From the Potomac Headwaters to the Chesapeake Bay



Stream Scholars

Summer Camp 2009  

July 20 - 24


Other Years: 2003  2004  2005   2006  2007  2008 

2010  2011  2012  2013  2014

Seven middle school students enjoyed a week participating in the 7th Annual Stream Scholars Summer Camp, a hands-on exploration of stream ecology and conservation.   The Scholars became Certified WV Save Our Streams water monitors, visited Washington D.C. for a  sampling cruise on the Potomac, and camped on the Potomac River not far from where it meets the Chesapeake Bay.  They spent the first three days in and around Waites Run at J.A. Hawkins (Wardensville Town) Park.


Stream Scholars would like to thank:


*  Jennifer Titus for being a chaperone;

*  Tim Craddock and Alana Hartman, WV Department of Environmental Protection, for instruction and guidance;

* The Chesapeake Bay Foundation for the sampling trip on the lower Potomac;

* The natural resources staff at George Washington’s Birth Place National Monument, led by Ranger Riji (Rick) Morawe;

*  Bob Mayhew, Mayhew Chevrolet (Romney), for donating use of a van;

The WV Commission for National and Community Service, WV Conservation Agency, MARPAT Foundation and our members for financial support.

The Scholars conducted stream habitat assessments and used field equipment to measure pH, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen, an important indicator of suitable habitat for aquatic life.  On Monday, Alana Hartman, WV DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Coordinator, spoke to the youth about what the DEP is doing to protect local waters that flow into the Chesapeake Bay.  She also discussed her career and opportunities in biology and science.  On Tuesday and Wednesday Tim Craddock, WV DEP’s Citizens Monitoring Coordinator for the WV Save Our Streams Program, led the training and the stream investigation.  The Scholars investigated how the population of benthic macroinvertebrates (small animals without backbones that live on the stream bottom) will show if a stream is healthy or in trouble.

Watch a video of the Stream Scholars sampling the stream.


Waites Run remains a very healthy stream.  That is due in part to the good stewardship of J.A. Hawkins Park.  They are protecting Waites Run from pollution by not cutting the thick forest that grows along the stream bank. This ribbon of forest, known as a riparian buffer, between the park grounds and the stream, protects Waites Run by reducing erosion, filtering pollution before it reaches the stream, and providing shade for the stream.  Even with the forest buffer, the Scholars noticed the water was a little cloudy and not as clear as years past.  They investigated upstream but were unable to identify the source of the murky green color.  That is one of the biggest problems with non-point source water pollution, the source of the problem can be very hard to locate.

On Thursday the Scholars headed to Washington D.C. for an afternoon trip on the Susquehanna, a 42’ research vessel of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  The Scholars cruissed the Potomac River in the heart of Washington in view of the Washington Monument, past Reagan International Airport and the U.S. Army War College.  Then they went past the Blue Plains Waste Water Treatment Plant, that treats and discharges all the waste water for D.C. and some of the surrounding area.  It is one of the largest treatment plants in the United States.  Across the River, away from the treatment plan, Scholars took water samples and measurements before being chased back to dock by one dark storm full of lightning.  They got back just in time for the rain and lightning to pass over head.

Thursday night the Scholars camped at Westmoreland State Park, Virginia, on the lower tidal section of the Potomac River not far from where it flows into the Chesapeake Bay.  That night, they gathered to prepare "Arthur's Hobo Stew" that has been a tradition on Stream Scholars overnights since our first trip to the Bay in 2005. 

On Friday the Scholars visited the shore of the Potomac near a tidal marsh.  Every high tide the marsh floods then releases the water during low tide.  Some of the Scholars investigated how the water flowing out of the marsh was cooler and clearer than the main Potomac. 

Friday afternoon the Scholars were treated to a special tour of George Washington’s Birth Place National Monument.  They discussed what they know about George Washington’s visits to Capon Bridge and the Cacapon River with Ranger Riji (Rick) Morawe and his staff.  Did you know Charlestown, WV, is named after George Washington’s younger brother Charles?

At George Washington’s Birth Place, the Scholars had an interesting look into the history of the Potomac and how West Virginia has been connected to the Bay since colonial times.  They discussed George Washington’s visits to West Virginia with Ranger Riji (Rick) Morawe and his staff. 

The Scholars learned how Pope Creek, next to the Washington family’s farm, was 16’ deep in George Washington’s youth and deep enough to provide anchorage for sea going ships.  Returning as an adult Washington was shocked by how Pope Creek had filled in so much it was no longer suitable for commercial traffic.  President Washington wrote on how bad farming practices cause erosion, lose fertile top soil, and cause sedimentation.  Today, Pope Creek is only 4’ deep. 

As always, the Scholars made new friends and explored their creativity. 


The Scholars all had fun, of course, but what is more important they learned serious lessons about the science of keeping our waters clean and healthy.  Grasping science early will help Stream Scholars in life.  Understand and appreciating how our local West Virginia waters are connected to the Mid Atlantic States through the Potomac and Chesapeake will help them become better citizen of the whole United States.



Cacapon Institute - From the Cacapon to the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay, we protect rivers and watersheds using science and education.

Cacapon Institute
PO Box 68
High View, WV 26808
304-856-1385 (tele)
304-856-1386 (fax)
Click here to send us an email
Frank Rodgers,  Executive Director

Website  made possible by funding from The Norcross Wildlife Foundation,  the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Virginia Environmental Endowment, NOAA-BWET, USEPA, The MARPAT Foundation, and our generous members.