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What is the Delaware River Sojourn?

The Sojourn, a guided paddling and camping trip on the Delaware River, is full of fun and adventure, offering a great time for all participants where wonderful memories are made! The purpose of the Sojourn is to heighten awareness of and appreciation for the Delaware River and its watershed, which flows for 330 miles through New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

The Sojourn combines canoeing/kayaking, camping, educational programs, historical interpretation, and more. It is for novice to experienced paddlers of all ages; participants can sign up for the whole event or for the section(s) or day(s) of their choice. The Sojourn is fully insured and sanctioned by the American Canoe Association. Each day we are accompanied by our safety team, made up of members of the National Canoe Safety Patrol.

Sojourners are like an extended family, and many participants join in the fun year after year, whether it’s for a day or two, or the whole event. It is a great way to get outdoors, meet new people or reconnect with old friends, and enjoy nature - a perfect “staycation” where you feel you are away but still close to home.


Who Can Participate on the Sojourn?

The Sojourn is for novice to experienced paddlers or those who are simply curious about the outdoors. Almost anyone can come on the Sojourn: adults, families, kids, and grandparents. Travelers can sign up for the entire trip or for the section(s) or day(s) of their choice.

To show the variety of landscapes, culture, history and nature of the entire Delaware River, we paddle several sections (upper, middle, lower, and/or estuary) of the river each year. We often take side trips on the historical canals, into the tidal marshes, and down the scenic tributaries. All along the way, we will learn about the river’s ecology and ties to local communities, as well as how we can become stewards of this great resource for future generations. The itinerary varies from year to year, so there is always something new to discover.

What is a Typical Sojourn Day?

1.    Meet your paddling companions at the appointed rendezvous for registration and a catered breakfast. Our livery and shuttle service will then take care of the rest.
2.    Before getting on the water, everyone attends the mandatory safety briefing by our guides, who are members of the National Canoe Safety Patrol.
3.    Follow our river guides and enjoy the companionship of fellow sojourners.
4.    Paddle a few riffles, Class I rapids, and occasional Class II rapids.
5.    Enjoy the lunch provided.
6.    Learn about nature, recreational opportunities, history, and conservation from our naturalists, historians, and environmental educators.
7.    Each day, we typically paddle about 10 miles at a moderate touring pace.
8.    Gather for dinner and an evening program on nature, culture, history, or river issues.
9.    Enjoy campfire camaraderie or evening entertainment.
10.  Pitch a tent and sleep to the sounds of the river.

What are the Sojourn's Policies?

For your safety and that of your fellow sojourners, the following policies will be in effect:

1.   No glass containers are allowed on the river.
2.   All participants must attend the daily safety briefing conducted by the National Canoe Safety Patrol before launching. Participants must adhere to the safety guidelines presented.
3.   All participants must sign a liability waiver. Parents must sign for children under 18 years old. The signed waiver should accompany your registration form.
4.   Participants must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) at all times on the river. These are provided with rentals.
5.   Participants under the age of 18 are the responsibility of, and must be accompanied by, a parent or guardian at all times. Children need to be able to swim and must weigh at least 40 pounds to be properly fitted with a PFD.
6.   Follow the directives of the safety patrol and sojourn staff in the event of bad weather, hazardous conditions, or an emergency.
7.    No pets allowed.
8.    Alcoholic beverages are prohibited on the river. We fully abide by the alcohol policies of the campgrounds in which we stay.
9.    Footwear (river shoes, river sandals, surf mocs, or old sneakers) must be worn at all times.
10.  Exhibit courteous behavior and respect private and public property. Check out the Sojourn's Positive Behavior Matrix.

Sojourn organizers encourage participants to adhere to "Leave No Trace" principles and reduce the amount of waste generated during the trip. Keep this in mind:

"Nature never breaks her own laws," said Leonardo da Vinci. People do.

What have Sojourners said about the event?

