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Old 10-01-2012   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1970
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 29
Cooperative Paddling Business or Non-profit

"Fortune sides with him (or her) who dares" – Virgil

How many are the gifts of the river and the paddling experience! It was in “retiring” for a number of years from the sport that I began to see those gifts more clearly. Paddling brought me many friendships; challenge; growth in confidence as a person and paddler; joy; many “Kodak moments” of fun, laughter and silliness; a light heart and lighter load; healing on many levels; and something to write about ( J ) as I love writing too.

There is another gift of the river which I did not realize on a conscious level when I paddled. But I felt the lack of it when I did not paddle for so many years: the feeling of being alive!

It seems in too many of my waking moments I am doing something that I neither feel connected to nor enjoy, and that includes work. I feel dead at times. But on the river I feel so free and alive. And there I find such deep connection to the river, to my essence/self, to the experience, and to my paddling buddies. I used to say “my heart sings” on the river. And it did! My whole being did! It’s the ultimate liberating freedom for me! As the river flows freely, so do I on it.

I took a canoe trip with Centennial Canoe this month (TR is at, title "Returning"). One of the guides emailed me recently, saying, The guide staff talked about you on our drive back to the ranch. You have a love of water we've never experienced before, and it was so refreshing:”

I yearn to share this love with others. And in the past year, that desire to share the paddling experience as a career has grown stronger. I am now moving forward to making it happen.

I read too often of veterans committing suicide and think that the river experience would be healing and life-affirming for them. At-risk youth, autistic children, low income inner city residents, and other challenged populations often come to mind too. But I open and not limiting this to any particular population(s).

However, I do not, on my own, have the income for such an endeavor; and I would not want to attempt to do it all on my own even if I had the income.

But why let a lack of money deter me? J
One day I noticed a rafting business for sale that included an attached motel. And I the idea of a “Community” cooperative business took root, one which would involve others also taking part in the start up and running of the business or non-profit.

I have been thinking about this over the past year and thus far my vision for this and what is entailed to bring it about include (in no particular order):

(But those involved will create a shared vision and have passion for that vision)
· A sustainable cooperative paddling business or non-profit, with focus on deepening customers’ connection to the river, the earth, and to self (our essence)
· Perhaps offering a combination of paid trips with free to lower-fee trips for populations who might not be able to afford the trips
· Working with populations that they may find healing, growth, and renewal on the river
· Focus is on community: the owners/business team as well as the customers
· Maintaining a lower carbon footprint. for instance, through the purchase of quality used gear where possible, recycling/reusing, and using hybrid vehicles
· Emphasis on enjoying the river and having fun (safely)
· River as healer and source of inspiration and connection…Paddling, a joy
· Focusing initially on rafting, ducky paddling, and canoeing, and maybe kayaking in sea/crossover kayaks
· Offering other wilderness journeys such as hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, etc. if scheduling permits
· The Maori (of New Zealand) say a blessing before paddling I think this is a great idea and good river karma

I do something similar when I am at rivers. Mine goes like this:

“Thank you, River, for all of the gifts you have given me.
I send you my love and blessings.
May you let me know how I can help you, to preserve you, and protect you
And may you help keep me and those who paddle here safe.
Thank you.”

· Full participation in the business
· Day trips and overnight trips, probably class 3 and under
· No alcohol/drug policy
· Fresh, healthy eats buying local and/or organic
· Business is not limited to being located in any particular geographic region (although being located within proximity to the canyons of UT/CO may equate to the ability to have a longer paddling season)
· Following Leave No Trace principles and in fact, leaving the river looking nicer than when we arrived (clean up of trash on river and off)
· Partnering with non-profit organizations
· Education on river conservation and preservation
· Everyone’s safety is highest priority
· Perhaps living onsite and/or offering customer lodging (depends upon the site)
· Offering activities to complement the paddling:
o Time alone in nature. I have had some incredible, inspiring and delightful experiences sitting silently near the river.
o Drum circles (further strengthening of the community of paddlers and groups with whom we work)
o Massage therapy / qigong / yoga
o Trips to hot-springs (dependent on location of business) – I am spoiled sometimes in Colorado and privileged to have them so close by; they are very relaxing, healing, and a wonderful way to end the day
· The expectation of long hours for all involved to make this possible, but at the end of the day saying “I love this work”

I have not yet researched the many, many, many… fine details related to this, but am posting this to see if anyone may be interested in this endeavor. Perhaps you have been thinking of starting or working for a paddling or other outdoors business but dismissed it for whatever reason, excuse, or fear. If you are not interested but have ideas on how to make it happen or potential pitfalls to avoid, I/we would like to hear that too.

Please feel free to send me a private message too.

Thank you for reading,
Thank you, rivers. Thank you paddling friends, past, present, and future,
Anne-Marie/ Annie

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Old 10-01-2012   #2
colorado_steve's Avatar
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 284
taking vets on river trips sounds nice, good luck

Oh! I don't take it lightly! I've always got to know
There's an old lion a roarin' n the river down below
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Old 10-01-2012   #3
Winter Park, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 3

You are singing my tune. There are a couple of non-profits in Denver/Front Range doing what you are talking about. There is Team River Runner, National Sports Center for the Disabled, Adaptive Adventures, and Sportainability. We are all working together to try and get folks with special needs out on to the water. We do flat water, whitewater, canoe, kayak, sit down, stand up, swim along side just about any craft you can imagine. You have some great energy with this and to be honest we need the help. We should talk. I can fill you in on what is going on and what needs to be happening in the future. Private message me.

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Old 10-01-2012   #4
BryanS.'s Avatar
Prineville, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 308
You should talk with bth. He's trying to get something going for kids.
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Old 10-03-2012   #5
Smurfwarrior's Avatar
other side, of the mountain
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 118
Check out Team River Runner. Kayaking for Wounded Warriors and Their Families | Team River Runner We started a TRR Chapter in SLC,UT this year.
Team Esquif
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