Volunteer retired Lt. Col. Gary Linhart, member of Paddle KC paddling club, helps Scouts into their kayaks before embarking on an 11-mile paddle to Centennial Bridge Oct. 9 on the Missouri River. Many of the Scouts were paddling for the first time. Photo by Charlotte Richter/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Charlotte Richter | Staff Writer

Eight girls from Girl Scout Troop 5463 and Scouts BSA Troop 166 and other volunteers kayaked 11 miles on the Missouri River from Kickapoo to Riverfront Park in Leavenworth Oct. 9 to fulfill objectives as Scouts, place duck houses and complete a river clean-up as part of a National Public Lands Day grant.

Girl Scout Trailblazers Audrey Ontiveros and Jordyn Kline, Emily Harris of Scouts BSA Troop 166 and her mom Darcy Harris place their kayak paddles on their heads to center their hands for the best grip while retired Lt. Col. Gary Linhart, member of Paddle KC paddling club, gives Scouts and volunteers tips before kayaking on the Missouri River Oct. 9. Photo by Charlotte Richter/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

The $1,500 NPLD grant was funded by the National Environmental Education Foundation, said Neil Bass, natural resource specialist for the Directorate of Public Works. NEEF grants acquaint people with ways they can access public lands and create spaces for people to volunteer. While NEEF sometimes has priorities associated with National Public Lands Day, Bass said NEEF receives funding from the Department of Defense to distribute to DOD installations for projects of interest.

KC Canoe and Kayak provided rented kayaks, and volunteers introduced the Scouts to the sport. Bass said the Missouri River is less intimidating than most people anticipate be-cause the Army Corp of Engineers maintains the depth of the Missouri River.Girl Scout Troop 5463 Co-leader, Bambi Kline said the Trailblazers in her troop have been working toward their Trailblazer membership pins for some time. The pin emphasizes outdoor activities and survivorship exclusively for eighth to 12th-grade Girl Scouts. Kline said her troop is also working toward the mariner pin as the girls try kayaking and other water-based activities.

Trailblazer Scouts 14-year-old Jordyn Kline and 15-year-old M.J. Jones pass under Centennial Bridge, completing their 11-mile kayaking journey down the Missouri River celebrating National Public Lands Day Oct. 9 near the boat ramp at Riverfront Park and Campground in Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Girl Scout Trailblazer Annie Vodarick said the experience was peaceful and fun.

“It’s nice to have people come together for an activity, even if they aren’t interacting during the activity,” Vodarick said in reference to kayaking in separate boats on the river.

She said working toward the Trailblazer and mariner pins have allowed her to experience things she might not try otherwise.“It’s a little more independent than how the Girls Scouts usually go.”

Girl Scout Troop 5463 Co-leader Carrie VanNess said the grant project allowed the Scouts to pick their experiences in line with Girl Scout priorities — the project doubled as a pin activity and a service project.

“It’s girl-led, so this is something they mentioned they wanted to do and explore,” VanNess said.Emily Harris of Scouts BSA Troop 166 said her goal on the river was to complete eight service hours needed for an award in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency. Similar to the Trailblazers, Harris said she enjoys experiences with more out-door focus and is working toward becoming an Eagle Scout.

Trailblazer Scout 14-year-old Jordyn Kline maneuvers toward the boat ramp to complete her 11-mile kayaking journey down the Missouri River celebrating National Public Lands Day Oct. 9 at Riverfront Park and Campground in Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“Scout groups are really good partners because they have missions that overlap the NEEF and natural resource goals for the day and the fort,” Bass said.Bass said he frequently works with lo-cal Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts on outdoor projects.

“As the natural resource specialist at the fort, I like to (collaborate with) Scouts (on projects) because a positive experience out-side can lead to a lifetime of outdoor experiences for them and their families,” he said. “This also can translate into advocacy for natural resource-related causes.”

Trailblazer Scout 14-year-old Katie Moen paddles toward the boat ramp to complete her 11-mile kayaking journey down the Missouri River celebrating National Public Lands Day Oct. 9 at Riverfront Park and Campground in Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Trailblazer Scout 15-year-old M.J. Jones eyes the boat ramp to complete her 11-mile kayaking journey down the Missouri River celebrating National Public Lands Day Oct. 9 at Riverfront Park and Campground in Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

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