2023 Feedback

  • "There is no better way to begin to understand what a Wild and Scenic River is than to paddle it!" (S. Bursky)
  • "The staff and day planners once again did an incredible job of pulling together an event as complicated as the Sojourn: outfitters, campgrounds, catering, safety, shuttles, programs and more. First class all the way! Thanks to all!" (G. Letcher)
  • "To know it; is to love it. I have learned so much from being on the river and hearing stories from fellow paddlers." (P. Merkel)

2022 Feedback

  • "As a first time paddler I didn't know what to expect and was throughly amazed at the organization and commitment to the program. Each day was packed with challenge and new experience.  I'll be returning again and again." (C. Ruffner)
  • "This is an awesome way to experience paddling on the  Delaware River." (K. Gill)
  • "I had a wonderful trip even as a first timer. It was very well organized. It offered challenges, beautiful scenery, great food & camaraderie. I did the full week, which was a lot, but well worth it." (N. Harney)
  • "Truly a gift... forever grateful to the amazing selfless volunteers." (J. Manicone)
  • "The Delaware River Sojourn is the gold standard of paddling sojourns." (Anonymous)
  • "As a first time paddler I would just like to say the Delaware River Sojourn is going to be on my annual to do list! From the moment I arrived (as a solo female paddler) I felt welcomed to the group. I was greeted warmly and made friends very quickly. Each day was a new adventure on the river and I always felt very safe and highly encouraged by both the safety team and more experienced kayakers. The food was amazing and the daily educational programming really enhanced a trip. Can’t wait to see you all again in 2023!" (A. A. Colman)
  • "I had a blast and loved every minute of the day! It was my first time but will not be my last, next year we’re going to make a family day of it. I appreciated the comprehensive safety instructions, the food was good, the people were friendly." (E. Bussie)
  • "I wasn’t sure what to expect, what this section of the river would look like, knowing no one…when I came in, everybody was so nice, wonderful to talk to and made you feel included. The day was relaxing, being on the water, the breeze, it was really wonderful. Very enjoyable and absolutely worth it." (L. Jackson)
  • "It was a fabulous day! I learned a lot about trip - the most interesting thing I learned was about living shorelines, which allow the natural plant life to create the shoreline. I hope to be back next year for a least a couple of days!" (J. Lynn)
  • "I did really enjoy the whole experience. I felt safe and knew if I had a problem there were people to help. I always felt included and cared for." (D. Walling)

2021 Feedback

  • "Highlight of my year...every year!" (Anonymous)
  • "Nice group. Nice day on the river. Something to consider doing." (J. Valese)
  • "The Delaware River Sojourn provides the best hands-on educational tool for learning about watersheds and how they impact our environments." (P. Merkel)
  • "I think the entire 2021 Sojourn was well organized and well run. I enjoyed it very much (except for the monsoon rains and thunderstorms.)"  (M. Addabbo)
  • "Great fun. Meeting new people. Enjoying nature in a fun new way. It was really great." (L. Robinson)
  • "I have been thinking long and hard and trying to come up with an appropriate way to formulate how transformative the Sojourn paddle was for me. It did away with a lot of my fears - especially with regards to the physical strenuousness of paddling. The instructors were so wonderful, that I really did learn to paddle in such a way that it felt very easy. I was not even sore the next day! I had amazing conversations with other paddlers who were more experienced and I learned a lot about being on the water and the possibilities of paddling, where it can take you that other activities cannot. I was even recruited to the National Canoe Safety Patrol, which changed my perception of how far I would have to go in developing skills that would be meaningful on the river. It turns out that, as a lifeguard, I already have a lot of skills that would be helpful in promoting safe connection and stewardship for communities wanting to use the river. I will definitely be developing my kayaking skills further, with a lot more confidence in my abilities this time. I would not hesitate to volunteer to lifeguard from a kayak or do support for an open water swimmer. This was my goal, and I appreciate the Delaware River Sojourn for giving me an opportunity to learn what I might be capable of!" (J. Schwab)
  • "It was an amazing experience…my first river paddle, I felt safe and welcomed by all. It was very informative, so many things I did not know about the Delaware." (A. Painter)

2019 Feedback

  • “I look forward to the sojourn every year, would not miss it! Have met many wonderful people through the years and made nice friends. Love paddling the upper part of the river.” (J. Walters)
  • “Fantastic planning, organization, staff, volunteers and participants. As newcomers, we were immediately welcomed by a friendly and supportive community.” (P. Headley)
  • “This was our first time on the Delaware River Sojourn. We joined for the first two days. Safety on the river was excellent. My children had a great time, and I as a parent felt very   secure about their safety. The event was very family oriented, well planned out!  And, let me add, not having to cook after a day on the river was amazing, along with the food being fantastic. We also enjoyed the educational components that were available during lunchtime and in the evening. We look forward to extending our trip next year!” (Beyer Family)
  • "I have been involved in this event for more than 2 decades and it just keeps getting better!" (S. Forbes)
  • “It was wonderful to connect with people on river while paddling, and it was nice to learn and see sights on the river that often seem so far removed from us. It was a wonderful learning opportunity.” (J. Brunette)
  • “I really appreciated the opportunity and the chance to experience the Delaware from a different vantage point. I would definitely do it again!” (E. Pugliese)
  • “It was absolutely wonderful to further connect with people and partners from all over the watershed and see the beauty of the great river we are all working to protect. This direct connection with the Delaware River for a day is so important in inspiring people and bring them to nature, and I hope that the Delaware River Sojourn can continue long into the future.” (E. Rosetti)
  • “Thank you for the opportunity to experience the Sojourn firsthand! It was a very real way to experience the river, both in its beauty and its manmade challenges. The experience makes very real the work done every day by your groups to protect, preserve and restore this vital resource.” (B. Lestini) 
  • "Being out on the river made me reconsider how we ought to view ourselves and how we ought to act, and I am thankful to the Sojourn for this important lesson. Even though I only spent a fraction of the overall experience with the group, I left with a deep appreciation of how vital these immersive events are; and how important the Sojourn is in changing the perception of the river and the people who depend on it for life." (M. James)

2018 Feedback:

  • “Friendly people on a beautiful river! The Sojourn is a great way to see one of America's treasures.” (S. Butler)
  • “This is a wonderful organization, very well done.” (D. Straus)
  • “Working with the Sojourn Steering Committee was a pleasure.” (M. Leck)
  • “Being a first-time kayaker on the river, the staff made it one of the greatest day! The river offered fun, challenges, and at the end, peace and exhilaration at the same time. Can’t wait for next year!” (T. Karabian)
  • “The Sojourn is one of the best ways to experience the treasure of the Delaware River. While there is nothing like paddling, the lunch and evening programs provide the historical, cultural and ecological context.” (A. Smith)
  • “The Sojourn was a wonderful experience. Better than anticipated. Incredibly well organized. Great staff!” (L. Glazer)
  • “One of my best vacations EVER! Can't wait for next year!” (K. Moylan)
  • “This is like summer camp for adults and it is always good to see the friends you make as people return year after year” (G. Southard)
  • “Great opportunity to challenge yourself in a safe environment. The all-volunteer Leaders and Safety Patrol members were professional, friendly and supportive.”
  • “Thanks so much to all the generous volunteers. It's rare to see such role models in day to day living these days...” (J. Manicone)

In 2017, one of our youth groups consisted of students from Sullivan West Central School District, Sullivan County, N.Y. Here's their feedback from their day on the river:

  • “It was great and fun and I loved doing it!” (R. Joyce-Turner)
  • “Thank you so much for an amazing day. I really appreciate you going out of your way to give us a great time. It was so beautiful except for the rain, but that was very fun. It was a great start to my summer.” (D. Sager)
  • “Not once has experiencing the natural beauty around us ever been so educational, simply fun, and exciting. This Sojourn created a lasting memory for years to come." (S. Seidl)
  • “This was a wonderful experience for me to have. I had a great time. Thank you so much for making this all happen. This was a great memory!” (P. Parucki)
  • “It was such a great journey with everything we did. I built a lot of teamwork and got even closer with some of my good friends. Everyone was so helpful on the river." (G. Cohen)
  • "This trip was a great experience for me, both educationally and as a really fun and excellent bonding experience with friends and adults that I could learn from. I learned how to paddle and maneuver a kayak while still having tons of fun. I really enjoyed this experience and I will remember it for many years to come.” (S. Everett)

