I just got a sad email from my friend Tim, owner of the White Squall Paddling Centre in Parry Sound, Ontario. Due to recently announced Federal Government budget the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve found out that their funding was cut for 2012-2013.
Here is the email:
Sorry to bother you, but the Biosphere needs your help. They have had their core funding cut to zero – effective this year. It means Greg and Becky don’t have funding to continue unless something happens. They have come up with an innovative and simple funding effort called the $57K campaign. Basically, they need $57,000 to get through this initial crisis – and they are asking for donations of $57 in the hopes that 1000 people will heed the call. It’s not huge for each of us, but will make a huge difference for the continuing of their work.
Designated by UNESCO in 2004, the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve is an area of 347,000 hectares that stretches 200 km along the eastern coast from Port Severn to theFrenchRiver, in the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, also known as the 30,000Islands. The unique geography and geology of the area create more than 1,000 distinct habitat types which support a variety of rare species, including plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.
So far they have been able to raise $2,000 but still have a long way to go. The GBBR is a fantastic organization and have been extremely supportive of the sea kayak campers who use the area. I’m opening my wallet, are you able to help?
You can learn more as well as contribute here.
I recently had the pleasure to watch Becky Mason’s new instructional DVD, Advanced Classic Solo Canoeing.
Advanced Classic Solo Canoeing builds on the foundation strokes that were taught in her first DVD, Classic Solo Canoeing. This time round Becky covers a wide variety of intermediate and advanced strokes including the Canadian, Indian, Sculling Draw, and the Running Draw Slideslip. Most of them are practical but some like the Low Circle are only practical to impress your friends. That doesn’t mean you should learn it. In fact it should be moved to the top of your stroke list for that reason alone. Never underestimate the importance of impressing friends.
From an instructional point of view I have got to say that this is easily one of the best I have seen. The narration shows right from the start that Becky has been teaching this stuff for a very long time. She has a great ability to take very complex maneuver and break it down to 3-4 key points making it easy to remember.
It’s clear that a lot of planning went into the production of the video and the proof is that all throughout the film the narration describing the fine details of the stoke actually matches up with what you are seeing. It might sound simple but it’s actually very a tricky thing to do and requires a huge amount of pre-planning long before production starts.
I think that Advanced Classic Solo Canoeing will be appealing to students as well as instructors and dreamers. If you are an instructor this is a good opportunity to watch a pro on the water teaching. Make notes of how she demonstrates the skills, steal the ideas and use it the next time you are teaching. You will be a better instructor for it guaranteed. Just don’t take all the credit.
If you are a dreamer I think you will also enjoy this DVD. Yeah, it’s an instructional film but it’s easily the most beautiful thing you will watch this month. Picture your perfect day out canoeing on the water. It likely involves paddling around on a very small lake in the early morning. The water is like glass and there is still a hint of morning mist hovering over the water. That scene in your head is pretty much 80% of the film. You are going to love watching it just for that.
I could keep going on about nerdy things like the excellent sound editing and the subtle sounds of the canoe moving through the water or the great selection of overhead and underwater shots to tie it all together but this is clearly a film the you need to see for yourself.
A couple of extra treats do come with the DVD including a full copy of her first instructional film, Classic Solo Canoeing as well as a beautiful canoe dance video set to the music of Ian Tamblym.
Oh yeah, did I mention that Advanced Classic Solo Canoeing won a bunch of awards at both the Reel Paddling Film Festival and the Waterwalker Film Festival? Yes it did.
You should be able to get this DVD at your local paddling shop or from Becky Mason directly via redcanoes.ca. For a limited time canoe and kayak instructors can get a 20% discount. You just need need to be a paid-up member of your local or national paddling body. Here are all the the details.
Dave and Amy Freeman helped start The Wilderness Classroom ten years ago with the simple idea to improve students' core academic skills and appreciation for the environment by introducing elementary and middle school students to the wonders of exploration and wilderness travel.
Since then they have been traveling around the world bringing the wilderness into the classroom setting. Back in 2010 they embarked on their largest expedition yet, a three-year journey, 11,700 mile journey acrossNorth Americaby kayak, canoe and dogsled. This May, they will start the last segment of their adventure where they will sea kayak from Grand Portage, Minnesota and arrive in Key West, Florida at the end of March next year.
Before they loaded up their boats and pushed off from the shore, I met up with Dave and Amy to find out how they got into the outdoor industry and what keeps them going, and going, and going...
