Friday, July 7, 2017

BORN TO PADDLE, KAYAKING WITH KIDS

    The first river you paddle runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in
  pools and eddies to remind you who you are. --- Lynn Culbreath Noel


"Can I fall in?"
That question is usually unheard of in my adult classes. Just the thought of  rolling upside in their kayak would strike terror into them. But, this query came from smiling freckled-face ten-year-old girl with boundless energy and little fear.

"Sure if you want to." I replied.

The girl and kayak in one motion capsize with plop, gurgle and splash. An instant later, in text-book maneuver she lowers her head to the bow, pushes her legs and feet clear of the kayak and then drops them to the bottom and brings her still smiling face up alongside her kayak.

It's an annual rite of summer on Lake Natoma near Sacramento Ca., as nearly dozen kids were taking part in Current Adventures Kayaking School & Trips youth kayaking classes. There the students learned paddling skills and water safety while developing a deep appreciation nature.

"Kids love kayaking and most take to it almost instantly," said Current Adventures' Dan Crandall, "We get them smiling at the beginning of class and have them laughing by the end."

Anyone who works with kids regularly knows they come with have short attention spans and aren't to focused on learning the technical aspects of the forward, back or sweep strokes.The key for instructor John Weed, is to keeping paddling exercises fun, short and interesting. He used a game of keep-a-way to get the students to paddle and steer their boats. From the shore, it looked like a mayhem of bumper boats crashing about the lake, but before long the students are discovering how to propel and turn their boats while chasing a green ball.

Another game Weed put to used to help kids practice boat control all while having fun was called Sharks and Minnows. He is instructed one kid to be a shark while all the other kids were all minnows.

"I'm hungry!" called out the shark.

"And I'm a little minnow," cried the scattering minnows trying not to get tagged by the shark, because once tagged they become a shark.  It kept going until every paddler became a shark. By using these active games the young kayakers were soon making new friends and having fun all while building paddling skills that they can be used on the lake or river.

Next it was off to explore. Across the flat-water, the lake offers some special hideaways like “Swampland” and “Berry Pond". As the kids toured the hidden backwaters occupied by turtles,tadpoles, deer and other critters, the wonders of nature came alive to them. Quietly paddling along they became naturalists as they explored and made their own discoveries in the lush wetland.

On day three the Junior class ages 10-14, moved on to the easy moving waters of the Lower American River. On the river the young paddlers after two days of paddling lessons tested their new skills on moving water. While a little apprehension came over the group at the sound of rushing water, but it was all smiles on the other end after they punched through a series of fast water. Before the day was over the youths are immersed in river reading, river signals, and moving water paddling maneuvers.

"This class leaves them begging for more, said Crandall, "The kids always leave these classes super excited and many come back year after year."


Meanwhile back on the lake, I had pushed the kayak up on to shore and dump all the water out of it with help from the still smiling and dripping wet ten-year-old girl. I was going to get plenty of practice doing over next couple days when she asked, "Can I do that again?"


 If you want to go
Current Adventures Kayak School and Trips 
PHONE: 530-333-9115 or Toll-Free: 888-452-9254
FAX: 530-333-1291
USPS:Current Adventures, P.O. Box 828, Lotus, CA 95651
info@currentadventures.com
owner Dan Crandall dan@kayaking.com