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This past week, the Inner City Kids Kayaking Camp made a come back after Covid nearly knocked it out for good! What a fantastic experience for all involved! This year’s camp showed what a little tenacity, hard work and collaboration can accomplish. Thanks to Sean Coffey a teacher and paddler who connected me to Green Chimneys in Brewster, NY and came out of retirement to bring several of his students with him to learn to kayak. What a fantastic week it was! Eric and Kristine Jackson, Emily Jackson, Nick Troutman, Dane Jackson, Mason Hargrove, Brett Lanier, Eric Van Leer and Andy Kuhlberg all volunteered their time this past week to teach teenagers from Green Chimneys and St. Joseph’s in Yonkers, NY to whitewater kayak. As has been the case from when we started this camp back in 2002, some students are non-swimmers and most have little to no experience with kayaking.

After starting in the pool at Green Chimneys going over wet exits, basic paddling strokes, rolling and bracing, we made our way to The Great Swamp – which has an access point on the Green Chimneys campus. It is a beautiful resource for the school and for the public when there is no pandemic! It sure made the logistics of teaching kayaking much easier for us as it turned out to be the perfect flat water paddling section for all students. And it is super beautiful on top of everything else.

This year in addition to all the amazing instructional help we had for the camp, we also had mother nature cooperating with the weather!! With the wettest July in history in our area, the local rivers had lots of water – definitely great for teaching kayaking. The Housatonic River which is quite close to the school provided two perfect sections of whitewater for the paddling progression. The drive for the students was much shorter than in years past, making for more water time and less travel time!

One on one or one on two instruction also helped speed the learning process and was more fun for all! With the camp’s immersion whitewater experience, all the students went from no experience in whitewater to running class 2 + rapids by the final day. For me, I was so happy to start this program up again and share my joy of kayaking with students who would not otherwise have access. But none of this would be possible without a big group effort so I cannot thank everyone enough who made this possible and I can’t wait to do it again next year!