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After doing this camp for 20 years, I ask myself what is it that keeps me and everyone coming back to keep doing every year? The camp is entirely voluntary i.e. no one is paid, there are tons of logistics to consider, van rentals, water levels, long shuttles, river shoes, Croakies, boats that fit, skirts that work, helmets that aren’t broken, are there enough paddles, how do we keep the squirrels in the boat shed from eating the kayaks and their outfitting, do we have enough instructors etc.!

And then, there are the other questions, does this make a difference in kids’ lives? Can one week really impact someone? Is this a meaningful and important thing to do? Every year before the camp, I ask myself these questions and every year, as the camp days go by, I think this really is awesome and fun – how could I have these questions? The kids are really excited about kayaking!! They are having lots of fun! The kayaking kids get to be immersed not only in kayaking but also the outdoors. Now, more than ever, with the rise of nature deficit disorder, its so important for all of us to get out into nature and saturate ourselves completely. Kayaking clearly is an excellent cure for this as well as other ills of our times and in particular for kids. Having uninterrupted challenge and fun in a new environment really holds everyone’s attention with the added benefit of being outside and experiencing a whole new world.

This past week definitely reinforced my original belief that learning to kayak really is life changing for most people who do it – even if they don’t become lifelong paddlers. We had a big group of returning and new students between two schools, St. Christopher’s and Green Chimneys. It was an awesome group. Everyone was enthusiastic even if nervous of scared, and ready to take on the daily progression challenges. We lucked out with great water levels thanks to the rain which made our teaching much easier. Returning students Brendan, JV, Emrod, Finn, Alex, along with teachers Michelle and Zack, really built on what they had learned previously. New students Mikayla, Noah, Aiden, Derek, Corey, Luke and Ty were encouraged by seeing their friends and fellow students make such a rapid progression. From the swimming pool to running the Housatonic on the last day is a remarkable accomplishment for anyone. Michelle and Mikayla even did side by side rolls for the camera!

Huge thanks go out to Emily, EJ, Nick, Sean, and Andy K as well as Kristine and Zac – we couldn’t do this camp without you and I can’t wait to do it again next year!