This past weekend I had the pleasure of helping out at the annual Cowichan River Youth Kayak Festival hosted by Dan Norman and Brentwood College School. Dan was my first instructor and the one that motivated me to be a good paddler and instructor. I enjoy going to this event because it is centred around introducing youth paddlers to whitewater. The Cowichan River is on Vancouver Island and has a little challenge for everyone. The beginners learn simple moves through the currents on the Duck Pond and Spring Pools sections while more advanced paddlers run the Canyon section and finish testing their mettle on the “Final Drop”.
The weekend starts with a pool session at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre in Duncan. I have never, ever, in my life seen so many kayaks in a pool. This year we had 47 youth paddlers and 16 instructors. It was pandemonium. There honestly wasn’t much room to paddle! It was a great time to meet the paddlers, learn their experience levels, and practice basic skills/rolling. Then Saturday and Sunday we filled with sessions on the river. I usually work with the advanced youth here in Chilliwack, so I volunteered to take a group of first timers. This would give my paddlers a chance to work with new instructors and me a chance to enjoy introducing people to a sport I love. The river session were full of ups and down, overs and outs, swims and smiles. There were moments of fear that these young paddlers overcame and moments of ecstasy after conquering challenging whitewater. It always give me great pleasure to spend time sharing what I know, and this event is such a great opportunity to give back to the greater paddling community.
I’ll definitely be there next year. Hope you can make it!


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