A film about watershed conservation, tree planting, river surfing and mentorship. For more information about First Waves, visit;
River of change shows how whitewater paddleboarding, mentoring, and the art of filmmaking can inspire youth facing adversity to care about rivers and waterways. This film was shot by students of the First Waves Johnstown program when they experienced whitewater, paddling, and filmmaking for the first time.
VIP Sports is a program in conjunction with Slippery Rock University that provides outdoor experiences for visually impaired youth of all ages. In this video, VIP Sports along with SurfSUP Adventures train volunteers to teach adaptive paddling techniques and employ them at the VIP Sports Camp of 2016.

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.

This video was filmed and edited in part by the youth participants of First Waves. Watch as a group of teenagers learn to standup paddleboard and river surf while learning to work as a team to conserve the environment and document their experiences using digital media and filmmaking. Instruction and additional support is provided by the Pittsburgh Filmmakers / Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

First Waves Pittsburgh is a program of mentorship, education, and watershed stewardship. Partners include: SurfSUP Adventures, Paddle Without Pollution, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh Filmmakers.

SurfSUP Kon-O-Kwee is the latest film produced by First Waves in partnership with YMCA Camp Kon O Kwee, the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, and SurfSUP Adventures.

This video was filmed by the youth participants of First Waves in 2014.  The paddling and filmmaking skills they learned in the program were integral in the removal of more than 1-ton of pollution from Pittsburgh's rivers.   These teens are part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh and worked closely with First Waves Partners; SurfSUP Adventures, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Paddle Without Pollution, Body Glove, ULI Boards, The Paddler Ezine, and more.  They are the First Wave of adventure filmmakers, river surfers, and conservationists from the Pittsburgh area.

First Waves founder Ian Smith and photographer Jamie Sauer talk about their work with Josh Lucas of The Hardware Store.