In 2020 TRR added a new National Paddling Clinic-Mexico whitewater kayaking. This clinic is due to TRR’s close relationship with Calleva Outdoors. Veterans from all Chapters who build class 3 whitewater paddling skills can apply to this winter (January) week long paddling clinic. Partnering with Calleva in the DC/MD/VA area has helped increase paddling opportunities, and adding their Mexico Paddling program is a great addition to the TRR National Programs offerings.
Kayaks, outriggers, paddles and adaptive paddles, universal padding seats and personal flotation devices will be provided. Participants should bring swimsuits and towels; goggles, nose plugs and water socks or shoes are optional.”
“As he’s being loaded into a kayak in the Eastern Washington University pool one evening, George Davis says he’s actually a pretty good kayaker, except for one thing.
“I just can’t see where I’m going,” said Davis, a Navy veteran who started losing his sight at age 30 and was completely blind by 50. “But no problem.”
Davis is a regular at the weekly Team River Runner kayaking event where therapeutic recreation students Kristen Eissman and Austin Kapalo help veterans learn to kayak in a way that meets their physical and mental health needs.”
Please check out all the safety resources available to you to make sure that you are keeping you and your chapter members safe on the water!
These documents have been written and provided by Team River Runner Safety Coordinator – Charlie Duffy.
Proper Glove Removal
Sam Splint Intro and How To Use
“Kathy Champion’s last name couldn’t be more appropriate, because she is a champion, a champion for courage.
“Once you get over the fear of being blind you can begin and live again,” said Champion.”
Lake Berryessa, California
September 18 – 22, 2019
Picture this: a 70-foot luxury houseboat moored in a secluded cove on a warm lake as the base of operations for the First Western Outtasight Clinic, where 4 veterans with visual impairments would learn kayaking skills and nine vets or volunteers would learn to guide the visually impaired. It was a perfect plan at a perfect place with perfect conditions: 79-degree, crystal-clear weather and water on Lake Berryessa in California.
No plan is perfect, of course, and we were reminded of this as the advance party discovered that a fallen tree had blocked the road into Pleasure Cove Marina, where we would camp overnight before transferring to our houseboat. It took 2.5 hours before the fire and utility crews cleaned up the mess.
Once camp was set up, we gathered for dinner, introductions, and orientation, and after a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we transferred people, food and gear to our houseboat. Once aboard, we motored out to our instruction site in Haines Cove, where we moored the boat to an island and set up for three days and two nights of instruction and fun.
The guidance was provided by Chris Farris, event organizer, and American River Chapter Co-Coordinator, and Carlisle Landel, Co-Coordinator of the Palo Alto River Chapter, both of whom had been certified at last June’s TRR Adaptive Paddling Conference, with additional help and oversight from Jennifer Eaton from Kids Are Outta Sight and TRR National. The participants, who came from Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, and California, included both visually impaired paddlers and their accompanying but untrained family members as well as experienced whitewater and sea kayak instructors who needed to learn techniques for teaching and guiding this population.
And learn we all did, starting with the basics, progressing to a double-circumnavigation of our island (2 miles total) and culminating in 5-mile paddle back to the marina from our mooring site on the last day. But paddling and instruction was not the only thing on the schedule by a long shot—not when you have a luxury houseboat complete with water slide and hot tub. In addition, excellent meals were prepared and enjoyed, new boats were dedicated, and a raffle was held. As a special bonus, Park Ranger Jennifer Onufer came to the boat and gave a presentation on the natural history of the lake and its locale with her collection of fossils, plants, pelts and other specimens that could be passed about and shared even with the visually impaired while a member of the Bureau of Reclamation public relations staff shot documentary photographs and interviewed our participants.
By Saturday morning, everyone had advanced their skills to the point where the paddle back to the marina on the final morning was well within the capability, and we had a leisurely trip back in the morning sun. After unloading the boat we returned to our camp for a huge catered meal and our final closing ceremonies.
Special thanks are due to:
- Melissa Farris for organizing the food and menu and for holding down the campsite while we were on the boat.
- The staff of Pleasure Cove Marina, who towed our string of sea kayaks to the mooring site and provided water taxi service between the marina and our mooring.
- Guy Cables, owner, and operator of Sierra Outdoor Center of Auburn, for the donation of raffle items and his continued support of TRR American River.
- TRR National, both for its support of the clinic and for its OJT program, which provided the training that made organizing this event possible.
“Grab your paddle, hop in the kayak, and let’s take a few laps around Shelby Farms. It’s just what the doctor ordered for these veterans. We met up with them on a cool, windy Tuesday morning.
“The main thing is just be out here and enjoy it. You’re not in a race to do anything. You’re not in a hurry to be anywhere. You’re out enjoying yourself, and it’s wonderful,” said Navy Veteran Peter Geldard.
Peter served 6 years in the Navy. “
By: Tonya Butler
This year’s camp served 76 veterans with 22 volunteers from the Marine Corp League, American Legion and Auxiliary, and the University of South Alabama Therapeutic Recreation Majors, as well as high school students fulfilling volunteer hours.
From August 23rd to August 26th, 2019, the rivers and mountains of western North Carolina were host to the ninth annual Team River Runner Southeast Region Rendezvous. Over 60 veterans, family members, and volunteers from nine Team River Runner chapters participated in a weekend of health and healing through paddle sports and social interaction. This year’s event focused on skills progression, and a dozen ACA-certified instructors donated their time and energy to ensure that our participants came away feeling challenged and accomplished. For some this was their first time on moving water and the supportive environment eased this transition.
Veterans and volunteers straggled in Friday afternoon and evening, and were welcomed to the bunkhouse with a hot bowl of chili provided by River of Life Ministries. Thanks again to Heidi Ramsey-Woodard for preparing and serving, all the while with an infant on her hip! I believe this makes the fourth year Heidi has arranged this for us, either through the Bryson City Rotary Club or River of Life. The evening ended with a large group around the campfire making new friends.
Saturday we started with group breakfast in the bunkhouse, followed by a quick stretch, and then trip planning. Our guides put together four trips for the day, including a lake paddle on Fontana Lake, a first timers’ trip on the Little Tennessee River, an intermediate trip on the Tuckasegee Gorge, and a skills session for intermediate paddlers on the Nantahala Gorge. The entire group met back at the bunkhouse for pizza and refreshing beverages, and planning for Sunday. I remembered to buy the ‘smores fixin’s this year and the campfire crowd was very pleased.
Saturday night brought a bit of rain, and with the extensive rain earlier in the week, the steep banks of the Nantahala Gorge that were stripped of foliage in a fire two years ago gave way, and mudslides covered the road and blocked the river. Initially the word was one slide with minimal disruption, but by morning the news was four separate slides, and weeks of cleanup expected. As a result, our all-inclusive group paddle on the Nantahala scheduled for Sunday was off the schedule. We settled for splitting up again, with some groups heading to the Ocoee, some to the Lower Green, and some back to the Tuckasegee Gorge. I tagged along with the group to the Tuck Gorge, and with the help of our instructors, we were able to teach and practice attainment in rapids, as well as explore new lines and small eddies in some of the more challenging rapids. We quickly learned that a class II river can provide class IV moves if you know where to look! I commented afterwards that I thought it was our most successful skills building trip on record.
Next year will mark out 10th annual Southeast Region Rendezvous. I have some special activities and events in the works, so stay tuned and sign up early!
Southeast Region Coordinator, Team River Runner