Sunday, September 25, 2016

Falling Creek Camp Kayaking Programme

My adventures then moved east as I reunited with Jez and the kids and team at Falling Creek Camp for four epic weeks of whitewater.

Reunited with my Hubby
(photo by Kevin Pelinski)

Starting in Columbus, Georgia we all grabbed freestyle kayaks and hammocks and set about a freestyle development camp in the middle of this funky town. With water every evening we started the day with classroom based goal setting and video review sessions in town, Breaking down the fundamentals of the sport and allowing maximum progression at the park.

Starting the day with a classroom session

Coaching Billy
Loading up for something big
The sunsets as we surf
Checking out the local bomb squad kit

The kids were amazing hitting sweet moves and just being fired up about boating the whole time. Not only did they get world class coaching from me and Jez. They got to meet, hang out and paddle with freestyle phenomenons Tom Dolle, Hunter Katich and Bennett Smith. It really was an inspirational week. Supported by the local community who chowed true southern hospitality going above and beyond to make us feel welcomed the whole week long.

Falling Creek Camp Columbus Big Skeeta Crew
Gnar Trip, West Virginia

The adventure then moved North to West Virginia for 3 days of big water play. Again all the kids grabbed play boats and hammocks and wore themselves out with hours and hours of flat water freestyle between each and every rapid along the New River. The levels were prefect (we caught it on the way down after the huge flood disaster only a matter of days before). Led by KP, myself and Ben each day the kids grew more confident, learning how to read and run the huge big water, a different style to their usual steep North East low volume creek runs. As well as exploring concepts and learning how to lead and be an active member of a whitewater paddling team. Then every evening reflecting on the days adventures around a camp stove / camp fire whilst playing monopoly deal and listening to the river flowing by in the distance. A true West Virginian kayaking adventure.

The iconic New River Bridge
Modelling rapids and lines
Hitting lines
Scouting lines
Little Shredder Holden Dewey hits the lines

Lunch stop
Marshmallows over the campfire to finish the day

Falling Creek Camp End of Session Campfire

Back at base long enough to pack and repack. I got to experience the FCC end of session campfire. It was amazing seeing the commaradary between all the boys young and old. As all their achievements over the 4 week camp were celebrated and the camps ethos and values set the basis for a reflection of the weeks gone past and the adventures and experiences that all the boys had shared. Then all the campers we're wished a safe, happy and successful year until next summers FCC. As the candle lit campfire came to an end. It was time to say goodbye and it was very clear in the faces of all the boys how important this camp experience is in their lives. Especially for those campers who were in their last year and who (some after 10+ years of camp) would be about to embark on a different and often unknown adventure next summer.

Candlelit campfire overlooking the lake
Huck Ottawa

But like all good adventures they don't always end and for 15 lucky FCC campers there adventures continued this time with an 8 day expedition to the incredible Ottawa river.

Feeling at home in the Ottawa river wilderness
Every year Falling Creek Camp run paddling expeditions around the world. This years trips were to Ecuador and Canada. Which meant I got to spend an entire week coaching the kids with Jez, KP and the rest of the team. Based out of Wilderness tOurs we had another big water freestyle adventure planned. Levels were perfect so we mixed up fun downriver play with some epic garb sessions. The kids couldn't get enough time on the water. They were so fired up to paddle and learn new tricks. Seeing their progression over just 3 weeks was huge. The kids growing in confidence and skill not only the water but also off.
Sat in smoothie eddy about to run the main
The kids see McCoys rapid for the first time

Looking back the river flips another paddler
Reflecting on yesterday run and preparing for todays

Blasting down Coliseum in style

Tearing it up on Garb
Lunchtime session
The kids in their element
But the week went to fast and it seemed as soon as it had started it came to an end. An epic 'lost keys' morning and we eventually had all the kids on flights. Exhausted but with so many amazing memories and stories to tell everyone back home.

Thank you Jez and KP for the amazing photos and video.