My son and I attended the organizational meeting for Wave Train Kayak Team at Northern Lights before the season started. He had never kayaked. In fact, he had never really expressed an interest in it, but we went on a whim. At the meeting, Dave Zinn explained what Wave Train was about, and demonstrated a good rapport with kids, while outlining an inspiring story of how kayaking allowed him to travel the world.

Right after the Wave Train meeting, my thoughts could easily have been summed up:

Cons: How safe can it be? My son has never even been in a kayak. Some of the kids might already pretty good. Might my son be left behind, will he get the extra attention he needs as a newbie? Can the instructors Whitney and Dave live up to my expectations and alleviate my safety concerns?

Pros: It’s an opportunity to build self-confidence, strength, stamina, friendships and have great fun with a good group.

Turns out, my son got lots of extra attention. In the beginning, it was at the pool and in the pond. When he did his first roll in E. Gallatin Pond, he practically burst with pride. A couple weeks later was the first river trip. The group started on very easy stretches, concentrating on paddling fundamentals, group awareness and safety. I carefully followed up on each river trip, and both Dave and Whitney were always very responsive to my questions and concerns. Their extensive experience leading teens paddling, coupled with their personal boating achievements finally put my mind at ease. And by the end of the season, my son had indeed acquired self-confidence, stamina, friends and a real sense of personal achievement.

My son’s participation in Wave Train started as just a whim, but it helped make for a great year for him. He and I both are really happy he did it.
— Wave Train Parent