Health & Wellness

Hey Kids! Learn to Canoe with the Navesink Maritime Association this Summer!

Navesink Maritime Heritage Association's Secretary & Board Member, Michael Humphreys

RED BANK, N.J. - We sat down with Michael Humphreys, Secretary and Board Member of the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association (NMHA) located in Red Bank, to discuss their organization and the upcoming Summer Canoeing & Learning Program.

Q: Michael, why is the NMHA important?

Humphreys: It’s important because we focus on local maritime history and environmental education.  We attract adults, youths and kids. We have different programs at different times of the year.  For instance, we have a NJ/NY Bay Keeper come in and talk about oyster re-seeding programs and all the other critters under the water. 

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Every Friday we go to Sandy Hook and work with the Park Rangers to go up the Lighthouse and the History House.  We also explore one of the Battery Houses (that protected New York Harbor), which is very dark and spooky, so we use flashlights and the kids love it.

The kids really enjoy going to Rumson where at low tide, we bring them out to a sand bar to explore for crabs and other marine life. 

Q: Michael, tell us about this summer’s Canoeing & Learning Program and how it came about

Humphreys:  We’ve been offering the River Ranger’s program for fourteen years and back in 2002 we built some wooden canoes as a project for two years running.  And then we thought: what are we going to do with these canoes?  We started this program building canoes every year behind the Fair Haven Firehouse.  We’d begin on Saturday, with a group of kids and their parents.  We had sheets of plywood, planks, nails and glue.  We would tell them: you’re going to be paddling by tomorrow afternoon and they wouldn’t believe us.  Sure enough, they were on the river on Sunday afternoon in the canoe that they built by hand. 

Q: Give us a quick overview what the kids are taught

Humphreys: With canoe building, STEM education (Science/Technology/Engineering /Math) comes into play as the kids calculate the lines: longitude and latitude, and the X and Y axis.  We give them the tools, adults cut the wood.  The kids bend the planks, nail and glue them and see how their canoe comes together.

What we are teaching them is how to get on with each other.  The kids typically come in with a friend and we pair them together in a canoe the first day.  Usually, they don’t know how to paddle and they’re banging into each other but are learning.  On the second or third day we place them in a canoe with someone they don’t know and take them out of their comfort zone.  On the fourth day they are all experts.  In the corporate speak you would call this is team building and cooperation. A lot of kids come back year after year, we go up and down the Navesink and Swimming Rivers, and Shadow Lake. 

What they're really learning are lessons that are carried on for the rest of their life.

The Navesink Maritime Heritage Association (NMHA) through its River Rangers is offering a Summer Canoeing & Learning Program.



Put your children (age 10-14) into colorful wooden canoes and onto the water this summer. There are six weeks to choose from

July 9-13    July 23-27 

July 30-August 3  August 6-10   August 13-17

The program runs each week Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM - 1:30PM

As a River Ranger, they will explore the Navesink and Swimming Rivers, enjoy paddling, swimming, and learning something of the on-water and under-water life while having fun!

Canoes, life vests, paddles, and qualified, experienced adult supervision are all part of the package. Just add your children!

Navesink Maritime Heritage Association has offered the River Rangers program each summer for many years and won awards for the program.  Certified teachers have many years experience managing River Rangers on the water.

Each year, NMHA offers five to six weeks to choose from, with up to 20 paddlers each week.

NMHA holds an Informational Meeting for you and your River Rangers prior to the start of the program.  This meeting provides you with detailed instructions for a successful on-water experience.

Please Note:  

  • Participants must be able to swim. 
  • NMHA does not provide transportation to the starting (put-in) locations or from the ending (take-out) locations.  Parents/guardians receive a schedule of locations at the Informational Meeting.

So, choose a date and get you kids out on the beautiful Navesink and Swimming Rivers!

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