The Logan Emergency Ambulance Service Authority (LEASA) held its first ever Guyandotte River Paddling Camp for Logan County youth August 1 – 3.
The camp was free for kids age 7-14 years old, and included water safety lessons from LEASA, paddling instruction, lunch, and lots of paddle opportunities.
To back up just a little bit, the National Coal Heritage Area took an interest in the Guyandotte Water Trail in 2013 and moved forward to get an AmeriCorps VISTA member to work on further development of the trail.
National Coal Heritage Area and Great Kanawha RC&D convened leaders and organizations from counties along the river to form the Guyandotte Water Trail Alliance in 2014, and the AmeriCorps VISTA came in 2015.
Local leaders from each county have begun championing the water trail in different ways. Small businesses have started to pop up along the river to provide kayak rentals and to encourage residents to enjoy this beautiful asset, access points have been put in, and clean up crews have been organized.
The Guyandotte Water Trail Alliance was denied a grant in May 2016 that would have helped to provide a summer paddling camp to the youth in Logan. The group decided that even without funding they wanted to put this camp together for the kids in Logan County before they headed back to school.
Bill Weese of LEASA took the lead and thanks to support from the Logan County Commissioners, Four Seasons Country Store and Sunny Daze Boat Rentals LLC, local fire departments, Chief Logan State Park, Logan County Board of Education, and many other local businesses, organizations and volunteers, the group was able to pull the 2016 Guyandotte River Paddling Camp together in 2 months to serve 36 kids.
Talk about not taking no for an answer!
“The purpose of the camp was to educate local youth how to safely navigate the Guyandotte River and enjoy and protect the beautiful treasure that runs right through their community,” says Kody Crawford, the AmeriCorps VISTA member charged with coordinating Guyandotte Water Trail development. “The camp ended up being successful beyond expectation.”
Is this something that could happen in your community? You just need people who are passionate about pulling all the pieces together.
If you need help, reach out to me to get connected to resources that can help you and your community do something just as successful as this camp!
Also check out the Try This website to learn how to get your river designated as an official water trail or to learn how to get people out on your local rivers and lakes.