July 21, 2017

Missouri River Academy FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)


“What type of weather should I plan for? How is Missouri River Relief prepared for this?”


“The Missouri River Academy takes place right in the middle of summer, so we can say with certainty that you should be prepared for the heat. At MRR, we use preventative measures to keep both our participants and staff safe. These measures include frequent hydration, the use of cold towels, and access to shade/air conditioning, when possible. In preparation for the Academy, we ask that you are well-equipped with items such as sun screen, a shady hat, at least two water bottles, umbrella, rain coat/boots, and more. A complete list of items to bring will be available upon enrollment. “

“What is the Missouri River Action Project? Do I need to do any work ahead of time for this?”


The Missouri River Action project is a research assignment that we require each student to complete by the end of the Academy. Jan weaver, MRR crew member and MEEA director, will lead instruction on the action project. For the action project, each student will identify an issue that in some way affects the Missouri River, and will conduct research - using MRR resources - to develop a solution that addresses their given problem. Now, I know conducting research doesn’t sound like a typical camp activity, but at MRR, we believe in finding the right balance between fun and learning, creating an extraordinary overall experience. In addition, research will facilitate a deeper connection that students feel to the Missouri River, thus empowering the next generation of river stewards. Conducting research prior to the Academy is not a requirement, but we highly recommend that students at least identify a few topics that might be of interest before coming to the Academy. Resources for researchable topics can be found on our MRR education page. 

“Are there any physical requirements for the Missouri River Academy?”


During the Academy, we will be doing some form of physical activity every day. Some days will be more strenuous than others; for example, one day will be spent riding bikes on the Katy Trail. The bike ride will be more physically demanding than, say, the fourth day, which includes several presentations. Be that as it may, the Academy is not an exercise camp, and we try to be as inclusive of all fitness levels as possible. All we ask is that students be honest about their skill level, particularly concerning bike riding or swimming, and that they keep an open mind. More information will be provided in the registration packets for the Academy. 

“What makes this summer camp different from the rest? What kind of activities will the camp offer?”


The Missouri River Academy offers students the unique opportunity to learn about something that they can literally float on during camp! The Academy combines a traditional summer camp structure with a River Relief twist. During camp, students will be able to jump in the pool for a swim, play basketball or volleyball, make s’mores around the bonfire, but also get the chance to learn about the Missouri River. Students get to take a ride on our 24-foot aluminum plated MRR boats, and will explore several areas of interest related to the river, including the history and economics of a river town, ecology and river organisms, as well as human activity. But wait, there’s more! Students will also be required to complete a Missouri River Action Project. For this project, students will choose an issue related to the Missouri River, and conduct research throughout the Academy to develop a solution that addresses the issue. For more information on the action project, see our related FAQ question. To be clear, there will not be a dull moment during the Academy, and at MRR, we make sure to pack all of our events with tons of fun. For more information on activities, check out our MRR education page. 

“I’ve never heard of Missouri River Relief. What makes you qualified to run a 5-day summer camp?”


Missouri River Relief has been hosting the Missouri River Academy for the last five years. While each Academy is different, we attribute this long-standing tradition to the hard work and determination of our staff, volunteers, and presenters. Besides the Academy, MRR has been working since 2001 to connect people to the Missouri River, by coordinating various different events, collectively gathering over 22,000 volunteers. In addition to our experience carrying out programs, MRR Education Coordinator, Kristen Schulte, has over 10 years of experience working in outdoor education, and has personally coordinated the last two Missouri River Academy events. Our staff are well trained, prepared, and motivated, making us an ideal organization to run a complex summer-camp program. To learn more about MRR and its staff, check out our about page. 

“Isn't the Missouri River dangerous? What kind of boats will the students be in?”


