Boy Scout Troop #4 helps with Coastal Cleanup effort
Early Saturday morning, Boy Scouts and their families began arriving at Gulf Coast Kayak for the annual International Coastal Cleanup. The owners of Gulf Coast Kayak, Bryan and Diana Stockbridge, were there to greet them.
“Our plan today is to clean up our estuary,” Bryan Stockbridge said. “I expect about a dozen Boy Scouts and their family members from Cape Coral’s Troop #4 here today.”
“We do this because we spend a lot of time on the water,” Stockbridge said. “We want to make sure the waterways are clean. There’s monofilament, abandoned crab traps, general refuse and even some large items. Last year we pulled out a couple of lawn chairs and cushions out of the water things that harm our wildlife.”
Dwayne Heller drove his son, Junior, to Gulf Coast Kayak.
“This is a great way to clean up the estuary,” Junior said. “We can fill those large garbage bags with stuff we pull out of the water. A lot of plastic bags, monofilament and even some furniture. I’ve done this before it’s our way of giving back to the community.”
“This is a strong troop with a lot of parent involvement,” parent Dwayne Heller said. “It’s important that our kids learn about the water and how to take care of the environment. The entire area depends on these waters and it’s just a beautiful place. My wife and I came out and paddled around I think it was Mother’s Day. Sometimes the dolphins are jumping and there’s a lot of manatees especially when the waters cool down.”
“Scouting is all about giving back to the community,” parent Dennis Shelton said. “This is a project arranged years ago by Troop #4 and the kids love it because it involves kayaking. It’s our way to get involved and give back to the community.”
Before launching, Diana Stockbridge warned the scouts about the currents.
“We have a strong current today going out about 11 a.m., and a lot of boat traffic so make sure to wear your vests. You should also bring with you, and drink, lots of water. If you find something out there too large to get into the boat, mark on the map and Bryan will pick it up later. About crab traps – we are only permitted to pull out old crab traps every two years and this is not the year. Good luck and be safe, If any issues come up just call my cell.”
Gulf Coast Kayak is proactive when it comes to the waterways their business relies on. “Recently, we did a Kayak Summer Camp with about 80 kids,” Diana Stockbridge said. “This year we were lucky to get a Florida Paddling Trails Association Grant that enabled us to sponsor 11 children from the island. The camp is six weeks long, we teach safety, hazards, trip planning, wading, we collect species, talk about stewardship, experience stand-up paddle boarding, fishing and so much more. It’s lots of fun for us as well as the children.”
“Today, we also sent some kayaks up for Mangrove Mania,” she said. “Mangrove Mania is where they’re planting 10,000 red mangrove plants on state lands that are in need of shoreline stabilization. In October we’re planning another clean-up called ‘Monofilament Madness.’ Then in November we will have the 13th annual Calusa Blueway Kayak Fishing Tournament. The beneficiary this year is Candlelighters of Southwest Florida. Candlelighters helps families of kids with cancer.”