair glides along the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. For many of these intrepid paddlers, it is their first time in a canoe although some are more experienced. As each pair becomes more comfortable and confident the chatter and excitement increases. There are many things to see from the seat of a canoe, from egrets on the shoreline catching shining, silver fish to the occasional turtle bobbing its head just above the water.
This opportunity is a collaboration between Trinity Park Conservancy and Groundwork Dallas. This summer, Trinity Park Conservancy has launched “Summer at Simmons” to build community engagement for the future Harold Simmons Park. In order to get more people interacting with the Trinity River, they are hosting a number of events throughout the summer. Groundwork Dallas has been providing introductory canoe lessons over four Saturdays to help people learn the basics of how to safely get on the water. Our final lesson will take place on Saturday, August 25, 2018. You can find more information here.
These canoe lessons have also enabled Groundwork Dallas to showcase our work on the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. We have worked in the Frasier Dam Recreation Area for several years slowly but steadily removing trash and debris and restoring the environment in and along the river. But there is still much work to be done. We hope that by sharing our story and highlighting our progress, as well as areas yet to be tackled, that we might inspire these individuals to return to the river with us. Next time, armed with trash grabbers and garbage bags.