A Minden Wild Water Preserve Committee Initiative
Since the inception of the MWWP committee, as a result of the Forward Strokes initiative, one of its on going concerns is utilizing the Preserve's resources not only for Whitewater Ontario members and their events, but also for the surrounding community. Its always a shock when we hear of people who have lived in the area for years and years and have no idea where the Preserve is or what it does. Along with the day-to-day maintenance and upgrading of the facilities, one of the challenges facing the MWWP committee is integrating itself into the local community that it finds itself residing in.
In other words, how can we engage the local community? What could we offer that would bring them to us? We have boats, a camp site, a building with a kitchen, and a river with volunteers' expertise to guide people down. They have children. The mix became obvious.
On the weekend of July 10/11, the MWWP Committee hosted an introduction to paddling event for the local kids from Archie Stouffer Elementary School in Minden. Armed with sleeping bags, tents and enthusiasm, 15 students, who ranged from grade 6-8, with little or no whitewater paddling experience, descended upon the grounds of the Preserve anxious to give the Gull a go.
For the next two days, the MWWP volunteer instructors and their assistants took these young "newbies" from wet exists to the basic strokes, simple peel ins and outs and ferrying. We even had several of them rolling by Sunday! This was a no pressure situation and the kids decided how far they wanted to push their limits. While some were determined to stay in the current and learn to roll, others who were more tentative (we've all been there), worked on flat water moves or just went swimming. The goal was to have fun experiencing the river and the pictures that John Slot took are a testimony to that.
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Meals where supplied by WO and a generous donation from Jaime Dollo and Mike Macnaull, owners and operators of the Minden Foodland, and support from WO. Thanks must also go out to Joan Duhaime and Jane Klarer-Lackey for taking on all the cooking duties and keeping everyone involved well fed.
The certified volunteer instructors included Connor Duhaime, Leah Kindree, and Jon McPhee. They were greatly assisted by volunteers Cameron Lackey, Russ Duhaime, John Slot, and Russ Lackey. Even Steve Pomeroy assisted, paddling a very odd looking craft that very well may have been a big creek boat squashed by a truck. Dare say, could it have originated from the "dark side"?
It should be noted that thanks must go out to AO/Boatwerks for their generous donation of prizes for the kids as well as the loan of their "ducky" inflatable kayaks which gave us the chance to run each kid down once or twice to experience the sensation of running rapids. A rodeo was organized by Neal Ross-Ross and held at Earls on Saturday evening to illustrate the wilder aspects of kayaking. Great show by all who participated.
Without a doubt, the weekend was a huge success! The enthusiasm of the students and the volunteers all working cooperatively together was inspiring, making this pilot venture a must to repeat. A big thanks to ALL involved, kids and adults alike, for taking the time and energy to engage themselves and share with each other, creating a positive experience for all involved. This is surely to become an annual event and with a little luck we hope to expand on it for years to come.
The Minden Wild Water Preserve Committee
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