1) How long have you been in business and what got you started?
The Wilderness Classroom actually just celebrated its 10th birthday. Although the organization got its official nonprofit status 10 years ago, Dave has been in the outdoor business much longer. His very first trip of this nature (traveling under his own power and updating a website for students out in the field) was 12 years ago. He skied theBorder Route with a sled dog named Tundra. Next came paddling theMississippi and then founding the Wilderness Classroom with good friend and educator, Eric Frost.
What got Dave started? Well, he fell in love with wild places early in life. His first canoe trip to the BWCAW inspired him to return to northernMinnesotafrequently. As a high-schooler, he was employed by Sawbill Canoe outfitters. It wasn't long until Dave began guiding canoe trips. After college, he was looking for a way to share his experiences with students. In order to reach as many kids as possible, he chose to share the adventures online, allowing students all over the world to share the experience as virtual explorers.
I came on board in 2006. My first Wilderness Classroom project was circumnavigatingLake Superiorby sea kayak in the fall. This circumnavigation was something I had wanted to do ever since I first dipped my paddle blade in the big lake. When I met Dave in 2005, I immediately began picking his brain about extended wilderness travel. This conversation evolved into the two of us planning the trip. After this experience, I was hooked. Next came the Trans-Amazon Expedition and then the North American Odyssey.
My early exposure to the outdoors was similar to Dave. I made countless trips to the northshoreofLake Superiorand the BWCAW with my parents. During college, I sought out a summer job in Grand Marais – guiding kayak trips onLake Superior. As an aspiring artist, I would draw inspiration from this Boreal landscape. During college and then grad school, this attraction to the northern wilds increased. After paddling aroundLake Superiorwith Dave, I knew that I had found my calling.
2) What’s the best part of your job?
There are actually two best parts of this job for me. The first is when we find out that we are actually having an impact on students. This may be apparent at a school presentation – seeing their enthusiasm about a particular animal or wild place – or it may come in the form of a letter (usually illustrated with crayon or marker) or an email sent by a student who has been inspired by what we are doing.
The second best part of the job is all the time we get to spend doing what we love outside. Where else can you find a job that involves being physically active, in nature? While there are some trade-offs, I'd much rather have a job like this than be stuck behind a desk, saving vacation time and money to do a scaled back version of what we are doing now.
3) What’s the most difficult aspect of the job?
The office work is the most difficult/painstaking aspect of our job. Dave spends hours in front of a computer screen fine-tuning the website and planning our routes. His biggest challenge has to do with developing the educational content for the website. He constantly strives to make the website as user friendly for students and teachers, developing new curriculum and lesson plans.
I spend an equally tedious amount of time writing grant proposals and working to cultivate new sponsors. We would both rather spend all our time out on the water if we could, but this stuff pays the bills. I always breathe a sigh of relief once we shove off from shore at the start of a project, because it marks the transition from all that painstaking preparation time to actually doing what we love.
4) What are two tips you can give to somebody looking to start their own outdoor business?
Know that even if you pursue your passion, you will find yourself working – hard. While some days may involve paddling on glassy calm water in theNorthwest Territorieswith a moose wading in the shallows near by, we did a heck of a lot of prep work to get there.
The second tip is actually one that we share with students. If you have a big goal, the way to achieve it is to break it down into smaller goals. We would get overwhelmed if we spent every day of the North American Odyssey thinking about how we have 11,700 miles to go. Instead, we focus on the task at hand. . . “our goal for the day is to paddle 20 miles”, “this rapid is half a mile long”, “I will work on two grant applications during our down time”. . . Achieving these small goals adds up and soon you'll see yourself progressing towards your loftier goal.
5) What about your job do you think would most surprise people?
Most people don't have a sense of how much time and effort we spend planning and preparing for our educational expeditions. Whenever we are not on trail, we are at our computers answering emails, scheduling school presentations, writing grant proposals, looking for new sponsors, developing curriculum. . . you get the idea.
6) If you could tell something to your 18 year-old self, what would it be?
I would say, don't feel obligated to fulfill another person's concept of success. When I was 18, I never would have guessed that this is what I would be doing. I was following a much more traditional path... college... with plans for grad school... then launch a career. Dave and I may have deviated from the norm, but we're doing well and are darn happy to be where we are today.
More info: The Wilderness Classroom
Top Photo Credit: Bryan Hansel
Congratulations are in order to waterproof case manufacturer, Aquapac for receiving The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade – the UK’s highest accolade for business success – for the third time.
