Sunday, July 22, 2012

Community Paddling With Waypoint Adventure

Its hard to imagine a pristine feeling wild place on the edge of Boston, but the Charles River offers just that on the Newton/Needham line at Nonantum Park. I joined Waypoint Adventure there for an adaptive kayaking program last week and had a great day paddling with magnificent clouds reflected on the surprisingly tranquil river.

Dan Minnich and Adam Combs are the innovative force of Waypoint Adventure, sharing both the business management and outdoor guide responsibilities of their adventure organization. They led small groups through introductory lessons and warm-up stretches on land before we launched our boats for an hour or so of paddling on the Charles as it passes through Cutler Park Reservation owned by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). Dan and Adam encouraged us to contemplate community as we enjoyed the natural beauty and each other's company on the gentle expanse of river. Turtle, muskrat and heron sightings were common, and conversations sprung up among various combinations of paddlers.

I was delighted to hear from another paddler, Jen, that she had just returned from canoeing in the Boundary Waters with Wilderness Inquiry, where is it still the norm to navigate using paper maps and be out of range of cellphone reception. Thank goodness for those more remote wilderness opportunities! Jen left her wheelchair on shore for our venture upriver and really appreciated paddling without the weight of camping gear.

Don Summerfield, who identifies himself as a brain injury survivor, learned early in his rehabilitation how important it is to stay active and keeps at it by participating in programs offered by Waypoint Adventures, Stavros Outdoor Access, Spaulding Adaptive Sports Center, and DCR's Universal Access Program. He said, "I realized today, paddle by paddle, that we are all stewards of this great earth, and to share this with all our community!"

Dan told me a wonderful story of leading a kayak clinic in New Hampshire recently, where he was able to introduce Joni (of Joni and Friends), a well-known woman with quadriplegia, to kayaking using the Creating Ability seating system in a tandem kayak. We marveled at Waypoint's brush with fame and how we all, no matter who were are, have new adventures awaiting us.

Waypoint has two more dates on the Charles River coming up - August 2 and 16 - plus other guided adventures on deck. Don't miss your chance to connect with community - in nature, in a small group adventure, and with the greater adaptive recreation community as a whole! Call 781-454-5297 to sign up!

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