Last week I helped David Hughes, and Evan Ross with a camp hosted by Downstream Edge. Downstream Edge is a kayak instruction program founded by Nick Wigston that teaches all things from creekboating to river safety. There is also a junior kayak league that is part of Downstream Edge where kids can learn these skills through weekly sessions with coaches in towns like Boulder and Steamboat Springs.
Up in that first paragraph I mentioned the name David Hughes and Evan Ross. Evan is the Salida Downstream Edge coach and David is the Founder of Go Huge Kayaking/ New River Academy. Go Huge Kayaking is David Hughes’s summer camp program that he started before starting New River Academy. Evan Ross was actually in one of David’s first Go Huge camps, and he is now instructing one, which to me showed how these camps are important. They not only help kids learn to kayak, or improve their skills, but also build a dedication to the sport that would make students (like Ross) want to teach more kids to kayak.
The camp last week was a great mixture of freestyle, creeking and strong overtones of safety. The way the camp was run made me, as well as everyone feel safe, and I think this comes from both Downstream Edge as well as Go Huge. Nick Wigston is, to me, Colorado’s river safety expert, and he definitely channels that expertise into his Downstream Edge program, and junior kayak league. David also places an emphasis on safety both during his summer camps and New River Academy. Running things like waterfalls and slides (like Oh Be Joyful) require both technical know how and good safety for those times when things go wrong. That is what Downstream Edge and Go Huge Kayaking are all about so that was definitely a plus for the camp.
Summer camps are important to help kids learn to kayak, but they are few and far between. The best ones like Ottawa Kayak School and Otter Bar are old institution but they are in place that are far from home for Colorado’s kids and they don’t show the kids new local runs. Downstream Edge with their Junior Kayaking League and summer camps are a great pillar to support kid kayaking.
By Matt Hill