Frequently Asked Questions

This section aims to answer some of the most common questions related to the 40-day River of Life Pilgrimage.  If we haven’t provided the information for which you’re looking, send us an email at river@kairosearth.org.


For a downloadable version of our FAQ, click here.

What is a pilgrimage? A pilgrimage is a physical journey undertaken by a person that has a spiritual or religious context or question that the person traveling is hoping to clarify. A pilgrimage can provide a person with the space, time and environment to bring depth to their spiritual/religious practice and/or help answer personal questions.

Where do I get more info? Hopefully, you can find answers to your questions on this page or elsewhere on the Kairos Earth website; however, if you still have questions, send us an email at river@kairosearth.org.

Who is sponsoring this pilgrimage? The River of Life pilgrimage is sponsored by the Episcopal Dioceses of New Hampshire, Vermont, Western Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine, in partnership with Province I of the Episcopal Church, the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Kairos Earth. The sponsors have engaged Kairos Earth to coordinate and manage the Pilgrimage with support, encouragement, and assistance from many local, statewide, and regional organizations along the Connecticut River and beyond.

Why should I care? A pilgrimage is a powerful way to enter more deeply into one’s own spiritual path, and in the context of a supportive spiritual community. This is a chance for you to give thanks for the sacredness of water, to experience the spiritual occurrences within the outdoors, to offer a time for introspection, and to be in community with other like-minded individuals. Our communities and our world need people who understand the depth of our interdependence with nature and with God. The River of Life Pilgrimage is one direct way we can deepen this awareness in our lives and in our communities. We are also raising awareness of the conservation efforts along the Connecticut River – one of New England’s most valuable ecosystems.

Where are you going? We are paddling the entirety of the navigable sections of the Connecticut River from the Source to the Sea, either by canoe or kayak – starting in northern New Hampshire and ending at Long Island Sound.  Check out our route on our Connecticut River Map page.

When does it start? The Pilgrimage starts on May 31, 2017, and continues for 40 days.

Who can come? The pilgrimage is for anyone who would like to engage in a sacred relationship with the natural world, especially with water and the Connecticut River. This journey, like any true pilgrimage, is intended to be a doorway to interior transformation and lasting change. The daily prayer and spiritual exercises of the pilgrimage, as well as the land-based gatherings, will be held in the context of the Christian tradition. People of all backgrounds, faiths, and beliefs are welcome to join us on the 40-day pilgrimage.

How do I participate? There are numerous ways you can be involved, depending on your level of commitment and/or physical ability: you can participate by paddling a section of the Connecticut River for a day, several days, a week, or the entire river over five weeks; you can offer thanks for the gift of water from your own local river, pond, or lake; you can volunteer to host or help with and/or attend an event at a location in close proximity to the river; you can make a donation to assist with the Pilgrimage or a contribution to help with the Connecticut River’s conservation; or, you can join with other Pilgrims in Prayer from your own home or church by following along with the spiritual lessons and readings from our River of Life Prayer book.  Hopefully, there’s something for everyone!

I can’t make it to the Connecticut River and/or participate during those dates, how can I be included? Participate in a pilgrimage on your own local river, lake, trail, park, or backyard – join in “in the spirit” of the Pilgrimage, even if you can’t be with us in person. Grab your family and friends and spend some time outdoors, finding what is sacred to you in Mother Nature! We will be offering a written set of readings and lessons, the River of Life Prayer Book, offering thanks for the sacredness of water that you can incorporate into your daily spiritual practice from any location. You can also spend time with the following questions: What does the River of Life mean to you? How is Mother Nature sacred? How can we give thanks for all that our Earth provides, especially in terms of water?

Can novice paddlers participate? Yes! There will be segments of the river that are accessible to novice canoe and kayak paddlers – along with land-based events for those not interested in joining us on the water.

What will you do each day? To see a sample day for those paddling with us on the Pilgrimage, click here.

How much does it cost? For those who want to attend one of our land-based events, we’re suggesting a $20 donation per adult. For those joining us on a day-long paddle, we are suggesting a contribution of $50/day. For those paddling for a longer duration (i.e., one of the 3-day segments or longer), there is a daily fee of $120 to cover the cost of the professional guides, food, lodging, incidentals, etc. (Early application specials: $85/day if you apply before February 28; $100/day if you apply between March 1 and April 15; $120/day if you apply after April 15).

