River Guardians Revealed

8 02 2018

Article by Michelle Emmons from The Willamette Riverkeeper’s Newsletter.

Fall/Winter 2017

The River House teams up with Willamette Riverkeeper each year to provide equipment and guides for the annual Great Willamette River Clean-up.  This is an over 200 mile effort to clean the banks of the Willamette River.  The Riverkeepers also have ongoing clean-up days the second Tuesday of each month.  For more info:  willamette-riverkeeper.org

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Source for this lovely photo and article found here

Marcel Bieg, a professional swift water rescue instructor, and west coast representative for the American Canoe Association, believes his volunteer support in the River Guardians program is an integral component of his personal purpose to support a much larger system of life. Marcel’s philosophy? “I have always considered the earth as a single living organism; with all things playing a role for a healthy planet. The oceans are our lungs and the rivers are the arteries, I feel strongly we need to keep our arteries clean and healthy, and this is one way I can contribute to that cause.  Aside from the wonderful efforts of our volunteers, program partners such as Eugene Water & Electric Board, University of Oregon, Union Pacific Railroad, Northwest Canoe Tours and City of Eugene Parks and Recreation departments have provided additional funding and support for staffing, monitoring tools, equipment and disposal services.  Eugene-Springfield River Guardian cleanups happen year round, with opportunities for you to participate every second Tuesday of the month. Timing and sections may change depending on leadership availability, and where there is the greatest need. To find out how you can get involved as a volunteer or a program partner, please email our South Valley Advocate, Michelle Emmons at michelle@willametteriverkeeper.org.

For more information, click here

Source and credit for original photo and article is at https://www.scribd.com/document/367127763/WRWinter2017-18Newsletter

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Ideas to Survive an Extended Shoulder Season.

8 01 2018

Many parts of the country may never experience a shoulder season for outdoor activities.  In western Oregon the shoulder season phenomena usually occurs in spring and fall as trails get too wet to ride, snow is too shallow to ski, rocks are too wet to climb and conditions are overall more challenging to deal with.  Normally by early January we are out of the shoulder season and full swing into winter activities, but this year that’s not the case.  The snow is refusing to fall!

There is an upside to shoulder seasons as most people are driven inside by the conditions and stay home.  Finding a partner to join in your adventure may be more difficult, but if you are seeking solitude this can be a great time to find it.  Gear to stay relatively comfortable and multiple activity options to match current conditions can allow you to remain outside playing all year long.

Kayaking and canoeing is the classic in-between season activity.  Whether whitewater or flat, paddlesports require water and water is often in high supply as it falls in autumn and snow melts in the spring.  With the correct gear, kayaking can keep the active outdoors person sane during rainy shoulder seasons that make many other activities not possible.

kayak

Traveling a short distance can show a significant difference in weather.  In western Oregon a short drive to the coast may bring warmer weather and no rain.  It can also bring large storms and wind so check the weather throughout the week to see changes in the forecast.  The shoulder season is a perfect time to visit the sand dunes if you have never been there.  Unlike in summer, crowds are few and noise is minimal.  A clear evening spent on the expansive dunes is similar to clear evenings on snowy slopes and it’s way easier to cook fresh oysters over a fire.  Florence and Winchester Bay dunes both offer camping on the dunes for $10.  Make sure to research the rules and regulations before heading out. Dunes Rec Guide

sand 1

Bike touring is a great activity that can take advantage of short two day breaks in weather.  The adventure starts directly from your doorstep and in many areas, 35 miles outside of town is all that’s needed for a great destination.  Depart Saturday at noon and return Sunday at noon with plenty of opportunity for stories in between.  Beware that winter clothing and sleeping bags take up much more space in your packs than traditional summer touring gear.

tour

If you still can’t find the motivation to get out, use the time to check over your gear and fix the needs that are neglected during the prime season.  Explore maps and plan your next adventure or watch countless online videos that might help spark your next mission idea.

However you do it, don’t let this extended shoulder season get you down.  Try new things that fit the conditions, search out new places and find yourself alone in the great outdoors.

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‘As long as you have two hands and you can see, you’re pretty much ready to sail’

12 09 2017

EUGENE, Ore. – A heat wave in the Willamette Valley means excellent weather for sailing at Fern Ridge Reservoir in Eugene.

About a dozen students completed their week-long youth training course Friday afternoon.

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The classes are offered by the City of Eugene’s River House Center every summer.

