The only way that sports, and generally most activities, flourish is through the generosity of people volunteering their time, expertise and knowledge.

We began volunteering in kayaking when Hunter was 7 and learning to kayak. We enrolled him in the youth program at the Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club and became the parents that were out on the river with the kids in the summer and in the pool in the winter. It was great to get to be a part of helping so many kids experience the thrill of mastering something new, and getting connected to whitewater kayaking.

As Hunter began to get older and compete we learned how to be gate judges and safety boaters at slalom races and how to be timers, whistle blowers and general helpers at Freestyle competitions. We were happy to play a part of enabling events to happen and loved that we learned more about the sport of kayaking and met a number of great people at many different venues.

This year we leaned in a little farther with Hunter qualifying as a Grade B ICF Freestyle Judge and Lee stepping into the role of Canadian National Canoe/Kayak Freestyle Committee Chair and Canadian National Canoe/Kayak Freestyle Team Manager at the recent World Championships in Sort, Spain. It’s been a bit like jumping into the deep end but we continue to get as much as we give.

The more we get involved the more passionate we are about the sport of kayaking, the more amazing people we meet and the more world expanding experiences we have.

As we move forward through the holiday season, this is a great time to be thankful for those around us and the wonderful experiences we get to have out on the water. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on how can you give back a little to grow forward. How can you get more involved in helping grow and support the paddling community?