Just like with all bodies of water, the Missouri River can be dangerous, if correct safety precautions are not followed. At MRR, we pride ourselves on the standard of safety that we uphold for each and every one of our events. Beginning with a detailed safety talk before anyone steps on a boat, participants are instructed as to the proper behavior required both inside and outside the boat, and then are fitted for a life jacket by one of our friendly, trained staff members. The boats themselves are 24-feet long, and sided with aluminum plating. All MRR boat operators must complete a mandatory training session before they can drive a boat, and our pilots have years of experience under their belt. Rest assured, MRR takes every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers, and participants. For more information about our equipment, visit the MRR Our Fleet page. 

“I notice that Camp Trinity is a religious camp, will students be required to pray at meals?”



In short, no, students will not be required to pray at meals, but they are more than welcome to do so if they like. MRR is inclusive of all walks of life, including beliefs and non-beliefs, and maintains a culture of acceptance. MRR is a not a religious organization, and its programs do not operate under any particular religious’ faith. We understand that Camp Trinity is a Lutheran facility, and while we respect their beliefs, we do not promote these ideals within our program structure. Nonetheless, we expect that all staff, volunteers, presenters, and participants treat both the staff and property of Camp Trinity with respect. If you have any further questions regarding this manner, feel free to contact MRR Education Coordinator Kristen Schulte at kristen@riverrelief.org.  

July 19, 2017

Missouri River Academy, July 9-13, 2017

By: Leif Nordstrom, Missouri River Relief

Both fun and educational, there's nothing like being on the river.
28 high school students from across the state joined us at scenic Camp Trinity for our second annual Missouri River Academy in New Haven, Missouri. During the camp, students would connect with the natural and cultural history of the Missouri River through adventure, exploration, and investigation. Students will discover the river ecosystems and the natural forces that shaped them, including ways that human activity have affected the river’s rhythm and flow.
Kristen pumps up the group with her trademark "Bring it!" activity.
Day 1 had us registering and settling in at our beautiful camp, with an introduction to the staff and the Missouri River. After introductions, students separated into teams to begin the much anticipated Missouri River Olympics. The first challenge required teams to face off in a heated “Rock, Paper, Scissors” tournament, with an added twist: whenever a participant lost a match, they had to hold the victor’s shoulders from behind, and chant their name until a champion was found, creating two large lines of students, all chanting in a hypnotic, unified rhythm as the final contestants faced-off. After the Olympic-excitement settled, students were introduced to their Missouri River Action project. Fellow MRR crew member and MEEA director, Jan Weaver, detailed the structure of the project, wherein students would identify an issue affecting the Missouri River, and develop a solution to address their chosen problem. We capped off an exciting first day with a campfire and s’mores, as local musicians Gloria and Michael came out to lead us in song. 
Rock, paper, scissors: a victor must be crowned!
Day 2 of the River Academy was spent on the river. We got out for a morning boat ride before it got too hot, explored, wondered and learned about the history of the Mighty Mo. While on the river, we observed a passing grain barge from Hermann Sand & Gravel, serving as an unexpected preface to the tour that we were to have on day 4. After a bit of mucking around in the mud, we found a spot back at the boat ramp to settle in for some water-color painting and lunch. After lunch, we hit the Katy Trail for a bike ride through the river country side, followed by a tour of the old Peers Store, ice cream, a prairie tour and ended with dinner in Treloar, Missouri. Dan and Connie Burkhardt from the Katy Land Trust funded all of these activities, displaying some great river hospitality. Once we were back at camp, students continued to work on their Missouri River Action Project. We then geared up for day 2 of Missouri River Olympics, competing in an activity called “birdy on the perch”, where contestants used hand/body motions as clues to distinguish between those that were ‘birdies’ and those that were ‘perch’. We concluded the day with a look at the stars through the eyes of the local Astronomy Club.
Enjoying the Katy Trail, one of Missouri's wonderful resources.
Day 3 of the Academy was spent both on and off the river. We began early, as our friends from Missouri River Bird Observatory came out to lead a presentation, where the students had a chance to locate birds using binoculars. Then we hit the river, where Mike Smith - a MRR crew member and retired teacher - guided the students through an exploration exercise, before we conducted a lightning-fast clean-up, which the students rocked. 
An attack by vicious snails!
After that, we hit the river, as the Missouri Department of Conservation brought out four boats to teach us different ways of catching fish. Finally, we ended with a sunset cruise, an "insects of the night" activity, and of course, another round of Missouri River Olympics! During the third Olympics challenge, students combined brain-power to solve difficult riddles. 
This student poses after catching the biggest fish of the day!
Day 4 of the Missouri River Academy was all about Missouri River towns. First, we met up with David Menke, a New Haven historian, who talked about how the Missouri River played a role in its founding, including a riveting story about a Lewis and Clark companion. Then we walked a few blocks to Astral Glass, where we heard from Lance and Gary about their paddling trek of the upper Missouri River. Besides getting to see all the unique gear that they used during their trip, students were able to ask questions and hear tons of fun stories. Then we packed CSA (Community-Sourced Agriculture) boxes at Avant Garden in New Haven. Students had a blast sorting through blueberries and beets, while learning about locally sourced food. 
Blueberries, beets and honey abound!
Avant Garden provided a delectable lunch for us – BLT’s and potato salad – all consisting of locally sourced ingredients. After lunch, we took a tour of the Deutschheim State Historical Society in Hermann, Missouri. Students gained perspective of why people in history would choose to live on/near the river, and how their lifestyle was influenced by it. Next, we visited with Hermann Sand and Gravel, as we were afforded a tour of their expansive facility. Finally, we made our way back to New Haven to tour the New Haven office of Public Works, where we explored a waste-water treatment facility. Once we had returned to camp, students worked on their action projects, played “Zombie tag”, and capped off the night with an ice cream social.
Jan Weaver assists students with their Action project.

