Florida Expedition Suwannee River

Grades 8-12  |  6 – 10 Days  |  March and October – November
Suwannee River, FL

The celebrated Suwannee River (ancient Indian for Echo) originates deep in the heart of the Okefenokee Swamp in Southern Georgia and flows southeast across the border to Florida for 200 miles, eventually emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. Its name, synonymous with Dixie and the Old South, stirs fanciful visions of stately moss draped Cypress, sultry Southern days, and a way of life long past. If the lifestyle has disappeared into history and imagination, the Suwanee remains substantially unchanged.

The Upper Suwannee is characterized by low banks, frequent swampy areas, stately Cypress, and gnarled Tupelos often growing in the river as well as along the banks. Sometimes trees are so large that you can paddle a canoe through the roots! Gradually the river’s character changes with white sandbars around each bend, rocky shoals (small rapids) and small waterfalls created by the entry of tiny streams. Further down, the river flows through spectacular limestone walls and many springs empty into its tannin colored waters.

Day 1

We will begin our journey on the border of the National Wildlife Refuge, where the river flows out of the swamp. After canoeing instruction and packing; we will paddle our way downstream to the first camp.

Day 2-8

Each day we will paddle between seven and fifteen miles camping in the forest or on the riverbank. Students will learn to navigate with map and compass, paddle stern and bow on moving water, recognize obstacles, learn how to safely navigate the river and work together as a paddling team. Group members will assume all key responsibilities for life on the trail: cooking and cleaning, gathering firewood, keeping fire, camp set up and take down, leading and sweeping.

As we move through the beautiful country there will be time for swimming and observing the wildlife, including turtles, alligators and multitude of birds. At night we will set tents or sleep under the stars. We will cook delicious meals and bake bread over an open fire. There will be time for group dialog, stories, guitar playing, singing and fishing.