Map it! Plan your park visit.

Map It!

2011 River Heroes

The Boathouse and Friends of the James River Park announced that Mike Ostrander of Discover the James, Passages Adventure Camp, and Seven Hills Middle School for Boys are 2011 River Heroes!

The River Heroes received a $100 gift certificate to The Boathouse, a raft trip for two from Riverside Outiftters, and a year's membership to FOJRP along with an invitation to our May 22 picnic. Thanks so much to everyone who nominated all of the wonderful candidates and to Riverside Outfitters and The Boathouse for their generosity. It was humbling to read of the good works so many people are doing for the river and park. Here's some of what impressed us so about our heroes:

Seven Hills Middle School for Boys

Seven Hills

One Friday a month, rain or shine, some 60 boys aged 10 to 13 plus faculty from Seven Hills School spend a full school day "a River Day" at Reedy Creek in the James River Park System. They've been doing it now for ten years.

The boys attend a series of outdoor classes and volunteer in shifts with Peter Bruce of the James River Park System to help maintain the Park by mulching trails, removing invasive plants, clearing brush, and tending a butterfly garden. Over a decade of River Days, 10,200 volunteer hours have been performed by approximately 600 boys.

These students have a most unusual opportunity to spend all day in the Park, 32 times over their middle school years, gaining an ease and awareness of living in the outdoors that is increasingly rare among the overscheduled younger generations. And with this awareness comes the increased probability that these young men will want to conserve and protect the James River for future generations.

Mike Ostrander of Discover the James

Mike Ostrander

Mike Ostrander makes 100% of his living on the James River running a very innovative business called Discover the James. His business is people's avenue into the world of the James River around Richmond which runs a combination of programs and activities on the history, wildlife, and fishing in the James. Mike provides four different river tours - Bald Eagle, Wildlife, Civil War and Captain John Smith & Virginia Indians -- all offering people different ways to discover and learn about the river.

His fishing program is just as ground-breaking. The kids program is more than just about fishing. Exploring the river is a huge part of the experience. For example, before any kids can fish they have to find a certain waterbug that lives under rocks along the shoreline. These waterbugs do not tolerate pollution and will either move or die if the water is not clean. Once the bugs are found the kids know the water is safe to fish, swim and explore.· All fish caught are gently released. No barbed hooks are ever used.

Mike's got a bumper sticker on his car that simply says, "I live in the James River." He makes a case every day that more of us should do the same.

Passages Adventure Camp


Each summer, Passages Adventure Camp meets weekdays on Belle Isle in downtown Richmond and teaches skills required for kayaking and rock climbing. In addition to outdoor skills, girls and boys take away knowledge of environmental awareness, how to, “ leave no trace†, the importance of recycling, and essential green strategies to protect our river for future generations. The children and camp staff make it a habit to pick up trash everyday, and the presence of children and young adults using the park in healthy ways sets a positive atmosphere in the park.

Passages Adventure Camp is a licensed concessionaire of James River Park, helps maintain the park, and promotes a positive, healthy atmosphere. It donates a percentage of its gross revenue to the Enrichmond Foundation for city parks and urban recreation programs. In 2010, over $25,000 was donated to the foundation. Over $9,000 was donated in camp scholarships to children who attended camp for free or at a reduced rate.

River Heros logo

About the River Hero Award

With this annual event, the Friends of the James River Park hope to bring attention to the magnificent, scenic river that runs through Richmond and to those who have worked to make the James River a better place for both people and wildlife.

No award was made in 2013.