Dare to Kayak
Teach a kid to paddle- change their perspective forever!
I just had the pleasure of taking 30 students to Zim’s Hot springs to learn to paddle. I teach jr. high school and my co-instructor, Brent LaFay, teaches fourth grade.  The fourth, seventh, and eighth grade students participated in Dare to Kayak this year.  I created Dare to Kayak in 2002 as a way bring a positive message to schools.  I wanted to encourage kids to begin paddling as a healthy activity to steer them away from drug and alcohol abuse. I share an interactive video with the students on paddling and then we visit a local pool to learn to paddle.
Gary Wilson, World Kayak Ambassador, and his kids, Tyler, Troy, and Paige, all helped instruct at Zim’s.  This way the fifth year they have been helping to make Dare to Kayak a great success! This year they created the Dare video.  It shows our day more than, I could ever describe here.
Click HERE for the video
We had about 15 kayaks in the water all at the same time; our students each had a partner. We covered wet exits, sweep, draw, forward, and reverse strokes.  We played some fun games in and on top of our kayaks.  I think my all time favorite game is when we turn the kayaks upside down and run across as many as you can before bailing off into the water.  All of our fun games help the students to become more and more comfortable in the water.
It is amazing how much the students can learn in one day.  By the end of the day they could flip over and hold their breath before wet exiting.  They were all coming up with smiles on their faces.  Each student demonstrated their skills for all the strokes they learned. As an educator, it is so wonderful for me to see those students who do not always excel in academics, shine when paddling. If only, I could take them paddling everyday, I might get them to turn in their homework.
Our final day focused on river safety, conservation, fish habitat, and proper use of PFDS.  This year we visited the Alzar school campus, www.alzarschool.com, for our water safety day.  Alzar is an amazing school for 10th and 11th grade students who are interested in leadership and of course, kayaking.  Their students created six stations for our students to particpate in.  Students learned how to float in the water, nose and toes, and how to watch out and be safe when approaching river hazards.  The dry land foot entrapment and strainer station was very effective.  Students also learn how to use a throw bag, properly fit PFDs and how to pull each other back into a raft. The Alzar students created fun transition for the students to engage in between stations. The canoe challenge was a big hit. We wrapped up the day with lessons on habitat, a tour of the campus, and a picnic lunch. All of the Alzar students did an amazing job leading their stations.  Three of the leaders were students that I taught to paddle in the past.  I am so proud of you!
Dare to Kayak was made possible for the last three years through funding from the Wild Rivers License Plate Fund from the Idaho Department of Commerce in conjunction with my awesome school, Meadows Valley School District in New Meadows, Idaho. I cannot thank everyone enough who has supported me and values water safety education and paddling. I cannot thank Zim’s hot springs enough for their support and use of their pool.  Thanks NRS for all the kid paddling gear, Werner for the paddles, and all our friends who graciously loaned their kayaks to our students!
Here is a quote from our week.  They students come up with new ones daily.
Dare to be who you want to be.
Activities are better than drug and alcohol abuse.
Risk losing so you can reach your goals
Everything can be achieved with hard work, dedication, and a deep, down drive that guides you…
Hope to paddle with you soon.
Devon Barker-Hicks