The awards website describes The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise for "outstanding achievement by UK businesses in the categories of Innovation, International Trade and Sustainable Development."
"The awards are made annually by HM The Queen, and are only given for the highest levels of excellence demonstrated in each category. They are judged to a demanding level and winners receive a number of benefits and worldwide recognition."
I had no idea that Aquapac sells their cases in 61 countries. They have only 12 employees yet manufacturer almost 200,000 products a year with 93% three per cent of their products completly manufactured in the UK.
Here is the full list of the 2012 winners.
According to the press release, manufacturing, sales and customer service will be moved from Quebec City to Montreal.
Below is the full statement:
Bankrupt kayak manufacturer, Boreal Design, bought out by Kayak Distribution of Montreal (Riot Kayaks).
"Kayak Distribution, makers of Riot and Azul brand kayaks, announced today that they have completed the purchase of Boréal Design of Québec city. Manufacturing, sales and customer service will be moved into Kayak Distribution facilities in Canada, the USA and China over the course of the summer in order to minimize impact on its dealer network.
By acquiring Boréal Designs, Kayak Distribution positions itself as a leading privately held boat manufacturer. Boréal’s integration will allow the company to have a strong presence in the sea kayak category which will complete its line-up of Riot and Azul boats. It will also allow the company to carve out a leading position in thermoformed boats which the company launched earlier this year.
By integrating Boréal into its existing operations, Kayak Distribution will help the company become more competitive, add thermoformed constructions to its line-up, and help its customers streamline their purchasing by being able to source all of their boats needs from one competitive supplier and in some cases, eliminate associated shipping costs through its free shipping program."
Special thanks to friend of the site and paddle maker, Joe O’Blenis for the tip.
Since they first came on the scene in 1993, Adventure Technology (AT) paddles have been redefining ergonomic paddle design and construction technology, all while gaining fans in every corner of the market. For 2012, AT is ready to give back to the industry with a number of national sponsorships and donations.
"The soul of Adventure Technology is in its name," said Hastings Blumer, assistant product manager for Adventure Technology. "We strive to provide the best paddle technology to those in the endless pursuit of adventure on the water. For 2012, we selected a lineup of sponsorships that reflect these values and are proud to support each of these organizations, events, expeditions, and individuals."
Adventure Technology Sponsorships for 2012:
American Whitewater. In addition to supporting the organization’s efforts to protect our country’s rivers and the people who love them, AT is also donating a variety of paddles to American Whitewater fundraisers at Deerfield Fest, Feather Fest, and Gauley Fest.
US Freestyle Kayaking/FIBArk (June 14-17, 2012). Heading into its 64th year, FIBArk, which stands for “First In Boating on the Arkansas,” is the nation’s oldest whitewater festival. This year, AT will support the country’s longest whitewater race by donating paddles to the FIBArk event that will be used as raffle prizes to raise money for US Freestyle Kayaking.
Chattooga River Festival (June 22-24, 2012). Held in Adventure Technology’s backyard on the Chattooga, this is the first year of the Chattooga River Festival, which is being held to celebrate the river and encourage environmental stewardship and responsible use of its waters. This year, AT is donating a paddle as a raffle prize to benefit the festival and its mission.
Girls at Play. Founded by Team Dagger athlete Anna Levesque, Girls at Play encourages women of all ages to get out on the water. Through kayaking, yoga and camaraderie, Girls at Play strives to inspire women and enhance their lives by making these sports feel accessible, fun, and adventurous. In addition to supporting this organization, AT will donate paddles to be used by participants.
Kayak Bassin’ TV. Starring Wilderness Systems Pro Staff Director Chad Hoover, Kayak Bassin’ TV is the YouTube web-series in which Hoover shares tips, tricks and secrets on bass fishing with viewers. Heading into its second season, AT will continue their sponsorship of the popular online TV segments for 2012.
Heroes on the Water. This incredible organization gets wounded, injured or disabled military personnel out on the water for a paddling adventure to remember. The program allows the participants to decompress from the stresses of combat and the physical rigors of rehabilitation while finding strength and relaxation in a kayak. For 2012, AT is donating a Fishstix paddle for the fourth annual YakAttack freshwater kayak fishing tournament raffle prize, the proceeds of which will go to Heroes on the Water.
Tyler Bradt Touring. This year, AT donated paddles to Team Dagger member Tyler Bradt’s Sea of Cortez expedition, which covered about 400 miles of ocean over 25 days.