How do I register? To participate in a land-based event or one-day paddle, visit our Events page. To apply to paddle a 3-day or longer segment of the Connecticut River, complete an on-line application and submit it by May 22, 2017.  Paddling spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis…some sections will be limited to 10 participants due to overnight camping accommodations. We encourage people to apply early!

Can I participate if I have a medical condition or disability? There will be the opportunity for persons with medical conditions or disabilities to join us at many of the land-based events and possibly in paddling some sections of the river. Those with medical conditions or disabilities wishing to paddle should be able to meet #1-#11 of the Essential Eligibility Criteria as found on the American Canoe Association website (ACA Essential Eligibility Criteria) in order to ensure the safety of all participants. We will also be requesting a completed health questionnaire from all applicants wishing to paddle. If you have a medical condition or disability and would like to join us in any capacity, contact the Pilgrimage Coordinator at river@kairosearth.org to discuss inclusive options.

Can I bring my kids? Kids of all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend any of the land-based afternoon/evening events associated with the Pilgrimage. There are many sections of the Connecticut River that are kid-friendly to paddle, depending on your child(ren)’s age(s). Please reach out to us at river@kairosearth.org to discuss with us how best your child(ren) can participate!

I’d like to participate with my Boy/Girl Scout group, my bridge group, my bible study, etc. – what can I do? You can volunteer in numerous ways: by hosting or co-hosting a land-based Pilgrimage event, by bringing meals to the side of the river for those paddling on any given day, by attending and supporting local Pilgrimage events, plus in a variety of other ways – we’re open to suggestions. Please reach out to the Pilgrimage Coordinator at river@kairosearth.org if you have an idea and would like to help!

How do I know I’ll be safe? There will be professional guides leading the entire trip, plus support staff who have their Wilderness First Aid/CPR certifications and a dedicated support vehicle for emergencies. Local clinics and hospitals will be identified for each section of the river in case a more serious medical issue arises and the transport of a participant is necessary.

Do I need to have my own canoe/kayak? It is preferable that you bring your own – we will not have a “fleet” from which you can rent one. However, if you don’t own a canoe/kayak, ask to borrow one from a friend or reach out to one of the kayak/canoe rentals along the Connecticut River to see if you can rent one.

What should I bring? An equipment list will be provided for all participants, including those joining us for a day, plus those joining us for longer sections, including overnight camping.

Do I have to be able to swim? Some moderate level of comfort in the water is advisable, especially along the sections of the Connecticut River farther to the north where there can be Class I-IV rapids and along the southern sections as the tidal effects of Long Island Sound start to affect the paddle. We will require paddling participants to wear a PFD at all times. You do not have to be able to swim for any of the afternoon/evening land-based events along the Pilgrimage route – these will be open to anyone of any ability.

Will have I have to disclose my medical history in order to participate? In order to ensure the safety of all participants paddling a section of the river, we will be asking for a completed health questionnaire from all applicants. Safety is paramount for every person paddling and we will take all necessary precautions to ensure a successful outcome for all participants. For land-based events in the afternoons/evenings, medical history will not need to be disclosed.

Can I bring my dog? Due to the contemplative aspect of a spiritual journey, we ask that all pets be left at home to honor the quietness that people participating in the Pilgrimage might be seeking. If you have a service animal yet would like to participate and/or paddle, please reach out to us at river@kairosearth.org to discuss ways you can be involved!

This is a really cool idea; how can I make a donation and/or be a sponsor? We would be very grateful to receive a donation from you on behalf of the Pilgrimage – your financial support will help bring awareness to the Connecticut River and its watershed.  If you’d like to become a sponsor for a segment of the river, for a land-based event, or for the Pilgrimage in general, send us an email: river@kairosearth.org.

How much money in donations and sponsorship will you require? We would like to receive approximately $45,000 from sponsorship and donations. Overall, we estimate the cost of the Pilgrimage to be approximately $100,000, but the difference will come from financial support from the Episcopal Dioceses of New England and from those participating in the Pilgrimage.  If you’d like to be sponsor, please contact the Pilgrimage Coordinate at river@kairosearth.org or make a donation via our secure platform.

What is the money you receive being spent on? The money we receive is being spent on the personnel to plan a large-scale event, for the professional river guides who will be with the Pilgrims, and for the logistical support efforts during the event (food, support vehicle + boat trailer, medical kit, etc.).