Sunday, September 18, 2016

Kelly's Academy 2016

Young Maverick celebrates nailing his first roll
(Photo by Peter Holcombe Photography)

From complete beginner to rolling and surfing in less than a week. That is the typical progress of a kid on the Kelly's Academy. A unique blend of world class kayakers as coaches, super low ratios, the best equipment available and a fantastic river with an amazing white water park allows the local kids who live near the Kelly's White Water Park to make huge progression in the sport in a super short time frame. Not only that they get to chose to take part, they chose to kayak, stand up paddle board or surf and already have to complete a number of pre requisites including a meeting with the local of police for a water and river safety talk and swim lessons, prior to coming on the course. This means that these kids really want to be there and really want to learn which is perfect as the Academy is available to them for free to help develop the community and to make a real connection between the community and the park.

The Academy means so much to the whole town

Kids learning river safety (Photo by Peter Holcombe Photography)

Megan wasn't so keen on kayaking but loved river surf
(Photo by Peter Holcombe Photography)

Everywhere you look theres kids safely playing in the park
(Photo by Peter Holcombe Photography)

The kids progression is so fast its insane
(Photo by Peter Holcombe Photography)

Everyone comes out to cheer on and support the kids
(Photo by Peter Holcombe Photography)

For the last 3 summers I have been incredibly lucky to head up this programme. Coaching alongside Clay Wright, Alec Voorhees and Hayden Voorhees. I have been able to spend a full 3 amazing weeks each summer teaching, mentoring and inspiring the local kids and giving them the best possible introduction to the sport. The kids can attend anywhere from 1 – 3 weeks worth of sessions each summer at the park a really unique and special opportunity for local kids from these tiny country towns.

Loving life on the river
(Photo by Peter Holcombe Photography)

An inspirational team of instructors work with the local kids
(Photo by Peter Holcombe Photography)

Maverick lines up for the big drop careful supervised by Hayden
(Photo by Peter Holcombe Photography)

Just chilling
(Photo by Peter Holcombe Photography)

One kid 'River', who lives only half an hours drive from the park started with us as a complete beginner 3 years ago. In the 3 years he has attended he has completed 9 weeks of free kayak coaching becoming a very proficient paddler with a solid white water roll. Paddling every chance he could River really made the most of the opportunity available to him sometimes coming to two sessions each day. Now 15, he has taken the step outside of the Academy to become a part of the local kayak community, this year taking the skills he has learnt on Academy to go with other local paddlers to explore the other amazing rivers around. Attending academy again this summer he not only further progressed his skills but also used his experience to help encourage the other kids who were much more new to the sport. In the evenings after class he also practiced for, entered and won a hometown throw down freestyle kayak event. To me River is one perfect example of how important the academy is and how much it means to the local community and kids. It gives them not only the opportunity to grow into amazing paddlers with a healthy respect and understanding of the river but also helps them grow personally helping them develop confidence and life skills through a sport they love and experience an exciting and different lifestyle and outlook on life.

River in his element in his kayak
(Photo by Peter Holcombe Photography)

In celebration of his commitment, passion and attitude and recognising and wanting to support his potential to progress even further in the sport River has been invited back next summer not only as a kid on the Academy but also as a trainee instructor. He will work alongside us and learn what it takes to be an instructor on the academy team.

The instructor team perfect role models for the kids
(Photo by Peter Holcombe Photography)

We have a number of talented youngster who help with the Academy
inspiring the kids and sharing their love for the river
(Photo by Peter Holcombe Photography)

But if thats not enough to make this weeks an awesome part of my years there is so much more outside of class we get to hang out with the rest of the Academy team and the local adventure community and explore and take part in so many of the other amazing activities on offer in the area. From kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and surfing at the park, to paddling the famous Payette and Salmon river local white water runs. To wake surfing and chilling on the boats on the huge cascade lake, to mountain biking, fat biking and ATV'ing around Tamarack resort. To picking Huckleberry's and eating ice cream, to driving up into the mountains into the snow. To cooking BBQ's, eating local cuisine (from local spring water to elk steaks, antelope burgers and bear salami), watching huge fireworks displays over the lake to sitting back chilling and watching blockbuster movies at the incredible Roxy cinema in town. It really is a non stop adventure action packed 3 week summer destination in an absolutely amazing place.

Watching the fireworks above the lake

Wake surfing every chance we get

Josh flys of the wake

Awesome adventure with amazing people in a beautiful location
Anthony cooks up some local cuisine donated by Woody who's kids are on the Academy

Fat Tire biking through the woods

Huckleberry picking from an ATV

Cable car up

Mountain Biking back down

I would highly recommend anyone who hasn't been yet to go. The features at the park are World Class. Stephen Wright set a world record there in 2014. Then there is the perfect beginner and intermediate play boating feature with massive eddy service right in the middle of the park. I've seen many paddlers including 12 year old Kellogg kids hit mcnastys, space godzillas, lunars and tricky wu;s and hundreds of paddlers safely tak their first ever surfs there and hit loops and spins. The park is free and theres loads of space to park and camp onsite. Plus so many other experiences and activities around everywhere. You have to go and if you have already been i'll see you there again next summer.

One of many incredible sunsets

Thank you to everyone who shared this summer in Idaho with me and especially to Mark and Kristina Pickard for allowing me this incredible opportunity to be involved. Bring on Kelly's Academy 2017.