Day 5 was an exciting end to our Missouri River Academy. Students spent the morning putting the finishing touches on their action projects. We had a picnic lunch next a small lake located in the camp, and shared our favorite moments of the camp during “Pass the Feather”, a MRR tradition. After lunch, students created posters to represent their action project, which they then displayed on the walls around our lodge. In the afternoon, parents began to arrive and students presented about their action projects to parents, staff, and other students. We could not have been more proud to witness the culmination of our campers’ hard work, expressed through passion, creativity, and maybe just a little bit of fun. As is life, all good things must come to an end; after the presentations we said our good-byes, and the campers began to depart. This year’s Academy ranks among the best, but we could not have done it without all of our wonderful presenters, staff, and volunteers, to whom we would like to extend a humongous Big Muddy thank you. 
Group photo outside of the Peers Store - Thanks, KLT!

See you on the river!


June 27, 2017

Trash Tally Totals, 2016

Hello, River Reliefers

2016 was a great year for trash (how often do you hear that one?)
So we have compiled a detailed list of all the materials we picked up over the year, both big and small. 

But first, we would like to extend a tremendous thank you to everyone that has joined us for a clean-up, including volunteers, crew, and partner organizations. From St. Louis to Kansas City, 2016 was another remarkable year for Missouri River Relief, and we could not have done it without you!! 

With that, please take some time to bask in the itemized glory of garbage that can no longer call the Big Muddy home.
For fun, we separated trash into general categories...


Clothing:

1 flimsy gray brassiere
1 leopard print G-string
5 flip-flop
1 pair pink plastic sparkle sunglasses (lenses gone)
1 sneaker
1 pair of wet shoes
1 hard hat
1 tie
1 hat
3 gloves

Furniture and house fixtures:

15 chair
1 couch
1 mattress
3 rusted bed springs
1 dresser drawer (wooden)
1 mirror
1 chaise lounge (aqua)
1 door

Appliances: 

11 refrigerators
5 fridge door
7 refrigerator racks
1 refrigerator compressor with coils
4 TVs
2 chest freezer
1 garage door opener motor
1 oven grate

Toys and recreational items:

