Friday, January 20, 2012

Environmental Learning Center of Red Wing goes Whitewater!


The Red Wing Environmental Learning Center has gone whitewater!  I met the instructors Brad Nagel and Chad Nelson a few years ago when they commissioned pool time for kayaks at the local YMCA.  With a hodgepodge of older donated kayaks, paddles, and gear they were teaching rolling in the pool.  Personally I was overjoyed to not have to drive an hour plus to go to a pool session. It was heaven to just drive 5 minutes and be in a warm pool with my kayak.

  Brad was interested in what we have been doing with the pool sessions in the cities.  Polo, skills, rolling, and open pool time make up our winter pool activities in Brooklyn Center through Rapids Riders.   We talked and Brad being a long time whitewater paddler was very enthusiastic about developing a whitewater program for his students.

  Last winter I loaded up my quiver of kayaks and brought them to the pool along with whitewater paddles and spray skirts. We played hard and had a lot of fun.  Brad was hooked on the Jackson Star playboats. Working with Jackson Kayaks, the ELC was able to buy 10 Jackson Star series kayaks to jump start their program.

  This last summer went great for the ELC whitewater program.  Brad and Chad introduced many young adults to whitewater paddling.  They made several trips around Minnesota and Wisconsin, with their students, running our classic Midwest rivers.

   This coming spring, Brad and Chad, will be leading a trip to Southeast to run rivers such as The Nantahala, Nolichucky and other SE classic runs.  Focusing on getting his young adults ready for this trip, he had set up pool sessions for teaching basic skills to the ELC students.  Rolling was easily mastered by the students and they acquired a very good understanding of kayak polo.  Lots of fun!  They're in for a trip of a lifetime!

  Whitewater kayaking has been a welcome addition to all the amazing programs the ELC offers. Climbing, ice climbing, skiing, backwoods trekking, rafting trips, canoeing....the list is long.   It's a very well run organization  providing many opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to young adults. It will be great to see where these boats will take them in their adventures.

  This winter the ELC added several new whitewater specific paddles to their gear box thanks to Midwest Mountaineering. .  Still needed are whitewater sprayskirts.  The ELC is a non profit organization and any donations are very welcome. And tax deductible!  Gotta an old skirt?