Sharing my passion of Paddle Sports
I often say that whitewater has impacted every major decision in my life. I work at CRMS because the school needed kayak instructors, I met my wife because she had a kayak on her car, and my first exposure to paddling started a lifelong pursuit of the fluid life. When the opportunity to share whitewater sports with folks presents itself, I always jump at the chance.
Saturday, September 25th I loaded up as many Colorado Rocky Mountain School canoes and kayaks as I could carry and headed to Avon, Colorado. CRMS partnered with Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement and Diversify Whitewater to offer an opportunity for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) to get exposed to paddle sports. Participants were able to try kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, and rafting on Nottingham Lake in Avon. This event has been a year and a half in the making.
In the follow-up to the BLM movement, many in the outdoor industry asked the question “How can we lower the barriers to BIPOC participation in outdoor sports?” My brother, Shane Benedict, designer and part owner of Liquid Logic Kayaks reached out to several organizations with this mission including Diversify Whitewater. Based in Fort Collins, Diversify Whitewater, has worked with multiple organizations across the country to run paddle skills events that have helped introduce hundreds of BIPOC folks to whitewater sports. When events happen in Colorado, Shane naturally volunteers me to supply equipment and expertise.
In Avon, there were smiles for miles and I loved seeing a couple of kids taking numerous turns in all the crafts. One of the things I love about teaching at CRMS is seeing that light in students’ eyes when they discover their abilities in the sports we offer. Often our students have not felt like athletes in traditional sports, a lot like me. Unlike ball sports, carving those first eddy turns in a kayak or canoe felt natural and gave me a sense of grace that I hope to instill in my students. I also like meeting so many people from different walks of life as we enjoyed a beautiful day paddling around the lake.
The day was capped off with a raffle where participants won hundreds of dollars in discounts on equipment from Liquid Logic, Kokatat, and Immersion Research, as well as other swag. A special thanks to Renatta Araujo, and Oliver Skelly for making this even happen and I look forward to sharing CRMS’s resources and expertise in the future.