“They can steer a boat, they can trim a sail, they can dock and undock. They know how to beach a boat,” said instructor Connor Shirk.

The classes are not just offered for middle and high school students. Adults are also encouraged to participate with weeknight and weekend classes.

“The main difference is that the adult classes all take place on the big boats,” said Shirk.


http://nbc16.com/embed/news/local/as-long-as-you-have-two-hands-and-you-can-see-youre-pretty-much-ready-to-sail


Youth courses start on smaller boats, referred to as dinghies. The skills are easily transferable to larger boats.

“The worst thing that can happen in the small boats is that they flip. But, then you flip them right back up. Adults don’t like that quite as much,” added Shirk.

They leave daily from the River house at 9 a.m. and return at 4:30 p.m.

Participants say the best part is that anyone can join.

“In things like gymnastics, it’s hard to do if you’re not flexible or if you don’t know certain things. With boats, as long as you have two hands and you can see, you’re pretty much ready to sail,” said Nina Persins.

The youth camp continues for one more week, with a cost of $265.

There are scholarships available to help bring the cost down.

The adult classes continue until October.

For more information, click here.


Original article and video can be found at: http://nbc16.com/news/local/as-long-as-you-have-two-hands-and-you-can-see-youre-pretty-much-ready-to-sail

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Camp Confluence and Partners for Youth Empowerment.

5 07 2017

sara3By: Sarah Worl     Photos: Marty Oppenheimer and PYE Global

With support from our Instructor Development Funds, I was able to attend Camp Confluence, organized by Partners for Youth Empowerment (PYE) in Whidbey Island, Washington. Camp Confluence was a 6-day gathering of camp directors, lead facilitators, and staff that are involved with camps based on the Creative Community Model. The Creative Community Model was developed by PYE over decades of youth summer camps across the globe. In their own words from the PYE website:

“With arts-based practices and leading-edge group facilitation strategies, Creative Community Facilitators cultivate environments in which people can realize their potential. By embracing positive risk-taking and free creative expression, youth and adults alike open up to new possibilities. Research shows that creative expression—in a supportive setting—nurtures qualities like empathy, teamwork, and problem solving, while also fostering joy, hope, and the desire for a meaningful life”

At Camp Confluence we talked a lot about the “Emotional Arc” that a camper experiences from the day they enter camp to when they leave, and how to support that transformative experience with community agreements, plenary activities, supported creative risk-taking, free time, nature time, and more. I appreciated the emphasis on the camper’s experience and curating the week’s activities to support their journey.

We also spent a whole day talking about how to further Equity and Anti-Oppression in all levels of our summer camps; from camp staff demographics, to camper recruitment, to food and sleeping arrangements, to incorporating explicit community agreements around equity in the beginning of the camp. It is rare that I am in a space of people so committed, honest, and eager to talk about Anti-Oppression in their institutions and programs and I am very grateful to have participated in those conversations and to emerge with a greater awareness of actions I can bring back to my work. I am looking forward to my upcoming outdoor recreation and summer camp season to see how I can incorporate bits of the creative community model into my work.

I’ve learned a lot of very practical facilitation skills from the PYE trainings and camps I’ve been involved in over the years. I’ve also witnessed many young people and adults (including myself) overcome old stories of fear and self doubt as we explore our creativity, connection to ourselves, connection to others, and connections to nature together in a supportive environment. I believe many of you that work with youth know what I’m talking about when I say that those moments of witnessing youth light up with hope, joy, and connection are what keep me coming back to this work, and giving me hope for the present and future. I am so grateful to be a part of the community at the River House Outdoor Program; a community that is so committed to fostering these types of magical and transformative experiences for youth and adults.

P.S and Fun Fact: A local summer camp hosted by the Oregon Country Fair called Culture Jam is based on the Creative Community Model and brings in facilitators that have led PYE camps across the U.S and internationally. The River House supports Culture Jam each year with a couple days of outdoor play at Fern Ridge! PYE also offers facilitation trainings in the Pacific Northwest each year- check them out at www.pyeglobal.org.  Their website also contains many great summer camp and youth program resources!

-The River House Instructor Development Fund (IDF) is an investment in our staff to seek extra training and experiences that can be brought back to their work and personal lives to help enrich experiences for both participants and instructors.

sara2

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How to Bike in the City

29 06 2017

Here’s an entertaining tutorial on building confidence when riding in Urban Areas.  Keep it simple and stay aware and arrive with more energy and a smile.