Other Feedback Received Over the Years:

  • “This was our first river trip. Hope to be back next year. Met a lot of great people. And learned a lot. Would recommend it!” – John & Tina Myers, 2017
  • “What an amazing experience! So happy I did the entire week for my first Sojourn! Made new friends that I now consider family!!!!” – Dawn Marie Namulik, 2017
  • “Beautiful scenery, organized execution, and wonderful safety team made the sojourn a wonderful vacation option!” – name withheld, 2017
  • “Thanks again for an excellent and well-organized learning adventure. Great group of people.” – name withheld, 2017 
  • “I wouldn't be able to go on the Sojourn without those who helped me into and out of my boat and moved the boat. Wes and Louise are always there for me, but there were so many more people who I’d never met who saw that I needed help and pitched in. THANK YOU ALL!” – C. Stranahan, 2016
  • “My experience of this river adventure was enhanced by the kindnesses and laughter of old friends, new friends, and new new friends. I loved sharing time with the people of interest and of good cheer. Hope to meet again!” – T. Novak, 2016
  • “Three of my best days kayaking and enjoying the river occurred during the 2016 sojourn. I highly recommend the experience. I will be back. Thanks to all who made this possible.” – P. Merkel, 2016
  • “An excellent introduction to public to the resource of the Delaware River. Monday section was at the limit of number of paddlers, but managers handled them very well!” – C. Cole, 2016
  • “This was my first sojourn and only my 3rd time paddling a river. It was an amazing experience! Hats off to the Steering Committee, volunteers and vendors. I was impressed with the organization, great food and safety focus. All participants were very helpful and ensured all had a great time. I will be returning and spreading the word about next year's trip.” – P. Scilla, 2016
  • “As a first timer I was very pleased with the ease in which I could make new friends and immediately feel like a part of the community of old friends and repeat sojourners.” – E. Eaves, 2015
  • “Everyone was friendly and helpful. It made the day very pleasant.“ – C. Michaels, 2014
  • “The Sojourn was an excellent experience. We met a lot of great people, saw beautiful scenery on the river, and really enjoyed the whole trip. We are recommending it to everyone we know and we can't wait to paddle the Sojourn again next year!” – J. Tundidor, 2014
  • “Was a wonderful trip I met a lot of kind and caring people. Can't wait to next year. Paddle on my Friends.” – J. Kepner, Sr., 2014
  • “This is an extraordinary way to experience the Delaware River. A great introduction to paddling and interesting to those who have spent more time on the water. Good food, good people, great river.” – A. Marancik, 2014
  • “This is an excellent event for all levels of paddlers and something I've participated in year after year and hope to continue in the future!!!” – K. Matthew, 2014
  • “I would like to thank the Sojourn committee for all their diligent, hard and loving work they put into this and all the sojourn family to make it one of the most enjoyable times of my life. So much that I did not want it to come to a close.” – L. Covell, 2014
  • Dan Okrent, annual Sojourn participant since 2004 and current steering committee member, submitted a "blog" in 2009 for inclusion on the Sojourn web site. To view, please click here.
  • "The more you educate people, the more they’re going to want to preserve and take notice that the Delaware River is a treasure here not to be squandered by development or any number of things." – Pennsylvania State Senator Chuck McIlhinney
  • "Not only do you enjoy the experience of being on the river, but you get to know so many people who want to see this river remain a recreational treasure." – Florence Wharton, Delaware and Raritan Greenway
  • "This was the day we experienced simultaneously touching three states, with a single finger on Tri-State Rock. The landmark lies under Route 84 where the Neversink and Delaware Rivers meet." – S. Grimes, 2000
  • "You can’t know a river from any one spot on it. A river is the movement of water, from headwaters to mouth." – Ken Margolis, Former President, River Network
  • "We pulled the canoes up on the bank, then reluctantly walked to the bus with a new appreciation for the Delaware and its wildlife." – K. Robbins, student


How has the Sojourn Brought Positive Attention to the Delaware River?

