Select Page

By Jessie Stone

This July marked our 8th Inner City Kids kayaking camp, and it felt like our first one! Every year is so much fun and a good adventure for the kids. We had our biggest group yet with 15 kids on our first day, including three returning students Jordan Ricks, Andre Williams, and Andre Parilla. Jordan told all of us that he wants to be a professional kayaker, which was very exciting to hear. We will do our best to support his efforts. As usual, we started in the Boys and Girls Harbor pool with lots of practice getting in and out of kayaks wet exit style – very luckily this group of kids is very comfortable in the water. Mr. Lee, who runs the swimming program for Boys and Girls Harbor and the pool, is very kind to give us pool time year after year, and he has even learned to roll during our pool sessions.

Our progression from the pool to the beach was interrupted this year by some beach bureaucracy – for so long we have been able to escape it but this year, the marine police caught up with us and insisted that we needed a permit to paddle there. No amount of discussing from our talented instructors would change their minds. Luckily, we were able to find another beach nearby that is paddler friendly and all our kayakers got to test their sea legs. We even had a mutiny or two, and Hayden ended up coming out of his kayak much to the delight of some of our students.

We had two new instructors this year, Alex Nicks and Alex Obregon, who taught with Hayden, Emily, and I. Each of them brought fun and funny accents to our camp, and the kids really enjoyed them. On our first river day, we ran the Housatonic and this year we had lots more water than ever before which made the river run easier and more fun. The kids got their first taste of moving the boats around in wave trains and catching eddies and avoiding obstacles. It was great to see their progress and the big smiles on all their faces. We also had beautiful sunny weather, which made everyone happy to be outside.

On our graduation day, we had lots of local volunteers come to help us on the water and enjoy the day with the kids. Dave Saaf, Bob and Kate Taylor, Andy Kulberg, and Jeff Payne spent a great day with all of us on the Farmington River and really helped the kids a lot. Since the river was a bit higher than usual this year, the kids got a very nice progression through the rapids as they increased in difficulty from the beginning of our day to the end. We finished with a run through the hole section and all the kids paddled very well, some of the paddlers even went right through the meat of everything and stayed upright. Once the kids made it to shore and felt their sense of accomplishment set in and they celebrated by swimming in the eddy and getting rides on the back of instructors kayaks. All had fun and some kayaking seeds were definitely cultivated.

A big thank you to all our sponsors including Crocs, Jackson Kayak, and Dermatone Sun block! We really appreciate your support! In addition, we are very grateful for the ongoing support of all our instructors and volunteers who show up year after year to support this program – thank you for making it all possible!

 Click to see larger imageClick to see larger imageClick to see larger imageClick to see larger imageClick to see larger image