Friday, July 10, 2015

Kellys Academy

From complete beginner, to surfing, running rapids and hitting combat rolls in just 4 days and there only 10 years old!

Fisher (11) runs through the top feature

The Kelly's White Water Park is renowned for its incredible freestyle features, beautiful location and for playing host to the Payette River Games. What is often not known though is what happens at the park every summer after the games.
The park was built in memory of Kelly Brennan to spread and share her love for the outdoors. As part of its legacy its founders pledged to provide free sporting opportunities to the kids from the local community so every year the park runs 'The Kellys Academy' and brings in some of the top athletes from around the world to teach the local kids water sports.

Kayaking : Hudson (13) 
Surfing : Trinity (13)
Stand Up Paddling : Anika (12)

Mark and Kristina Pickard with some of the Academy kids
The Academy is a fully inclusive programme that is open to all the school kids in the surrounding towns of Cascade and McCall. The kids are taught by World Champions, National Champions and local super stars the sports of their choice (Kayak, Surf and Stand Up Paddle Board).

Surfs up

Jack (14) Stand Up Surfing the middle feature
Learning to stay calm in the white stuff

Sailor (10) tandem surf edge training
The Vorhees rolling clinic

The Academy has run for several years since the park first opened up and its programme has had a lot of success. Not only in getting 100s of kids engaged into these sports but also in opening their eyes to the opportunities available in life and the beauty and adventure that is available to them on their own door step as well as further afield.

The next generation Will (10)

Developing the kids social, physical and personal skills. The instructors work with them building their confidence and self esteem. They also work to educate both the kids and there family's on how to stay safe around the water, lakes and rivers that surround them in this part of Idaho.

River Safety training
This year is my second year working the academy and it is a pleasure to be a part of it again. Many kids have come back from last summer as well as a lot of new faces too. Every day we get up early head to the park and find the kids there, all ready dressed and with their paddling kit out, ready to go.  

Jessica (11) surfs the top feature
We have an incredible team of coaches and work with super low ratios which enables us to fast track and develop the kids skills in just a week or two. So much so that by the end of the Academy each kids able to swim and paddle the rapids and surf the waves as there heroes and idols did at the PRGs only weeks or days before. They learn river safety, rescues, technical moves and skills including white water rolls. It is an exceptional programme that really benefits each young person and the community as a whole. It is incredible to see each kid grow with confidence and excitement each and every day as they reach their personal challenges and goals and thrive from being active in the outdoors.
This is what its all about
Chuck shows Jacob (14) the line 
It's is an honour and privileged to be able to share my passion and knowledge of the river with the next generation here in Idaho.

Heres the link to the full collection of my favourite photos from the 2015 Kellys Academy