While we wait for the water to warm up enough to take the kiddo out on his first river trip, we’ve been able to get away for a few solo excursions here and there. Here’s a recent video of Sean off tackling some bony Class IV in Northern NH with a local paddling group.
The footage above is from an 2009, when Jaistemay Marquez, 17, became the youngest kayaker to run El Toro, a 25m waterfall in Mexico. For the most part, I think this falls into the category of, “Don’t try this at home, kids.” However, I intend to share this footage with my high school students because I think it is so important for them to know about teens who are out there performing at elite levels. Often it opens a discussion about what it takes to do a drop like El Toro without getting dead, or hike that tall mountain, or sail that boat solo around the world. I hear them say,”I could never do something like that.” To which I ask,”Why not?”
These kinds of extreme examples start conversations that sometimes end with the student coming back to me with a story about a kayaking lesson, or a trip to the local climbing gym. A few years ago, I took 26 11th graders on a camping trip; for many, it was their first time sleeping outside. At the end of the weekend, they were planning larger hikes and trips for the future. I hope one of them will climb Denali, or Everest someday, and think back to her first campout in a small clearing in the White Mountains. So I’ll rephrase my disclaimer to, “Don’t try THAT at home, but try something like it. Take a first step, kids.”
Justine Curvengen has developed a number of great paddling films over the last few years, and has become well known for her series This is the Sea, a thrilling collection of sea kayaking adventure films. She recently expanded her paddling portfolio to canoes with This is Canoeing, and I bought this collection for Sean for his birthday last year. We were excited to find that one of the short films followed Canoeroots Publisher Scott MacGregor and his young son Dougie on a four day trip down the Petawawa River in Eastern Ontario, Canada. Dougie is excited to be on the water, and clearly loves paddling alongside his dad, except, perhaps when his little stuffed animal gets wet during a tricky rapid descent. Scott talks about some of the modifications he has made to his paddling style in order to bring Dougie along on these adventures, and the enthusiasm of both father and son is infectious. This film definitely got us thinking about the possibilities, and gave us some great ideas for keeping kids excitement levels high during uncomfortable conditions.
Check out the whole film collection by clicking on the picture below.
In 2007, filmmakers Karsten Heuer and Leanne Allison, along with their 2 year old son Zev and their border collie Willow, set out to explore the landscapes of Canada as immortalized in the writings of Farley Mowat. To do so, they had to canoe, hike and sail over 5000 miles from the midwestern prairies of Canmore, Alberta to the shores of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. Along the way they passed through native villages, went north across the barrens to Hudson Bay, and encountered a great variety of wildlife, including one memorable scene where they have to canoe right past a polar bear. The bugs nearly drove them insane and the deep, muddy portages practically sucked the boots off their feet, but all three pushed on to their final destination. Their two-year-old son, Zev, seemed to take the whole trip in stride, and exhibited a calmness throughout the journey that makes me think about how kids adjust to what’s “normal” in their lives. If a child grows up thinking that pulling a canoe upstream through thickets and rapids is how life happens, he won’t be upset when put in that situation. If a kid is raised in front of a television and never learns to self-amuse, he’ll likely shatter under the strain of such a journey. Since we probably aren’t going to do such a long and involved journey,we’ll have to find some sort of middle ground. It’s this sense of living with the wild as “normal daily life” that we really want to foster in our own kids.
Finding Farley has won awards at several major outdoor film festivals, including the top prize at the 2009 Banff Film Festival. You can watch the entire film at Heur and Allison’s website, Neccessary Journeys.