When I walked in to the Kayak Shed and met John Hart for the first time 8 years ago, I never dreamed that him and I would partner up a few years later to help intoduce people to paddling. But with the help of Jaco and Todd and their crew at Wet Planet and Tim “Timber” Brink and his crew from the Oregon Rafting Team, we did just that to around 70 to 80 adults and kids that ranged in ages from 4 to 60 years old. We had people from as far away as Texas and quite a few had never been on a whitewater trip. One of our dear friends, Christine Broniak and our new friend, Robert Delgado guided the little ones down the Lower White Salmon River with expertise and Clay Ross and his crew from the University of Puget Sound Kayak Club helped with safety in their kayaks. One of the Oregon Rafting Team’s newest member, Jeffery “the Maverick” Steehler was also running safety and guiding rafts and was eager to answer question about getting kids into paddling.
Clay Lucas, Wet Planet’s newest start instructor, took time out of his busy day to school the kids and adults on proper techniques at the pool at Wet Planet’s World Headquarters at Husum, WA. Rufus Knapp was also on hand at set up a slalom course for rafters and kayakers alike to test their mettle. There were demo boats for people to try as well as a BBQ for all the weary rafters when the raft rides were done for the day. Ninkasi provided the frosty beverages for all those who were of age and there was a variety of refreshments for those who were not. By the time it was all said and done we had over 40 different people on rafts and 15 people in kayak clinics. Clay Ross introduced us to a game called throwbag golf that gave everyone a chance to hang out a little longer after the raffle was over. Everyone who came went away with something. All the kids received an Oregon Rafting Team t-shirt and another prize. We gave away Mountain Khaki gift cards, Astral pro deals, Smith Optics sunglasses, a Ninkasi beach towel, t-shirts and hats from Wet Planet, assorted schwag from the Kayak Shed and so much more.
The next day, Jeffery and I got a chance to paddle the Middle White Salmon with the University of Puget Sound Kayak Club while Oregon Rafting Team members Bryan ” the Professor” Carrington and Greg “the Joker” Babikoff took some of their friends and our family down the same stretch. Before I even got home from the weekend we had emails in our box talking about what a great weekend they had.
“I had the best boating day you ever wished for! It was better than anything you would ever imagine! It had the best-est spashes, and everyone giggled they were so cold and wet! Everyone had tons of fun. I saw a castle and a knight standing near the castle. The weather was nice and warm, but the water was nice and cold. Rafting isn’t dangerous for big kids like me! It was an epic day!!”and the McCrarys:Hi Jeff,Yesterday we met you when we had our first whitewater rafting experience as a family. We were the folks that went on the last ride of the afternoon, and my husband wore your official racing helmet (THANK YOU!!) Yesterday when we got off the water our son (Amadeo, 10 years old) said, “This is the best day of my life!”…so you can imagine that he enjoyed himself.Thanks again to the Kayak Shed, Wet Planet, the Oregon Rafting Team, Columbia Gorge Kayak School, Ninkasi, Jackson Kayak, Kokatat, Immersion Research, Smith Optics, Mountain Khakis, Rapid Transit, GoPro, Chacos, Astral, Stoneyboater and many more. Huge thanks again to all my friends and family who helped with this. You did a great thing.Whitewater is community!