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December 08, 2016
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First Zane Grey Challenge

Students complete their social studies challenge after visiting the Zane Grey Museum.

Another concern McCarthy has targeted is communication skills. “This generation is very technology-communicative but they lack interpersonal skills,” he said. “They don’t know how to critique each other, to speak up and share their ideas or say they don’t think that’s going to work.”

McCarthy also contends that participation boosts self confidence. “Some kids are really stepping up and directing their friends,” he said. “It gives them a chance to experiment with leadership, which they don’t often get to do.”

McCarthy hopes such programs will help to reverse the increasing dropout rate by giving students an interactive and engaging learning experience that they can enjoy and will remember fondly. But he also hopes that enhancing the students’ understanding of the river and its environs will foster a stronger sense of responsibility for its well-being.

“What drives the local economy is tourism and people taking care of the river,” he said. “We need educated citizens to help with that. Our school is downstream of here, so hopefully what they get is a comparison of this place with their place. Some of the places near Port Jervis are just trashed. Once they see what’s going on up here, the water quality, the eagles—that really are the result of someone else’s stewardship—they can start to make connections.”

McCarthy hopes to see the competition become an annual event. Top winners of the rafting trips were the Llama Chins.