Whitewater Spring Break- Jon Allen

// by: MWO

Spring Break is a great time of year to get back out on the water. For the last 5 years I have been running a day camp to introduce kids to kayaking. It’s always a bit challenging because the weather can be unpredictable and new paddlers rarely own the gear necessary to stay warm in cold weather. This year there was an added level of difficulty as I have been working with a small group of really good paddlers for about 4 years. So, how to offer a program that appeals to both? This year Chilliwack had its first two week Spring Break, which allowed me to split the camps and run something for everyone.

The first week National Team whitewater kayak racers came from three provinces (AB, SK, YK) to train here at Tamihi before heading south to Brazil for the U23/Junior World Championships. I decided to take advantage of that and held a three day camp for  experienced paddlers at Tamihi. We paddled twice per day in the wild waters up there. The kids had the chance to watch and paddle with the national level paddlers, hopefully giving them the perspective they need to get there themselves. Somehow the weather managed to be awesome and there were no issues on the water. I was really impressed with our young paddlers after a winter off of the river.

During week two the club planned a beginner/intermediate camp. It wasn’t looking like it would happen because there was only one paddler signed up. I was ready to cancel it when I had three more register at the last minute, and one of our experienced young kayakers decided to take this opportunity to learn to paddle a whitewater canoe on the river. the idea behind this camp was to build skills each day and culminate with a run down the Vedder River. The first day was at Cultus Lake to work basic skills, then we went to the Hope Slough on Thursday for slalom practice, and Friday was all river. The river was fun even though a couple of the paddlers went for swims in the cold water. Again we had luck with the weather, although minutes before the last campers were picked up on Wednesday there was a brief, but wild, thunder snow storm.

I’m really excited for this summer since we have an excellent new group of paddlers and the experience young paddlers look forward to the National Championship to be held here in Chilliwack (July 20-26 @ Tamihi). It’s always so much fun to share this sport with those that want to learn.

– Jon