Being a River Ranger isn’t always easy, but it's SO rewarding. Halfway through my junior year of high school I found out about the greenway foundation through my schools newsletter. In the fall I participated in a virtual internship from February to May. I was sad for my internship to end but then was informed that the SPREE offered a paid internship for the summer.
Once I applied and went through the interview process I was finally hired and excited to spend my summer at a kids camp.
In order to be the best possible River Ranger it’s important to prioritize self care before every shift. I learned that getting enough sleep, hydrating, eating a good breakfast, and doing one I like everyday before my shift helped me maintain a positive attitude. Almost everyday consists of being out in 90+ weather and it’s important to take care of yourself if you want to be able to teach kids outside. Taking care of kids was new to me but the SPREE Team gave me all necessary tips to keep children safe while having fun.Before teaching lessons on my own , I got the proper training to learn how to be the best environmental educator possible. Learning the difference between educational vs advocacy or the different learning styles are some of the few things I got to learn to be an educator. With this in mind, every shift river rangers get two 30 min prep times to prepare materials, write scripts, test experiments etc. Even if a lesson is physically prepared, it's important for river rangers to also be mentally prepared and excited to teach their lesson. Critter crawl is another structured activity that is done everyday. Critter crawl consists of river rangers taking campers down to the south platte river and catching macro-invertebrates. Some campers may be too little or just scared to flip a rock and river rangers are there to help assist campers in catching the critters.
An amazing part of this job is all the amount of free time in the day to allow kids to do pretty much any outdoor/indoor activity. Free time is the perfect time to have fun and get to know the campers a bit more on a more personal level. Playing on the playground, painting, bug catching are just a few popular activities. Personally , my favorite part about being a river ranger was getting the chance to be a kid again and just play on the playground with other kids. It was amazing that I got the chance to work while having fun. Most importantly, when things get tough, I get support from my other coworkers daily. It was nice to be able to know I can work around people who genuinely care about me.
As summer was coming to an end, I was once again sad my time with SPREE was wrapping up, or so I thought. I loved my job so much and decided to ask SPREE staff if there was any way possible for me to continue to work for a foundation I truly love. Thanks to my coworkers, I was able to work during the school year and become an ambassador for the greenway foundation. Being a river ranger taught me life skills such as networking, public speaking, time management and much much more.
We also had our first critter crawl on Monday. Critter crawl is an activity we do every day at camp and is the time where we get into the river and catch macroinvertebrates like crawdads. It is amazing all the animals we catch with just small nets and recycled tupperware!
This past weekend, we celebrated community with a campout at Johnson Habitat Park with Westwood Neighborhood families! Families came to SPREE HQ on Saturday afternoon where they were greeted by SPREE teachers and a pile of camping gear. We set up campsites before getting busy with crafts and critter crawl!
Observation skills came in handy during Critter Crawl. You woud never know that some of our guests had never looked for critters in our river before- they were pros! We caught so many crawdads, and even a large dragonfly larvae hiding under rocks!
As dusk came, and eventually night we went into our tents to enjoy the night under the stars! This annual campout is always so much fun, and we are grateful for the families that made it so special this year!
On Saturday we had a blast with friends from the Cole neighborhood of Denver with our annual campout celebration! This year was a bit different than other years- we packed all our fun into one evening when in a typical year we sleep over at Johnson Habitat park.
The shorter time did not mean any less fun! After welcoming neighbors to our space, we made some DIY first aid kits. These useful crafts can be taken into our city or into the mountains for safety during adventures.
After some crafts, we had a blast at our river with critter crawl. We caught dozens of crawdads of all different sizes, and many other macroinvertebrates like scuds, mayflies, aquatic sow bugs, and snails! We even caught a small fish!
It was almost too fun at our river discovering the life that lives below the water, but our bellies started grumbling so we knew it was time for dinner.
This was a campout after all, so we cooked our dinner over a fire. Hot dogs just taste better with some char from a fire’s flame! The patience it took to cook our hotdogs transferred really well when it came time for dessert…. S’mores!
For some of our Cole neighbors, this was the first time they got to make, and taste a s’more! What a special moment to share with our neighbors!
Where does the South Platte River water come from? Where does the water go after Denver? This week we found out during “Journey of the South Platte River” summer camp!
We kicked off the week on Monday by getting to know the world’s water and our fellow campers with a game. Campers took turns tossing a sticky hand at a world map, and tracking if the hand stuck to land or water. Not surprisingly, water covers most of the earth, and so most campers hit water!
The Greenway Leadership Corps (GLC) & SPREE's summer High School River Rangers were lucky enough to travel to Phantom Canyon, aptly named because it seems to appear out of nowhere as you are driving along the plains of the northeastern Colorado. The Canyon is one of the last roadless canyons on the Front Range last weekend, and it provides habitat for many wildlife species and native plants. Phantom Canyon is maintained by This Nature Conservancy (TNC) and it is closed to the public. We were fortunate to work yet again with TNC at Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) on this annual trip, for the opportunity to see this spectacular landscape along the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River, while doing maintenance on the Phantom Canyon River Trail.