CAMDEN COUNTY, N.J. (CBS) — A group of Camden County teenagers is on a four-day expedition along the Cooper River to find its source. The expedition got off to a speedy start for these Camden County teenagers as they raced up the Cooper River to watch these Environmental Protection Agency divers plant wild celery in the river’s muddy depths.
Above water, this expedition’s organizers are planting the seeds of environmental stewardship into the minds of the teens, like high school senior Jaycel Santos.
“That was really nice and amazing because I like to go fast,” Santos said.
But the rest of the four-day journey will be a bit slower.
Along with adult tour guides, Santos and three other teens will be kayaking, bushwacking and hiking 16 miles up the Cooper River. They will be searching for where the river begins, an answer that hundreds of years later remains murky.
The journey these kids are taking down the Cooper River is similar to what indigenous tribes once did hundreds of years ago.
But subsequent centuries of industrial pollution nearly killed the river before the Clean Water Act of 1972 helped bring it back to life.
Maggie McCann Johns, the director of the Camden County Parks Department, hopes by finding the Cooper River’s source, these teens will also find a desire to help keep the river alive.
“If you don’t know about it, you can’t protect it and love it,” McCann Johns said.
Santos already loves it out here.
“I feel like the biggest thing is try new things and come out your comfort zone and take advantage of every opportunity you have,” Santos said.
Even if that opportunity requires you to row toward it.