Camp Cup 2014 = Young Paddlers Shredding
Seven years and counting...
The Alzar School returned to the Nantahala River this week to host the Camp Cup. We first revived the event in 2008, and each year it has surpassed our expectations for fun and excitement. This year was no different! (Read about the 2013 event)
Before the Camp Cup, thanks to sponsorship from the American Canoe Association, USACK and World Kayak, the Alzar School offered our new PLUS Program to camps. We paddled with Camp Green Cove and Camp Glen Arden before the event, giving campers some time in the gates. The PLUS program was completely free in 2014, and we are hopeful about adding it again for 2015.
Efforts from alumna (and Advisory Committee member) Lizzy Hester brought in an amazing line-up of guest coaches to help campers learn more about whitewater paddling. Colleen Hickey (US National Slalom team) and Wayne Dickert (former Head of Paddling at the NOC) coached paddlers in the gates, exploring different ways to approach course.
Andrew Holcombe (Team Dagger) and Zach Fraysier (Team Jackson) helped other groups learn the lines through Nantahala Falls, while Brad Caldwell (NOC) coached freestyle paddlers as they worked on loops in the NOC play wave. These guest coaches volunteered their time to help the kids get stoked about paddling and improve their skills. How often do kids get the advice of world class kayakers? This is why the Camp Cup is special!
On Monday afternoon, the tradition of fun continued with an ice cream social at Endless River Adventures. Juliet has been a part of the event since our first year, guest coaching, running the downriver race, and sponsoring the event. The kids filled themselves up on great local icecream and enjoyed checking out all of the fancy equipment in the Endless River Adventures shop. Importantly, kids from the various camps had a chance to mingle and make friends with kids from different camps, broadening their paddling network. This is a key goal of the event.
As always, Tuesday is the main event, with down river and slalom races. The morning got off to a great start, with Sarah from the American Canoe Association leading the kids in a game of "Amoeba Tag" to break the ice. Counselors from the camps signed up for safety positions in the courses and campers prepped their boats for their runs.
One of the most fun parts of the event is seeing all of the happy young paddlers interacting. Whether it is scouting their lines through Nantahala Falls, consulting on whether it is faster to go right or left of the island in the slalom course, or enjoying the pizza lunch (provided by the NOC), kids are developing a sense of community centered around their love of paddling and rivers. We know that this will help them participate in a healthy sport and become lifelong advocates for rivers.
The 2014 Camp Cup saw over 100 campers from 7 different camps. We saw paddlers shredding in C1, OC1, OC2, kayak, and even tandem kayaks. Campers dodged rafts as they went through the Falls and picked their lines through the gates. In between runs, they had the chance to visit the Alzar School and American Canoe Association booths to learn more about our organizations. Yuri, the Alzar School's Director of Admissions, was on site to answer questions about our semester leadership program for students in 10th and 11th grades, and Sarah told campers about the benefits of joining the ACA and hosted the new "Paddles Up" Team Challenge (a game that required camps to complete a series of fun challenges related to paddling skills).
This event is made possible by our event sponsors. Thanks so much to the American Canoe Association, Endless River Adventures, Nantahala Outdoor Center, World Kayak, USACK, Camp Glen Arden, Camp Merrie-Woode, Camps Kahdalea and Chosatonga and Camp Illahee. You all rock!