More than 200 people have signed on for an exciting journey on the water for the 21st Annual Schuylkill River Sojourn. Organized by the Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area, the sojourn has evolved into a popular paddling event that has allowed more than 4,000 people from 25 states and four foreign countries to paddle the revolutionary river. Today county commissioners Ken Lawrence, who will be paddling, and Val Arkoosh, who will join the sojourners for lunch, will be at Pottstown Riverfront Park (for the launch) and Royersford Victory Park, for lunch.
This year, there are participants from 11 different states, some from as far away as California and Colorado. There’s even a sojourner who’s traveled all the way from Switzerland to join the event. More than 60 paddlers will make the full 112-mile journey, and about 150 more will join for one or more days.
“Thousands of people from throughout the U.S. and even other countries have joined this unforgettable event down the Schuylkill River for the past 21 years. The nationally-award winning water excursion is not only a bucket list item for many but it also draws attention to the river as a significant natural and recreational resource,” said Schuylkill River Greenways NHA Executive Director Elaine Paul Schaefer.
“Our mission is to introduce new people to this historical river with the hope that after experiencing this resource, they are inspired to protect it so future generations can enjoy it just as much as they do,” Schaefer added.
The annual Schuylkill River Sojourn is summer camp, a regional history exploration, and bonding experience all rolled into one. Overall, daily attendance numbers are high for the ever-popular sojourn. For safety reasons, only about 110 to 120 boats are allowed on the water each day, and most days are at or near capacity.
People of all experience levels will participate in this year’s event including several beginners paddling the river for the first time.
About 15 college and high school students from the Reading area will join the sojourn as part of a mentorship program. The students, many who have never kayaked before, will be paired with an experienced paddler to guide them on their Schuylkill River journey. The students will join the sojourn on Tuesday, June 4, and paddle from Allegheny Aqueduct Park to Pottstown Riverfront Park. The student mentorship opportunity is made possible through a partnership between Schuylkill River Greenways NHA and Make the Road Pennsylvania, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that works in Latino communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, community leadership and survival services.
In addition to paddling on the water, sojourners will also learn more about the national heritage area through educational programming that will be provided at all lunch and evening stops.
This year’s sojourn theme is “Our Working River.” The river played an important role in the Industrial Revolution. The abundant natural resources and the fast moving waters of the river and its tributaries fueled the nation’s economic engine for centuries. This year’s sojourn will look back at the river’s industrial past as well as discover present and future industries along the waterway. Topics will include the Walkin Shoe Company of Schuylkill County, Berks County agriculture, the history of Valley Forge and regional iron furnaces.
For the fourth year, the Schuylkill River Greenways NHA has teamed up with the Schuylkill Action Network to hire a Sojourn Steward who will help identify animals and birds, and post photos and stories to a blog and social media.
Although the Schuylkill River Sojourn is clearly a recreational endeavor, its primary purpose is to draw attention to the river as this region’s most critical natural resource, and as a source of drinking water for over 1.5 million people.
The Schuylkill River Greenways NHA is a non-profit organization with the mission of connecting residents, visitors and communities to the Schuylkill River and the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT) by serving as a catalyst for civic engagement and economic development. For more information, visit schuylkillriver.org.
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Pottstown Riverfront Park Launch: 9:00 a.m.
Royersford Victory Park Lunch Arrival: 12:25 p.m. (Use Victory Park, Royersford, PA 19468 for GPS).
Lunch Program: History of the Majolica Factory and Phoenixville
– Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence will be paddling on the sojourn this day
– Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh will be joining the sojourners for lunch
Mont Clare Arrival and Lock 60 lock-through: 3:15 p.m.
(Use Lock 60 Recreation Area, Mont Clare 19453 for GPS)
Evening Program at 7 PM: Movie Night showing the documentary “Tapped”
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Mont Clare St. Michael’s Park Launch: 9: 00 a.m.
Valley Forge National Historical Park (Betzwood Picnic Area) Lunch Arrival: 11:30 a.m.
(Use Betzwood Park, Norristown 19403 for GPS)
Lunch Program: Presentation on the industry and history of Valley Forge
– After lunch at around 2:25 p.m. there will be a ribbon cutting and short celebration of the new kayak launch in Bridgeport. Several area representatives will be in attendance. Directions: Use Frosty Falls 96 Dekalb St., Bridgeport 19405 for GPS then continue on Water St. to the dock which is in front of the Upper Merion Rowing Association building.
West Conshohocken Arrival: 4:15 p.m. (Use Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken 19428 for GPS)
Evening Program at 7:30 PM: The sojourn steward will give a review of the week about their experience
Friday, June 7, 2019
West Conshohocken Launch: 9:00 a.m.
Philadelphia Canoe Club Lunch Arrival: 12:00 p.m. (Use 4900 Ridge Ave, Philadelphia 19127 for GPS)
Final take out at Philly PA Center for Adaptive Sports Cycling & Rowing Dragon Boat Dock: 3:15 p.m.