Travis Sr. began canoeing in the early 70’s when this sport and lifestyle was still in its infancy. In 1981 I was old enough to begin my boat riding days. I enjoyed the view from the bow of my father’s Blue Hole OCA, watching my mother in her fiberglass Slipper glide through water.
While I was growing up there weren’t many others my age paddling whitewater. It would take large competitions or whitewater gatherings to bring my peers around. The amount of youngins out these days is amazing and wonderful to see.
I am lucky in the fact that my personal obsession with H2O was introduced to me at a very young age. I participated in sports and other activities growing up, but water was always a part of my soul. I knew one day I was going to be in my father’s shoes and have youngins of my own but I was unsure on how to introduce them to our lifestyle.
This is where my story truly begins. I first took both of my kids out at the age of 2 in our Yellowstone Bell, on class II short trips, roughly a mile or two just to get them used to the river. The rhythmic sounds of water slapping against the hull would lull me to sleep growing up, and I have now experienced this with my own children. I watched them curled up napping in my boat as we finished up flatwater sections.
My old paddling crew got together and bought my son his first kayak, The Jib. Please keep in mind he had his first kayak before he could crawl. At age 6 he began paddling solo and immediately loved it, because he was on his own now, free of restraints from his parents. Of course I was as nervous as could be, and I stayed right on his stern keeping him straight through the rapids.
He paddled for about three years before one day mentioning to me that he wanted to stop paddling for a little while. Of course this broke my heart, but I learned a valuable lesson in that split second. “I need to let him choose his own path in life,” I thought, “if it’s a positive sport or activity that he wants to pursue then so be it. I know the water will call for him soon enough. We still go out for an overnighter during Memorial day every year, just him and I on the river.
Just this past summer my daughter finally went for it and is now paddling solo. This coming summer, I’m going to be excited to take her on her first rapids. We have a few local whitewater clubs that put on winter roll sessions. My daughter already wants to learn to roll and I’m sure she will be paddling circles and throwing ends around me before long.
For me getting my kids into our outdoorsy lifestyle is a necessity in life. I’ve watched it bring so many friends and families together and it’s a sight to behold. For the parents out there reading this: don’t be afraid to get them kiddies out and about. Get on the river, hike a trail, do some camping, just get them outside. It’s great for the soul, and if you’ve ever had your kid curl up in your lap besides a nice warm fire after a great day on the river, then you know what A Little Slice of Heaven is.
EDITOR’S DESK: Travis, well known by the open boat community in the Eastern US as Krazy, is a Dirtbag and a family man of the highest order. His universal upbeat attitude and pure passion for paddling leads him to paddle with both the best Class V boaters and with beginning boaters. Ultimately this has led Travis to host an amazing event- SINGLE BLADERS GETAWAY. If you’re looking to get your Family out on the river, build your open boat skills, or introduce another person to paddling, Travis’ event would be perfect! It’s for all the above reasons that he’s a repeat ALL-WALLACE TEAM Mate, and a sponsored boater for Zap Paddles and Fall Line Canoes!
FALL LINE CANOES- Shawn Alexander makes it all! Support a true Small Business, and you will get the highest quality gear for a great prize. Customized is his speciality. He’s the creative genius who made Travis’ frankenboat pictures in the article.
ZAP PADDLES- Vince Zappia doesn’t just make wooden paddles, he creates customized art that propels you downstream faster and with less effort than any other paddle you’ve ever used! Travis absolutely swears by his, and trust us he’s not easy on his gear! If it holds up for Travis, it’ll last a lifetime for you!
DBP MAGAZINE ONLINE .COM has featured both of these fine artisans in our pages, as well as Travis. Read about the folks who help make East Coast open boating the special community that it is!
SINGLE BLADERS GETAWAY-
Travis says: “A weekend of instruction geared towards Single Blade Paddlers but all are welcome. This is a free class designed for Beginner to Intermediate paddlers. Fall Line and ZapPaddles will be around for gear and outfitting questions. Saturday we will be on the Tuck which is a Class II to III river. We will be going over proper strokes, river reading, safety, self along with assisted rescue and a few other tricks. Saturday Night at Turkey Creek we will have Q&A with seasoned boaters to pass on experience and knowledge. Possibly having a laid back video night also. Sunday we will be heading to the lake for Bracing and Roll Practice. This is an informal class and no fee is required. Just wanting to give back to this great lifestyle I’ve been fortunate to grow up in. But donations will be accepted and all money collected will be going to Hollins College Outdoor program led by Jon Guy Owens to send less fortunate children to summer camp, please don’t feel required to give anything.”