Thursday, May 15, 2014

The First 2 Years: Keeping the Whitewater Passion Alive Amidst Diaper Duty

Today we welcome, guest blogger, Lori Neufeld from Winnipeg, MB.

Lori and her husband, Dan along with daughter Finley drive over an hour to enjoy their local playspot (minus a farm run-off ditch in Spring :).  Lori works with inner-city youth and Dan works for +Wilderness Supply.  Lori's favourite place to paddle - Sturgeon Falls, Manitoba.
Lori - Downriver Race -Kananaskis WW Festival Photo: Dan Neufeld

My passion for whitewater kayaking and the desire to have a family came right around the same time.  So when our daughter, Finley, was born 2 years later, it came without question that she would be raised on the water.  Finley attended her first paddling festival at 7 days old and 6 weeks later our family left on a one month paddling/climbing trip out west.  But as determined as I was to keep kayaking a priority in my life, I soon realized that things were different now. 

Supper time at Harvie Passage, Calgary, Alberta.  August 2012.  Paddler, Christine Haylock.  Photo by Dan Neufeld
First trip out to Sturgeon Falls, Manitoba.  July 2012.  Photo by Paul Fields

 Kayaking sessions didn't come easy for me that first summer, but thanks to great people in the Manitoba paddling community and a very supportive husband, I got on the water more than I expected.  Our second summer was nothing like the first and we learned quickly that a day of kayaking would now fall into one of 3 categories; paddling as a family, bringing the family to watch on shore, or leaving the family at home. Having just turned 1, Finley spent most of that summer at home but the two us did visit the Ottawa River in fall where she was mesmerized by the colorful boats running through the Lorne.  Shortly after that trip, Dan and I knew that the next step would be to invest in some family friendly boats and just a few weeks before Christmas, Finn's new Fun 1 and a Dynamic Duo were shipped our way.  We knew Finley was too young to actually be paddling, especially in whitewater, but just like any other sport that parents introduce to their children, we wanted to start young.  
A new Werner Amigo to go with the Fun 1.  February 2014.  Photo by Dan Neufeld

 The Fun 1 has sat in our rec room every since and Finley loves playing with it.  She calls it her "kakai" and has become very protective of it.  Pool sessions have been a winter highlight and we've had many laughs watching pieces of Duplo and Goldfish Crackers come floating out of Finn's boat.
Pep talk in the pool from Mom.  April 2014.  Photo by Dan Neufeld
Happy paddler!  April 2014.  Photo by Dan Neufeld

This summer will be yet another year of learning by trial and error, and making many mistakes along the way.  Between 2 parents working full-time, changing diapers, and meltdowns in the grocery store, one might think that kayaking should take a backseat for awhile.  I disagree.  While I may not be running huge lines or throwing big tricks, kayaking both challenges and renews me.  I'm a better mom after a session on the river.  Long days at work and sleepless nights are not so bad when I know that I'll be boating in just a few days.

First family paddle in the Dynamic Duo.  December 2013.  Photo by Judy Wilson
So as Dan, Finley and I write our own manual on how to incorporate kayaking and other outdoor activities into our lives, we're excited to share what works for us, what doesn't, and where our boats will take us.

Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin