Thursday, July 14, 2016

Kids and Kayaking

 Kids are the future. They're our offspring. We would do anything to protect them but also want them to be adventurous and find their own way. Sioux Empire Paddlers understand these facts. This is why we make our main focus on children. We want our youth to head outdoors and get off electronics. We want them to explore new places and be adventurous. WE also want to make sure they are safe about going on these adventures even if they are tiny or huge adventures.

In 2015 a few members of Sioux Empire Paddlers (then Sioux Falls Whitewater Park) noticed a lot more youth getting into paddling. One huge concern was that they weren’t wearing life jackets and they were in a large craft way too big for them to manage. On top of that their skill level was below normal to help them in dangerous situations. Now in South Dakota a youth 12 years or younger must wear a life jacket but we weren’t seeing this enforced by their current caregiver at the time. We were also seeing youth in weather situations that if a split second accident did happen they would have most likely drowned from cold shock or a bad case of hypothermia. Sioux Empire Paddlers members wanted to do something about it. So in the middle of 2015 they started coming up with a plan to get kids boats, kids gear, and certified instructors to help teach about water safety and paddling skills. By the end of 2015 the group raised enough funds to get a fleet of kids boats, kids life jackets, kids paddles, trailer, and safety gear. They were ready to start rounding up youth to start spreading the word of paddling safety and teach very essential paddling skills.

By the middle of 2016 the group accumulated 6 ACA Certified Instructors in their group to help spread the knowledge of paddling and safety. Classes for children also began around this time. Classes were held at Lake Alvin, Garretson South Dakota and Classes through Sioux Falls School District Community Education Program at Covell Lake. The classes go over life jacket safety, weather, water temperature, rescues, edging, strokes, draws, sweeps, and braces.

With our kids classes, having narrow boats made for kids, they are able to manage the kayak better so they are not trying to manage a big vessel they are actually learning essential skills. Our paddles are also shorter than normal at 180cm with a smaller shaft for easy grip. This helps children perform certain strokes, draws, braces, and sweeps with more ease. Our life jackets come in 5 different sizes so we can show a good fit life jacket. We wanted to stay away from the universal jackets because a life jacket not fitting well is like not wearing a life jacket at all.

Now looking into our winter classes at the Sioux Falls Embe and 2017 class with the Sioux Falls School district we are looking at adding five kids boats to our fleet so we can host more classes and reach out to other entities.  Several entities like the Boys Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, and Girl Scouts have reached out to us but they would like bigger classes than 5 students at a time to cover their large group of members.

We have enough life jackets and paddles so all we need is more boats to spread our knowledge of skills and safety.  Remember the children are the future. If we don’t teach them safety now when will they learn about it? Adventures are supposed to be fun not a tragedy. Please help us spread the knowledge of safety to our youth.

To get five more boats we only need to raise $1,400.00 more. We have set up a GoFundMe page to raise those funds. It has been a slow start but we are gaining momentum. Every dollar counts. We are even doing a few random giveaways to help entice you if you donate $15.00 or more. Below are what we will be giving away once we hit our $1,400.00 goal.

Once we hit our $1,400.00 goal we will do a random drawing for those that donated $15.00 or more. Below are the items we will randomly draw and winner gets to pick from whats available.
20 paddling class certificates. These certificates can be given to anyone in the Sioux Empire to get in a class from one of our instructors.
5 Sioux Empire Paddlers Memberships. The winner can chose from an individual or family 1 year membership with Sioux Empire Paddlers.
1 Lifetime Sioux Empire Paddlers Membership. This winner can chose from an individual or family lifetime membership with Sioux Empire Paddlers.

Please help as much as you can. Every dollar counts to get us to our goal.

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