Rush Sturges is a pro kayaker known for his mind-bending freestyle moves, including one known as a “hail mary”, which involves a front flip over a waterfall. As we watched his latest highlights reel, Sean and I couldn’t help but notice the emphasis on his childhood paddling. The reel follows him as his parents pose him in a boat as an infant, up through his early years, including his 2003 Junior World Kayaking Championship win. His parents owned a kayaking school on a big river in California, and it is clear that they were instrumental in involving him in the sport from a very early age.
It’s a tricky thing, though, figuring out how much to try to influence a kid’s love of the outdoors. We are gung-ho paddlers, and we took the mancub out for a short ride the other day. He had a great time throwing a rubber duck over the side. But what if he doesn’t like paddling? What if he starts to drag his feet every time we prepare for a trip? How much do we push him and hope it sticks? When I was a kid, my parents took me out to a local nature sanctuary several times a week. I loved it. When my younger sister arrived, they loaded her into the backpack and headed down the trail. She screamed her head off every time. So, they ultimately decided to leave her with my grandmother and skip the nature tours when she was with us. So far he seems to be thrilled by our adventures, so we’ll cross our fingers and hope we never have to decide whether or not to leave him behind.