Summer campers explore scenic Pascagoula River

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Summer campers in Jackson County enjoyed some time on the water Thursday. They took a tour of the Pascagoula River.

It was quite the adventure for these young campers.  Many had never been on the river before. Tour guide Benny McCoy helped them discover the natural beauty of the Pascagoula.

"Yeah, I'm just waiting for the water moccasins," said one young camper as their tour boat pulled away from the dock, "That's all I'm worried about!"

Summer campers set out to explore the scenic Pascagoula.

"It's like of like a nursery out here.  Little babies, everything's raising babies," said Benny McCoy.

McCoy grew up on the river and is always happy to share his love for and knowledge of these waters.

"This plant to the right, with the brown seed heads, that's your sawgrass," said the tour guide, as his boat glided along the bayou.

As an osprey soared overhead, dragon flies darted close to the water.

"This plant to the right of us, the one with the tiny white flowers, that's the bull tongue arrowhead," said the ever knowledgeable McCoy.

Suddenly they spot something that needs no introduction. The first of two alligators swims ahead of the tour boat. The kids try and catch a glimpse before the six footer goes under.

Not far from the gator, McCoy pulls something from the water.

"That's a beaver stick. That's what they call a beaver stick. Look, he kind of carved it out like a bird didn't he," he said, raising the water logged stick for all the kids to see.

Birds are a definite part of this river adventure.  A marsh duck makes a brief appearance, while a female osprey seems to pose for pictures, sitting on her nest high atop the trees.

"It's just a good experience as a whole. They get to learn a lot.  They see a lot of wildlife they wouldn't see otherwise," said camp counselor Jordan Nix.

"You know the only difference in a swamp and a marsh is what?" McCoyquizzed the kids.

"Trees!" they shouted back, giving him the correct response.

Suddenly gator number two appears.

"He's swimming towards us!" yelled one of the boys.

This ten footer doesn't much mind the gawking and pointed binoculars.

"It was very cool being out on the bayou. For the second time in my life, I actually got to see an alligator," said summer camper Grace McBroom.

Mozart Dedeaux helps direct the summer camp.

"That's our goal. That is indeed our goal, to get the kids involved with nature," he said.

The Pascagoula River Audubon Center is hosting the summer camp this week. Along with their river adventure, the kids are busy studying bugs. Entomology is the theme of this year's camp.

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