When I started high school, being fond of the outdoors I joined what was called The Ecology Club. We basically did all sorts of outdoor activities depending on the time of the year. Among other things, I quickly gained a passion for canoeing, especially whitewater canoeing.
The academic advisor of the club used to run 10 – 12 day canoeing / camping trips every summer. He did this for about 20 years. I was on all but maybe 2 of the trips. I was THAT passionate about it.
The trips took place all over the northeast. Every year there were different folk going (though there was a core group of repeat customers). The trips helped define who I am today. I learned leadership skills; gained self-confidence. Learned the value of team work. Not to mention just enhancing my appreciation of nature.
These adventures helped many of us grow. At first it was mostly kids with a few adults along. But the original kids kept coming back. Eventually we became old enough to start bringing beer along. We went from a canoeing club, to a canoeing club with a drinking problem, finally ending up a drinking club with a canoeing problem! There are many tales to tell from these days, and maybe I will start sharing some in future posts.
Whitewater was my first introduction to living in the moment. In order to be able to maneuver, you have to react to what is here and now. You of course need to look ahead, and have a general plan of action, but once you are in the thick of it, you need to fully embrace what is happening now, or you may end up in difficulty.
This is also how I learned about going with the flow. In this case, “going with the flow” was in a literal sense. You need to use the water, not fight it. You need to recognize where it will take you, and work with it to arrive safely. if you fight it, you will most likely end up swimming, or worse.
I learned to apply these ideas to my whole life.
These trips helped me learn oh so many things! They taught me to be able to confront any fears I have directly. They taught me that most limitations I had were self set. And they taught me the value of perseverance.
Since I am usually on the other side of the camera, I don’t have many photos of my adventures that actually feature me. This series of photos is actually from one of the trips that my dad joined me on. Sadly, they are a bit dark, but you can get the idea. I am in the stern (the back of the boat). By this point, I had a fair amount of experience, so I would take those with little or no experience in my canoe.
Of course this did not guarantee that they did not swim!
Anyone who has met me might be able to tell you that one of my other passions is photography. This passion also grew from these trips. I have literally hundreds of photos. I will be kind and just share a couple of decent whitewater ones here, just cuz: