A month has gone by since our last Canoemobile rig has returned from their adventures around the country. As we survey the boats and getting them ready for their annual make-overs, we can’t help but reminisce on the highlights this season has brought us.
2019 was a big year for our Canoemobile program. We had our first international rig make their way up to Toronto, Canada, we served over 30,000 youth, families and people with disabilities, and, we paddled over 50 different waterways throughout the country. From Jamaica Bay in New York City to Santa Barbara Harbor in California, our paddles touched a variety of different rivers, lakes and oceans.
What happened out on Canoemobile? What were some memorable stories? We reached out to a few outdoor educators, the ones who make it happen, on some insight from the field.
Kevin shared that being in Michigan City, IN and being apart of the Creekness Stakes was a highlight of his tour. Stating that bringing the community together to bring awareness to their local waterways was a sight to see. He also mentioned that the Laporte County Soil and Water, who planned the whole event, ended up winning the race. Kevin also happened to be sterning that boat and still has his medal hanging proudly in his office.
Nicole explained that there was one student that stuck out in her mind more than the others. This student did not want to go canoeing and was timid at the thought of going on the water. After trying to calm her nerves this student still did not want to go with the group. So Nicole and said student stayed back and watched the others load the boats. As the class was on the water, Nicole asked the student one last time if they were sure about not going in the canoe, stating that they could even sit in the boat while the staff walked them along the shore. This sparked interest in the student and that’s exactly what they did. Once everyone was back and ready to rotate to the next station, Nicole mentioned that the student must have had too much fun and wanted to stay in the boat for the rest of the day.
Cory reminisced on a fond memory in Louisville, KY after a long day paddling the Ohio River. She stated that it was around sunset, when they were loading the boats on the trailer when they noticed a motor boat struggling to get back to the dock. They finally realized the the boater was trying to get their attention and that he needed help since his engine died and the current was too strong for him to paddle back. So, Rig 2 to the rescue; they loaded up a voyageur, tied a rope to his boat and then theirs, and towed him back to the dock. Cory stats that once they were back they felt like quite the champions considering it was a big boat, huge river, and the current was crazy strong.
Whether it’s winning races, taking students out on the water or helping strangers in a time of need; Canoemobile rigs do it all. At the end of the day though, it’s all about the paths we cross and the people we connect with. To some, stepping into a voyageur was first a fear but then became a love. To others it not knowing if canoeing would ever be a possibility, to finding that admiration for the water. 2019 was a very successful year for our Canoemobile program and we can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store.