On rivers all across the Adirondack from North Creek to Plattsburgh and west to Old Forge, there are outstanding venues for competitive whitewater paddling as well as flatwater racing competitions. Unfortunately, not a single High School in the park sponsors a Varsity Whitewater or a Flatwater Paddling Team. Currently, Olympic Paddlers compete in both Flatwater Sprints as well as Whitewater Slalom contested in Olympic competition.
A few weeks back, I published a story titled The Outdoor Gym. The point of the story was to illustrate the numerous health and fitness benefits available through local outdoor adventures.
In the article, I stated it is important to provide local youth with the understanding and knowledge of the local environment since it is a key component in shaping their character and fostering an independent understanding of natural processes.
The importance of understanding and utilizing the local woods and waters is a vital component of Adirondack culture and heritage.
So too are the health benefits of participation in activities such as paddle sports, skiing, hiking, climbing, hunting and fishing.
When children learn to use and enjoy the land, it has value, and if they value it, they will want to protect it.
I closed the story with a personal opinion, which was based on casual observations rather than extensive research claiming, “If ever there was a generation that needed a complete command and understanding of natural processes; this is the one. They will be the next generation of paddlers, birders, skiers, hunters and hikers. Or not!”
They will also be the first generation of Adirondackers to face and confront the challenges presented by global climate change.
I expect they will have a much more difficult row to hoe than previous generations.
I close with two letters received in response to the article. The first letter comes from a former High School Physical Educator. The other was written by a standout high school athlete.
Dear Mr. Hackett:
I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated and agree with your recent article in the Valley News.
As a former physical educator, I am appalled at how few children appreciate the outdoor activities the Adirondacks offers in abundance.
Yearly, we took a group to climb one of the local peaks, even managing Cascade for a group. Although, fitting it in with all of their academic classes was a big challenge.