Around the last week in April I received a phone call from Thomas, the owner of Diablo Paddlesports, about helping out for a local children’s event. He told me they would be working with Generation Outdoors to teach fatherless kids how to kayak and fly fish. The amount of kids that had rsvp’d for the event was growing in numbers by the minute and both Thomas and Generation Outdoors were worried that they wouldn’t have enough kayaks and adults to help staff the event. Of course I couldn’t leave them hanging and gladly gave him the thumbs up. The second we hung up I penciled it into my calendar and set about getting my hands on some rental kayaks and games.
The morning of the event I woke up excited to start the day. I was unsure of what to expect and was anxious to meet the kids. Shortly after I arrived we encountered a small problem, the location where the kids would enter the water was hard to reach by truck. After a second of problem solving we decided to move to a nearby water crossing and launch the kayaks there. Lugging the kayaks around may have been a little extra work but I was happy to do it. The set up for fly fishing classes went smoothly and before I knew it the kids had started to show up.
Over the course of the next several hours several groups of kids would switch back and forth between kayaking and the fly casting instruction just up the hill. Each group that would come to the water would receive some basic paddling instruction out of the water before being assisted into the kayaks. After they felt comfortable in the kayaks I instructed them on the water for a little before finally letting them loose. The kids were a little shaky at first but quickly got the hang of it and had a great time.
There was one youngster that wasn’t comfortable with water based activities and we were warned that it took a little time to get him warmed up to the idea of kayaking. However, with the comfort and stability of the Diablo kayaks, the young man was standing up and having a blast in no time!
After all the groups were finished with kayaking and fly fishing lunch was served. We grilled some burgers and I enjoyed getting to know the kids a little better and listening to them recount the earlier activities. This event was such an awesome experience for both the kids and the adults working it and I plan on doing it again in the future. Being a father to 10, with a little (okay A LOT) of help from the other volunteers, was a rewarding and one-of-a-kind feeling that I will remember fondly for days to come.
Written by Justin Fees @ ACK