-Plan Route   -Suite Up  -Check your bike  -Mind the Door Zone  -Claim the Lane                 -Careful in Turns  -Don’t Run over Pedestrians

For a free Eugene/Springfield biking map: https://www.eugene-or.gov/1849/Locate-a-FREE-Bike-Map

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Crow students roll through semester on skateboards they made themselves

7 06 2017

crowskate

Crow students spent months building their own skateboards. They tested them out at Washington Jefferson Park in Eugene Tuesday, May 6, 2017 with help from the City of Eugene River House Outdoor Center skateboard instructors.

Crow Middle/High School is incorporating skateboards into classes.

Students are celebrating the end of a semester-long project with a ride at Washington Jefferson Park.

Teachers said the project used techniques from math to art to teach kids how to create their own skateboard.

“It’s pretty cool that we get to, like, make them in school and stuff ‘cause most schools don’t have the opportunity since they’re so big they can’t do the classes like these,” said Olivia Clark, a ninth grade student at Crow Middle/High School.

They said since the project began, more than 20 students have been staying longer in class and skipping lunch to put together their project.

The project was made possible by a grant from the Oregon Country Fair.

“Doing math and science and they don’t even know it. It becomes part of the thing; that’s the way real life is and you can’t fake it with these kids,” said Tina Dwoarakowski, a teacher at Crow Middle/High School. “You know they know when you’re giving them busy work. They know that it’s got to be the real deal; it’s got to be authentic.”

Teachers said they plan to continue this project for years in the future.

From: KVAL 13 news broadcast

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ACA Swiftwater Rescue Experience

2 06 2017

live bait

If I had to identify with just one sport, it would be cycling. I’m an instructor for Bike Safety Education and Mountain Bike Adventure summer camps through the River House Outdoor Center. I raced extensively for seven years, two at the national level, and worked at bike shops for several years.  I have taught numerous bike skills clinics. When it comes to biking, I know my stuff.

That is not the case with river sports. While I have enjoyed some time rafting, canoeing, SUP’ing, or just hanging out and playing in the water, I’m a total beginner at all river and paddle sports. The truth is, the river scares me a little. I have never been very sure of what’s going on under that blue shimmer and white splashes, so I have remained hesitant to get completely obsessed with any river sport. I tried learning to kayak years ago, and just couldn’t get the roll down, so I gave up.

This will be my first summer working for the River House, and I plan to utilize all the opportunities available to me to expand my knowledge and add to my skills. Oregon offers so many awesome rivers, full fun activity and adventure, so I set for myself the goal to learn more skills and become proficient in a variety of river activities. A big first step was taking a Swiftwater Rescue certification class through American Canoe Association (ACA). I had to miss a few great mountain bike rides, but dedicating my weekend to personal growth and education was absolutely worth it!

Our instructor, Marciel Bieg, also a River House employee, started by laying the groundwork and philosophy—our priorities when doing a rescue. Number one, don’t become another victim! Just a few hours in the classroom covered all the basics. Then we learned to use throw ropes on dry land. By afternoon we were practicing rescue techniques in a rapid near the Autzen Footbridge.

On day two we learned a variety of anchor systems and mechanical advantage systems. My knowledge of rock climbing anchors really helped here, but even those with little experience learned to create safe anchors from a variety of materials. Then we piled on a bus and took to Row River to practice our skills.

We floated down a small rapid, practiced throw ropes and live bait rescue techniques. One of my favorite parts was trying to wade across the swift-moving river. It was a huge challenge, and I found myself floating downstream, never making it to the other side. We crossed with partners, and even rescued a “victim” as a group.

This experience helped me gain an enormous amount of confidence in the river. I am now able to advance my skills and knowledge of rafting and SUP’ing, knowing that I can handle whatever situation arises and help keep myself and the people around me safe.

This course is not just for professional guides. Literally ANYONE spending time in and around the river—it’s Eugene, so that’s pretty much everyone—would benefit from taking a Swiftwater Rescue course, or some kind of river safety education material our course.

I’m looking forward to an awesome summer full of mountain biking and river adventures!

-Misha Fuller

(The River House Instructor Development Fund makes money available for staff to use to better their skills through classes and training. In return the River House receives highly skilled staff and blog posts describing their experiences.)

crossing

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