December 7, 2018

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 sunscreen, a shady hat, at least two water bottles, umbrella, raincoat/boots, and more. A complete list of items to bring will be available upon enrollment.

“What is the Missouri River Creative Art Project?" 

The Missouri River Creative Art Project is an art project that we require each student to complete by the end of the program. For the art project, students will work in partners to 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. 

“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 is 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 24,000 volunteers. In addition to our experience carrying out programs, MRR Education Director, Kristen Schulte, has over 12 years of experience working in outdoor education and has personally coordinated the last three Missouri River Academy programs. 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 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 Director Kristen Schulte at  

“Do I need to know how to swim?”

Knowing how to swim is not necessary to attend Missouri River Academy. While the camp does involve spending time around water, students will not be swimming unless they choose to do so. We will not be swimming in the Missouri River during River Academy. While we will be motorboating on the Missouri River, all students will be wearing lifejackets, and will receive a safety talk beforehand. There will be a pool to swim in at Camp Trinity during community time. The pool has a shallow end, so there is an option to get in the water for students who may feel unsafe or unsure about deeper water. 

“Do I need to know how to ride a bike?” 

There will be a day that includes a bike ride on the Katy Trail during Missouri River Academy, where students will be cycling together and stopping at set designations along the trail. We encourage students to get familiar with and become comfortable riding a bike beforehand. If this is not an option, students can ride in a Missouri River Relief vehicle with an instructor to the stopping points along the Katy Trail. While we would love to have the opportunity to teach students how to ride bikes, due to time constraints and the length of the bike ride, it’s not an ideal time. This is a perfect time for continued practice though! We’re more than willing to accommodate individuals of varying skill levels, we just ask that you be honest with us about your abilities. 

“Will other kids be like me?”

Missouri River Relief has hosted individuals with various identities, from many different backgrounds during Missouri River Academy. Students in attendance range from 8th-12th grade, hail from both urban and rural settings, and hold a wide array of identities. Missouri River Relief believes in the importance of equity, inclusion and cultural relevance in our community. That is why we embrace our responsibility to work towards equity and inclusion during Missouri River Academy. 

We offer financial aid to camp participants to provide the opportunity to attend for individuals of varying socioeconomic status. We partner with organizations who share our dedication to inclusion, such as Bringing Families Together, a foster care organization that provides opportunities to individuals who may not readily get them. 

We also consider the many voices that can tell the story of the Missouri River when creating lessons and engaging with students about the river. 

During Missouri River Academy, we work to ensure that every student, regardless of ability, age, cultural background, ethnicity, faith, gender, gender identity, ideology, income, national origin, race or sexual orientation has the opportunity to have a safe, fun, and enriching experience. We acknowledge that there is still a lot to learning to do on our end. We actively pursue that, and will continue to grow with our community.

No comments: