Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A week at First Descents

On July 20th I drove to Vail to spend a week with First Descents, a kayaking camp for young adults with cancer. This was an amazing experience to meet and spend time with people my own age who had also battled cancer. This was the first time I had been around so many cancer survivors, or in a place where those who had had cancer outnumbered those who had not.

When I first arrived at camp, I met Tex, Crampster and Beef, 3 of the couselors and we all went to paddle Shoshone together. It was great to be on the river with these guys. The next day we met the campers. They were an interesting group and so much fun to get to know.

On the first full day of camp, we all drove to a large pond and taught the campers how to wet exit. Many of them had never been in a kayak before and were really apprehensive about pulling their spray skirt. It was amazing to watch them conquer their fears and join us in a game of kayak polo by the end of the session. Even more amazing was watching them get out on the river the very next day and paddle through rapids.

The first river day was on a section of the Colorado near the Dotsero exit on I-70. I am not exactly sure how many miles, but it was at least 5 or more. Then we all went to run Shoshone again. The campers rafted it and Beef, Buttons, Crampster, Mateo and I paddled it. Also Forrest and Tex took two of the campers down in Topo Duos.

The next river day we took the campers from the take out of Shoshone into Glenwood Springs. It was a beautiful day and the campers styled the river. I was amazed at how quickly they progressed in just 3 days.

We took a day off to go rock climbing and to ride the Gondola in Vail the next day to rest up before the biggest challenge for the campers. The final river day we paddled the Eagle River 'Pumphouse' section I think it is called. It begins at the takeout for Gore canyon. It was my favorite day on the river with the campers. They did so well out there. Several of them tried surfing, and a few got their first rolls.

I had such a good week with First Descents. It was so good for me to have the opportunity to talk with them about my experience the past year and learn from their experiences. I think this camp is a valuable experience for those who choose to go. I can't wait to spend another week there next summer.

1 comment:

Bryan said...


You rip ass! It was fantastic to finally get on the water with you. I had such a terrific time! I can tell you that I will be returning to FD next year. It has changed me in a very good way!

Oh yeah, and Barry & Zach say "Yo Katie!"