For updates throughout the season, check out: www.ATPaddle.com/news.
About Adventure Technology:
In 1993, an idea for the first, whitewater-specific, ergonomic paddle was born. That idea grew into Adventure Technology (AT), a paddle maker who doesn’t seek to “balance” adventure with technology, but rather seeks to push both concepts to the outer limits. AT now delivers premium whitewater and touring paddles known for excellence in design, craftsmanship and innovation. In 2009, AT joined the rest of the Confluence Watersports family in Easley, S.C., to continue its legacy of dedicated research and development, all in the name of a good adventure. www.atpaddle.com
The GB360 Midlifekayak expedition sets off to circumnavigate mainland Britain by kayak on April 29th from the Cornwall coast in the South West of England. English paddlers Andy Mullins, Geoff Cater and Mike Greenslade will be equipped with Kokatat GORE-TEX® dry suits, PFDs (personal flotation devices) and accessories to help keep them dry, safe and comfortable on their 2,500-mile journey.
The team is aiming to complete the trip in approximately one hundred days by covering rougly twenty-five miles each day. A total of 23 people have previously completed the route with the first successful attempt in 1980.
The paddlers of GB360 Midlifekayak met on the Isles of Scilly in April 2010 and found that they all harboured ambitions for a large scale kayaking expedition. Along with a goal of completing the expedition, GB360 Midlifekayak hopes to raise $15,000 USD for their favorite causes including:
About Kokatat Watersports Wear:
Celebrating over 40 years of innovation, Kokatat is an independently operated, US manufacturer of technical apparel and accessories for water sports. Handcrafted in Arcata, California, Kokatat employees are focused on building the finest functional product for people who work and play on water. Our gear is designed for paddlers, by paddlers, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience on the water all year long and in all weather conditions. Into the water with Kokatat! Please visit www.kokatat.com and follow Kokatat on Facebook and Twitter “@kokatat”.
About GB360 Midlifekayak:
GB360 Midlifekayak consists of English kayakers Geoff Cater, Mike Greenslade and Andy Mullins. The paddlers, with an average age of 46, plan to circumnavigate Britain in April 2012 as a personal challenge and to raise money for their favorite organizations. Learn more at www.midlifekayak.co.uk.
After being away for a week I’m still trying to get caught up with all the good stuff that the internet spit out since I was gone.
Last week the nerdy/sarcastic web comic, XKCD published this awesome infographic on the relative depths of the worlds lakes and oceans. Click through to view the full sized images in all its nerdy glory.
Image credit: xkcd.com
The other night I had the pleasure of viewing the latest film from J.J. Kelley and Josh Thomas, Go Ganges! You probably remember these guys from their multi-award winning 2008 film, Paddle to Seattle. Go Ganges! is an adventure film that tells the story of their journey down the length of the Ganges River from the source to the sea (by any means possible).
Due to several reasons (without giving the plot away) it’s extremely difficult and dangerous to paddle the entire length of the Ganges River so Josh and J.J. decide to make use of several different modes of transportation including a rickshaw, rowboat and finally a scooter along the 1,500 mile journey.
If you get a chance to see or purchase this film make sure you do. It’s a great story that is both entertaining, very funny and includes all the elements of any good adventure film including near accidents in traffic chaos, numerous vehicle breakdowns, poor decisions made in the heat of the moment, leaky boats and lots of miscommunication with the locals. I loved the part where they get challenged by a group of kids to a bike race with the rickshaw and get totally destroyed. Those kids must have been 10 years old...
Go Ganges! deals with a much more serious subject matter then their other films. The Ganges River is one of the most sacred rivers in the world and is worshiped as a God by the Hindus yet at the same time it is one of the most polluted rivers. To try to understand that paradox, J.J. and Josh spend time with spiritual leaders and local people working on the river to find out about the significance of the river in the lives of the people of India and what can possibly be done to help clean it up.
If there is one thing that you will take away it is that you will develop a huge appreciation of the thousands of miles of pristine water we have access to for both drinking and recreation in North America. I think I can honestly say that in all the canoe and kayak trips I have taken in my life there has been no place so far that I didn’t want to actually touch the water. Until you have seen Go Ganges! you really have no idea what dirty water looks like.
The final cut of the DVD is complete and it should be available soon. Keep an eye on their facebook page for screenings in your neighbourhood.
Go Ganges! runs for 1 hour and 22 minutes and was produced by Dudes on Media.
Images credits: Dudes on Media