Eighth-graders with GRPS canoed with Grand River in 24-handcrafted canoes as part of numerous land-based educational opportunities the school’s have set up for them.

Wednesday, 96 Westwood Middle School and 70 students from Sherwood Park Global Studies Academy and Southwest Community Campus were launched onto the river at the Riverside Park Boat Launch on Monroe Avenue in Grand Rapids.

The City’s Parks and Recreation Department and Grand Rapids Public Schools have contracted with Wilderness Inquiry to bring Canoemobile to the Grand River. Wilderness Inquiry is an organization that travels the country with the goal of bringing hands-on, water-based learning to urban students.

A group of GRPS students canoeing in the Grand Rapids on Wednesday, May 8.

The sessions, which are scheduled for May 6 through May 10, allow for nearly 1,100 GRPS students to engage in a wide variety of land and river outdoor activities, including paddling canoes on the Grand River, learning about the waterway, water quality testing, nature hiking, cultural history lessons and more.

With Grand River restoration work underway, the program comes at a perfect time, contributing to redefining our community’s relationship with the local waterway.

As part of Canoemobile, students and their families also can participate in Family Paddle Night on May 10 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at Riverside Park. Ten-passenger canoes provided by Wilderness Inquiry and single-passenger kayaks provided by the Parks and Recreation Department will be available for free 20-minute rides.