1 Frisbee
3 fishing pole
1 Snow Board
23 assorted balls (football, soccer, etc.)
1 toy chicken
1 toy sheep (contest winner)
1 red cardboard octopus (should have won the contest)
1 child’s 4-wheeler in pieces (steering wheel, axle, seat)
1 plastic toddler slide
3 plastic sleds
1 Tuggy the Tugboat
1 bicycle
1 blue plastic basketball hoop stand
1 piece of a swing set
1 Etch-a-Sketch
1 baby bottle
1 glow stick 
1 Dinosaur toy
1 Mr. Potato Head 
1 Space Panda
1 Anatomically Correct Baby Doll (It’s a Boy!)
1 Scooby Doo
1 Bowling Pin
1 bottle of blue glitter
1 green bottle of playdough 
1 Big Wheels

In fact, we almost found enough trash to construct a Missouri River Relief vehicle!!

443 tires 
4 car seat
1 car under-tray (commonly known as “bellypan”)
1 trailer hitch
3 car bumper
5 car body pieces
1 gas can
2 plastic mud flap
1 gas tank cover
1 car headlight
1 crank shaft
1 truck bed liner
1 car engine cover
1 gas pipe (6’ long)

Here is a shortened list of the complete 2016 trash tally...


956 Bags Trash
126 Bags Recyclables
443 tires 
34 55-gallon plastic barrels
11 refrigerators
49 large Styrofoam hunks
16 55-gallon metal barrel
39 5-gallon bucket
22 coolers
31 large tubs 
19 propane tank (small)
15 chair
2 chest freezer
1 500-gal metal tank (rusted)
1 oil drain pan
4 truck tire w/out rim
3 metal cable
2 fuel tank drum
3 wooden pallets
3 car wheels (steel)
1 5-gallon plastic oil container
1 large rubber circular trough
1 boat bumper
4 car seat
7 camper parts (Designer Series camper)
1 car undertray (commonly known as “bellypan”)
1 trailer hitch 
3 car bumper
5 car body pieces
4 large propane tanks
2 swimming pool parts
4.5 buoy
3 corrugated plastic pipe 
1 boat seat
4 PVC pipe 
1 yellow raft
2 country mailboxes (one with red flag up)
1 “Pittsburgh” US Geological Survey life vest
1 couch
3 rusted bed springs
3.5 full jugs of oil
1 oxygen tank
2 fence post
1 American Flag
1 section rusted iron gate
1 water jug
1 gas can
1 heavy aluminum pan
1 oven grate
1 sleeping bag (frog green)
3 fishing pole
2 television back
4 TVs
1 Christmas tree
1 valet sign
3 gloves
1 flimsy gray brassiere
1 Snow Board
1 sheet piling
1 leopard print g-string
3 metal drum
3 dirty diapers
2 plastic mud flap
1 door
1 gas tank cover
3 culvert
1 tent
1 cattle panel
12 hunks plastic
4 trash can lid
1 bed-liner
1 message in a bottle
1 car headlight
1 pump sprayer
2 garden hose
1 oil drain pan
1 gas tank cover
3 plastic milk crates
1 Freon tank
1 5-gallon stainless-steel milk can (very shiny)
1 2-cup glass measuring cup
3 paint cans 
9 large pieces scrap metal
1 20-foot steel cable
1 metal spring
1 bunch fake grapes
1 12-foot iron pipe
1 6-foot roll acrylic sheeting (very heavy)
3 seed starter flats
1 radio vacuum tube
1 picnic table base (tubular steel)
2 rubber hose
1 garage door opener motor
6 wooden plank
1 bin dog feeder
4 duck decoy
1 Frisbee
1 sand bucket
5 flip-flop
1 jet ski tread
2 ball bat
23 assorted balls (football, soccer, etc.)
1 toy chicken
1 toy sheep (contest winner)
1 red cardboard octopus (should have won the contest)
1 child’s 4-wheeler in pieces (steering wheel, axle, seat)
1 plastic toddler slide
3 plastic sleds
1 Tuggy the Tugboat

If you are interested in joining us for a Missouri River clean-up, visit our volunteer sign-up page, and stay up to-date on upcoming events by subscribing to our newsletter. 

See you on the river!