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UPSTREAM - Film Premiere

UPSTREAM - Film Premiere

The events of the First Waves Johnstown program in July of 2018 imbued a sense of urgency and amplified passion for everyone in attendance.  A pollution event upstream of the program site resulted in water that was too tarnished to proceed with the paddleboarding and whitewater activities for local teens.  Students that wouldn’t otherwise have the means or opportunities to experience the river were on deck for their first paddling experiences.  Instead, they focused on the other aspect of the First Waves workshop – filmmaking.  They learned to document what they were experiencing and create a film that could influence others to take an interest in watershed conservation.  Their film, Upstream, does exactly that.

2018 Ignites with Envision Blind Sports

2018 Ignites with Envision Blind Sports

With spring looming in its awkward stage, "invigorating" water temperatures, and a reclusive sun - it was up to the participants and volunteers from Envision Blind Sports to set the tone for the kick-off paddleboarding adventure of 2018! 

First Annual New River Gorge Youth SUP Race

First Annual New River Gorge Youth SUP Race

The New River Gorge Adventure SUP Race has become the epicenter of whitewater standup paddleboard racing in the Eastern US, but not because of a cash purse (there isn’t one!) or fantastical prizes. Instead, this race has ingrained itself in the hearts of a community that it has helped to grow since its inception in 2011.  This year, First Waves has partnered up with Active Southern West Virginia to bring the first Youth SUP race to the Gorge.

Breaking Waves at Mount Ararat

Breaking Waves at Mount Ararat

Nestled in the urban sprawl of Pittsburgh’s East End, The Mount Ararat Community Activity Center provides innovative programs and experiential learning to the area’s families and youth.  Earlier this summer, the Center debuted a new program for a select group of students, part of which involved teaching them to surf in whitewater rivers.  While surfing might be the last thing many think of in this landlocked region of Pittsburgh, that is exactly what Mentorship Director, Dr. Charles Howell, has brought to the Center through partnership with a local organization called, First Waves. 

Paddleboarding for Visually Impaired Youth

Paddleboarding for Visually Impaired Youth

At First Waves, we have been dealt the opportunity to work with amazing partners and volunteers. The latest project in conjunction with VIP Sports was one of the most memorable.  By working with Slippery Rock University volunteers and VIP Sports instructors, we were able to provide a standup paddleboarding experience to more than 60 youth participants that were blind or semi-blind. Here's a short film documenting the training process and the event itself! Enjoy!

A "MONSTER" ADDITION TO FIRST WAVES PROGRAM

A "MONSTER" ADDITION TO FIRST WAVES PROGRAM

The river wave at Greenhouse Park is little more than a pile of foam during the hot month of July in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  The Stonycreek River is the tamest version of itself and instead of whitewater enthusiasts, the park attracts sunbathers, tubers, and swimmers to its shores.  What most have overlooked, however, is this wave’s potential as a training ground for the area’s youth to become river enthusiasts.  When presented in the right way, the wave can capture the attention of teenagers better than the latest X-box and carve a path for outdoor recreation and education that is widely available but pervasively ignored.  This is exactly what the First Waves Johnstown Program is able to provide to underserved youth in the area.

FREE SUP AND SURF EVENT + FILM SCREENING!!

FREE SUP AND SURF EVENT + FILM SCREENING!!

First Waves and the Benscreek Canoe Club is celebrating the 2015 success of First Waves Johnstown with an outdoor film screening of "River of Change" and FREE Paddleboarding and River Surfing lessons at the 2016 Stonycreek Rendezvous.

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR

A heavy rain engulfed the Stonycreek River Valley on the night before Day-1 of First Waves Johnstown.  The next morning, instructors and volunteers of the crew arrived early to observe the day’s conditions: a swollen river with strong currents.  If it weren’t for the team of expert instructors and volunteers from the Benscreek Canoe Club and SurfSUP Adventures, this amazing adventure would have been cancelled.  One volunteer exemplified this commitment by relentlessly retrieving gear from the flow and helping participants find comfort in the grip of the river’s flow.  Were it not for Andy May’s efforts, First Waves equipment would likely still be on a journey toward the Gulf of Mexico.

AN UNEXPECTED MATCH PARTNER OF THE YEAR

AN UNEXPECTED MATCH PARTNER OF THE YEAR

“IT’S SAFE, THE KIDS WILL BE FINE!” I yelled into my cell phone, trying to overcome a howling wind off the Gulf of Mexico.  In spite of the ambient roar, I could hear doubt on the other end spinning like a turbine.  Intuition, however, has a way of prevailing under duress, when communication is done on an instinctual level rather than through the confusion of words and reason.

SurfSUP Kon-O-Kwee

SurfSUP Kon-O-Kwee

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 Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer for an inaugural residency expedition to the creek.