YMCA Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer lies on the shores of what is arguably the finest venue for whitewater paddleboard instruction in Pennsylvania. Connoquenessing Creek, known locally as “the Connie,” boasts miles of class I to III rapids, and a river wave as smooth as glass after a good rain. The camp itself is a stunning sprawl of wooded acreage and beautiful log cabins. While the whitewater and facilities are ideal, the Connie does have a darker side. Not long ago, it was considered one of the most polluted waterways in the Country, and still faces many environmental challenges. To illustrate the opportunities presented by the stream, along with solutions for conservation and education for youth, First Waves’ partnered with the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh and YMCA Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer for an inaugural residency expedition to the creek.
The 3-day program included a whitewater SUP adventure on a formidable stretch of the creek, a stream cleanup along the shores of the camp, and intensive educational workshops in the art of filmmaking and watershed conservation. Students for the program were selected from the Lighthouse Program based at the Homewood-Brushton YMCA near Pittsburgh. The YMCA Lighthouse Project is an afterschool program for teens that teaches leadership and career readiness through the media arts of film, photography, graphic design and music production. With the goal of producing a film about the experience that would illustrate both the recreational value and conservation issues addressed by the First Waves’ participants, Lighthouse and the YMCA was a perfect fit. Here is what the team produced:
A tremendous thanks to our partners, sponsors, and instructors:
- Zach Hoffman – Executive Director of YMCA Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer
- Phillip Thompson - Lead Filmmaker and Filmmaking Instructor
- Ian Smith – Executive Director of First Waves and Lead Instructor
You can learn more about YMCA Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer at: www.ycampkok.org