Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Kellys Academy 2017

“There’s nothing––absolutely nothing––half so much worth doing as messing about in boats.” 

 Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows.

This summer I returned for my fourth season at the Kelly's White Water Park. Kelly's has become a large part of my life and I look forward to my three week summer adventure in this beautiful part of Idaho. This year was even more exciting as big snow levels meant the river was super high and the main wave was in. I flew in and received the call that the wave was insane at this level and the river was too potentially too high for the Academy. Great news for me personally but a potential challenge for our instructor team and the kids. I stopped on route in Banks to catch up with some of the North Fork Championships crew who were still in town. Then woke up early to drive the last hour and go surf. Just as I drove out of the no service Payette river  zone into Cascade I got the call. The levels had dropped! Gutted but kind of relieved the wave was gone but the levels were perfect for the kids.

So the next three weeks were spent at the park teaching local kids how to kayak, stand up paddle board and surf. With an incredible crew of instructors from across America and the amazing Jonas Litteri from Brazil we shared our love and passion for these sports. Inspiring, coaching and mentoring over 90 kids. Some were tiny super young 9 and 10 year olds others we're older teens taking time out from their school work and summer jobs to come to the the park to learn. We also had several returning kids helping out with the coaching on a mini mentoring scheme. It is amazing to be part of program like this seeing how important it is to have the opportunity to try these types of sports. So many of the kids will continue to be involved in these sports now for the rest of their lives because of the opportunities they are given on this summer program.

Cascade is middle of nowhere Idaho, an old logging town and the local income is very low so this Academy is available purely through the generosity of the Kelly's White Water Park founders Mark & Kristina Pickard. The kids get to attend for free, getting insanely good ratios (max 1:2) and for many this is the highlight of the year. Not only that the local town gets involved supporting the project, they learn to swim as a pre-requist to attending and attend a water safety, river safety talk with the local Sheriff in town.
Peter Holcolme was generous enough to give up his time shoot these amazing photos of our classes on the Academy. Jonas also made this incredible video showing the real value of what Mark and Kristina have brought not only to these kids but also to this town.
Inspring the next generation. Too young to be involved this summer Mavericks sister sat, watched and cheered every kid for 3 weeks waiting her turn to go next year.