While watching the leaves fall gently onto a still Van Cortlandt Lake in the Bronx, I found myself crossing my fingers in the hopes that I would be reunited with one of my all-time favorite Canoemobile participants. For the past two years in a row, a student named Johanna and her elementary school, PS344 AmPark Elementary, had come to paddle with Canoemobile. I particularly remembered her because she shares a deep love and appreciation of The Moose Song with me, a silly song I sing every time I’m with students on the water.
Johanna was in my boat three years ago when I was leading my first ever Canoemobile tour. She had so much fun paddling and singing that she convinced her mother and little brother to come out with us during our community open-paddle the following morning. Two years ago, her class returned in the fall and we had a great moose-filled time once again. Her mother even told me that paddling with Canoemobile was now Johanna’s favorite field trip. So last week, while my crew and I were setting up for another day of programming, I wondered if my favorite moose song enthusiast would return for the third year in a row.
Johanna and her friends did, in fact, return that October morning. We recognized each other immediately. Johanna, now age 10, had her mom take a photo of her jumping into my arms. As you can see in the photos below, it has become a tradition for us. With all three photos on top of each other you can see how much Johanna has grown in the three years since our first canoe ride.
I love how Canoemobile’s commitment to a place offers outdoor leaders the ability to see the same kids several years in a row. It feels good in my soul to know that as our program grows and grows, some of our paddlers grow with us. Our paddle sessions are so much more than fleeting field trips; they are an opportunity to foster real connections with children in their communities, year after year. What a gift, to be a part of something so lasting and special!
—Canoemobile Outdoor Leader, Cory Dack