Select Page

This is my 8th year being part of First Descents ( It has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.

This season was no exception. Late July/Early August, I spent a week in Montana on the Clarks Fork River, shortly followed by two amazing weeks on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon.

Two of the three weeks of FD camps were FD1’s ~ which means that the participants were experiencing First Descents for their very first time. The last of the three weeks of my FD camps was an FD2 ~ which means all the cancer survivors were returning for another FD experience.

This particular FD2 on the Rogue brought back a survivor that attended my FD1 camp last year in Charlemont, MASS, her name is “Lilo”. Last year she was on a ‘sit on top’ kayak due to some limitations in her hips and trying to minimize “jarring” swims.

When she first arrived at the Rogue River, she reminded me that she was on a ‘sit on top’. I’m not sure if it was because she was nervous or because she didn’t think she could paddle a “hardshell” with her hip issues. Well, we wanted to give her a shot at being in a kayak like the rest of the participants and so she was introduced to a Jackson Kayak.

It was difficult for “Lilo” to get her hips to position correctly under the thigh braces of a kayak. However, we found that the JK thigh brace character allowed her to utilize a portion of the brace and fill in the gap with foam. This allowed her to move and edge like everyone else.

This girl wanted to do everything that everyone else was doing. Initially she didn’t think she could with her hip condition. By mid-week she was “t-rescuing”, waiting for the “hand of god”, navigating rapids effortlessly and enjoying ‘no limitations’.

She’s a rockstar and JK helped make it happen for her.

The other amazing parts of these weeks: Surfing, teaching, sharing stories, laughing, loving and lots and lots of eating.

If you would like to read more about my actual FD experience this season, please click here: I look forward to many more seasons and developing many more relationships through FD.