Field Trip Information

What to Expect on a Canoe Field Trip

Field Trips are meant to be enjoyable experiences for everybody, however there are several things you may want to know before you sign up.

  • Canoeing is not a great activity if you like to stay dry. Your feet will definitely get wet, and your whole body may get wet if you tip. Tipping is unlikely if you listen to advice and take it slow, but you can never rule it out. For the most part, the only people that tip are those that want to tip.
  • We will cancel a trip if it looks like it's going to be rainy for the entire day. We will go out into light or passing showers.
  • We may be out in the elements for up to 8 hours during a field trip. It can be very hot, sunny and buggy if the wind drops out. Canoeing for several hours in these conditions can be strenuous. We travel with three people to a canoe, so you can arrange to take turns resting in the 'king' or 'queen' seat if you need a rest. Paddling occurs at the bow and stern, so the middle person gets to take a break. You can also call the field trip leaders and see if you can go in their boat. Trip leaders can only take 1 paddler, but they are used to paddling and paddling with them allows you to take it a bit easier.
  • Remember that we may be up to 2 hours from emergency medical help when deciding if you want to come out on a field trip. Trip leaders are trained in wilderness first aid, but you shouldn't be out there if you are worried about being that far from professional medical attention.
  • Last but not least, canoes do not have bathrooms and we do not bring a port-a-john, so alternatives will have to be used.

This information is not meant to discourage people from signing up for a CBNERR field trip. We are able to take out people from just about any age, physical ability or experience. This information is for you to know what we may experience on a field trip so you can decide if it is for you or not. While we happily travel at the pace of the slowest canoe, the whole group has to abort the field trip if a participant has to come back.

Please call the CBNERR education coordinator if you have any questions about the signing up for a field trip or what will occur during the trip.

Sarah McGuire Nuss
Education Coordinator
Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia

What to Bring on a Field Trip

Filled out Medical Form and Liability Waiver:  The medical information is only used so that field trip leaders and professional medical help will be aware of pertinent medical history should something happen. You won't be able to tell us important information (background, allergies, pre-existing conditions) if you are unconscious.

Medications that you may need:  We may be up to 2 hours away from professional medical help so you must bring any medications that you need including epinephrine injections and antihistamine (such as Benedryl) if you are allergic to bee stings or bug bites etc.

Sturdy lace-up shoes:  We will be getting out of the canoes and exploring shallow water, marsh and beach habitats. You need to have shoes that will stay on in thick mud and that will protect your feet from sharp barnacles and other shells, wood and even broken glass. Sandals, flip-flops and Tevas will not be permitted on field trips. Teva type sandals do not protect the sides and tops of your feet from sharp objects and the Velcro often comes undone when in the mud. Old sneakers work the best. Old dive booties and water shoes are OK as long as they are tight enough to stay on your feet in the mud.

Shoes and Clothes that can get wet and muddy:  Old bathing suits are great to have on under your clothes in case you get wet or take a swim.

Extra Clothes:  Bring an extra sweatshirt in the spring and fall because it's always colder on the water than it is in your backyard.

Change of Clothes:  You may want to bring a towel and an extra T-shirt, pants, shorts etc. to change into when the field trip is over. You may be wet and muddy at the end of the trip.

At least 1 liter of water per person (more in the summer):  It's always good to have a lot of water with you because canoeing can be very strenuous. Soda of any sort is not a good hydrating beverage in the field.

Lunch and snacks:  CBNERR does not provide any food on field trips. Bring extra snacks to power you through the day.

Sun protection:  Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, light-colored clothing to keep the sun off. We may be in full sun for 8 hours. You will need protection no matter how deep your tan already is.

Bug Clothes:  It is always a great idea to bring a pair of lightweight pants, a lightweight long sleeve T-shirt and a hat to wear in case we are attacked by bugs. Clothing works 100% better than insect repellant sprays.

Rain Gear: Optional.  Odds are that we will turn back if it begins to rain too hard or too long so rain gear is optional.

Watertight container:  CBNERR will have limited space in watertight containers to carry your lunch and gear. You will want to put your stuff in a cooler, a bucket or something else that will keep it from getting wet from spray, rain or the water sloshing around your canoe. 

For more information the CBNERR's General Education and Public Outreach Program, please contact Sarah Nuss.

Sarah McGuire Nuss
Education Coordinator
Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia