OuttaSight Guide Leadership Program / Kids are OuttaSight Clinic Report

Report Written By: Bill Butler, TRR Susquehanna Valley Chapter Coordinator
As many of you are aware, we host a couple of large kayak training events each year that revolve around teaching and guiding folks who are blind or have low vision. The first is the OuttaSight Guide Leadership Program (OGLP), where we show experienced kayak instructors how to teach OuttaSight Guiding skills to other boaters in their local chapters. This is essentially our “Train-the-Trainer” program. Each of the graduates of this program receive a TRR endorsement and are expected to teach others how to guide paddlers who are blind or have low vision in a variety of water – lakes, rivers, estuaries, off-shore, and whitewater. This year we had four new graduates:
  • Dayne Law (Boise ID)
  • Tim Reusser (Boise, ID)
  • Nate Sheffer (Susquehanna Valley, PA)
  • Mike Warren  (Susquehanna Valley, PA)
A couple more students dropped from this event for various reasons, but we got it done nevertheless. What was awesome is that we had several former graduates of the program show up to help support us with the KAOS Adventure Weekend that followed OGLP. Jeannine Meerscheidt, Roy Hargrove (our Chapter Secretary), Chris Brown (our Outreach Coordinator) and Mike Betts came in to flex their instructor muscles, bringing the fun with them.
Add to this awesome mix our OuttaSight Ambassadors, Lonnie Bedwell, Steve Baskis, Raquel Welsh, Mike Murphy, and Carlos Pere, who came to act as role models for our OuttaSight kids and their families, and you get the makings of an incredible event.
Here’s the breakdown of the event:
  • 65 total participants, 51 of whom were on the water
  • 17 Veterans, 5 of whom are OuttaSight Paddlers
  • 5 OuttaSight Kids, supported by 13 family members who paddled with them
  • 4 organizations on site helping out in a variety of ways

While this picture doesn’t show everyone who came, it does give you some idea of the scope of the event. There were several paddlers behind the camera, each supported by (or supporting) these five brave kids and their families. Several people were moved to tears at dinner as we discussed how the day went, describing their day as “life changing” and “incredible.”

Lonnie does a headstand in a kayak!

Vanessa Jones

Committe Co-Chair

Vanessa A. Jones is a dynamic force dedicated to fostering
inclusivity, encouraging discussion, and promoting a culture of
belonging in the outdoor sports community. Hailing from
Washington, DC, she brings a wealth of diverse experiences and
perspectives to her endeavors.
As a US Army veteran and ordained Chaplain with a focus on
seniors and caretakers, Vanessa is deeply committed to serving
others. Her work as a patient-caretaker advocate reflects her
passion for supporting vulnerable populations and ensuring their
voices are heard.
Currently, Vanessa is employed by a resettlement agency, where
she confronts challenges head-on with resilience and
compassion. As a single, Black woman veteran, she embraces
the unique hurdles she faces, viewing them as opportunities for
growth and empowerment.
In her downtime, she wears many hats, including that of a
missionary, spreading hope and positivity wherever she goes.
Weekends are spent paddling, immersing herself in West African
dance and finding solace and joy in nature’s embrace.
Vanessa is committed to equitable principles, ensuring that
everyone’s opinions are valued and heard. Through her
unwavering dedication and inclusive leadership, Vanessa is
paving the way for a more equitable and diverse outdoor sports