Winter time at Wet Planet is all about building a better program for next year and this piece of the puzzle is particularly exciting.
After 2 years of successful partnership, the Wet Planet Kayak School proudly accepts the task of scheduling all the on-river kayak instruction and support for First Descents’ 2011 Kayak Camps in Washington.
This non-profit organization has grown to be one of the premier programs for young adults diagnosed with cancer. Participants find companionship, support, hope, laughter and even themselves during the week-long camps.
While they might be learning to calmly perform a wet exit, follow a line through a rapid or even roll a kayak back upright, every camper leaves with a greater sense of accomplishment and strength. Often, these young adults see their week at camp to be one of the most healing elements in their fight against cancer.
However, the resource-intensive programs rely completely on fundraising and support from the community.
“Wet Planet has the gear that supports First Descents, they have staff that are individually passionate about this organization, and they have the desire to ‘touch others’ lives’ whenever they can,” comments Heather Herbeck, lead kayak instructor for the camps. “I have been impressed with their support for the community and the environment since I started in 2005. How could a business, organization, or person NOT want to invest their time and resources into a cause such as this? Wet Planet has the resources to provide, so they do it!”
In the past, Wet Planet has provided kayaking gear, vehicles and some of the instructors for the 2 camps here in Washington. Now, they are proud to organize all of the on-river logistics and kayak instruction for the Washington kayak camps.
Really, Wet Planet sees this responsibility as a privilege.
“We believe that this is the most rewarding way to share the magic of the river and its community with those who appreciate and benefit from it the most,” comments Jaco Klinkenberg, owner of Wet Planet.
Kayak instructors also walk away from a week volunteering with First Descents full of inspiration and enthusiasm. To see and experience how kayaking touches the participants creates a deeper connection between student and teacher. Instructors find it impossible to walk away unchanged from their experience.
Campers and instructors arrive on day one for a week of white water kayaking in Oregon and Washington and leave as family on day five.
As the camps are known for their specialized attention and low student to teacher ratio, lots of kayaking volunteers from the gorge are still needed. First Descents has created a following of individuals who look forward to volunteering their time and experience to the camps every year. These individuals are a valuable asset to the whole operation, making the campers’ experience one of community. Volunteers include well-known instructors from all over the northwest, as well as committed fundraisers. This summer though, Wet Planet will just provide a little more help for First Descents by scheduling all the action! Contact Wet Planet if you are interested!
In addition, Jaco hopes the partnership might even expand in future years. As one of the nation’s top outdoor destinations, the Columbia River Gorge is the perfect place to learn whitewater kayaking. With easy access and a variety of rivers, First Descents campers get an experience that they will never forget. The week also includes berry picking on the slopes of Mt. Hood and an afternoon of stand-up paddle boarding and intro to kite boarding.
With this partnership and other exciting programs, the 2011 season is looking great for white water kayak instruction in the Gorge!
Susan Hollingsworth, Wet Planet kayak instructor and blogging extraordinaire, is looking forward to raising more money for First Descents than Drew Austell, Wet Planet raft guide, during this year’s Eddyflower competition.