Over the years, the Delaware Sojourn has focused mounting attention on the river, creating an awareness of the important role it plays in the lives of the over 13 million people who rely on its waters for drinking, agricultural, and industrial use. By getting people out on the river and experiencing it for themselves, the Sojourn helps foster appreciation and stewardship for this great resource that some may only read about in the newspaper or drive over or alongside on their daily commutes.

Because of the Sojourn, elected officials, including congressmen, have paddled the Delaware and its tributaries, coming away with a better understanding of the importance of protecting a resource which has so much to offer their constituents.

The news media also have written about the Sojourn since its inception, the heightened visibility no doubt giving a boost to the tourism and recreation trades in the four states that make up the watershed.

And, lastly, more and more riverbank communities are becoming involved and supporting the Sojourn, recognizing the need for stewardship to protect a national treasure that just happens to run through their backyards.

Who are the High Admirals of the Sojourn?

Thousands of timber rafts once rode the river’s spring freshets to markets located along the tidal Delaware River where the vessels were disassembled and the pine and hemlock logs fashioned into spars and masts for large warships.

Daniel Skinner, according to local historians, was among the first loggers to make the trip. Sometime during the 1760s he and two mates launched an 80-foot long raft of lashed logs from the Catskill Mountain settlement of Cochecton, N.Y. Shipbuilders offered up a rousing welcome when Skinner and one of the mates (the other reportedly drowned) came ashore in Philadelphia, some 200 miles downstream. Overjoyed with the fresh supply of timber, the shipbuilders honored Skinner (some say he honored himself) with the title Lord High Admiral of the Delaware.

Skinner had a lock on the title and the river’s timber trade until his death in 1813. Almost 200 years would pass before his honorary title would be given to a new generation of folks drawn to the river. In 1997, the title, and a modified version, were bestowed on a handful of people who became the first High Admirals of the Delaware River Sojourn, another watery adventure which celebrates the river’s outstanding natural beauty. It has since become a tradition of the Sojourn that High Admirals are selected each year to honor those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to protect the health of the Delaware River and its environs.

What's so Special about the Delaware River?

The Delaware, the longest un-dammed river east of the Mississippi, is as steeped in history as it is diverse in nature.

George Washington and his troops rowed across it on Christmas night, 1776, en route to a decisive victory over the British crown. This marked a turning point in the Revolutionary War.

During the Civil War, more than 12,000 Confederate soldiers were imprisoned on Pea Patch Island, just down river of New Castle, Delaware.

The river also winds through Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, birthplace of another revolution - America’s Industrial Revolution.

In 1915, to meet the demands of WWI, the world’s largest shipyard was built along the Delaware on Hog Island, offshore of Philadelphia.

Upstream, the river flows beneath the Delaware Aqueduct, built by engineer John Roebling who designed the fabled Brooklyn Bridge. The aqueduct served as a watery passage for mule-pulled canal boats which hauled the coal that helped fuel the Industrial Revolution.

Downstream, the river then empties into the Delaware Bay, which washes by old whaling towns.

The Delaware River serves as a major source of water for big cities – Philadelphia and New York City – and heavy industry, yet supports a world-class trout fishery and bald eagles. Over 15 million people rely on the Delaware River Basin for water, but the river itself is small, draining only four-tenths of one percent of the total continental U.S. land area. Three-quarters of the non-tidal river – about 150 miles – has been included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, a testament to the remarkable improvement in its water quality.

The Delaware Estuary -- the tidal reach of the Delaware River and the Delaware Bay -- has been included in the National Estuary Program, a project set up to protect estuarine systems of national significance. Meanwhile, it is also host to the Delaware River Port Complex (including docking facilities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware), which is the largest freshwater port in the world.

Charles Kuralt may have had the Delaware in mind when he wrote, "I started out thinking of America as highways and state lines. As I got to know it better I began to think of it as rivers. America is a great story, and there is a river on every page of it."

Do I Need to be a Good Paddler?

Paddlers of any skill level are welcome on the Delaware River Sojourn. We have a full safety team that provides safety on the water and helps people improve paddling skills. If you have never paddled before, we recommend that you try it prior to going on the trip. If you are willing to travel to the Upper Delaware River, there are many opportunities to paddle with the National Canoe Safety Patrol on weekends to gain some paddling experience. Email us for further information.