By Alumna Dakota Z., Intercept Program
In amusement, you awaken to several giggly group mates in their sleeping bags that also resemble caterpillars. The night before, your group ended up paddling a good distance past your campsite, so you had the option to paddle a ten extra miles or sleep on the boats. You all chose to sleep on the boats. Not many people can say they have slept in a canoe on the Suwannee River!
As you pack away your sleeping bag into your gear bag, you come to realize that you have just a few more days left on the river. It is a bittersweet feeling. You are excited to get home and apply what you’ve learned on course, but you are sad to leave the experience and the people. You have created so many memories and learned so much from every group member.
Although you only have a few days left, you still motivate your group to paddle fast to meet your set miles for the day. At this point, your group has earned several privileges by completing specific challenges given by your instructors. One of the privileges earned by your group is the ability to have the radio on whenever you please! Your group decides to have it on while paddling, creating an upbeat and fun environment. You and your boat partner pretend to know the words to every song, while attempting to paddle to the beat of the music. Clearly you can find many ways to entertain yourself out on the Suwannee.
Successfully meeting your miles way before the sun goes down, you get to paddle through the beautiful Manatee Springs! Paddling through a small entrance on the left side of the river, the water begins to appear crystal clear. You look up to see several birds covering the branches on each unique tree. You look down and cannot believe what is underneath your canoe! You see at least 5 manatees swimming just two feet beneath you. You also see a few turtles and some multi-colored fish swimming throughout the spring. You and your group are so proud of one another for reaching your goal and earning this spontaneous adventure.
Paddling just a few minutes away from the springs, you arrive at your campsite. You are still in awe over the natural beauty of Manatee Springs and cannot stop talking about what you witnessed. While unloading the boats, your group decides between cheesy quinoa or spaghetti for dinner…a very difficult decision.